January Book Reviews

You want to know what one of the best feelings in the world is?

Totally crushing a goal.

I told you a few weeks ago in “Workin’ It Wednesdays” that one of my goals for 2017 is to read two books a month. Not that I don’t have faith in myself, but let’s just say I’ve set similar goals in the past and have never been able to see them through – even for the first month.

Y’all know that I love TV. Setting a goal to read more always feels like a win-lose for me. I know that I’ll enjoy reading and that it’s definitely better for my little brain to read vs. watch TV. But a part of me gets sad too because I know that means giving up some TV time and that always sounds so sad! How am I supposed to decide which shows to give up?

Also, when I try to read before bed, I’m usually pretty sleepy by the time I pick the book up so I can only get a few pages in before my eyes start getting heavy. It feels like it takes for-ev-er for me to finish a book when I only read before bed because it speeds up my sleepiness! I don’t like dragging books out over more than a couple weeks because I tend to forget what was going on the last time I set the book down.

I know, I know -I’m full of a bunch of excuses. But I just wanted to paint a clear picture of my mindset going in to this. I’m being honest about it in case any of you guys have thought about trying something like this out but maybe talked yourself out of it for reasons similar to mine.

But I totally crushed my goal this month. I was finished with both books by January 15th.

Before I start patting myself on the back too hard, I think a big key to my success this month has been the number of snow days we’ve had. Between January 1 and January 15th we had a grand total of 5 snow days – AKA work from home days. When I work from home I am super productive but I don’t find it to be as tiring as going into the office to work. I think this helped me stay awake longer at night which meant more hours with my nose in a book.

Anyway, I’m pumped that I was able to accomplish this goal so quickly this month and that I was really able to enjoy the books. I was afraid I’d try to rush through them, trying to crank them out because I put a deadline on myself. But I didn’t. I read every page, even the preface and the afterward, and I loved every second of it.

Amy Schumer: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

I liked loved this book a lot more than I expected to. I’ve read a lot of “autobiographies” lately (it’s not really an autobiography but I don’t know what else to call it…). I always finish them and think how much I enjoyed getting to know the author. I love to get a sense of who they are and enjoy finding things we have in common and reasons why we should be best friends.

Amy Schumer was no different. The fourth chapter of her book is all about her being an “introvert” and I am so happy that this chapter was at the beginning of the book. I read it and thought, “Yes, absolutely yes, that is me. She gets me, that’s exactly who I am, and she explained it so perfectly.” I connected with it instantly and it made me love her even more as I kept reading.

Have you ever read something or heard something in a movie that really spoke to part of you? That’s what this chapter did to me. I am still learning about myself every day and the more and more I’ve heard and read about being an introvert, the more I feel like I belong. Here’s what Amy wrote about being an introvert in her book:

She goes on to talk about how as females we are expected to give all of our energy to other people and be light and cheery around others to show our happiness. As an introvert, this is extremely hard for her (and me, and us as a collective group) because it feels forced. Sure, we can put on a face and be more outgoing than we feel like being. But when we step away from the group it feels like we just pulled a two-ton bus up a mountain. It’s exhausting.

Every story or article I read about introverts gives me more comfort because I know that I am not weird or unfriendly. It’s just a part of my character. I especially loved reading about Amy’s experience because she is in the spotlight and her job is to stand up and entertain thousands of people. She has found ways to be successful and not have to apologize for who she is. It was such a powerful and comforting part of her book and I’m so grateful she shared it.

Of course the book is filled with her dirty humor, stories of one-night-stands, and also about past relationships that have shaped her today. She talks about her relationships with her family members and I found those chapters so compelling because she is so honest and doesn’t try to paint a pretty picture. Parts of her life are not / were not glamourous and she doesn’t shy away from that.

I had all the feels in every way throughout this entire book. You laugh, you sympathize, you connect, and you walk away feeling like you’ve made a new friend. I’m so happy I started off the year with this book – and thanks to my sweet mother-in-law (and Target’s shipping mix-up) for gifting me with this book!

(buy it on Amazon here)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Ooooooh you guys, this one was good. Another non-fiction recount of the author’s life (who am I?!) that I finished in just two days because I could not put it down! One of my favorite TV shows is House (thanks to my husband for getting me hooked). I’ve watched the entire series at least two times and anytime reruns are on TV you better believe I turn them on.

This book was a real-life House episode! The author, Susannah Cahalan, recounts the month of her life that she spent living in madness from an undiagnosed illness. She talks about the symptoms leading up to her hospitalization, which she has full memory of, but then at a certain point her memory is completely gone. The disease overtakes her brain and she has no memory of the month she spent in the hospital while doctors tried to diagnose her.

She was (well, still is now) a journalist at the New York Post and wrote about her month of madness by researching journals kept by her parents, looking at tapes of herself in the hospital, and talking to the friends and doctors who cared for her. It is the most intriguing and gut-wrenching story and I literally could not tear myself away from the book!

Susannah turns into a completely different person when the disease starts to present itself. She becomes paranoid that people are watching her, that her parents are turning into different people. At one point she even accuses her father of murdering her step-mother. One day she is a charismatic, talkative journalist and the next day she is unable to carry out an interview because her thoughts are so jumbled. She turns into a demanding and violent patient in the hospital and then loses her ability to speak.

The doctors go through a ton of different diagnoses from extreme alcohol withdraw, manic depressive disorder, schizoaffective disorder, to finally landing on her diagnosis which, at the time, was extremely rare and almost unheard of (all of this happened back in 2009). The real life Dr. House comes in at the end of the book and is able to diagnose her and get her on the road to recovery.

If you like medical dramas or just a good ‘ol mystery then you won’t be able to put this one down. I love books where I feel like I come away just a tad bit smarter. This one definitely filled my brain with all kinds of fun medical terminology. It also has a powerful message that just because one person sees something one way doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the truth. Everyone has their biases and opinions. But if you dig just a little bit deeper, you might find the real truth hidden underneath there.

(buy it on Amazon here)

February Books: The Woman in Cabin 10 and Lean In

In February, my two book choices are The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

Check them out and see what you think! If you want to read along with me let me know and we can all talk about them at the end of the month!

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