Tag Archives: nightstand

4 book images for great readingL NW, You think it, I'll say it, Manhattan Beach, and The 4-Tendencies

What’s On Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for January

First in line is telling you what I finished from December…er, November. I sort of skipped right over December, as I was uber busy with what, trying to find a job, Christmas, Hanukkah, life. Yes. Reading sort of went out the window, what with kids home from school and such, there just isn’t much quiet time that time of year as many of you well know!

Enter, January. A month of resolutions and reading schedules. Seems everyone is signed up for a challenge of some kind, and reading is just one. Last year I had a fun group that interracted really well until July and then just completely stopped. Boo. This year, I am going to try to show up for a real book group- as in, in-person, and maybe read some more books to share with you all!

Links within the post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of these links, HAG receives some sort of payment, and is happy because she can keep the blog going (read full disclosure).

Okay, back to what I finished:

The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin (2017)

I received this book in exchange for a review (always 100% honest) from Blogging for Books, a great way to get books if you are a blogger. A quick summary: Gretchen Rubin, of The Happiness Project, wrote this book, which is why it intrigued me to request it from Blogging for Books in the first place. While I do love me some self-help, it is not nearly the draw that I used to have in my 20’s or 30’s. Maybe in my 40’s I am lazy. Or else more self-aware? No idea. Maybe I was just not into putting myself into a “type” and then overanalyzing how I view the world. That is definitely it.

What I did love about this book is how it showed that people approach the world through 4 different lenses:

  1. A Questioner: Resists outer expectations, Meets inner expectations
    Why should I be doing this? Give me the evidence, I want reasons.
  2. An Upholder: Meets outer expectations, Meets inner expectations
    This is something that should be done. I’ve got it.
  3. An Obliger: Meets outer expectations, Resists inner expectations
    Let me show you how well I can do this.
  4. A Rebel: Resists outer expectations, Resists inner expectations
    Don’t tell me what to do, or how to do it.

Her premise is, that knowing who you are and who other’s are, helps everyone. For example, knowing that an Upholder, enjoys routine, they may have trouble making sudden schedule changes, makes you a better friend/mom/sister/daughter/co-worker when you don’t resist her tendencies. The book gives examples of scenarios like this, where you look at a certain person in your life and their tendencies; First, how to understand them, then how to deal with them.

The book gives some insight. I like that. My favorite chapter was the last, titled, “Speaking Effectively to Each Tendency.” AKA=> signage and language. Love this. I have had to make so many signs in my workplace- some formal, some scratched on paper: Out of Order. But this chapter shows how to use wording that gets to all-4 tendencies motivations in the best way. Awesome.

Rec: As for the rest of the book, if you love self-help, and loved the Happiness Project, this is your guy. For self help, 4 of 5 stars.

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan (2017)

From the recommendation of my very well read sis-in-law, and blogger at What Should I Read (tons of great to-be-read ideas there!), I was made aware of this book. No stranger to Jennifer Egan, I loved Visit from the Good Squad (2010) so much, that I didn’t want it to end. Every book after this one, kind of sucked- that good. I also read, The Keep(2007), a creepy and annoyingly not as good as Goon Squad book, but one that has stayed with me for years, so I know it was good, but I didn’t love it while reading. Do you ever feel like that?

Anyhoo- this book. A historical fiction about the characters who lived during WWII in NYC. I found it fascinating as a study of naval history, gangster dynamics, and general NYC life at this time. We follow the character of Anna, from a young girl, to a grown adult, and her relationship with her beloved father who abandons her, her father’s employer, a dicey but complex “mobster”, and so many other interesting characters in Anna’s life. The book addresses the treatment of women at the time when they were just joining the workforce alongside men, the balance of ethnic relationships within the city, the view of people with physical/learning challenges, and so much more.

What I loved: The complexity and intertwining of the story and its characters. Each person has good and bad qualities and is very human in their portrayal- how they interrelate is genius and like an onion, in not so much surprising ways, but very pleasing as it builds to a very satisfying end. G-d I missed that.

What I didn’t love: Nothing. I loved this book.

I fully recommend this title and all of Jennifer Egan’s work. If you love historical fiction, and have any interest in WWII based in the US stories, this is your guy. 5 of 5 stars. (I know. I haven’t done that in a while!)

NW, by Zadie Smith (2012)

I got this book from a used book store that went out of business, it was a dollar, and honestly I bought it because of the author, Zadie Smith, who is the author of last year’s much covered book, Swing Time. NW is a very interesting, if not hard to read book. It took me 2 months of picking up- putting down. I just didn’t want to pick it up all the time. Broken up into different character viewpoints, which finally made sense to me how they all fit together in the last part of the last chapter…this could have been my problem. I felt left out of the conversation…like not getting the joke. But I pressed on, since I like her writing. A lot. But it shifted from first to third person…and you get me? This is not a linear book.

It made me feel uncomfortable and like I was seeing into lives, otherwise not known to me. It addresses race, class, neighborhood arrangements defining your life, opportunities taken or missed, education, expectations, emotions, base hungers…lots packed in here, and I didn’t always want to go there, so it took a while to get through it. If I had a commute and could read at long stretches while sitting on the train…this would have taken 5 days. If you are me…well. I need something quicker, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.

What I loved: Characters. I love the viewpoints not normally shared in fiction.

What I didn’t love: Characters. Not a joyful book. This is heavy on the heart, but real and interesting, so -meh-.

Rec: I’d recommend for lovers of literary fiction, anyone who loved her other books, and people who ride the train to work. 3 of 5 stars.

You think it, I’ll Say It, by Curtis Sittenfeld (on sale April 24, 2018)

I wanted to read this book, because of the title. Seriously. I usually say, what other people think. Which is why I am often told, “You’re funny.” Which I am not particularly, it’s just that I am a reflection of what they would NEVER day or do. So apparently that is funny. {sigh}. I thought it would be ironic. And I was right- I love this book.

Let me back up. This book is a collection of stories…not always something I love, but I loved this. And I read it on the Kindle app for my iPad, which is always hard for me. But, the possibility that I can read a full story at one sitting, these days is nothing short of amazing to me, and short stories are perfect for iPad reading.

The characters are so real, so relatable, so surprisingly doing or saying what real people say and do…I get this. I totally get this book and it’s people. While uncomfortable often, it’s relatable always.

Now for my mind being blown: Curtis Sittenfeld is a woman. {?!#!}  Here I was thinking that this man, Curtis, had the best viewpoint and way of writing both from a woman and a man’s voice. This is always a pet-peeve or giveaway for me, when I am reading, that if a woman writes as a man or a man as a women, it has to be spot on. So when I found out Curtis is a woman…I am now amazed how well she writes from a  man’s point of view! Yes. Maybe women with men’s names, like me: Barrie, are ironic. Like their names. I totally connected with her writing, no matter that I didn’t understand how a man, author could write a woman’s point of view so well. I was amazed. Now that I know this, I know her and so do you…she has written books that are on my TBR shelf: American Wife, Prep, and Sisterland.

This is just one more reason why I don’t trust my brain and why I use Goodreads. I can’t remember anything! Ugh. Either way, here’s my synopsis:

What I loved: The short fully fleshed out stories that were thought provoking, interesting, fun to read, and had fully fleshed out characters. I am putting her other books ahead of the line, in my TBR list for sure.

What I didn’t love: I wanted more from some stories…like a whole book done on one small story. But then, other stories, I was all set, so maybe the balance here was perfect.

Rec: I liked most of the stories thoroughly, and would recommend highly for anyone pressed for time reading, so they could finish a story and feel gratified like I did- but also for a person that enjoys literary fiction and isn’t pressed for time, this is a good one and an author to watch for. 4 out of 5 stars. Not out until April 24th, so put it on your advanced order list!

What’s on YOUR Nightstand? Let me know in the comments! I love sharing books and adding to my To-Be-Read (TBR) Stack of books!

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What’s On Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for November

The Best Kind of People
Zoe Whittall
Ballantine Books (September 19, 2017)
448 pages

Links within the post are affiliate links (read full disclosure). Book received via NetGalley as an ARC.

Opening Line(s) of the Book: (after the Prologue)

Sadie turned seventeen years old on top of her boyfriend, Jimmy, in the Woodbury family boathouse.

Honestly. If you don’t love the first line, you might want to skip this one as the content, doesn’t get much easier. The premise of the book is do we ever really know another person? What makes a well loved, well respected adult, a suspect for a heinous act like inappropriately touching or talking to a young person? Did he actually do this? He is a father, a teacher, a husband, a hero who saved the school from a shooter years ago. But today, he is accused of these horrible acts on several young girls.

The book has come to print at such a perfect time to read about these characters, as we ourselves are immersed in the news of such well “known” and respected people who are not just good at their jobs but are also accused of such disgusting acts as forcible or coercive sexual acts with people with less power…It is a hard subject, but handled in a very realistic way in the book, leading the reader to understand that people have many sides to them. It is not enough to just say, “but he was such a great man.” He could be that, but also be NOT that.

What I like about the book is the many layered approach of innappropriateness: a helpful adult who isn’t all that helpful, but actually crosses the line himself in trying to comfort a young person; a gay teacher who befriends a young man and starts a “relationship” with him, that has never been seen as inappropriate until now; a field trip that has children with little to no supervision now accusing a teacher of touching them.

Lots of very real, very possible situations happen in the book, and I sort of wonder about the fact that it wasn’t tied up neatly. The ending is actually unsettling to me possibly because it could actually happen this way…the way I didn’t want it to. Or it was just poorly written and rushed. Only the author knows…

Favorite Line:

No one saw it coming.

Overall Take:

I liked it. I was kind of disappointed in the ending. I have to say, it left me wanting a bit. I was also confused with one thread that seemed to not get tied up in the end, which makes me wonder if it did get addressed, and I missed it? If I did, it wasn’t explicit- It sort of felt like she got sick of writing her own book and just needed an ending.

I literally wanted to get to reading this one- it was a page turner, the characters likable, and the story very compelling. With everything that is going on right now with the inappropriate touching, advances by older men to young women and men, I picked up this book at a most opportune time! I always try to put myself in the shoes of the characters of the book, and it was truly easy to do this. Her characters were very real and well rounded, but the way it didn’t quite come together completely in the end, takes it to a 3 out of 5 for me. Meh.

Recommend with reservations because of the ending. If she writes another book though, I am definitely picking it up.

My OTHER books being read:

Can’t finish: The Child, by Fionna Barton- just can’t get into it.

Still working  on: NW, by Zadie Smith- loving it, but it is right in the middle and dragging a bit.

Reviewing and not loving: The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin- I might be over self-help.

What’s on YOUR nightstand?

Links within the post are affiliate links (read full disclosure). Linked up with  Book BeginningsBookDateWhat’s on your nightstand?

What’s On Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for September

Hey y’all. I have another book review for you today. I wasn’t going to put this as it’s own post but I cannot stop thinking about this book. I am sort of in a place where I know I will be going over this in my mind for a while and so to that end, I am putting these thoughts to words here- in case you were debating on reading it… Read this.

Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
Knopf, 2014, 352 pages

Opening Line(s) of the Book:

The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.

Not too gripping, right?

Well, read on. These first few lines are just setting the stage (sorry, not sorry for the pun) for the rest of the book. Going back and forth through time, the book begins with a major event one night in Toronto which sets in place a series of events that change life as we know it, into one where only a few survive and these survivors try to find a way to survive and also live in this new world.

The life of Arthur Leander, a famous actor, sets the backdrop for the story. As his life unfolds, so does the scenery, the characters, and the story. It’s a doomsday book, with an upside. It doesn’t leave us hanging at the end- it finishes. It wraps up nicely in a way that left me feeling more reflective and satisfied that I greatly benefited from reading this book. Yes. A reading win.

I loved the subtley of this book- there is no horribly grizzly scene of the world’s end.The collapse of the world is fast. So fast that it is surprising-  but it is quiet. People just disappear and there is no way to contact them- The internet, electricity, vehicles don’t work anymore and become after time, a thing of only memory; memories are hard to come by with so many dead. The value of keeping the history alive and teaching what was to the children and other survivors is a theme. The book’s Museum of Civilization is seemingly a museum of just things: a high heel, a driver’s license, a comic book. But the importance of these things, and of the preservation of them is so…well, librarian…so basic to my values of remembering our history and artifacts, that I totally loved this idea within the book.

The author has such a knack for depicting a futuristic view without making it a science-fiction future that we can’t imagine. Her devastating future is tangible. We can see how it could happen- making it the scariest book that I’ve read in a while.

Favorite line:

“Survival is insufficient.”

Depicted as a tattoo and also painted on the lead caravan of the nomads, it’s a line from Star Trek: Voyager (Sept. 1999, Ronald D. Moore). I love it, because A) I love that it’s from Star Trek- the most well known sci-fi world that we have had the pleasure of experiencing both on TV and in comic book form- but also B)  I love the words themselves: Reminding us to LIVE. Not just survive. Notice. Experience. Do. Be. But also, of course, stay alive.

'Survival is insufficient.' Reminding us to LIVE. Not just survive. Notice. Experience. Do. Be. Click To Tweet

Favorite Exchange:

“Are you asking if I believe in ghosts?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Yes.”

“Of course not. Imagine how many there’d be.”

“Yes,” Kirsten said, “that’s exactly it.”

Touching on what happens after doomsday event…I am so glad the book addresses how blindly we would follow…or who we’d follow…or what we’d believe if only to find the familiar. Good questions here.

Overall Take:

I loved it, obviously, and highly recommend, and not only for science fiction lovers. If you love history or present day contemporary fiction, I think you would appreciate the currency of this novel- it is so full of imagination, but also grounded by our very real lives today.

The rest of my nightstand is atrocious! I have at least 10 books on there and the pile is just growing. Why? I have time. I have no idea why my progress is so slow, but then, it’s not a race is it? No. Quality, not quantity, my friends.

What’s on YOUR nightstand?

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