Nov 4, 2019

What I Read in September and October 2019

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What I Read September - October 2019

As usual, I started multiple books that didn't make this list, but I did enjoy the following books enough to finish them:

Zen Bender: A Decade-Long Enthusiastic Quest to Fix Everything (That Was Never Broken) by Stephanie Krikorian

First of all, who knew you could make a living ghost-writing self-help books?! That's what Stephanie Krikorian did, and it led her to write her own book, about all the self-help she'd learned while helping to write about it. I could relate to a lot of her feelings, since I've been reading books from the self-help genre since I was in high school (my parents are big believers in constant personal growth, so there were always books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Power of Positive Thinking around the house). Although I've never done a lot of the New Age-y things like consulting a clairvoyant, I did come away from the book with a renewed appreciation for the powers of yoga and meditation. If you read a lot of self-help books, and/or you like podcasts like By the Book, I think you'll enjoy Zen Bender.

Chasing Daylight: How my Forthcoming Death Transformed my Life by Eugene O'Kelly

Before he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Eugene O'Kelly was the hugely successful Chairman and CEO of KPMG. I'm not sure what compelled me to read this book, other than an interest in the thought process of someone who has a rather definitive end date. I was particularly intrigued by the closure he sought with people from different stages of his life. Maybe what I learned most from reading this book is to reach out to other people, because in the end, it's our relationships with other people that matter the most.

Here If You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Baestrup (audio)

This is another book I just stumbled upon, but it was interesting because the author lost her police officer husband in a car crash. He was studying to become a minister, and she took up the studying, then became minister to the Maine Game Warden Service. Her work with the game wardens includes comforting families during missing persons cases, praying over dead bodies, and counseling the game wardens. She's also a mother of four, so I related to her personal life, especially when she talked about her relationships with her teenagers. And her openness expanded my own faith.

Best American Food Writing 2018

This compilation of articles and essays was edited by Ruth Reichl, and although there were a couple I didn't care for, in general, I really enjoyed learning about food in a new way. The two articles that struck me the most were about Ree Drummond and her empire (I knew her family's ranch was huge, but I didn't realize just how enormous), and about Driscoll's, the berry brand, and how they create different berries. Fascinating stuff!

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (audio)

This was such a bizarre book that I almost stopped listening to it after ten minutes, but I finished it because I did genuinely enjoy the author's perspective, memories, and insights. She's funny and honest, but the format of this book, especially in audio, was very peculiar. The odd musical interludes were especially off-putting to me. And I did not participate in the texting invitations she extends throughout the book. But her stories about her life, and her exhortation to live better, are definitely affirming.

Walking Shadows by Faye Kellerman

This is the latest Decker/Lazarus novel, and there are so many of these books that the characters are now like old friends. I've loved mysteries since I was eight years old and a family friend gave me a Nancy Drew book, and this was just as enjoyable as the first one.

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl (audio)

I reviewed this book in a recent newsletter, so if you're an email subscriber, you might want to skip ahead. I stumbled onto it by accident, because I thought I was borrowing a nonfiction book by Ruth Reichl, since I'd recently enjoyed one of her memoirs. I usually avoid fiction audiobooks, but this one was fantastic (the actress who read it, Julia Whelan, has won awards for her audiobook work). The story has an endearing protagonist, and there's a massive spotlight on food. (You might not enjoy this book if you don't love reading, learning, and thinking about food - just a warning.)

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer

My son rolled his eyes at me when I told him I was reading a book about how to write better, but I honestly enjoyed this book. Of course I read it because I want to be a better writer, but I also learned quite a few new words, and had nerdy fun learning that a surprising amount of what I thought of as bad or confusing writing was simply because I didn't know the difference between American and British styles. (Example: "towards" is British and "toward" is American.)

The House We Grew Up In: A Novel by Lisa Jewell

I read this for book club, and although I thought I wasn't going to like it after the first couple of chapters, I ended up sitting down and ignoring everything else to finish it. What was most remarkable about it is that every character is complex, and despite their mistakes and betrayals, no one is a "bad guy," and everyone is redeemable. The circumstances are definitely beyond the average family, but every average family member can relate to it.

What have you read lately?

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