Book Reviews

I reviewed some recently watched documentaries last week here, and now it's on to my other favorite thing to do, reading...

At our last book swap I was pretty stoked to grab a few books I have heard a lot of hype about, but never had a chance to pick them up or order from the library. 

The first was What Remains, and within a few days I finished it. It's a memoir, and was really hard to put down. I can't exactly put my finger on the reason why, but she's an author that writes beautifully well, if those are two adjectives I can put together. :) It was really a nice story to read, although sad, it definitely makes you reflect on enjoying what you have in the now, because truly in an instant it can change. I highly recommend this to pretty much anyone. I don't know who wouldn't enjoy it. 

The second book I had seen my aunt reading I think on vacation somewhere, I was hoping it would be at the book swap and I grabbed it. The Happiness Project, it has been out for a few years and most people have either read it or know of it. The author ventured to change a year of her life, striving to be happier in a whole bunch of different areas specific to her.

I just finished and I have a lot to report. It's very clear right from the start that this is her project, and every person reading it would have different goals and areas to work on. Which I really liked. I am never good at taking someone else's goals and trying to make them my own.

The first quarter of the book was a bit tough for me to get through because...well...she kind of irritated me. I know that sounds critical right? Especially critical where there's a whole section on not being critical in the book! Lol! But there's just a few personality traits that irk me in life. She has one of them. At least she lays it out in the very beginning that she is aware of this flaw/weakness. She is a gold star kind of person, she does things in life to get the gold star, the compliment, the acknowledgement. If she organized the cabinet she wanted her husband to pat her on the back. If she stuffed the invitation envelopes herself while her husband watched TV she would be resentful. I avoid people like this in my real life who need external rewards, so I had a little trouble spending my spare time reading about someone like this. But I stuck with it and am glad I did.

There were some really helpful areas in the book. And since she was working on her "don't do things for external rewards" flaw, I was able to power through. I gleaned a lot from the the parts regarding purging and simplification. The idea that having more choices is actually more limiting. I definitely subscribe to this philosophy. 

I spent a lot of our "at home winter breaking" purging and cleaning out. Linen closets. Clothing closets. Toy boxes. Game shelves. Kitchen storage cabinets. I really liked the suggestion to create a box for each child with mementos from school and childhood. I've always wanted a "go to" area to grab stuff if ever we were in a fire or emergency and needed to evacuate. Now I have three boxes, one for each child and in it I keep their baby book, birth announcements, school photos, any little mementos that are important like Greta's ballet recital program, Gunnar's first screenplay, etc. It feels good to have a place I know to go to first if disaster strikes. 

Another part of the book that I really enjoyed had to do with friendships. Taking the time to make sure people important to you know that they are important to you. Being generous with your time. And even with material things, going out of your way to make them feel loved. I like that. Being thoughtful with people you love. Spending energy in relationships. There was no greater joy last year than seeing Aaron's face when he opened up his 12 dates anniversary gift. The energy I put into making a date for each month and planning it out and gathering all the supplies for that date, he had no doubt that he's important to me. The thought that I would spend that much time thinking about what he likes to do, and where he likes to eat, or particular hobbies heenjoys. It was a way to demonstrate to him that I appreciate him, and I appreciate our marriage. So this part of the book probably was my favorite because I think it's something I can improve on when it comes to my friendships with other people. Once you have kids it's so easy to just surround yourself with other families, befriend people just because your kids are the same age. But putting effort into friendships that you choose to have. Not necessarily because they are easy or convenient. It's so easy to get a babysitter and just head out the two of us, but to get a babysitter and spend it with another couple or a group of friends, that's a goal I can make for myself. 

Something that I took to heart from the book is the phrase "it is easy to be heavy, hard to be light". I never gave it much thought, but being negative or complaining is so easy to do. It's so easy to be dissatisfied. But making an effort to be content, be positive, be happy, that's not easy. 

I don't know if it was as life changing as a lot of bloggers raved it was. But it was a good read, and always nice to reflect on something as personal as happiness. 

Are you reading anything good? Plese let me know, I'm always on the hunt for good reads. I have a few left from the swap that are sitting on my nightstand that are calling my name.