Tuesday, February 6, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - January

I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 24 books again for 2018. I beat it by 13 last year and am hoping to surpass it again this year. I had a list of books I wanted to get from the library to read this month, but turns out the library was closed for the month because they were moving locations.  Luckily, I still have plenty of unread books in a pile at home!

(Note: book descriptions come from Amazon.com but all reviews are my own)

1. You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2/5 ★)

"In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you've never made before.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass."

I had been wanting to read this book for awhile so when Amazon had a $5/$15 book deal at the end of December I snagged it despite my "no buying books" declaration. I really, really, really wanted to like this book, and to learn from it, but I just didn't.  There was nothing original in it that I hadn't read in any other "self-help" book before (and I haven't read a whole lot of self-help books).  It was extraordinarily repetitive and quite frankly, not very helpful.  Basically the whole book summed up is, "believe you will, and you will." I'm absolutely a believe that in order to be successful, you do have to believe in yourself and your dreams, but you also have to work for them, and I felt like this book ignored the "work for them" part of that reality.

2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (3/5 ★)

"Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch. The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them. There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive. Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off."

This was my first audiobook of the year.   I loved The Maze Runner when I read it back in college before the movie came out, so I had bought the whole series.  I never got around to reading them and ended up getting rid of them. I saw the audiobook at the library and figured I would give it a go.  I didn't love the audiobook, and I'm not sure if I would have liked it better in print or not.  That being said I was getting anxious to know what happened to the kids when they got out of the maze which made this book a little more interesting. 

3. The Death Cure by James Dashner (2/5 ★)

"WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over."

It's not often I say this, but I should have just waited for the movie without reading (or rather listening to) this book. This was the last book in the trilogy, and to be honest I thought it was kind of dull.  Again, its possible that is just because I listened to it as an audiobook rather than reading it in print.  I will definitely see the movie (released in theaters on January 17) now that I have listened to the audiobook though.

4. Now Go Out There (and get curious) by Mary Karr

"A celebration of curiosity, compassion, and the surprising power of fear, based on the New York Times bestselling author and renowned professor’s 2015 commencement address at Syracuse University.

Every year there are one or two commencement speeches that strike a chord with audiences far greater than the student bodies for which they are intended. In 2015 Mary Karr’s speech to the graduating class of Syracuse University caught fire, hailed across the Internet as one of the most memorable in recent years, and lighting up the Twittersphere.
In Now Go Out There, Karr explains why having your heart broken is just as—if not more—important than falling in love; why getting what you want often scares you more than not getting it; how those experiences that appear to be the worst cannot be so easily categorized; and how to cope with the setbacks that inevitably befall all of us. “Don’t make the mistake of comparing your twisted up insides to other people’s blow-dried outsides,” she cautions. “Even the most privileged person in this stadium suffers the torments of the damned just going about the business of being human.”
An ideal—and beautifully designed—gift for a graduate or for anyone looking for some down-to-earth life advice, Now Go Out There is destined to become a classic."

Okay so technically this is a book, but its not actually a story.  It is literally just her speech spread out across pages and bound into a book which is why I did not give it a rating.  Its a great speech, but I would guess you can probably just find it on the internet if you wanted to read it.  That being said, I think it would be a great "guest book" for a graduation party!

5. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle (5/5 ★)

"Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.
Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another—and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they've been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true—true to themselves and to each other.
Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life."

I had seen Glennon speak at Together Live in Nashville last fall and I knew immediately that I wanted to read her book.  She is a fascinating speaker and storyteller.  Lucky for me, there were piles of her book outside the door as we left! I was not let down.  Glennon's story growing up was so different than my own and her writing about her struggles is exquisite and beautiful.  I envy her writing talent and her ability to put feelings into words.  This was definitely the best book I read this month, hands down.

6. I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi (2/5 ★)

"With over 500,000 readers a month at her enormously popular blog, AwesomelyLuvvie.com, Luvvie Ajayi is a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I'm Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives. It passes on lessons and side-eyes on life, social media, culture, and fame, from addressing those terrible friends we all have to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma's wake on Facebook.
With a lighthearted, razor sharp wit and a unique perspective, I'm Judging You is the handbook the world needs, doling out the hard truths and a road map for bringing some "act right" into our lives, social media, and popular culture. It is the Do-Better Manual."

I am going to start my saying that Luvvie is an AMAZING speaker so if you get the chance to see her speak I would highly encourage it!  Because of that, I expected to LOVE her book.  Unfortunately it took me a really long time to get into. It began talking about all these types of “friends” and essentially how each type is bad but she talks about each friend as though she is describing an actual person in her life. I just keep reading thinking, “if they’re so bad, why do you still call them friends?” Then it continued to whine about societal standards and relationships and social media habits and so on and so forth.  That being said, she did make a lot of very valid points later in the book in terms of racism, homophobia and privilege which is why I gave this book two stars instead of zero.  I really loved what she had to say in these chapters, but it was still difficult to power through it.  If you choose to read this book, I recommend you skip the beginning chapters because they read like a bad Elite Daily article...so much whining! I'm a pretty positive person who doesn't care to dwell on the negatives and I do everything I can to change or eliminate the bad stuff in my life, which is why I was so turned off by this book.  If you're a Negative Nancy, then this book may interest you, but if you're a fairly positive person like myself then do yourself a favor and give this book a hard pass. (Side note: if you took a shot every time she use the phrase "side eye," you would be smashed by page 5. SERIOUS SIDE EYE OVERLOAD.)

7. Clean by Amy Reed (4/5 ★)

"Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves—and one another—if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down."

After struggling through that last book, I needed an easy read and this was the perfect choice.  Our public library just re-opened in a new building at the end of January and it is SO NICE! Clean is a young adult book that I would recommend for late middle schoolers/early high schoolers.  That being said, I enjoyed it as a 26 year old because as far as I'm concerned books know no age levels.

One last bit of information, if you love to read I recommend you first, get a Goodreads account, second: add me as a friend, and third: enter the Goodreads book giveaways! I just discovered these mid-October and I've already won 10+ books. Its a great way to try new books that you may not buy otherwise, and get advanced reader copies!

Reading Challenge: 7/24 books

No comments:

Post a Comment