2018 Reading List: Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker

I bought Early Retirement Extreme, by Jacob Lund Fisker, for my husband for Christmas, since he’d recently shown an interest in personal finance and making sure that the both of us are well on our way to a comfortable retirement. Yes, we’re 28 years old, but it’s never too early to start saving and planning.

He read the book first and really enjoyed it. He told me that it was like “those blogs you like” and said I should read it next.

Let me tell you, it’s not similar to the blogs I like. But it is useful, I guess.  Continue reading

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2018 Reading List: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Why would you want to live in a town where women keep (allegedly) drowning themselves?

That’s the first thought I had as the story behind Into the Water by Paula Hawkins unfolded.

This book is a murder mystery by the same author of The Girl on the Train. A woman is found dead in what is known as the “Drowning Pool” – a section of river surrounded by cliffs where the water is calmer. There is a history behind the Drowning Pool. Women have been committing suicide here by throwing themselves off the cliff (hence the name) for years.

But wait – were they all suicides? Is Nel’s death now a suicide or something more sinister? Nel wouldn’t kill herself, right?  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I finished reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in February and I couldn’t bring myself to write a review. First of all, I was waiting until I actually tried implementing some of her tips. Second of all, I couldn’t figure out if my review would be good or bad.

This book (apparently) became a word-wide phenomenon soon after it was published. It’s been on my list to read for awhile, simply because I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Mostly I’d heard about it on the minimalism blogs that I follow, so I knew that whatever she said, it would be along the lines of purging your belongings.

Though the book elaborates quite a bit about clutter, how to get rid of it, and how to organize it, Marie Kondo has a couple points to her philosophy that stood out to me in particular. Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is the second book I’ve read by Jenny Lawson, but it was actually the first book she published. I honestly can’t decide which one I liked more.

This book felt more like a memoir. It followed a progression of Jenny’s life, from where she was born, to childhood, to high school, to dating her now-husband, to the wedding, to new homes and her career.

I felt like I was getting to know her better in this book. She introduced herself, she introduced her crazy life in a series of hilarious, rambling stories. She makes you fall in love with a lifestyle that you literally can’t imagine.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled by Randomness, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is a book that I’ve had on my to-read list for so long that I completely forget how I heard about it or why I wanted to read it in the first place.

I was getting ready for a business trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, and sometimes when I travel for work, I am motivated to read more nonfiction – self-help books, memoirs, etc. So I downloaded this one to my Nook and dug in during my flights.

I’m not sure why I was expecting an easier read than this. The book was very heavy on probability and statistics, which were not my strong suit in high school. I scraped by in AP Statistics my senior year because I’d wanted the weighted GPA. I actually understood virtually nothing.

So this book was a difficult read, but I found it compelling in an “interesting-perspective-but-I-don’t-agree” kind of way.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

You all know the story of the Titanic (at the very least, you know the movie) – the British ship that sunk in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg, killing over 1,500 people. You might have heard of the Lusitania – the British ocean liner torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, killing almost 1,200 people on board as it sank. But you probably haven’t heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. At least, I hadn’t.

Which is absolutely insane, because the estimated number of people who died in the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945 was over 9,400 people. Picture the terrible, gut-wrenching scenes from the Titanic movie where people are screaming, crying, tumbling off the deck, flailing in life jackets, freezing in the icy waters – and then multiply that six times.

It is a travesty that people, particularly in the U.S., do not know about the sinking of a ship that resulted in the largest loss of life of any ship sinkings in history.

So now that I’ve made my point, if you too have never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff, go read Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I hate books that get tons of hype when they first come out, and books that are lauded simply because the author’s last book was a success. Luckily, Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green, wasn’t one of those.

John Green wrote the now-famous book, The Fault in Our Stars, which was later turned into a movie that was filmed in Pittsburgh. I saw Green’s new book displayed on every table in Barnes & Noble and prominently featured at the end of an aisle in Sam’s Club. I kind of didn’t want to buy it, just because I thought the bookstores were over-hyping it.

I ended up getting it for my mom as a Christmas gift and read it after she was finished.

This book is a very insightful look at mental illness and anxiety among teenagers. The main character, Aza, suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. We got to be inside her mind, see how she views the world, experience the things that cause her anxiety the way she sees it. It’s always an interesting perspective to me.  Continue reading

2018 Reading List: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

I will be honest – my book choice for 2018 did not get off to a good start.

I received The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy, as a Christmas gift from my mom. Normally she finds amazing books, and we have similar tastes in genres and authors. I wanted to like this book. It is a New York Times Bestseller, it was on top reading lists, featured in bookstores, and it just looked like an interesting story.

But I didn’t love it. I struggled through the whole book with the Indian names and language. And honestly, I just got lost on the whole plot. I didn’t understand where everything connected, I forgot which characters knew each other or had relationships, and I was completely confused on the whole sequence of events. I tried so hard to pay attention and to get the story right in my head. The book jacket said that it was a love story, beautifully woven, fates entwined, lives braided together – but I just didn’t get it.

I could tell that it was a beautifully written book. I could tell that the author was a thoughtful, poignant storyteller. I knew that there was meaning behind the lives of the characters who had a history and a culture I could never truly understand. But this book was not for me.

I would recap it for you, but I’m afraid that I would do it an injustice due to my lack of understanding. Here’s a better review.

If you find that your book preferences have been in line with my own over the past year (see my list of 2017 books here), then you won’t like this book. But if you’re looking for an intricate dive into a different culture with a storyline that is full of metaphors and hidden meaning then you will find Arundhati Roy’s newest book to be very intriguing.

Have you read The Ministry of Utmost Happiness? What did you think? 

2017 Reading List: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

This will be my final book in 2017. I read Two by Two, by Nicholas Sparks, because I was looking for something lighter, something less true and more of a story. A novel, not nonfiction, to end my 2017 Reading List.

I am not generally a Nicholas Sparks fanatic. I love The Notebook and Dear John. The movies they’ve made from his books are always pretty good- romantic, sad, and touching. But I’m not the type of person who reads every single Sparks book. I’m not always the sappy romantic type of reader.

Sometimes I am though. But I must admit, part of what made me pick up this book was that the main character works in advertising.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed has been on my list to read for a while now. I read Strayed’s book, Wild, a few years ago and fell in love with her. Cheryl Strayed’s tenacity and grit in the face of all her challenges and loss are qualities to be admired.

Before reading Tiny Beautiful Things, I had never read or heard of Dear Sugar. So without any background, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was more than just an advice column. It was a window into Cheryl Strayed’s heart. The columns and stories she tells in this collection go deeper than right and wrong, this not that, yes and no.  Continue reading