Sunday, November 26, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: Late October through late November

I'm one book away from reaching my reading challenge goal of 31 books for 2017! I haven't read as much as I had hoped to recently, but with winter here and  lots of time indoors, I hope that changes. Here are the last three books I read. 

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have read nearly all of Brown's books and I love her work. I read this book really quickly and walked away with some good messages. It's kind of hard to describe the message, so I will share this quote from a book summary: "True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” 

Brene wants the reader to think about the following: 1) People are hard to hate close up. Move in. 2) Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. 3) Hold hands. With strangers. 4) Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart
Yes, sometimes doing these things can be really difficult but I think she is trying to get readers to at least try to accomplish them when they can. 

And here is another quote that appears in the book multiple times: "You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great."-Maya Angelou 

Everyone should read this book and then read it again (which I'd love to do again in the future). It is timely and has an excellent message that we all need to hear. I gave it a 4 out of 5 mainly because I felt like she could have expanded on certain topics a bit more or provided better examples in some parts of the book.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was my book club read for the month and we just had an excellent discussion last week! 

I really enjoyed Picoult's writing style, the plot, and the different character perspectives. I also appreciate that she tackled a very tough and timely topic (race) in this way and it made for a very interesting book club talk. The story was sad, but overall, I walked away with a new perspective and still think about the book quite often. It reminded me of how I felt about reading Evicted. Good books should offer a new perspective on the world and provide empathy for people in your life like the characters you read about in books. I highly recommend this book! Go get it from your local library or independent bookstore and read it!

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Smith shares stories of how humans look for meaning and find it in every day life. It could be through their religion, community, work, volunteering, and so much more. She believes there are four pillars in every day life that relate to meaning: 

1. Belonging: being in relationships where you are valued and you value others
2. Purpose: using your strengths to serve others
3. Transcendence: your sense of self fades away and you feel connected to a higher reality. (For me this comes from looking at paintings or being in nature)
4. Storytelling: the story you tell yourself about yourself. 

My favorite story was about a Vietnam War veteran from Milwaukee who had PTSD and was heading down a negative path in life. He turned it around when he started a coffee shop named Dryhootch and he found meaning and purpose from running this business. He also found a supportive community and connected with other fellow veterans. 

I enjoyed the message this book had to offer and it made me think about my own path to finding meaning in life. I find it through volunteering (even feeding baby birds made me feel like I had so much purpose and meaning); being a wife, cat mom, daughter, sister, friend; work, blogging, and more. Smith says that finding meaning takes effort and I agree. It changes from year to year or even month to month. It has a different definition for each of us and that's ok. 

Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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