Book Reviews – September 2017

By | September 25, 2017

People have asked how I pick books to read. I have a large list entitled “books” in Google Keep and whenever someone recommends a book to me, I add it to that list. When I go to the library, I whip out my books list and see what that particular location has available immediately. I also just peruse the shelves and pick up whatever grabs my eye. It’s not a very sophisticated system.

Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg

A book on productivity. The author writes that “self-motivation becomes easier when we see our choices as affirmations of our deeper values and goals.” Keep reminding yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Big picture. Broad strokes every step of the way.

He also finds that when we use data physically, we understand it better. He used the example of tracking your weight on a physical chart being better than tracking it via an app. Did someone say chart? My physical retirement plan chart on my closet door was the best motivation for early retirement. I wish I hadn’t been so intent to clear clutter when I left Sydney. Oh, I wish I had at least taken a picture of the beautiful thing before I threw it out.

Then the author starts talking about the movie Frozen and how the first version that was shown to Disney employees at a screening bombed and they ended up scrapping almost everything and starting over. This was right as my beta readers were reading my book and I was wondering if this was the universe trying to tell me something. And then I remembered that not everything is about me. Oh, right.

But then he was talking about choices and pointed to a study that showed that the more options for 401(k)s people had, the less likely they would participate. And then I wondered if perhaps that could apply to my dating life.

It’s really hard not to make everything about yourself.

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

I know. I used this picture already.

An artist explaining marketing in a cute little book with lots of drawings. Do a little every day. Let the world in on what you’re doing. Create your own website. Build a following.


Bob Books Sight Words: Kindergarten by Lynn Maslen Kertell (author) and Sue Hendra (illustrator)

I read three of these books when visiting my four-year-old niece and nephew. The series lacks any real plot with no antagonist or protagonist that I could readily identify. But it’s a fast read — literally seconds if you’re reading it silently to yourself. Minutes if you’re reading it out loud with an adorable 4-year-old. I appreciate the sticker book that is included with the set.

I like getting stickers for reading.

Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys by Dave Barry

I love Dave Barry. Did you read his newspaper column when you were younger? I did. He’s laugh out loud funny. This book was great, but perhaps a bit dated. It’s just a bunch of humorous stories and thoughts on how guys can be idiots. The good kind of fluff.

Platform by Michael Hyatt

A book on marketing. This guy really likes Twitter.

We Are Not Ourselves, A Novel by Matthew Thomas

Entirely too long novel. If this book was 200 pages shorter, I would recommend it. At more than 600 pages though, it’s too much. Too much detail. Too many stories. There are some lovely bits, but it takes too long to get to them.

We start with the protagonist as a child. Slowly, she grows up and we learn about her parents and everybody else in her life. She meets a guy. He proposes. They marry and have a baby. The parents, who we’ve read so much about, die.

Her son grows older. She’s restless and forever angling for a bigger house and better life in the suburbs. Her husband grows into a jerk. He spends every minute after work listening to records. He’s angry and tense all the time. You’re kind of annoyed at the length at this point and contemplate chucking the novel.

But then you start to realize that something is actually medically wrong with the husband. A doctor’s appointment confirms it. He gets worse quickly and the book finds its footing. Our protagonist is struggling while her son runs away to college and her partner becomes less and less capable of even the smallest things. It’s a heart-breaking and intimate view into early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The husband eventually dies, but the book isn’t done. The son gets married and becomes a teacher and, at 34, starts feeling the symptoms himself.

Go read Still Alice for a better book on this horrible disease.

 Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The illustrated companion book to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She encourages a philosophy that so perfectly encapsulates the way to think about stuff. Keep only what brings you joy and shower it with appreciation. It’s a foundation for happiness.

The author has a great voice and is quite likable. It goes into more depth with each tidying task. I want a home again just so I can tidy. And the book is small enough to fit in your purse. If you read and liked the first one, you’ll like this second one.

9 thoughts on “Book Reviews – September 2017

  1. Andy

    Oh my gosh ThriftyGal, I love the new site theme! My apologies if it’s not actually new, I’m slow. I also loved this post. I’ve decided to print out progress tracking sheets for each room in my house. I moved to Charlotte recently and I have a terrible hobbit of not finishing unpacking after a move. I think progress bars will help change that.

  2. classical_liberal

    I’m a fan of horror. Still Alice was required reading in my nursing program. It’s the scariest book I’ve ever read.

      1. classical_liberal

        Yes Thrifygal, I’m an interesting and unique person dammit!

        Former banker, current nurse, but I’ve done a few other things too. I like to think of it as multipotentiality, but it’s probably ADHD.

        I’ve read you had a few career “side-tracks” yourself? I never cheated on a height test though!


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