What I’m Reading: January-March 2016

biglittleliesBig Little Lies

Liane Moriarty’s books kept appearing on Amazon’s recommendations along with blogs I follow. Although two of her older books: The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot seem to be her most popular, I decided to try out her most recent book instead.

The beginning of the book was a struggle. I couldn’t identify with the characters at all (a group of high class, high maintenance, overly obsessive, kindergarten mom’s). They pretty much embody every woman I try to avoid. However, once the plot really got rolling, I was sucked in.

The beginning of the story seemed to be pretty superficial, but I was surprised to find a thought provoking domestic violence theme that began to take shape about half way through. It brought a surprising depth to the novel that I really enjoyed and appreciated.

Overall, I was really impressed with Liane. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books.

 

51lWn+4eHCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

I first heard about this book on the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and was instantly intrigued by the topic.

When I started my new job in October, I left my office on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (which was surrounded by plenty of natural beauty but not much else) for a downtown high-rise. I immediately noticed a lifestyle shift. Now when I arrive at work and park my car in the parking garage, there is really no reason to move it until I am ready to go home. I can easily walk to the post office, the library, the gym and a plethora of restaurants all during my lunch hour. I LOVE it! All that to say, because of my new found love for downtown, the subject matter of this book intrigued me.

Then my brother surprised me with a Kindle Paper White for Christmas.

Then the Kindle version of Walkable City went on sale.

So it seemed like destiny. Sadly, I misread the stars because this book was a total bomb. It was like reading a 250 page term paper. There just aren’t enough things to say about the topic to turn it into a full fledged book. The idea is intriguing, and if it had been a 50 page book I would have given it rave reviews. Unless traffic reports REALLY interest you, just read a few book summaries and you’ll pretty much get all the info you need.

 

stev_9780812994520_cvr_all_r2.inddJust Mercy

This book falls into the genre I call “secretly Christian.” It’s not overtly Christian, but if you’re well versed in Christianeese, you’re Christian-adar will be going off less than five pages in. I’m currently on an unofficial break from Christian books because…well, I’ve discovered there are SO MANY great books out there and most Christian books aren’t that great. So I was a little disheartened when I realized the book’s true genre, but I decided to stick with it anyway.

For the first 1/3 of the book I was happy with my decision to stick it out. Then Sean and I started watching Making a Murder. So for the second 1/3 of the book I was paranoid and deathly afraid of law enforcement.

For the final 1/3 of the book I was so frustrated with the ever changing plot that I flat out regretted my decision to read it.

The book circles around the true story of a high profile murder case in the state of Alabama. The lawyer (the author) is fighting against a racist and corrupt system to free his innocent client.

If the book was only about this one case (which would have cut the book in half) then I would have given it a higher rating. However, the author gets greedy and suddenly you are bombarded with poverty issues, juvenile criminal issues and the death penalty debate. It’s all just too much. You can’t take a book in 10 different directions…well, you can, but it won’t be good.

This is the kind of book with such a good message that you feel bad giving it a bad review, but because of how scattered this book was, I just can’t recommend it.

 

91zaAIAO7tLCrossing to Safety

I was first introduced to Crossing to Safety through the book The End of your Life Book Club. The characters reference it constantly. Then I ran across the title again in a few blog posts, so I decided to read it.

Crossing to Safety is about two ordinary couples and the ordinary circumstances that life brings – sometimes good, other times bad.

I, like most people, can’t put my finger on why this book is so intriguing. As far as plot, not a ton happens. The book is mostly character development, and like I said, the characters are just ordinary, everyday people like you and me. But the book is intimate in a way that not many books are. You truly see inside the character’s lives, friendships and marriages. I would recommend the book because it’s so unique, insightful and just about everyone can relate to these characters. However, it’s definitely more of a literary classic, so I wouldn’t recommend packing it to read on your next vacation.

 

22318578The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I just loved this book! It’s probably one of my new favorites because it’s not only inspiring, but practical. In fact, I ordered Marie Kondo’s second book, Spark Joy before I was finished with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I also didn’t wait to finish the book before I started tidying. You can read about our life-changing journey here.

A few things to note about this book…

Just because the book is in English doesn’t mean it was written for Americans by an American. The book is written by a Japanese tidying guru, so there are plenty of parts that are a little hokey and over spiritual, at least compared to the American, self help books we are used to reading. If you don’t go in with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the crazy, this book probably won’t work for you.

The best advice I have if you’re thinking about reading this book is to just read it! First of all, it’s a short read so if you hate it then you didn’t invest that much anyway. Second, don’t think you have to agree with everything in this book in order to benefit from it. When you’re done reading it, apply the things you liked and let go of the rest.

 

41ER04S8koL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Why Not Me?

Truth be told, I listed to this book, I didn’t actually read it. Is that cheating? I think it is. Even if it is cheating, I would recommend listening to the audio over reading this one anyway. There are parts that are much funnier in the audio than I think they would be in the book.

I loved this book, but I pretty much love anything that involves Mindy Kaling. Similarly to Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (which I also loved) this book is a collection of hilarious and honest stories from the mystical celebrity circle.

Listening to Mindy’s book is like listening to the hilarious ramblings of a good friend you haven’t seen in a while. It just makes you laugh and feel good! There are also some glimpses into what it’s like behind the scenes on The Office and The Mindy Project. If you’re looking for an easy summer read for a long flight or for sitting by the pool, this book is for you!

 

51hla7bypSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing

Amazon recommended this book while I was looking at The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Thanks Amazon! I DID like it!

My first reaction when I picked up this book was, holy crap this is long! But, it ended up being an incredibly fast read.

How to Get Dressed paired really nicely with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up because it told me how to take great care of the few items I LOVED and decided to keep. Some of the tips I found most useful were the strategies for dealing with swampy, stinky shoes; stain removal on the go; and keeping cheap jewelry from causing infection or turning your skin green.

Also, both How to Get Dressed and Why Not Me? stress the importance of tailoring clothes. Because I read these books back to back, it was the 1-2 punch I needed to get me back to my tailor’s shop. Mindy and Alison are both right – for $9 you too can have jeans/pants that look like they were made for you! I picked up my tailored jeans two weekends ago.

I was also introduced to a few new products that are cheap and easy to find and will make my life 1 million times easier. These include: Topstick Tape, Moleskin, a belt hole punch, a steamer (to replace my iron), D-Fuzz-It, slim line velvet hangers, muslin hangers and heel caps.

A word of caution, if you’re looking for a book that will help you piece together a wardrobe or steps to creating a wardrobe, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re looking for ways to take the items you have and make them look their best, this book is the ticket.

 

15818107Orphan Train

Oh my gosh! This book made me want to start the adoption process ASAP! We aren’t, but it made me want to.

Sean gave me this book for Christmas. It wasn’t something I would ordinarily pick out for myself but I’m really glad I read it.

The plot of this story is very sad, but it’s even more devastating to know that similar stories are part of America’s not so distant history. I was completely unaware of this part of our country’s past.

Usually I pull away emotionally when the plot of a book is super sad. This is mainly because it doesn’t feel possible – how could THAT many bad things happen to one person? This book was different though. With every turn of events it made me only more invested in the characters. Although I wouldn’t characterize the ending as “happy,” you do put the book down feeling settled, like things ended in a good place.

I would recommend this book because it’s enjoyable and enlightening. In my mind, there isn’t a better combination when it comes to books! The story is gripping which I think is largely attributed to the author’s effort to create a story and characters that are authentic and real.

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