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November 2019 Booklist

A few more self help books than usual. I equate it to having had a rough October with some staffing issues, broken trust and the annual insurance payments/audits for QED which are the largest expense outside of rent and salaries and a huge time/emotional drain.

Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis – Unlike the 2nd book in this list below, this book has a ton of actionable items. Helpful for anyone who is struggling to move ahead with their dreams and goals. I enjoyed her first book Girl, Wash Your Face, but she has a lot of people who dislike her for one reason or another. It’s odd how much vitriol a person can get for putting out positivity and tools for a better life. I can only equate it to when Christian lost weight and he got the most vile hate mail as a result. Seeing genuine accomplishment is an indictment of one’s own shortcomings.

That said, she’s bit more self-aggrandizing this go around (talking about her wealth, looks, fake boobs, etc.) but she’s using them as examples of ways she’s gotten what she wants and sorry, she’s not sorry. I can totally see how that would turn off folks as being un-Christian-like (she’s a Christian, apparently?) or unrealistic for women who are struggling to make ends meet while raising kids, etc.

There was some repetition from her first book, but not overly so. It’s divided into three parts: Excuses to Let Go Of, Behaviors to Adopt, and Skills to Acquire. She gives specific and practical advice some of which I already practice myself using my Passion Planner journal. I swear by these, have been on board with them when they were in the developmental Kickstarter phase and gift them often. They’re great. #PashFam

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer – A self help book on spirituality, meditation, mindfulness, etc. but also a bunch of yammering. It gives no actionable, tangible advice except that you should meditate and let it go. Let it go? I’m boiling with rage, stress and fear and need to let it go?! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT, MOTHERFUCKER?! I suppose breathing, meditation, yoga, all the things I already know and would implement if my soul crushing schedule allowed. As with all books, seminars, things I experience, I say that if I walk away with only *one* thing learned then it is worth it. So this book was a worthy read for me in spite of my frustrations with it, because I did take away a few things:

I am not my thoughts and should become more aware of those idle thoughts and not get swept away in worrying about things that haven’t even happened. Those are big ones for me. Before I opened QED, I was sleeping maybe 2 hours a night because of the freakish amount of worry over stuff that hadn’t happened and, to date, has still not happened. What a WASTE of energy, emotion and time!

Also, the section on death and how not fearing death is freeing is so true. When I was going through cancer, life became technicolor and the whole “enjoy every moment while it lasts” cliché became my mantra. While I do still like to plan and have lists and goals, I’m no longer worried about the big ones down the road because I might not ever make it past today. I’m not sad about it. It’s just true. So today is pretty great, and I’m better at recognizing it.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History by Megan Mullaly and Nick Offerman – They’re comedians and so this is a light-hearted romp. A long, dual interview the banter between them light and you can tell they genuinely care for and crack each other up.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – Another book written by a rich, white woman about becoming a leader in the male-dominated workforce. But I actually did like this one! The usual stuff was in there about work & life balance, motherhood, etc. But lots of other helpful reminders/advice about women not inserting, exerting or challenging themselves and the importance of mentors and diversity in hiring. Nothing groundbreaking, but I enjoyed it.

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon – Oh, man, “heavy” is right. It made me so emotional. It’s written as a letter to his mother, a beautiful and difficult framing.

Recently my friend Renny read my memoir. He’s in prison with my dad and so had refrained from reading it so as not to upset my father who had told him not to read it saying, “It was bullshit. Full of lies.” Renny finally read it, admitted to Dad that he did and opened up the lines of communication about domestic violence. Renny told my father, “Think of the book as a long letter to you.”

So, yeah, I related to Laymon’s memoir in more ways than one. We both grew up poor in abusive households but he had the added struggles of being black and raised by a single mother in Jackson, Mississippi. His mother is as beautiful and smart and complicated as my father. His story recounts much physical and sexual abuse, weight and food issues, gambling, and struggling with a world skewed to benefit white people.

Laymon also shared a letter from his mother on his blog that acknowledges his truth, apologizes and thanks him for sharing it. I dream of the day my dad can do the same.

I’d like to re-read this book — a 2nd reading is often much more insightful because you are not in shock of discovering new (often uncomfortable) twists in a story. And I’m going to write a letter to my dad.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide) by Sarah Knight – If you don’t like the “F” word, skip this and her other books. It is used liberally. Truthfully it was a little thin on practical advice and advice on lot of stuff that I just don’t sweat like workplace and friends/family etiquette (weddings, showers, family travel/gatherings).

In a nutshell: What do you enjoy doing? Do more of that. What activities that drain your energy? Find a way to eliminate those so you can do more of what you enjoy.

So, taking this author’s advice, December will be the last time I write out these reviews. It’s a time suck and I don’t really enjoy writing them. I feel…guilty? And also I really whip them and my thoughts together so haphazardly that the reviews aren’t even great reads. Will this disappoint you or anyone? I don’t give a fu*k. 🙂

January 2019 Booklist
February 2019 Booklist
March 2019 Booklist
April 2019 Booklist
May 2019 Booklist
June 2019 Booklist
July 2019 Booklist
August 2019 Booklist
September 2019 Booklist
October 2019 Booklist