The Book Nook

I know it was only yesterday when I first mentioned this book but I’ve already finished reading it!

It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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I seriously love the cover of this book, by the way.

My feeble thoughts: Here is what I liked: I loved the Japanese lens she brought to tidying such as showing gratitude/respect for our things and our home, like thanking our handbag for working so hard for us today and all the blessings we were able to carry inside of it.

Of course, I adore her famous question: “Does it spark joy?”. It’s funny what little things spark joy for me. Currently, it’s these reusable snack bags that I have for the kids. I love them so much! I know, it’s a little weird.

I could relate to her stories and urges to tidy, especially a child.

I appreciated her main strategy: tackle by category, not by room, do it all at once (which is the complete opposite of my strategy that I declared in this post), and what category to start with first, next, and last. That was helpful and something we are actually implementing currently! Stay tuned!

Lastly, I like the word tidying. Don’t you?

What I didn’t like: I felt like she over-explained everything. I wasn’t too keen on her personal stories, even though I found myself relating to a lot of them. I didn’t love the writing, although it had a genuine Japanese voice to them, which I appreciated.

Grade: B for writing/content, A for inspiration! I could have done without the over-explaining, the meh writing, and the silly anecdotes but would have hungrily devoured more tips, lists, strategies, and pictures on how she folds her clothes. Please show me your sushi-inspired sock drawer! Yet, still, I walked away completely inspired to get my house/yard/life/mind/body in order, stat. SPARK JOY! Get rid of everything else!

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Yes! This subject excites me so I want others to read it and take on the tidying mission with me.

What I am reading now: You know what? I never finished “Savage Girl” and I’m still reading “Stones from the River” that my MIL lent me PROBABLY FIVE YEARS AGO. It’s a good book, I don’t know what the hell is taking me so long to read it.

Wow, it’s been a minute since the last one of these, huh?

The Book Nook

It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore

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My feeble thoughts: I mostly skimmed this book but it was worth the sleep I gave up to do so! It’s broken up into a few sections – the science of your skin, eating right for great skin, detoxing from beauty products and how to switch to a natural skin care regime. This book is conversational in tone – no delicious prose here – but it got me excited about trying to take better care of myself and it prompted me to take a good look at all of the things I’m putting on my body and in my body. She includes recipes for food AND homemade beauty products, as well as a list of harmful chemicals to look out for. She encourages you to do what you feel comfortable with by incorporating as much natural skin care as you can. If you can’t live without mascara, ok, but how about making your own cleanser? If you can’t skip that morning coffee, ok, but maybe try juicing with kale and spinach?

Grade: B+ Only because some of the claims aren’t backed up by studies/proof.

As a side note, I have been stressed to the max the last two months because I was beyond sleep deprived and my skin was a wreck. I broke out so bad that even Amelie pointed out one incredulously large blemish and said “Owie, Mama.” Owie is right! Now that Amelie’s cough is finally gone, I’m only getting up once to feed Cade and that’s totally reasonable! I’m looking forward to trying a few recipes and playing with essential oils too.

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Yes! I think most of my friends would find this book worth the browse.

What I am reading now: Hubs checked out “Savage Girl” for me. I have no idea what it’s about but it’ll be good for me to read before bed each night instead falling in face first, unshowered and teary-eyed.

The Book Nook

It’s true, I really can read!

I finished a book during Amelie’s first year of life. I am so impressed with myself.

THE BOOK: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

My feeble thoughts: Little Miss CeeCee Honeycutt is a smart girl navigating a very confusing home. Her mentally ill Mom is a mess (although CeeCee loves her fiercely) and her overwhelmed Dad finds every opportunity to avoid dealing with either of them, leaving CeeCee in charge. CeeCee’s already strange world gets flipped upside down when her Mom dies tragically and her Dad ships her south to stay with relatives. Into CeeCee’s life shuffles warmth, love, stability, colorful characters, and adventure. This is a sweet, funny, short novel. To me, I found parallels between this and The Help but it’s far from the same book. I really liked CeeCee and her story.

Grade: B+

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? If you are in the mood for an easy, feel-good read, then yes, absolutely.

What I am reading now: Stones from The River by Ursula Hegi. Admittedly I spend more time flipping through Instagram than I do reading, but I’m hoping to start reading more during my evenings before bed.

The Book Nook

It’s true, I really can read!

(P.S. A non baby-related post to boot!)

THE BOOK: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

My feeble thoughts:  I actually finished this book last year (barely) but you know how I’ve been with blogging and managing my time. Let’s see if I can even remember back that far…

Really, Jonathan Franzen is quite the novelist. But this novel moved like sludge for me, especially the latter part. It follows a “perfect-on-the-outside” liberal middle-class family that set roots in Minnesota (woot woot!). Behind closed doors though, The Berglunds are struggling. Each of the characters are highly flawed and to be honest, fairly dislikable -therefore making it really hard to relate to them. You’ve got Patti, a vey attractive and talented athlete that settles down and gets married to a “nice guy” but whom she was never really in love with. Then there is Walter (the nice guy), a lawyer-environmental activist that is almost too pure, too moral for his own family’s good. They have two children: Joey (rebellious and charismatic) and Jessica (Miss Goody Two Shoes – is that not the stupidest saying?) who aggravate their parent’s already very weakened marriage. I was confused about the book’s layout and perspectives, since they change frequently. In the beginning, you get to learn a lot about Patti and what molded her as a young adult, but not necessarily about Walter. Later on, it focuses on Joey but never Jessica. I found this asymmetry confusing but maybe it’s because I didn’t appreciate the layers this book has to offer. And lastly, the ending was much too muddled with politics and logistics than with the relationships I was hoping would heal.

And the ending? I won’t give anything away but it was meh.

Grade: B

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Yes, but only to more literary-minded folks, not those looking for a quick read.

What I am reading now: I started The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo while travelling to MN and have been perusing What To Expect In The First Year for a while now. I doubt I’ll be doing much reading when you-know-who arrives, but hopefully I can squeeze in some “reading for pleasure” time instead of worrying about all of the crap I still need to get done.  It’s looking unlikely though.

Hubs is reading The Game of Thrones series and enjoying them. I don’t have the courage to start; those are massive books! Anyone else pick up a good spring read that they want to recommend?

 

The Book Nook

It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

My feeble thoughts: This book come with many honors and I am not surprised.  It’s the story of a Dominican family, with a chubby romantic named Oscar at its center, that immigrates to Brooklyn to escape the horrors of their homeland.  They are kind of lost folks (cursed, some may claim), no matter where they try to live.  It was eye opening, being that I’ve played on the beautiful beaches of the Dominican Republic, to read more of the country’s gnarly history of oppression, violence, and poverty.  The book’s voice(s) and the writing – with massively long footnotes – are undoubtably unique,  but I had a few issues with it.  First, the Spanglish, although endearing, was frustrating for me.  My eight grade Spanish knowledge was useful about 10% of the time.  There would be entire sentences that I did not understand.  I usually read before bed too, so there was no way I was going to hop online to try and translate any of it.  It also references lots of sci-fi movies/shows/books and role-playing games, a majority of which I didn’t get (and I think most people wouldn’t either).  I felt left out, plain and simple.  Also, the title implies that the book is about Oscar, but frankly, I didn’t really feel like I got to know him all that well.  The book jumps from character to character in Oscar’s life, narrated by different people (but not consistently) and I found it a little difficult to fully dive in and root for Oscar.  This doesn’t give anything away: a narrator emerges late into the book and you don’t know this, but he is actually a character from other writings by Junot Diaz, named Yunior.  I kept thinking, WHO IS THIS GUY?  Anyway, I was not Wilde (that’s a sneaky reference to the title) about it but it was not bad, not bad at all.

Grade: B

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Yeah, probably, especially if they are bilingual or of Dominican heritage.

What I am reading now: As you rightfully assumed, I still haven’t finished Getting Things Done (oh, the irony) but I’m currently reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, which comes highly recommended by the Hubs.  So far, it’s very good!

The Book Nook

*It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock

 

My feeble thoughts: Set in post WWII-rural West Virginia and Ohio, Pollock crafts this novel around a collection of characters that are simultaneously fascinating and completely disturbed.  Just as you “settle in” with one character, he jumps to/revisits a different one, each with their fair share of miserableness.  You get to sneak around with a broken veteran and his young son that take their prayers to God too far, a serial killer couple that targets innocent hitchhikers, a massively ignorant but faithful preacher and his crippled partner that are hiding from their past, and a deputy that uses the law for his own selfish exploits.  Of course, their stories braid together eventually.   Although superbly well written, the evilness in this book is hard to take.  The title is not deceiving whatsoever!

Grade: A

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? I did recommend it to Hubs (he’s reading it now), although I’m not sure it’s for everyone.

What I am reading now: I’m reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, so I can transform my lazy tendencies into super hero productivity.  Turns out, it’s slow going and I’m not sure I’ll finish it.  Think that’s a bad sign already?

 

The Book Nook

*It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

My feeble thoughts: Francisco writes his own true life love story, a deeply sentimental novel detailing his marriage to Aura, cut much too short after she passes away in a tragic surfing accident while they vacationed in Mexico.  He is left to pick up his life’s pieces in New York, while trying to honor her memories and cop

Sorry, I never finished the damn thing.  I got bored!

Grade: C, but I’ll take credit for the poor score.  Goldman is a wonderful writer and his love for Aura is sincere.

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? If you are the romantic type, maybe.

What I am reading now: Hubs grabbed me another book from the library about serial killers, oh dear.

 

The Book Nook

*It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: Room by Emma Donoghue

 

My feeble thoughts: Side note – Hubs swung by the library to grab us some free reads for our trip to California.  He picked out this book for me so I could stay home and focus on what really mattered: packing each of my outfits with the proper shoes and accessories.

This book’s premise is straight out of the news headlines.  It’s a story of a woman kidnapped and held captive in a tiny room for many years, completely closed off from the outside world.  Through the course of abuse, she gives birth to a son named Jack and their story is told through his narrative.  I must admit, I found his narrative a shade gimmicky and difficult to parse at first.  But, soon, I really started to enjoy curious Jack and the little world “Ma” has tried to create for him, despite the desperate circumstances.  I would say I found the first half of the book much more exciting than the latter, but it was a good book nonetheless.

Grade: B+

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? I think so.

What I am reading now: Hubs also picked up Say Her Name (and now I have a Destiny’s Child song stuck in my head) by Francisco Goldman, which I just started this week.  I’ll keep you posted.  What are you all reading this summer?

The Book Nook

*It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: BossyPants by Tina Fey

My thoughts (which most likely carry little to no influence): Here’s the thing – I didn’t really get a lot of the jokes.  They fell into three main categories:  growing up in the 70s as a theater nerd, SNL (duh), and 30 Rock – all of which, I realized, I knew nothing about.  Instead of taking me on a funny ride, I spent almost the entire book learning a lot about stand up comedy and how especially difficult it is for women to be successful and respected as comedians.  One thing is for certain, although self deprecating and humble, Tina Fey works her tail off!  Her journey to stardom was not an easy one and she has earned every bit of her success.  That being said, I didn’t really care for the book (I blame my own ignorance, not her) except for the last chapter on motherhood which was beyond hilarious.  That alone would be worth the read!

Grade: B

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? The last chapter, sure.  The rest?  Probably not unless they were a huge fan of SNL or 30 Rock.

What I am reading now: Nothing!  I tried reading Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, but had to return it to the library unfinished since it was overdue and had holds on it.  Phooey!  I’ll try again this summer, if I can manage to get my dirty paws on it again.

The Book Nook

*It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

<em>Catching fire</em> [Book]

 

My thoughts (which most likely carry little to no influence): This is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy (read my review of the first here).  Predictably, Hubs and I gobbled it up with no shame.  In spite of being riddled with crappy writing, cheesy cliches and holes in the plot, it still was a good read.  Good as the first?  Not even close.  But, I still couldn’t help myself.  And you bet Hubs and I are going to push our way past the tweens to get tickets to the movie, now that it’s finally out!

Grade: B

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? *cringes*  Yeah, I totally would.

What I am reading now: I’m reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants instead of cleaning my landfill of a house.