Recent Reads — July to Dec (2020)
I’ve been getting a little lost in non-fiction titles recently. Here are my thoughts!
An instant favourite and a modern classic! Originally titled Men Who Hate Women, the Swedish novel takes us through some gruesome murders and satisfying retribution. I cannot wait to follow more of Lisbeth’s story throughout the rest of the trilogy. This one’s a must-read.
Short and terrifying, The Mist is a novella from the Skeleton Crew collection of King’s short stories. And the best story of the lot. On the back of some action and suspense, the open-ended conclusion to the story leaves some to the imagination. Though I must admit, I had to abandon the rest of the short story collection as they just didn’t entice me enough.
This one was really cute and wholesome — maybe a little too inoffensive. I loved how informative the novel was about the island of Guernsey and its residents’ experiences during the German occupation in WWII. But my only issue was: nothing really happened. There were no character arcs, and the letter format would have been more charming if all the characters hadn’t the exact same writing style. However, it was lovely to read a lighthearted, fluffy story. I certainly needed it at the time.
I didn’t gain much out of this one apart from a few nuggets of wisdom (write from the heart, write every day, and take it one page at a time). The author was apt to run with tangents at times since the ideas were heavily anecdotal in nature. But overall it was a sweet, slightly petulant, account of what it’s like to pursue a writing career.
The Diary of a Young Girl — Anne Frank, Otto H. Frank (Editor), Mirjam Pressler (Editor), Susan Massotty (Translator)
After reading Anne Frank’s diary, she almost felt like an old friend to me. Anne was such an articulate, intelligent young girl who grew so mature in the face of fear. Her dream was to become a journalist and writer “after the war” and I empathised with her love of journaling. A heartbreaking and deeply human account of her family’s fight for survival during the Holocaust.
The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness — Epictetus, Sharon Lebell (Retold by)
Epictetus had some wise words to say about virtue, still relevant in modern society. Sharon Lebell distils Epictetus’ ancient teachings into easily digestible language and provides a decent introduction to stoic philosophy. I read this book during a time of struggle and the lessons are invaluable.
Don’t concern yourself with people or events that are out of your control. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you react to the world. Live your life in harmony with nature and don’t waste your time seeking approval from others.
An incredible hybrid memoir and text on writing. Touching on some life struggles — including a major one — King went over some immensely helpful writing advice. Brutally honest and humorous at times, I’m pleased I read this one. Anyone who wants to be a writer should read this book.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing — Marie Kondo
The book that arguably turned minimalism mainstream. Short and sweet, it contained some new tips that I hadn’t thought of and was overall inspiring to read. My only qualm is that Kondo didn’t explore how to discard things in detail, rather mentioning the word “donate” only a handful of times.
It’s important to keep in mind that everything you bring into your life, and subsequently decide to discard, won’t vanish into thin air. You need to be mindful about where the objects will go for their next life. Marie emphasised respecting your belongings and being more mindful about how you treat them, which was utterly refreshing.
This woman is stunning! From start to finish I was moved by Michelle’s story: how she stayed humble throughout Barack’s presidency, how she tried her best to provide her two girls with as normal a life as possible whilst living in the public eye, and the struggles she faced from becoming a first lady.
My favourite moment was when Michelle was speaking of Barack’s frequent dinner absences during his initial presidency campaign. She had decided that instead of waiting for him, she would set a proper dinner time for Malia and Sasha, their daughters. She wanted to teach them that life does not begin when a man enters the home!
How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up — Emilie Wapnick
Personally, I’ve always liked switching between hobbies and picking up new ones as there are so many things to learn and so many possible career avenues. Plus, I never know how to answer the dreaded “what do you do?” question. Despite my curiosities, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to “fully commit” to anything long term. But it’s nice to know that there are many other souls like me, who are terrified of the concept of doing the same thing for too long.
This book is a much needed validation for multipotentialites (people with many different interests and creative pursuits). Emilie provides a few different strategies to help structure the endless combinations of projects that one would want on their plate.
Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life — Anne Bogel
As a chronic over-thinker, this lovely book opened my eyes to ways that I can stop myself from analysis paralysis. My key takeaways are: choosing something that isn’t the “best” is better than not choosing at all, allow yourself to splurge, overthinking wastes your time and energy, and define your values and base your decisions off them. Delightfully filled with nuggets of wisdom.
A remarkable book about Frankl’s experience surviving the Nazi concentration camps, his observations of other prisoners, and the idea behind logotherapy. He argues that so many men survived the camps because they had attached meaning to their lives — they didn’t lose their will to live. A psychiatrist by trade, Viktor believes that if you attach meaning to your suffering, it can turn your life around and pull you from depression. Fascinating and a little sombre.
What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments.
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Originally published at http://crystalviolet.home.blog on February 4, 2021.