March Reads | The Life of K: March Reads

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March Reads

It's been a nice, non-Easter weekend and I'm taking some time to catch up on some posts I've been wanting to write. First up, books!

I feel like I got back to reading in March. (I also didn't have any puzzles to do.) I got some really great books to sink in to which helped a lot. I can't even pick a favourite... they were all good. Some made me think and wonder, some made me cringe, some made me cry.

8. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.

What I thought

While I was reading this book, I felt energized. Everything she said made sense and Brown is obviously smart and insightful. A month later however I can hardly remember the book so I'm not sure what I got out of reading it. Maybe I should have taken notes.

9. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

What I thought

Like Daring Greatly, I remember really liking this book while reading it. Liking it even more than Daring Greatly. I like how Gilbert writes and how she inspires. This book actually led me to finally pick up Eat, Pray, Love.

10. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

What I thought

Years and years and years ago I started watching Grey's Anatomy. I still do. I watched the entire Private Practice, a spin off of Grey's. I binged recently on Scandal and now watch every episode when it airs. Let's just say that I'm a Shonda Rhimes fan so this book was really interesting to read. It gave a lot of insight into her life and writing process. I love thinking that what we see is the manifestation of the worlds created in her head.

Reading about a self-declared introvert who, by saying yes, does more with her life is inspiring. It reminds me that saying yes is often fun and exciting. It makes me feel lazy about changing into comfy clothes the minute I get home and only going out if absolutely necessary. Have I started going out more? No, but I am thinking about it.

What this book has spurred me to do is check out How to get Away with Murder, another of Rhimes' shows. So far so good!

11. Inside the O'Brien's by Lisa Genova


Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

What I thought

Lisa Genova's books are intense. Great stories that show the personal side of diseases and let me tell you: Huntington's sounds awful. This book goes between Joe and his daughter Katie's perspectives. Joe is the one with Huntington's, the one experiencing the symptoms and eventually losing his job. Katie is watching her father's health decline and wondering about her own fate. Neither is an enviable position.

12. My Secret Sister by Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith


Helen grew up in a village in Tyneside with her family living nearby. But they could not protect her from her neglectful mother and violent father. Jenny was adopted and grew up in Newcastle. Neither woman knew of the other's existence until, in her 50s, Jenny went looking for her birth family and found she had a sister.

What I thought

This was a hard book to read. The abuse and neglect that Helen endured was awful. It was an interesting story though - twins separated at birth, raised in very different families, unknown to each other until much much later.

The beginning is thrilling, reading each woman's account of life growing up. The last bit was a little disappointing. To me it seemed like they lost a bit of steam and just wanted to be done with it. The ending could have been stronger even with the unfinished story (the women are still alive so the story continues.)

13. All the Bright Places


Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

What I thought

Oof, this was a tough book to read. It starts with death, a car accident, and follows two teens through an awkward year of high school. Finch and Violet have an interesting relationship and reading about their adventures reminded me of a simpler time. In high school when we used to hop in my enormous Pontiac Parisienne and just drive, talking about everything and nothing, singing along to whatever mixed tape was playing. I miss those days.

Currently reading Eat, Pray Love

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