Success! This is my proudest “30 before 30” accomplishment so far. I initially thought reading 13 books in 13 weeks would be a breeze, but it was quite the commitment, make that a 4,284 page commitment!
Luckily I had a vacation on my side where I was able to knock out a whopping five books. In all, I read an average 50 pages a day for three months. Here is my reading list with a thought or note about each book.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
A great story with deep character studies. If Tom’s writing style was less engaging, I would have considered this a slow read. However, it kept my attention and I might even call it brilliant. I really enjoyed this book!
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is the most hilarious human on the planet. I accidentally deleted my half-read copy of Bossypants from my Kindle on vacation and I think the entire hotel heard my angry she-roar. Alas, I had to finish it when I got home. This book had me rolling with giggles and there are so many great quotes. One of my favorites: “By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.” Oh, I heart Tina Fey.
The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro
Meh. Either I’m getting old, or Laurie Notaro is just not as funny as she used to be.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
While aspects of the characters exist in all of us, the train wreck of self-indulgence was a little hard to take for nearly 600 pages, or 24 hours, since I got the audiobook for free on Audible. The first half was pretty good but then it went on and on and became unbelievable … and then I got to the point where I didn’t even care if it was believable because I just wanted it to be over. I wasted a day of my life on the book (granted it was spread out over a month during my commute, but still).
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Now if there was ever an exceptional audiobook, this is it! A truly enjoyable listen and a great, mesmerizing story.
A classic that manages to still feel contemporary. This is easily now one of my favorite books and I’m going to take another trip down Steinbeck lane.
Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson
I finished reading the “Three Cups of Tea” follow up just a few weeks before the news broke on Mortenson’s fraudulent ways. I was crushed and spent way too many hours reading news stories and Jon Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit.” While Mortenson has obviously been less than honest, I would still consider his work to be a huge success if you take into account the international awareness he has generated for education and humanitarian efforts in the Middle East. Such a sad tale.
A jolly good read with classic “the Oatmeal” humor.
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
I went to a reading/talk by Joshua Ferris at Bumbershoot a few years back but hadn’t actually read his book. While it’s an interesting story and look at a moment in time (the dot-com era), it just seems weird given the current financial crisis, recession and sweeping layoffs. A fine read, but a little depressing.
Hurray, hurray for Malcolm Gladwell and my favorite genre of armchair economics.
I finally read “The Alchemist” and, indeed, it is magical. I really enjoyed the simple but inspiring tale, but rather than attempt a review, I’ll share some of my favorite quotes:
“Don’t be impatient … Eat when it’s time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.”
“There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
“… when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
“Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.”
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
Four books down, nine to go.
Five weeks have passed since I began my 13 books in 13 weeks goal. And my progress? Just three books. Yep, that’s it. Yikes! However, they are some of the longest books on my list. “The Help” is 464 pages, “Stones into Schools” is 448 pages and “Freedom” is 576 pages. I found the books to be amazing, inspirational and rambling, respectively. Now it’s time to pick up the pace!
Anybody have a case of the Mondays? Bwahaha… Here’s my favorite fix – The “Happy at Work Manifesto” from Change This. It’s an excerpt from Alexander Kjerulf’s book Happy Hour is 9 to 5: How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work.
Even though the manifesto was written three years ago, it is still one of my favorites and I read it a few times per year. It’s funny that after all this time, I still haven’t read the book, which apparently sucks (just two Amazon reviews). I guess it’s one of those cases of a book that should have been a chapter.
This isn’t something that’s going to blow your mind and make you think radically different, it’s just a fun reminder to choose happiness. Cheesy, but in a nice way:
Because the future belongs to the happy!
1: I choose to be happy at work.
2: I can be happy at work.
3: My happiness at work is my responsibility.
4: Knowing what makes me happy or unhappy at work is my responsibility.
5: Letting others know what makes me happy or unhappy at work is my responsibility.
6: Something will happen when I do something.
7: I know that my happiness at work affects my happiness outside of work.
8: I know that happiness at work affects my health.
9: I may end up spending most of my waking hours at work—I want to make those hours count.
10: It’s OK to have a bad day at work.
11: I do my best work when I’m happy.
12: There’s no such thing as too much happiness.
13: I recognize that happiness at work also comes from the time I don’t spend at work.
14: I recognize that happiness at work is different for everyone.
15: Happiness at work is something I create now.
16: I recognize that happiness at work doesn’t come from the absence of bad things in the workplace.
17: Happiness at work is infectious—I will be a carrier.
18: The best way to make myself happy at work is by making others happy at work.
19: I will take time to do this.
20: I will fix my job or quit.
21: Happiness at work ain’t rocket science.
22: I give first.
23: I recognize that a higher salary will not make me happy at work.
24: I recognize that power, status symbols, a corner office or even access to the corporate jet won’t make me happy at work.
25: Happiness at work comes from the things you and I do here and now.
If you enjoyed those points, go check out the whole thing on www.ChangeThis.com — a super cool website that publishes short 10 to 20-page manifestos (which are basically well-designed, illustrated book excerpts).
Here’s my ode to Domino magazine’s “10 things that make me happy” lists (and the many other bloggers who have created “things loved” lists). Maybe it’s just spring, but for some reason half the things on my list this month have something to do with flowers.
They get no respect, but I love their simplicity and persistent nature! I’d say they’re totally making a comeback. No more filler flower stereotypes.
2. Liberty of London for Target
As a bit of pre-gardening inspiration, I purchased almost everything in the Sixty print. Seriously.
3. Art-inspired Collectible Tees
I’ve been eyeing these shirts from Ann Taylor Loft for the past couple of months and finally scooped up three during a 40% off sale. I love dressy t-shirts, and the fact that they’re all a little bit different (neck lines, fabrics and applique, trim, beading details) means you can get more than one.
4. Wii Fit Plus
I’m a little late to the game with the Wii Fit and balance board, but I love the fun games and it doesn’t hurt to have a little yoga and strength training for a gym workout supplement. If only it would stop telling me I’m 37!
5. Powell’s Books Home & Garden Store
Our favorite place to hang out on Hawthorne before movies at the Bagdad. Awesome gifts and outdoor/gardening ideas.
6. Gingher Designer Scissors in Roberta Print
Any quilter would call me out as an impostor and I don’t sew enough to be worthy of these adorable scissors. However, the cuteness will make my occasional sewing/craft project uber-special.
7. Häagen-Dazs Five Ice Cream – Passion Fruit
OMG! Light and sweet with just the right amount of tartness, this tastes more like gelato than ice cream… it’s a close runner-up to the passion fruit gelato at Ono Gelato in Hawaii.
8. A mountain cabin getaway
The cabins at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park are a must-do spring activity. It’s still too cold to tent camp (in my opinion), but perfect for a cozy weekend getaway… crisp mountain air, a sprinkling of rain, s’mores, a cozy cabin… plus a 10+ mile bike ride on the Banks Vernonia trail (a rails to trails project complete with some killer trestles you can pedal across).
9. Soyrizo Burrito from Taqueria Los Gorditos
My favorite thing at this taco cart is the veggie (not vegan – I need sour cream) soyrizo burrito. Thankfully all the fame and attention hasn’t gone to their head. It’s also a fun place to people watch while you wait…and there’s a fair share of the “I’m so cool, I stopped showering/shaving/changing my clothes months ago” variety.
10. Cole Haan “Petra” Boot
I’ve been searching for the perfect flat boot in brown leather for a few years. Yes, years. And I finally found it. This one has Nike Air to boot (haha, get it?). And for $100 at Nordstrom Rack, they were a total steal.