Getting Caught Up: Book Edition

Part of my plan to get through the worst of my depression included rekindling my love of reading, something that the depression was sucking the joy completely out of. Frankly, since working at HK, I think my reading had been slightly less voracious – not entirely surprising when my job consisted of a lot of reading (after reading a set of pages for 8 hours at work, the last thing I really wanted to do when I got home was crack open a book). So one of my many goals is to read at least just a little bit every day. (Over the summer, to supplement our lack of income, Drew and I were doing plasma donation which basically meant a mandatory two hours of reading time each week and that definitely helped get me back into the habit of reaching for a book.)

And it seems to be working! Back in August, I set myself a Goodreads goal of finishing 10 books by the end of the year (I figured better to start off super achievable and make things more difficult if I reached that goal). Well, by early September, I’d already met that goal, so I’ve upped it to 20 books by the end of the year. We’ll see how I do! In the meantime, here are quick reviews of the 11 books I’ve read so far (from first read to most recently read):

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

When I spoke briefly with a counselor on campus, he suggested trying to live mindfully and recommended a couple of books for me. I have a couple others on the shelf that I need to get through, but I decided to try this one out. It was not really my thing… A little too floaty for my tastes, I think. I’m keeping my mind open to mindfulness, but I”m hoping the other books I have to try out will be a little more down-to-earth.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin

As I said earlier, Drew and I mainlined our way through the HBO Game of Thrones series this spring. Originally I’d been intending to read the books first cuz I”m a snob like that, but these books are door stops and it just wasn’t going to happen. But it’s kind of worked out for the best because between the TV show and the books, I think I’m finally understanding what’s actually going on. It’s hard to tell all the bearded men apart on television, so a lot of things are making a lot more sense now that I’m reading the books. I’m about a third of the way through the second book and so far the story lines all mirror the show’s pretty closely, but I’ve heard that later on they’ll diverge, so I’m interested to find out what the differences are.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

So super interesting and made me wish I could still go to space camp! I really hope I live to see us send someone to Mars.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

A fascinating look at the ways people have tried to prove the existence of an afterlife.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I knew Steve really enjoyed this book, so when I was selecting books to stay with me versus books that would be relegated to the basement, I decided to keep this one handy on the bookshelves. Then when i started listening to I Don’t Even Own a Television, I saw that one of their episodes was dedicated to this book. What?! I cried, But Steve really liked this book! So I decided to get to the bottom of things. I devoured this book in the car on the way to Colorado with my parents and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I listened to the podcast episode for this book and, yeah, I could sort of see where they were coming from, but I decided that I don’t care – I fell for the nostalgia. I liked this book.

Girl Walks Into a Bar…: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch

I’ve been writing these mini-reviews as I become inspired and this is the last one left. And I’m not inspired. Rachel Dratch seems likable enough, but I just feel kind of blah towards this book. Not bad, that’s for sure, but I can’t think of anything to say about it, so make of that what you will…

How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #9) by Louise Penny

Louise Penny dominates my Facebook feed and I don’t even follow her! It’s that almost all of my friends from Borders adoooooooore her. So after chatting with Ruth, Missy, and Cayt a few weekends ago, I decided that I would finally drink the Kool-Aid. And it tastes gooooood! Unfortunately, I had to start with the 9th book in the series, but according to Louise Penny’s very own website, the books are written to stand alone. I would like to disagree (and I think Missy and Linda, at least, have my back). While I could follow along perfectly well with the story, it was clear that there were other, larger story arcs and character development that would have meant a bit of a deeper read had I started at the very beginning. But, as Linda pointed out, all this means is that I’ll get to read this one again when I’ve finished with the first eight.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Awesome, awesome book. Sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous, always interesting. The main thing I took away from reading this book was that I, Anne of myblankpage, being of sound mind, do hereby bequeath my body to science, once any helpful organs have been donated.

Big Fat Lies That Women Tell Themselves: Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar by Amy Ahlers

I’ve never read a self-help book before, but I know self-confidence has always been a problem for me and decided that, as part of my get my life back together and get through this depression, I would set aside my reluctance and give it a go (though with a grain of salt). I liked the chatty, conversational tone the author strikes – it doesn’t feel condescending or anything, it feels like she’s speaking from having been there herself. But I will confess to an eye roll or two along the way and I didn’t really feel inspired to do the little challenges that go along with each Lie. However. I think I may need to revisit this one because last weekend, I was shopping for a dress to wear to Laura and Tyler’s wedding next weekend and found myself getting more and more frustrated. Finally, I was trudging through Younkers, my shoes wearing a blister into my toe, and with each painful step, a voice in my head said,”You fucking deserve that, you dumb fat fuck.” So, yeah, there’s a bit of insight into my inner critic and I definitely need to work on that.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

While I was reading it, I didn’t like it. But when I finished it, I was like “Huh. I think that was a really good book.” Sort of like a modern, short story, tangled, Dickensian web.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I’ll be honest. I did NOT like the main character. Not. One. Bit. But I liked the supporting characters and I found myself turning the pages despite myself. I could have done without the calculus, though. And the footnotes. Unlike Mary Roach, John Green does not pull them off. But I didn’t hate it, so…

6 thoughts on “Getting Caught Up: Book Edition

  1. Two things…

    1) Re: Mindfulness; Kate recommended to me “The Miracle of Mindfulness” (by the same author as the one you mention) and I thought it was great and found it super, super helpful. That said, I also more or less glossed over all the religious and floaty bits. For me, it was a manual on how to be in the moment and when read in that light, it is fantastic. My favorite passage: “Remember that there is only one important time and it is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future? The most important pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”

    2) I’m glad you loved Ready Player One! You should now listen to the audiobook, which is narrated by Wil Wheaton. I am slowly listening to it as I do yard work. I love that book so much. And I cannot believe there are people who do not like it. What is wrong with those podcast people?!?

    • 1) I’ll have to check that out! As far as glossing over the religious bits, I keep meaning to find a copy of The Writer’s Way and sit down with a roll of white-out because I think it might help me jumpstart my creativity, but I’m not really down with the whole God message…

      2) I know! I still like both the book and the podcast that didn’t like it, but I don’t get it either!

      • I suppose I should listen to that podcast.

        Your white out plan reminds me of the Firefly episode where River was fixing scripture. Browncoats forever!

  2. Pingback: Let’s start at the very beginning… | My blank page

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