Books to Read (and Not Read) in 2018, Part 1

Bill Gates once said that if he couldn’t get through one book per week, then he was too busy.  His time is worth a lot (like, a lot) so if Bill thinks it’s important to read, then read I shall.

I completed my 2017 reading goal just in the nick of time and thought I’d share in case you’re looking for a little reading inspiration in 2018!

16. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker (10/10): It hit all of the hot topics for me — the joys and trials of being a mom who works outside of the home, what church is like for millennials, politics in this trying time, and lots of giggles along the way.  Highly recommend — my favorite Hatmaker book yet.

17. Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (8/10): Such an honest book following Sandberg’s journey after unexpectedly losing her husband.  She co-wrote it with a psychologist which gives it a science-based look at grief and getting through things that weren’t in your original plan.

18. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah (8/10): I didn’t know much about Noah before reading this one but I appreciated his humor and undeniable intelligence as I now understand the masses do, too.  Noah outlines what it was like to grow up under his mother’s strict rule in a post-apartheid South Africa and how his tumultuous childhood influenced his adult life. (I recommend this one on audio book as his story-telling is phenomenal)

19. Wonder by R. J. Palacio (8/10): a nice story (soon to be made into a movie ft. Julia Roberts) about a little boy born with facial abnormalities as he enters a main-stream school.  I’ll call it charming and touching.  It’ll make a solid “feel good” movie. Good beach read as it’s written from the perspective of the kid so pretty simple/straightforward in its delivery.

20. Perfect On Paper by Maria Murnane (5/10): Meh.  I just wanted a little rom-com to break up my self-reflection book streak… but it was kind of a lame story about a young female journalist who dates around in San Francisco. I’m not saying I could have written something better but… meh. Skip.

21. It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs (7/10): I have read everything that Jacobs has written and he did a great job with a tough topic.  I wasn’t ga-ga over the study of ancestry before reading this book so I think that’s why I gave it an average rating.  Although, it did spike my interest enough to order a 23andme genetics kit… more to come on that!

22. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline (7/10): This is going to make an awesome movie (especially in theater, maybe even baby-sitter-acquiring-worthy) but I think all the video game nam-drops and Dungeon and dragons references were a little lost on me.  It was intriguing enough albeit a bit overdone.

23. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (10/10): Oh my goodness.  I don’t care what you think of Hillary or her policies — this book covers way more than democratic politics.  You start to remember the humanity of people (and hey, even politicians have feelings!) I was equally blown away by how much I didn’t know about the 2016 election and how new information continues to surface.  I would recommend this to anyone willing to try it out.  Alarming, enlightening, and full of hope for the future. Bonus points for listening to this one via audio book — it’s read quite poetically by the author.

24. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (3/10): Alright, I’ve read some books that just don’t keep my interest and some that feel a little slow… but this is the only book that I read this past year that I really wanted to quit.  I had to read a paragraph two or three times before I could understand what it was trying to say.  Don’t do it.  Sorry Bracken.

25. The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (9/10): Wow, this one sucked me in (in the best kind of way).  The story line follows a young man and woman who fell in love but were quickly separated by the Nazi invasion and went on to search for each other for years. It’s more than a love story.  It highlights the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of our sacred memories.

Advertisements

Books to Read in 2017, Part 1

Each year, Tyler and I set goals for ourselves as individuals as well as a few shared goals (take a trip to a new place, save up a certain amount of money, etc.)  In previous years, my goals have included trying 2-3 new recipes per week, having better boundaries with technology, and taking a class at the University of Washington.  While our goals vary from year to year, they always include a reading goal.  This year, I kicked it up to 15 books in 2017.  Also, true story, we made our 2017 goals a quarter of the way through the year… because that’s life sometimes.

It doesn’t always feel like there are enough minutes in the day to read something for myself but that’s where my beloved Audible subscription comes in.  I can listen to books while I”m folding laundry, on my way to work, or while getting ready in the morning. I went through at least half of these books on Audible.  The other half, I read on my Kindle mostly before bed (with the brightness turned waaaay down low because #marriagemeanscompromise).

My 2017 reading list so far has included…

1. Smart Girl, Rachel Hollis

3rd book in Hollis’ trilogy so I was already attached to the characters.  It’s nice to have a series that isn’t technically a teen novel or overtly sexualized.  Just a good, ol’ fashioned romance novel. Easy and fun read, great for a vacation.  7/10

2. Talking As Fast As I Can, Lauren Graham

Have you ever seen Gilmore Girls? No?  Stop reading this and go binge watch every single episode and then read this book.  And if you also love Parenthood (wait, how could you not?), you’ll love the behind scenes look into Lauren Graham’s life.  8/10

3. Influence, Robert Chaldini

Want to get people to do stuff? There are some practical and genuine ways to influence those around you.  I worried it would just make me into a master manipulator but instead, it gave me insight into what motivates others.  Longer read with a large dose of psychology. 8/10

4. It Ends with Us, Colleen Hoover

Umm. No. I thought this was a romance novel.  It was more about stalking / a physically abusive relationship / death… I was unprepared and kind of sad.  Maybe the title should have tipped me off?  4/10

5. In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware

Another creepy one… but this time, I was ready! If you like being spooked, it’s a decent page turner. Ware also wrote “Woman in Cabin 10” which I think I liked even better. 7/10

6. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

Okay, so I’m like 4 years late to this party but… This is a must read – for men and women.  I read this a few weeks after returning to work from parental leave and it was especially engaging as a newly working mom. Has anyone read her newest book, Plan B?  It’s next on my list. 9/10

7. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

So confession, I started watching this TV show and then right before watching the last episode, I bought the book. The book was great, the TV show was fantastic. If you’ve already watched the show, I’d still recommend the book.  There are some big differences (the show is set on the white sandy beaches of Carmel, California while the book is set in Australia!) 8/10

8. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance

Whoa.  This book is all the rage right now for good reason.  The storyline is heartbreakingly moving.  A real page turner for our current economical time in America. Also, Bill Gates read it and liked it soooo…. 10/10

Working Moms: How to Avoid the Shame Spiral

Around Addie’s 2nd birthday, I posted some observations about her as a real and unique little person as well as some of my reflections on motherhood, specifically what it’s like to be a mom who is also working outside of the home.  It garnered responses like “Wow, someone else is right there with me in this” and “Thank you for sharing, can you do it more often so I feel slightly less crazy?” So friends, back to the blog I go…

***

The makers of the Audible are my heroes.  They make my 15-30 minute commute purposeful, might I even say, enjoyable.  It’s a monthly subscription for $14.95 per month and worth every bit of my sanity.  Plus when you’re at dinner parties and people begin to share what fancy books they’ve read recently, you can have something better to contribute that your deep musings on the latest edition of, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (Why does the teacher look so mad? That is such a diverse classroom of children… way to be ahead of your time, Eric Carle!)

My most recent audiobook: Of Mess and Moxie written by Jen Hatmaker.  I’m only three chapters in (AKA one round trip commute to and from the office) and my mommy worldview has already been blown to pieces.  I’ve also laughed out loud a noteworthy amount of times because Hatmaker’s commentary is both moving and hysterical.

My favorite part so far — Jen’s youngest daughter, Remy, asked her to come have lunch at her elementary school sometime that week.  Jen consulted her calendar and found that she had her workdays already booked up.  She told her daughter that she couldn’t come.  After breaking the news to Remy, she sulked around the house for a while and then came up to Jen and said, “It’s alright, Mom.  I forgive you.”

And Jen’s reaction is priceless:

No. Nope. No ma’am. Forgiveness is offered for someone who has wronged you.  Not a mother who has a job during your 11:10am lunch slot…  My work is not a sin against you, child of sorrow. Most moms on the entire earth work, in fact.  I refused to sink into a shame spiral because I didn’t grant my snowflake’s particular wish, especially because we spend most of every day in the same house together.  A few years ago, that would have sent me to the prayer closet, wringing my hands, yet again, at how often I wound my children.  I might have let that seep into my thoughts, poisoning my hope for their healthy childhoods and our future relationship.  I may have immediately compiled a list of all the moms who would have dropped everything, rearranged an entire day to make it happen.  The ones who already eat at their kid’s school twice a week…  Instead I said, ‘Sorry kid.  Have a great day.  See you at 2:45.’ And shocker… she was fine.  You guys, the kids are fine.  We are fine.

Oh, this is gold.  I think the line that was especially sobering to me was “most moms on the entire earth work.” When did not working outside the home become the goal in my mind?? Before I had Addie, I remember pleading with my stay at home mom friends… “I just don’t want to work… I want to be home… How can I make this happen?” But what I was really thinking was, “I SHOULD be home.  To be a good mom, I NEED to be home.”  But how does that apply to all of the women who actually don’t even have the choice?  Does this mean that there are only good moms in countries, family units, cities that have the financial security or family support to even have that choice?  Nay.

But I had a choice – and I chose to work.  And there are moments, I feel that “shame spiral” creep in… What if I can’t always be there to put her to bed because I have a work dinner? What if her hair is a bit “cutting edge” sometimes because I’m not always the one getting her ready in the morning? If she still sometimes cries as I walk out the door to head to work, does she know I still love her like crazy? Am I totally screwing her up by working – moreover, am I willingly CHOOSING to screw her up?  In these moments, I’ll look to Hatmaker’s sage wisdom:

“No. Nope. No ma’am…  My work is not a sin against you…  You guys, the kids are fine. We are fine. ”

See you at 4:30pm, Addie girl.

20246377_10101289534978469_4274967376626646822_n