Biblio-Files January 2017

It seems that January is the month that I read the most. This has nothing to do with resolutions, fresh starts or that kind thing as you may think though. It has more to do with fewer hours of daylight and coming off of the busy season and craving down time. I read some great books this past month. I enjoyed every spare second that I had to read and hope I can steal this much time for reading this month as well. Here is what I read:

1. The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman. I like her magical books, but sometimes they feel as though she’s churning out just another of the same things. This felt a little like that. I prefer her  historical fiction writing and should really pay attention to which genre of her books I’m buying. It was still a fun book though, good for a weekend read.

2. Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond. A wonderful story about a rescued elephant and her life with her keeper. I cried. It was lovely. If you have ever felt a strong connection to an animal, you’ll love it.

3. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. I have never read a Tan book that I didn’t love. Set both in the past and present, Tan weaves the tale of two sisters and their stories masterfully. Her writing is beautiful and captivating.

4. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I wasn’t paying much attention when I bought this one, and didn’t realize until I began reading it that it was about a leper colony in Hawaii. It was fascinating, well written and engaging.

5. When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman. The story of a young girl through adulthood and her relationships with friends and family. I tore through it in I think two days, I couldn’t put it down.

6. New York by Edward Rutherford. I LOVED this book. I finished it this month but it took me months to read it (at 860 pages, not surprising), little bits at a time. It is the story of NY, told through one family through the generations. It was slow to get into, but growing up here and reading about it’s unfurling over time was really cool. I cannot wait to read the rest of his books.

7. Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer. A biography about working in the funeral business. I have read many books about death and funerals. This one was more of the “party” planning aspect of it, and a bit gossipy, an area I’m not much into reading about, but it was still interesting none the less. It was a good deal more biography than I thought, but I got into it.

8. Lessons Of A Lipstick Queen by Poppy King. Poppy King founded her lipstick company when she was a teenager and this was her story. I read it as a biography about someone building a business and loved it for that. I read a few reviews where people thought it would be about running a business and were bitter it was not. So note that if you are interested. If you’re a fan of business biographies, it’s not the best, but it’s a quick read.

9. The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart. This was the book Stewart began writing from prison and was basically her sharing what are her important rules of business, peppered with personal anecdotes. Its 12 years old and dates itself a few times technology wise, but the basis of it will never go out of style. It’s a quick read and if you love Martha, a must.

10. 6 Months To 6 Figures by Peter Voogd. Around the new year, I was on CreativeLive.com and clicked on an on air class by Peter Voogd out of curiosity. I loved his energy and philosophies on life and business so I ended up buying the class and going through it. I then bought this book because I got really into his approach to goal setting and wanted to read more. He introduced me to the concept of morning routines that I am now obsessed with and although I still cannot believe I took a course and read a book with this title, it changed my life in a few ways. Hey, you never know where you’ll learn something amazing!

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How To Read Multiple Books At A Time

Every time I walk through the living room, I see a stack of books marked at various stages with bookmarks made from my old business cards. I look longingly at this stack, as even though I reclaimed my wasted time and have made more time to read, I wish I were doing so right now. Some of you I’m sure wish you were doing the same, and some of you are right now thinking that this is crazy talk, this reading a big stack of books at once. In some part, I do agree that perhaps the current stack of 5 (plus 2 by my bed and 2 in my office) may be out of control, but I have been enjoying it immensely.

First the why. It’s simple. I read a lot and about a variety of things.  Some days I am not in the mood for particular books or subjects. Some days I am wanting to read about people or events and some days about more abstract concepts. Then there are the books themselves, some books, like the mega Infinite Jest, or the big and heavy political and historical books that I have been starting to enjoy, are intense and my brain is not always feeling up to the task of taking in so much information. Some days the last thing I want to read are biographies, and some days, that’s all I want to read. If you think about it, the concept is rather logical and very similar to how we do many things, like how our kitchens work. You don’t always want to eat the same food, so you buy a variety and eat a little of each thing throughout the week. The milk is, for the most part, not consumed all at once, neither are the carrots.

Now the how. Books of the fiction and literature genres are known attention grabbers. They draw you in and wrap you in their web of words and you are entranced as they weave their stories. I could not handle reading a large  stack of fiction at once, I’d perhaps loose sight of plots and confuse characters if I switched too often. So I typically save the more story like aspect of fiction for the end of night, when I’m trying to check out, get away from screens and clear my head or fill it with something else before bed. More often than not, I keep it to only one at a time by the bed, but there are exceptions. Usually it’s due to something I ordered showing up and that I can’t wait to dive into, so I put whatever I was reading aside and will come back to it. That is the exact scenario which led to the current two by the bed.

The books in my office are usually business books that I need to focus on and perhaps take notes while reading. Usually these are on a hyper specific topic, like productivity, seo or marketing. I pick these up when I have time to get in a few chapters and can give them some attention. I’m this way with blogs and podcasts too. I have them in their ques and when I have a chance, I catch up. These are all great ways to spark the brain, so as long as one of them is being done at some point each day, I’m happy. The books I read in my office can take months to finish for this reason, so if it’s something I want to finish reading in a more timely manner, the moves either to the living room, or I assign myself reading time with a notebook at the dining room table.

Now for the stack in the living room. I usually have 3-5 going and there is almost always a memoir style business book (right now it’s Martha Stewart), something about food production or health (often by Michael Pollen), something I need to be focused to read (I’m sure for the next month that will remain Infinite Jest), a history or political history book (I’m reading about the history of New York right now) and then a book or two for book club (because I am in three of them and the books are often new releases and therefore hard cover, which I prefer to be sitting to read). I find that the books I have in the living room are more for picking up whatever interests me when I sit down. Similar to magazines or blogs, I sometimes dig in and read for hours in one book and sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat and go from one to the next and back and forth. Sort of like having a book stack version of your blog reader. Except instead of posts in a blog, you can read a chapter or two from one book and then switch to another. Which is again why I mainly do this with non fiction, memoirs and short stories, they are easier to move in out of.

Now because we all love lists, I’ll break it down:

How to Read Multiple Books At A Time

  1. Select a variety of subjects and styles.
  2. Try and keep the fiction to a minimum, choosing mostly from assorted non fiction genres.
  3. Keeping different books in the different places where you read can help you remember things about that book when you’re sitting in the same spot.
  4. Don’t push it. If you’re only feeling one book, go with it. If you can’t stay focused on more than a few pages before you want to switch books, go with it.
  5. If you are stumped for how to come up with that many books to read at once; keep a list in your phone or Amazon with suggestions. Also browse used book stores, goodwill or library book sales as the selection is usually smaller so it’s not as overwhelming often will have you choosing books from sections that you’d never think you’d like. For example, I realized that I was buying a lot of books from library sales that were from the travel section, an area I had never thought to buy books from.

Happy reading!

 

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Biblio-files for the 2016 months ending in BER

Books I read 2016

I wanted to make sure I gave some love to the books I read in the last months of the year before 2016 came to an end. As there are 4 months to report, I’m putting them all together here in one big list. I also wanted to note that on this last day of the year, it pains me that I am still in the middle of 8 books. Some I’m only a few pages in, some I’m almost finished with, but none of them will be finished this year. I’m doing my best to get over the lack of closure, but oh man it’s hard. There’s just something about the new year that begs for clean slates! Anyway, onto what I DID finish:

September 2016

This was a tough month for reading as I had major surgery on Aug 30th. I assumed I would read stacks of books during my recovery but as it turned out, the pain meds I had to take for the first few days made me nauseous and blurred my vision, so there was no reading. Even the next week or so after the meds were stopped, I was so tired that reading just put me to sleep. I didn’t even manage to read my usual book a week, but I loved the few books I did get to.

1. The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster – I love her books. I laugh so loud at them that I sometimes wake up Adam. In this one, Lancaster decides to “Martha Up Her Life” for a year and try and live life how her beloved Martha would. If you need a good pick me up, I recommend it.

2. Dandelions In  A Jelly Jar by Traci DePree – An engaging, contemporary story about a women in the midwest and her life. I enjoyed it, but 4 months later, the other two books are fresh in my mind still and although I recall liking this one, it’s not as memorable.

3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – An amazing book that I have been wanting to read and it did not disappoint. Following the life of a boy from early teens through adulthood and the epic story of his life, it’s a fantastic story and focuses around a painting, which is double cool. If you have it on your list to read, do it.

October 2016

I had a conversation the other day about what we do when we find authors that we love. My friend said that she immediately buys all of their books and binge reads everything they ever wrote. I thought for a moment and realized that I do the opposite. I like to buy one book every year or every few months and spread them out so I have them to look forward to. This month I read a few books by some of my favorite authors and it made me so happy!

1. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden – A quick little book and self proclaimed bible for the advertising world. The advice of course can apply to most areas of design. Our education never ends!

2. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner – Gortner is quickly becoming one of my go to authors for historical fiction. His writing is wonderful and he weaves vivd tales. I did add all of his books to my amazon list after reading this one.

3. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi – This is one of those books that I really wanted to love. It dragged on for me though. I found myself skimming a lot of it as I just couldn’t get through it without doing so, but I wanted to. It’s a powerful memoir and was a book I that I felt essential to read, but I’m glad it’s behind me.

4. Madame Tussaud by Michele Moran – Moran is at the top of favorite historical fiction authors list. I LOVE her books. This one was wonderful and I wished it didn’t have to end.

5. Plan B by Jonathan Tropper – Another beloved author, he develops characters excellently. A story of love, addiction and friendship, it’s well written and engaging.

6. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp – I LOVED THIS BOOK. It deserves yelling from rooftops. I will even go as far to insist that anyone who is has selected the path of creativity for their career should read this. I devoured it in one afternoon, could not stop or put it down. We read it for a book club and I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did!

November 2016

I’m staring at the stack from this month and all I can think is: meh.

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – Ok this is the exception this month, as it was not meh, in fact the book is fantastic. As expected as it was raved about when it was released. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would, it’s amazing.

2. On Beauty by Zadie Smith – I officially give up on reading anything by Zadie Smith. This was the second of her books I’ve read and I had to drag myself through both. I kept waiting for it to get good. It was ok, I didn’t hate it, but I do not enjoy her writing enough to try again.

3. Boomsday by Christopher Buckley – Witty and sassy. A satisfying satirical read. The same author who wrote Thank You For Smoking, it was exactly what I hoped it would be, just not jaw dropping amazing.

4. The Laments by George Hagen – Another well written story. The month seemed to be filled with strong authors who write well, don’t get me wrong, just not my favorites of all the books I’ve read.

December 2016

Halfway through the month, I was tired from the season and went to the Goodwill to grab a pile of fluff. It was exactly what I needed. I have spent the year moving away from it, but sometimes I need to read as an escape and fluff takes me away better than calgon.

1. Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund – Pre fluff. An amazing book. Reminded me of Secret Life of Bees and the book where the nanny tells the young girl that she is kind all the time. Set in Birmingham, AL in the early 60’s and potent with what is going along the lines of racism and sexism today. I really, really liked this book.

2. The Sea by John Banville – Pre fluff. Beautifully written fiction of the literature variety. This is an incredible book, but it did send me over the edge and straight to the doors of the goodwill for fluff.

3. Alamo House by Sarah Bird – Fluff at it’s finest. I have read other books by the author and I knew she’d deliver. Bonus that it was set in Austin in the 80’s so fun to compare to now and all of that. Such a chick lit book, but a good one.

4. The Beach House by Jane Green – The height of fluff. Another go to of mine for chick lit. It was exactly what I needed. If you ever need a book for a beach, a plane or a bathtub, Jane Green is a good choice.

5. The Cotton Queen by Pamela Morsi – Filled with mother daughter stuff that gets pretty serious and made me second guess if this was something I wanted to read right now, and a bit beyond fluff as rape is a central theme, but a great vacation type read.

Have a wonderful New Year, I can’t wait to share what I read in the coming months with you!

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Biblio-Files August 2016

What to read from August 2016

I picked up speed again in August with the amount I was reading. I also started a second book club, which focuses on historical fiction of the non romantic variety. It’s amazing, why did I not do it sooner? Over all, I really enjoyed all six of the books I read…a lot. If you need a book to read, I highly recommend any of these on the list.

1. Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran. Moran is fast becoming one of the authors whose writing I crave. This book was fascinating! It was the first for the new book club and we all loved it. I’ve realized that historical fiction biographies are the crown jewels of what I prefer to read and this is a great one! I will I’m sure read all of her books within the next few months.

2. Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian. This was another fascinating book. In scanning the pile from August, I’m pretty sure I learned more from these six books combined than I have in any other month. This one is incredibly well written and about a man transitioning to a woman. It alternated from the main characters POV to the perspective of those who love her. I read Midwives by Bohjalian recently and loved that as well. Great author!

3. The Secret Lives of The Four Wives by Lola Shoneyin. Set in Nigeria about a man and his four wives. Divided into sections from each wives perspective. Half the time I had to keep reminding myself that the story was current and not one of my beloved historical fictions. Well written and an engaging story.

4. Gulp by Mary Roach. I think this is my favorite Mary Roach book so far. Well, Stiff might still be my favorite, but this is at the very least tied for first. There was a lot of food/eating bits tied in with this subject matter which delighted me. She writes with such a wry sense of humor, making science writing witty…I think that’s a talent very few have!

5. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Read for book club. It gets a bit woo woo, but I liked this one. Whose to say that all of these books I’ve been reading for book club this year have not sub consciously influenced the career risks I’ve been taking? I’m would never read self help books on my own, so it’s been interesting to delve into them. I’m sure they played a bigger part in the changes than I’m giving credit for!

6. Sounds Like Crazy by Shana Mahaffey. The second I read the back cover of this book, I knew I’d love. It was basically like reading a really detailed version of the show United States of Tara. An interesting story about a woman dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I’m trying to not use fascinating to describe it, but it applies to every single book this month.

You know when you read a book and it makes you crave more knowledge? It’s like you just want to absorb more and more and more of anything and everything all at once because what you’re reading is teaching and expanding your knowledge so strongly. All of these books gave me that feeling. Loved them all! Unfortunately I ended the month with major surgery though, so the anesthesia slowed me down for the past month. I’m happy to share that I’m starting to finally feel my head come out of the fog these past few days though. I have been collecting so many great books to dive into, I think I’m reading seven at once right now!

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Biblio-files for July 2016

Books to read, July 2016

I’m finally caught up on book posts!! In a few weeks, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled book posts, once a month. Ahhhhh, it feels good. July was a really sad month for reading. I read less than I have in years, because you know…moving. I don’t think I even picked up a book when I got into bed most of the month, I was that tired. We also didn’t have normal book club in July so there was not a book required for that, BUT I did join a second one that I’m excited about! I still hardly read though, so we’ll keep it short and sweet* and skip the superlatives.

1. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. As I have become more and more into historical fiction, I have been finding that I really enjoy certain authors of the genre. Moran is in the top 5 right now. She is an incredibly descriptive writer and I loved this book. I felt transported to ancient Rome and enjoyed it throughly. If you’re looking for a book to read I suggest this one first.

2. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. I’ve had this book on my “to read” shelf for years and never really gave it much thought, but this was an excellent book. Engaging and well written, I loved the story. This is number two for my what to read suggestion, if you’re not into historical fiction, it moves up to one.

3. The Moon In The Palace by Weina Dai Randel. My new book club is focused entirely on historical fiction. We picked this book as our first and it was also the authors first. Perhaps reading this on the heels of a Moran book is unfair, but her descriptions fell short. By the end it was getting better, and as this is book one of two parts, she was perhaps holding back for a reason. I’ll read the second book, but am not in a rush, especially where there are authors out there who I can’t wait to read more of.

**In my biblio-files I write about what I thought and felt about the book, in the style that if I ran into and you said you needed a book to read, and asked what have I been reading, this is what I would say. To find out the plot or what is written on the back, simply look it up on amazon, good reads or at your favorite book store!

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Biblio-files for June 2016

Books_June2016

The amount I had been reading vastly slowed down in June when I had a week long vacation with my mom and sisters that I talked the entire time during and was therefore too tired to read more then a few pages when I got into bed. This was followed immediately by one week of the most intense packing of my life as we had a quick closing and were leaving a rental, so I spent every waking moment working or packing. Speaking of which, I’m really looking forward to the day (hopefully soon) when I no longer feel compelled to talk about packing any longer. Also during that month we did tedtalks for our book club so I didn’t have a random book from that either. I still managed to read some great books though!

1. Cherry by Mary Karr – There’s a reason this woman is the queen of biography writing. I bought this a bit ago, but it had been on my amazon list for years. I hadn’t yet read Liars’ Club and didn’t want to read them out of order and I for some reason kept forgetting to buy it. The after it arrived, I knew it would be amazing so I held out for a little while, saving it. I was glad I waited as that book was fantastic. I then help out on Cherry for a while as I knew it would be great and again I saved it for when I knew I could really enjoy it. It did not disappoint. It’s wonderful. Raw, well written and full of teenage angst. I highly recommend it, but start with The Liars’ Club, as they’re chronological.

2. Call of The Midwife Volume 2: Shadows of The Workhouse by Jennifer Worth. It took me a bit to get as engrossed in this one as I was in the first volume. But by the end of it, I was wishing it wasn’t over. The format was a bit different, but it was still wonderful. It was darker than the first and explored in greater depth the poverty in postwar London, and it was excellent. I love this series and need to order the 3rd.

3. Schroder by Amity Gaige – I’ll admit that the back perhaps over sold this one a bit. It was ok, not the one on the list to run out and buy, especially with the others I read this month. It was one of the books that I have to look at for a few moments and then maybe a read a page or two to recall what it was about. I may have read it while exhausted though so it may not be a fair assessment. An ok story but nothing that I think you ‘d miss if you skipped it.

4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – This was a highly engaging book. The more I begin to recall from it, the more I remember how much I liked it. Excellent story, descriptive and really entertaining. The best option here if you need a beach or plane book to keep you engrossed.

5. Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz – This book made me LOVE Starbucks as a company. Seriously, it made me obsessed. I wish I could follow Howard Schultz around and shadow him at work for a year. It’s his story about how he came to own, transform and grow Starbucks. It was written in 1997 though, so it’s not the Starbucks we know at this point but there is one that continues on from that time, which I cannot wait to read. I love that company. I believe it was one of the first to be considered a conscious capitalism company and what a mission that was! If you enjoy business biographies and have not read this yet, it’s a must!!

Superlatives for the May list

Most likely to tell you to read if I saw you in person: Pour Your Heart Into It
Most likely to enjoy on a plane or beach: The Thirteenth Tale
Most likely make you want to read all of the others books by the author: Call of The Midwife Volume 2: Shadows of The Workhouse
Least likely to put down: Cherry
Least likely to recommend: Schroder

*In my biblio-files I write about what I thought and felt about the book, in the style that if I ran into and you said you needed a book to read, and asked what have I been reading, this is what I would say. To find out the plot or what is written on the back, simply look it up on amazon, good reads or at your favorite book store!

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Finding the time for what we love

Reading

I have mentioned before about stolen time, and how I declared that when I wanted to find the time to read more, I did. Today I wanted to elaborate on that and explain how I did it and what inspired me. It started when this past winter, I asked myself why I felt that taking the time to do my favorite thing, read, felt like such a guilty pleasure. My entire life, I have read before bed. But oddly, anything more than that felt like I was not being productive, which is weird as reading is much more productive than for example, watching TV. It became obvious that I needed to both give myself permission to have me time and find the time to do it. Then I thought about an awesome conversation I had had with my grandmother a few years ago.

My grandmother Joanne is an amazing woman. She has done more with her life than most people put together and although getting quite up there in years, she’s still going strong. It started when we were talking about her resistance to facebook. She avoids it as she feel there are only so many years left and so much she wants to accomplish in those years. If facebook entered her life, her fear is that  she would waste so much time on it that her goals would not be met. This was my first deep nugget of awesomeness from this conversation: I spend too much time on facebook. Then she told me about how when she was younger, had 5 kids under the age of 10 and was helping my grandfather run his business, she decided she wanted to write a book. So she found the time to do it. Getting up every day 2 hours before everyone in her family, she wrote her book. My grandmother found the time somehow to get the thing she wanted done and she then kept going. So lesson two was that if I wanted to do something badly enough, I could find the time…I mean really, I already had 5 less children in my own quest!

With these thoughts in my head, I sought out to steal back lost time from myself. First by granting myself the permission to do so. If I want to be happy and healthy, I need to make sure that my brain and body are exercised. So I made it a priority to give myself the time every day to read, work out and cook. Besides giving myself the time to do these things, they do not have to be what I cross off my list when I need extra time. The things that I do that do nothing for me in return are the things that needed to go. For me, these are watching tv (with the exception of during production in the studio) and checking up on things online for hours without actually doing anything. The amount of time I can waste re-checking stats, facebook, email, twitter and on and on is shocking. I started paying attention to when I was mindlessly doing either of these things (and not enjoying either of them) and would consciously get up and go read instead. I scheduled my workouts for 5 days a week and joined a kickboxing gym so I would have to answer to my trainer and my new workout bff (Hi Heidi!!) if I wasn’t there. I set aside time to cook at the very least dinner every night and I started paying attention to when I was mindlessly eating.

You know what happened? I went from reading 4 books a month to 10-12. I lost 45lbs and now have a visible 6 pack. I found a love for non fiction and historical fiction and have greatly expanded my knowledge on a few subjects I was really interested in. I’m still blown away with how much time I have to do these things and I’m not missing at all what they replaced. I’m not writing this to say that you should read more or not watch tv or anything like that. I just wanted to share how I felt like I was missing out on the things that made me happy and with a little tweaking to my life, discovered that I did in fact have the time for all of it. It’s one of the things I’ve done in a long time that I’m the most proud of as it’s made me prioritize what’s important and I feel so much better for it. Thank you to my grandmother (whom I call Ga) for the inspiration. It’s pretty cool what we can do when we set our minds to something!

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Biblio-files for May 2016

Books to read from May 2016

I’m pretty behind in my book posts, so apologies on this being way over due and the first of a couple this month. June and July were so hectic with traveling, packing and moving that I ready so little, so I’ll combine the next two. May I was still on a roll with my recent mission of taking back wasted time that there were too many to lump in with the other two months…so here we go*:

1. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace by Đặng Thùy Trâm. You know how when you read a biography and you are instantly mesmerized by it and feel transported into their life? This was not one of those biographies. I was distracted by the style of the writer. I did not flow through this book. The story was interesting, but I dragged through the telling of it.

2. Notes from The Underwire by Quinn Cummings. Amusing. Exactly what you’d expect it would be, which is comforting in a way. If you enjoy humorous stories about life events by funny women then pick it up, you’ll enjoy it.

3. Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth. I loved this book. Fascinating story, well written and made me really excited to read the next one. I have not watched the series based on the books, but I’ve heard wonderful things about that too.

4. Gay Men Don’t Get Fat by Simon Doonan. I always enjoy Doonans writing. He is full of sassy, wry wit and his books are hilarious. This one did cause me to get aggressive with my input on Adams stye, but I stand by that being a good thing.

5. Three Junes by Julia Glass. There were basically three sections in the book and through the entire middle section, but neither of the other two, I kept feeling like I had read it before. I know I did. But how did I forget the other parts?? I don’t think I would have had I read them as I really enjoyed them. Maybe in a book of collected stores?? No idea where I read it, but I read it again and loved it.

6. By Invitation Only by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank. Great story about the women who founded Gilt. I love company biographies and was fascinated by this one. Well written, interesting and I learned so much!

7. Bonk by Mary Roach. Another landslide for Ms. Roach. If you have not yet read her books, you need to start. This one is obviously about sex, but not in the way you think. Excellent book!

8. Drive by Daniel H. Pink. Ugh, I hate Pinks writing. It’s dry, so very dry research writing. I read this for book club. There were a few points while reading that I found interesting, but I was so bored reading it that I forgot most of it.

9. The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. I was so into this book that I dosed it out to make it last. I wish there were 200 more books written like this one, I would read every single one. I learned a huge amount and was captivated by it. The Presidents Club was established by Truman and Hoover when Eisenhower came into office. The book begins then and explores the relationship of the living presidents through history until now. It was such an incredible read!

10. The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane Von Furstenberg. I love, love, love this book. I am making my book club read it this month. DVB has an amazing story and I loved reading about it. Such an impressive woman!

11. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Hated it. I feel mislead in everything ever written about it. Women, Work and the Will To Lead. Where in that sub title or in anything written about this book does it say it is about having kids and working? No where. Yet, it is 95% about working mothers. That’s great and all if you want to read about the subject but I have 0 interest in it. I also found Sandbergs writing whiney and annoying. I felt like yelling at her to get some self esteem and to just STFU about how hard everything is and how no one listens to her. I kept hoping it would move on or she would grow a backbone but neither  happened.

12. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Not a whiney and annoying book. So interesting to think back about these last three books in this order. #10 and #12 included talking about holocaust and isis attack survivors who are amazing role models and wonderful people. A sharp contrast to #11. Skip #11 and pick up one of the other 2 instead. But back to Malala, you need to read this book. This young woman is amazing and her story should be heard by everyone.

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Superlatives for the May list

Most likely to tell you to read if I saw you in person: The Presidents Club
Most likely to be forgettable: Drive
Most likely to be amazing: I Am Malala
Most likely to enjoy on a plane or beach: Three Junes
Most likely to make you laugh: Notes from The Underwire
Most likely make you want to read all of the others books by the author: Bonk
Most likely to bring to book club: The Woman I Wanted To Be
Most likely to apply to work: By Invitation Only
Least likely to be what you thought: Gay Men Don’t Get Fat
Least likely to put down: Call The Midwife
Least likely to recommend: Lean In
Least likely to laugh: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace

*In my biblio-files I write about what I thought and felt about the book, in the style that if I ran into and you said you needed a book to read, and asked what have I been reading, this is what I would say. To find out the plot or what is written on the back, simply look it up on amazon, good reads or at your favorite book store!

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Biblio-files for April 2016

books read April 2016

Oh man, there are so many great books in this list, April was a great month for good books. I also realized this month that I really enjoy science books. Didn’t see that one coming! Here is what I thought of each one from top to bottom of the stack*:

1. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. I’m not sure what I thought this book was going to be about, but whatever it was, this was the opposite. I really enjoyed it. Great to toss in your beach bag, you’ll be off in your world in no time.

2. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Wonderful story about families and the relationships between grown children. Another great one for getting lost in. As soon as I saw the cover I was back entangled in the cloud of reading it.

3. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. I didn’t realize that I was reading a collection of stories until the first one ended and I was so sad to not know what was going to happen to the characters next. Captivating and engaging, I’m pretty sure I have read both of Lahiris other books and will read anything she writes. Excellent author.

4. The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I was surprised at how into this one I got. Non fiction about the HeLa cells, where they came from and how and the impact they still on modern medicine. Told through the family of the origin of the cells. Are you confused by what I’m talking about, well then go read it, it was fascinating!

5. The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. Another wonderful, magical Hoffman novel. I do adore her books. I may have yelled at this one a few times but that was more from being really into it.

6. Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal. I read this for book club and let me tell you that all of us thought it was much different than what it sells itself as. If you take it as a biography of the woman who started the pizza place Wild in NYC and Thinx, the period underwear, you’ll enjoy it much more. There however better biographies out there of people in business.

7. The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman. I just can’t help myself. If you had to choose between the two Hoffman books I read, I’d go with this one. Magical, mysterious and fluid…as her books should be.

8. Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear. Great book about food and the “food movement” in the US right now. I am all set to eat bugs after reading this. Seriously, I could write an entire post about that and most likely will so I’ll just leave you with knowing that it if you’re into food and restaurants and what’s going on in them in US cities, then you’ll enjoy this.

9. Spook by Mary Roach. “Science Tackles the Afterlife”. If you have read anything by Roach, you’ll love it. She delves into a subject and investigates it from every angle, dedicating chapters to each nuance and using her humor to create an enjoyable dialog as she delivers the info. I love her books, they’re all amazing.

10. Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland. I’ve never been disappointed with anything written by Coupland. This book is no exception: it’s snarky, ridiculous and will have you shaking your head in amusement the whole way through…that is if you’re part of generation x.

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Superlatives for the April list

Most likely to tell you to read if I saw you in person: Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear
Most likely to be forgettable: The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
Most likely to be amazing: Spook by Mary Roach
Most likely to enjoy on a plane or beach: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Most likely to make you laugh: Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland
Least likely to be what you thought: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Least likely to put down: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Least likely to read again: The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Least likely to recommend: Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal
Least likely to laugh: The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

*In my biblio-files I write about what I thought and felt about the book, in the style that if I ran into and you said you needed a book to read, and asked what have I been reading, this is what I would say. To find out the plot or what is written on the back, simply look it up on amazon, good reads or at your favorite book store!

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Deep Thoughts on Hobbies

coffe and book

I often muse on when exactly I stopped wanting to do any hobby that involved making things. It was most likely not long after I went from Manic Trout being a “jobby” to a job. Whenever I start thinking about this, it leads to a bunch of deep thoughts. Today I’ve decided to write these down as I ponder this subject.

1. I could be assuming wrong, but I would think that most of us want to have hobbies which stimulate different areas of the brain than what we spend much time at work on. Which is why makers do not often want to make as a hobby and grad students choose to not read that much for pleasure.

2. As I make, market and design for my job, and most of the time alone, I enjoy reading, physical fitness and talking/eating with friends as my areas of hobbies. I’m basically craving in my downtime all the things I am not doing during the majority of my day.

3. This also explains that when I had a talk with myself in December about happiness, I also declared I was over tv in my free time…because when I am in production, I binge watch tv shows. It’s been put into the “work” column.

4. This led me to think about how hobbies are such a wonderful way to balance out your life. Although I work alone, I am still communicating via email and social media all day and have lunch meetings virtually and in person a good deal of the week. Which I think is why I crave so much reading time. It’s my way of shutting off the noise.

5. On the flip side, when I am being social in real life, I am so often one on one, that recently joining a kickboxing gym, a book club and a networking/dining club had filled something with the group dynamic that I didn’t realize was missing.

6. Focusing on all of this for the past 6 months has been fascinating. I now have started paying attention to friends of mine and their work/life/hobby dynamic to see how they fill in the gaps too.

7. In the book Drive by Daniel Pink, he writes about a study by Csikszentimhalyi about the importance of enjoyable (play and non instrumental to work activities) experiences in your day to life. With them, you have a greater chance of reaching the beautiful “flow” in your work which is essential to mastery. Not to mention, that without these activities, you will be sluggish, have headaches, difficulty concentrating and have thoughts that wander in circles without getting anywhere.

8. Since my big self talk, I still work a lot of 15+ hour days, but as always, I read before bed and try really hard to fit in some exercise in that day. If I’m on a big deadline, I make sure the next day for sure includes something physical for at least an hour. Days when I am not in the midst of a big launch or deadline, when I find myself wasting time on non productive work, like facebook. I leave the studio and use that time to read, go for a walk or even catch up on chores. By doing this I have reclaimed so much time and made it happy time. It balances out the long days really well.

9. I also try to make sure I allow myself a few hours during the weekends to avoid the studio. If I have a week where we have out of town guests, or I know I’ll be traveling, I make an exception if I need to catch up on work, but otherwise I have granted myself permission to enjoy the hobbies and have days off. It’s been incredibly helpful in my mental health, I wish I had sat myself down sooner for this talk.

10. For a long time I had it in my head that hobbies had to be these new activities that I was not really feeling…i.e: making things. When I finally allowed myself to define my enjoyment activities to the things I was already trying to squeeze in but not calling a hobby (reading, exercise, friends), it changed my perspective and I suddenly was making time to do them. Sometimes its all about perspective.

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