Thursday, December 31, 2015

How About Those 2015 Reading Resolutions

I read 24 books this years but they weren't all the ones I prioritized the most. Below is my 2015 list with the one I read highlighted:

  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munroe 
  • Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Also fun reads (bonus):
  • the rest of Game of Thrones 
    • GOT 4
    • GOT 5
    • GOT 6 (got so boring, can't decide whether to push through)
  • the third Magicians 
  • Enders Game 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Rooney Doland

Unclutter Your Life in One WeekUnclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Rooney Doland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this when I read it in 2010, but it didn't help me get more organized in any kind of major or long-term way. Since then I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and that made a huge change in my life.*So read that one instead.


*The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up didn't just change the way I organize my home, but it also changed the way I tackle problems generally. Als,o the section where I had to organize my books, increased my reading dramatically.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

Nobody Is Ever MissingNobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You have to be open to a different type of narrative when you read this book. Forget about where the main character is going physically and focus on where she is mentally and emotionally. I found myself highlighting line after line of the main character's thoughts and revelations, the way I often do when I read novels by Marilyn Robinson.

Here's a favorite example, "...I knew that everyone who was alive had trouble concentrating on life....”

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Revolutionary RoadRevolutionary Road by Richard Yates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I know it's a brilliantly written book, but I struggle with giving 5 stars to books I didn't enjoy much. It's not that it's a depressing story (it is), just that for me it was actively stressful to read. Also, I didn't care for the ending because I feel like that type of resolution is a cop out. Even no resolution can be better than that.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great by Terri L. Orbuch

5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great by Terri L. Orbuch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The part I thought was most valuable was Chapter 2 on Incentives and Rewards (p.56-86). Although the first chapter had good information as well, I don't think it was organized in the best way possible. The rest of the book didn't feel that helpful but as other reviewers have stated maybe this is just because our marriage is already on really solid footing.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that LastsThe 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Decent book with a straight-forward concept. Worth reading and discussing with spouse, but I don't think it's life-changing or marriage-changing on its own as it claims.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

The Alternate-Day Diet by James B. Johnson

The Alternate-Day Diet Revised: The Original Up-Day, Down-Day Eating Plan to Turn on Your ?Skinny Gene,? Shed the Pounds, and Live a Longer and Healthier LifeThe Alternate-Day Diet Revised: The Original Up-Day, Down-Day Eating Plan to Turn on Your "Skinny Gene," Shed the Pounds, and Live a Longer and Healthier Life by James B. Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the 5:2 diet book first, and I thought the nutrition and food politics was presented better in that book. Although I do think it's necessary to follow to the more rigorous ADF diet instead of 5:2 to lose weight. (Or at least 4:3.)

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Friday, September 18, 2015

How Fiction Works by James Wood

How Fiction WorksHow Fiction Works by James Wood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is great. I've been reading all wrong. Haha. Really great discussion of various elements to good literary writing. And now I want to read every book listed in the bibliography.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The What When Wine Diet by Melanie Avalon

The What When Wine Diet: Paleo and Intermittent Fasting for Health and Weight LossThe What When Wine Diet: Paleo and Intermittent Fasting for Health and Weight Loss by Melanie Avalon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

She's probably right about everything, as most of the things she says in this book are consistent with what I've read about nutrition and exercise studies. (Current real studies- Not the old vaguely mythological things people repeat about food and exercise.) I withheld one star only because the statements are not footnoted/endnoted directly. Instead she has a bibliography at the end but that makes it difficult to verify individual claims. Also I really don't want to eat Paleo ... of course, that is not her fault.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Mere ChristianityMere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this is tricky. I want to be convinced, but this failed to convince me that God or Christianity are real. Part of the problem is that his main argument for why it is real is our internal sense of justice. In fact, many animals have a sense justice that has been studied at length. This does not disprove or prove Christianity, but it leaves that one point less persuasive than I would hope.

Second, I think it's a good explanation of Christianity and how it works, and it's a great exploration of how Christians should endeavor to live. It's especially refreshing to see that a devout man sees no inconsistency between God and evolution. They are of course, not mutually exclusive. But all the wonderful language and philosophy in this section is marred by his thoughts on homosexuality which are outdated. It's hard to get past that.

Is it worth reading? Yes. Is it a great masterpiece of religion and philosophy? I am less persuaded on that point.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The FastDiet by Michael Mosley 2015

The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent FastingThe FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting by Michael Mosley
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book has totally changed the way I eat and feel. For the last year or two I've felt so tired that I asked my doctor to check my thyroid. I was disappointed when I found out it was fine because I'd have to keep feeling awful. After my first fast, I immediately felt better. (I know that seems crazy but I did.) I've done 3.5 weeks on the diet and I've lost 3 very stubborn pounds but I've only "dieted" for 7 days total in those 3.5 weeks. It actually feels like for the first time since I was 13 (or younger?) that I'm not dieting.

But most importantly, this diet is supposed to cut your risk of cancer. Clinical trials are underway now to see the long-term results of intermittent fasting on cancer and heart-health.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial FitnessThe Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is good advice for people who aren't succeeding on their own. I know lots of people who are doing well on their own, and doubtlessly they would disagree with a lot of Dave Ramsey's advice. That's fine. If they're doing fine, then they're fine following their own wisdom. Unfortunately the vast majority of Americans are not doing well financially by following the standard "wisdom." A lot of people are doing worse than even they realize. For these people, (um me too), this book is great. I've already addressed a lot of financial issues I was dealing with. Things are not perfect, but they are much improved because I've followed the advice in this book.

I'm on a big self-help kick!

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Opening Skinner's Box by Lauren Slater

Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth CenturyOpening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century by Lauren Slater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had heard if some of the experiments previously but some were new to me. While I found the science and history very interesting, I found the author's personal essay style grating. It detracted from the science itself, and made everything seem less reliable. Still I think it's worth the time for some familiarity with the experiments.

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You WantThe How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't recommend the ebook!

You need to be able to use this book like a workbook and take a test and flag the activities you intend to do, so unfortunately it doesn't work well as an ebook.

Also, given how inspiring I found the konmari book, this book fails to inspire me to engage in the happiness activities even though I am extremely motivated otherwise.

That said, I think the methods would make a person happier.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Using KonMari to Reduce Dad's Books 2015

As you may know from earlier posts, I had kept about 26 boxes of my dad's books after he passed away. After 4 years, I had still reduced or read very few of them. I had tried just looking through them, getting a friend to help (hi Ash!), and finally doing one author letter at a time. The last strategy was going a little better... but still really slow.

Enter Kondo. In three days, the books I chose to keep are in three bookshelves, and hundreds of books that I would not have ever read were donated. I was shocked how much clarity I had in the book selection after 4 years of being totally confused. When I look at the bookshelves they spark joy! I want to read the books, and the arrangement reminds me of being at home and visiting my dad.

April 2015
Suddenly I have clarity on my dad's books! Donate! Donate!

Konmari- books-001 
Less than half the number I started with, but still, admittedly, a lot.

Okay, we still have a lot of books. We probably always will. But when I look at them they make me happy now in a way they did not before. They don't stress me or make me feel guilty. They make me look forward to pulling the next adventure off the shelf.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Declutter your Home Now! by Sophia Grace

Declutter your Home Now 2nd Edition! The simple guide to tips and tricks for simplifying your home and maximizing your space (Decluttering, Declutter, ... And Cleaning, Home Decluttering)Declutter your Home Now 2nd Edition! The simple guide to tips and tricks for simplifying your home and maximizing your space by Sophia Grace
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got all excited after I started to Konmari and I thought it would be interesting to find more tips, but this isn't very helpful. I would recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō instead.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting Love by Thomas Attig

The Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting LoveThe Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting Love by Thomas Attig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actually it took me nearly five years to decide to stop reading it. It was pretty painful every time I read it. I'm not sure if it helped, but my ability to read some of it at a time was an interesting measure of the progress of my grief. Over five years, I mostly came to the same conclusions as the author, so I do agree with him.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third WorldBoomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a collection of 5 essays Michael Lewis wrote after the financial meltdown in 2007-2008. Each essay is a comic look at the disaster of the financial crisis in each of 5 countries: Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and America (specifically at a state and local level in California).

It's very interesting as an examination of how many people in the financial marketplace had no idea what they were doing, and it's also pretty entertaining and humorous. On the other hand, it's unnecessarily racist against the peoples it examines, with the exception of Americans who somewhat get a pass because supposedly the American culture and abundance itself exceeds what the human mind is designed to cope with. That presentation of huge groups of people, their motivations, and their histories undermines Lewis's expertise of financial players and events.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clothing/Bedroom
So I finished the book on March 17th, and I finished eliminating and organizing my clothing, purses, and jewelry before that, on March 16th. I also cleared out my bedroom of nonsense, and cleared off my desk in there, and the bedroom and desk are both a pleasure now. We were gone on vacation from March 17-22.

Books
I did my books pretty quickly when I got back because I was so excited to pick up where I left off. I got my nonfiction down to 45 + 3 borrowed books, and my fiction to 70 + 2 borrowed books. I broke the konmari rules a little and kept a bunch of books I have not yet read, and could probably still weed them down a little, but I'm happy with how little space they take up currently.

The only problem is that I have hundreds of my dad's books from when he passed away, so even though I made a lot more progress on those than in the last 4 years of slowing sorting them, they are a big project and they are kind of a cross between books and mementos.

Next up paper...
I suspect that most people do their clothes and then get stuck, based on the plethora of youtube videos about konmari and clothing items. But I'm resolved to through all the categories and all the rooms in my home.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book because it gave access to a nonverbal character that thinks and feels totally differently than other people. That said, I've been leaning towards books that embrace the spiritual lately (Gilead, End of the Affair, etc.) and this books atheist underpinnings left me a little cold. I get that the character himself might not be able to process spirituality, it's pretty difficult for me too actually, but at a certain point it limits the character in a way that might be unfair to people with autism. How do you grapple and believe in the possibility of something as surprising as the possibility of parallel universes, but dismiss the possibility of God without also grappling with it? I thought the book was interesting and cute, but like I said, it left something to be desired.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Things got weird. And now I feel bad for all the bad guys getting their comeuppance. I'm looking forward to book 5 but I hope something actually happens in that one. I'm getting tired of all the set-up.

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The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the Magician's series. The first one was maybe a little juvenile (Lion, Witch, Wardrobe meets Harry Potter goes to college), the second one was fun but very dark. This one tied all the books together with a bow. And I was really sad when it was over.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

GileadGilead by Marilynne Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think it's the perfect novel. The perfect sermon. The perfect prayer.

“These people who can see right through you never quite do you justice, because they never give you credit for the effort you’re making to be better than you actually are, which is difficult and well meant and deserving of some little notice.” ― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Have Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

Have Space Suit—Will TravelHave Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a cute children's book, and is a better, earlier version of A Wrinkle In Time." This is the kind of book I'd be excited to see my kids reading. That said, as a kid, I didn't actually enjoy it much (and I did enjoy A Wrinkle in Time). So maybe it's a children's book for adults?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Authors Beginning with C

As I explained in a previous post, I'm finally dealing with the hundreds of books I took home when Dad passed away by going through them by author last name. Dad's books by authors beginning with the letter C.... not a lot of stuff I'm super excited about here.

c- dad keep
These are the ones I decided to keep- fiction and nonfiction mixed...

c- dad donate
This is the "no" pile.

c- our fiction 1
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned fiction*

c- our fiction 2
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned fiction (cont.)

Nonfiction C
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned non-fiction

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.54.59 PM.png
My e-books, all free fiction in this case.

Any arguments in favor of some of the ones we're donating? Would you like one of those? Or against any of the ones I'm keeping?


*I left out Kevin's poetry books because he keeps those on a separate shelf and I don't want to disturb their order. Maybe I'll do an extra post about the poetry at the end.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reading Resolutions 2015

I didn't read quite as many as I'd hoped last year, but in my defense I had a baby! Here's my shorter reading wish list for 2015:
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (started)
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munroe 
  • Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Also fun reads (bonus):
  • the rest of Game of Thrones 4-6 
  • the third Magicians 
  • Enders Game 
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