April Reads

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Book 7:
"The Course of Love" by Alain de Botton
"The Course of Love" is a fictional story about Rabih and Kirsten's relationship, from when they first fall in love to marriage through having children, and everything beyond and in between. At the same time, it's also a self-help book of sorts or a how-to manual on relationships, focusing less on how love begins and more on how it lasts, through all of the real ups and downs of life. De Botton teaches us that love is "a skill we need to learn, rather than an enthusiasm we simply experience."

Our understanding of love has been hijacked and beguiled by its first distractingly moving moments. We have allowed our love stories to end way too early. We seem to know far too much about how love starts, and recklessly little about how it might continue."
I really loved this book. There is a chapter called "Silly Things," essentially about the bickering that happens over, well, silly (dumb) things, that had me actually laughing while reading. Overall, the book explains why we act the way we do in our relationships. It was useful insight and a very unique read. My Notes app is filled with quotes from this book. I enjoyed it from start to finish.

Rating: 4/5

Book 8:
"Startup" by Doree Shafrir
Revolving around the tech and startup culture of New York City, among a few subplots, "Startup" is essentially about two characters' lives colliding, how it happens, and what will come if it. First there's Mack McAllister, an app founder with a classic frat-boy-gone-CEO vibe, who's gotten involved with a subordinate and sent a few risqué texts he regretted the next day. Meanwhile, there's Katya, a 24-year-old journalist working in a different office in the same building, who is looking for a big story to create some buzz.

This book felt very timely in that it examines topics like harassment, sexism, gender roles in the household, power dynamics, entitlement, and more. The Mack/Katya storyline is the main one, I'd say, but there's more going on with other characters as well. Speaking of which, I thought all of the characters were written really well, with depth to them beyond what you see at the surface.

I finished this one in less than a week, and tore through the second half of it in one weekend. A fast, amusing read.

Rating: 4/5

Book 9:
"Tell Me Three Things" by Julie Buxbaum
After moving from Chicago to LA, Jessie is trying to get used to her new school, new stepmom, and new stepbrother, while also trying to figure out who's behind the anonymous emails she's getting. The person calls themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN) and becomes a friend that helps Jessie feel more comfortable in her new life. But who is it?

I found this to be a sweet story with a realistic teenage voice. I really like Jessie as a character. Yes, it's cheesy and yes, it's a little predictable, but as a YA rom-com-type book, I enjoyed it.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book 10:
"I'm Fine and Neither Are You" by Camille Pagán
Penelope is married with two kids, working a full-time job while her husband is working on his writing (but making little progress) and going to his band practices. She's at the end of her rope, envious of her best friend's picture-perfect life, and is determined to fix the issues in her marriage. Her and her husband commit to total honesty with each other, which includes exchanging lists of changes they want the other to make. Despite good intentions, they realize that maybe some things are better left unsaid.

I made it through this book pretty fast, reading it during my flights to and from Arizona. It's a lighter read that touches on the realistic struggle to achieve the unrealistically perfect life. I have a few other Camille Pagán books on my list that I'm looking forward to reading.

Rating: 3/5

Book 11:
"Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done"
by Laura Vanderkam
I listened to the audiobook version of this, eager to learn productivity tips that would help me accomplish more in a day without feeling the weight of it. However, "Off the Clock" felt like it was less about productivity and more about mindfulness. There were helpful nuggets of information, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting or particularly looking for.

The whole book boils down to three main points that I felt could have been covered in much less time: (1) Know where your time goes, (2) do memorable things daily, and (3) invest in people because they are worth your time.

Not a bad book by any means, but I have a feeling I would enjoy Vanderkam's other book ("168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think") much more.
Good enough is almost always good enough. While the best house no longer makes you happy when someone else's house is better, a house chosen because it is close to work, has four bedrooms, and sports front yard landscaping that makes you smile when you pull in the driveway will still do all these things, regardless of what a friend's house is like."
Rating: 2/5

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