July Reads

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Book 22:
"Unfu*k Yourself" by Gary John Bishop
I knew from the subhead alone – "Get out of your head and into your life" – that this was a book I'd benefit from. A friend lent me her copy and, lo and behold, ten pages in I bought one for myself to keep on my shelf.

This book is a self-help guide on how to make your life what you want it to be through seven personal assertions: I am willing; I am wired to win; I got this; I embrace the uncertainty; I am not my thoughts, I am what I do; I am relentless; I expect nothing and accept everything. It was the kick in the pants that I needed. I found it to be very helpful. Though I highlighted a lot of passages and dog-eared plenty of pages, two points stuck with me the most:

1. Our thoughts shape our lives. E.g., If you always talk about how life is unfair, you'll only ever see the unfair parts.
Create the reality you want to live in by beginning the process of having the kind of conversations (with yourself and others) that actually shape that reality." 
2. We need to be realistic about our goals by determining not what we want but rather what we are willing to do. E.g., Ideally I'd like to have strong, visible abs, but am I willing to go to the gym seven days a week and/or hold myself to a strict diet? No, I don't want to be that tough on myself. So maybe I don't actually want rock hard abs after all.
When you start to view the world through the lens of what you're willing and unwilling to pursue, rather than what it seems you want and don't want, things start to become a lot clear
I'd recommend this even if you don't think you're wrapped up in your head, because it's great advice that really puts things in to perspective.
If [your plan] succeeds, you can celebrate. If it fails, you can recalibrate. Don't expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat."
Rating: 5/5

Book 23:
"After I Do" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Can an author be labeled as one of your favorites if you've only read two of her books? If so, add Taylor Jenkins Reid onto my list. I love that she is able to write a romance story that is (1) so true-to-life and realistic, and (2) so much more than just a love story.

"After I Do" is about a couple reaching their breaking point. Lauren and Ryan have known each other since college. They've been together for eleven years, married for six, and now they can't stand each other. To try to salvage their relationship, they take a year off. One year, no contact.

As odd of a concept as it is, it's not unbelievable. Reading this reminded me of my own relationship a bit. I'm still in love with my partner and am not looking to take a year off, but I have to admit that the rough patches Reid describes were familiar to me. Having the dynamic of the relationship change after so many years together, being able to sleep after a fight instead of it keeping you up, being quicker to snap at each other or express annoyance. Relationships are a lot of work, no matter how long you're together. This book is a great exploration of love and if/when to fight for it.

I'd recommend this book to anyone, especially people in a long-term relationship, and especially if they have experienced some struggles. So, so good.
You're trying to stay married. And be happy doing it ... that's brave."
Rating: 5/5

Book 24:
"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland is an intelligent, driven Harvard professor, admired by her students and loved by her husband and three grown children. Her life is turned upside down when, at 50 years old, she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Genova tells Alice's story one month at a time, as she struggles to maintain her independence while coping with her slipping memory.

Why do I insist on reading books about people with Alzheimer's? First "Goodbye, Vitamin," now this. They are just too sad.

"Still Alice" is touching, heartbreaking, and, in a way, informative. I can't say I know much about Alzheimer's, and although this book is fiction, I feel like I learned a lot from it. It seems to portray the disease very accurately. Ultimately, it's a sad read. Still, a lovely story, one I'd recommend.

Rating: 4/5

Book 25:
"Sometimes I Lie" by Alice Feeney
I read this one while on vacation, because nothing's better than a thriller for a long flight.

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I'm in a coma.
2. My husband doesn't love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Nothing like an unreliable narrator to really shake things up, huh? The story consists of three narratives: Now, in which Amber is comatose in a hospital bed, listening to everything and everyone around her but unable to communicate that something is wrong. Then, the days leading up to Amber's accident. Before, a young girl's diary from 26 years ago. Eventually, all three timelines intersect.

I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars. I think I read thrillers too fast. I don't let myself get immersed in the story enough to fully absorb the plot twists and feel surprised by them. Instead, I blow past them. It isn't until I'm done with the book, sitting and thinking about it, that I realize, Whoa, I can't believe that happened. After finishing this book, I wrote out all of the plot twists and surprises. There are a lot (some better than others).
Sometimes things have to get messy in order to be cleaned up."
Rating: 4/5

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