JANUARY 2021 BOOKS

I have a goal to read 52 books this year, an average of about 1 book per week. I exceeded that goal last year (because quarantine…) so we shall see where I will end up this year.

Here are the books I’ve read in January and my ratings.

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab

Like so many books I love, it spanned an epic amount of time.  This book spans 300 years. 

France, 1714 – this is about Addie, a girl who wants to be more than she is, so she makes a deal with the kind of devil whose deals are always worse than they seem in a moment of desperation, she makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.  For centuries she exists in a lonely purgatory, blessed with immortality and cursed to be forgotten—But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Really interesting, engrossing book. The story jumps back and forth between Addie’s history and current time.

RODHAM by Curtis Sittenfeld

Interesting alternate world and what could have been.

What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?Did Hillary sacrifice her professional future, being with Bill?  

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.

But this book explores an alternate universe in which Hillary takes a different road. She and Bill broke up and over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.  I found it interesting how the story weaves  fictional tale into actual historical events, including mentions of Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

I struggled through the first half of this book which followed reality a bit closer and loved the second half of the story better. This book was a look into what might have been. I enjoyed this book because it was interesting, creative, extremely thought provoking

HOUSE LESSONS: RENOVATING A LIFE by Erica Bauermeister

This book is a good combination of memoir and  informative non-fiction. 
It’s the story of the nitty gritty of all the work that went into renovating a historic house, but it’s also the story of her family and their relationships and how their physical living situation has a hand in developing their family over the years.
 On top of that, it also has some history and philosophy of architecture and home-building (a topic I find quite interesting), and an exploration of how architecture and environments affect our lives and relationships and outlooks in conscious and unconscious ways. 
I like that she includes personal stories and it makes for compelling reading that will get you thinking about your own space, and how it affects you – particularly interesting during a pandemic year of spending so much time within the walls of our own homes. 

SLOW: SIMPLE LIVING FOR A FRANTIC WORLD by Brooke McAlary

LOVED THIS!!  Slow is an inspirational guide on creating a life filled with the things that really matter, and is meant for anyone seeking peace, meaning, and joy in their otherwise rapid lives.  
“Technology has become a crutch I’m using to get through an uncomfortable experience. Its a way of putting off the work but still convincing myself I’m doing something worthwhile. Aside from talking to my family, none of it has been worthwhile. In this instance technology is a distraction that is keeping me from feeling uncomfortable, from thinking too deeply, from doing too much. The biggest culprits behind the endless scrolling:
– Boredom, procrastination, emotional discomfort, self sabotage, self loathing or dissatisfaction, HABIT, looking for someone or something to inspire us.

Always pay attention to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Use it as a tool, not as a crutch.” “I used to believe that I could do everything and be everywhere. I could work longer hours, make the dead line, cook delicious meals, play with the kids, get enough sleep, focus on my health. And I can absolutely can do all these things. But not at the same time. Not on the same day.
Realizing that was a delightful freedom. Letting go of that notion of constant balance was releasing a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding.
You mean I don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time? I don’t have to keep all the balls in the air all the time? I can change balls? I can choose different balls?
Balance is finding the correct weight for every area of life and understanding that the correctness of that weight will change over time. Balance is fluid and flexible. Balance is alive and aware. Balance is intention.

This idea of balance- a correctness rather than an equalness has taught me some of the most important lessons of my life.

– I can not be everything to everyone
– I can not be in all places at once.
– Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.
– Saying no to one thing means I can say yes to another.
– Perfection doesn’t exist. Let it go.
– I can not change people
– I have to stop comparing myself to others. They aren’t me. I’m not them.
– I will never finish the laundry
– I can’t control everything
– Bad things happen to good people and vice versa.
– My kids aren’t me.
– Being all in a moment means I’m all out of another.
– Envy and jealousy are different things.
– Achievements never look like I thought they were going to.
– Being kind to others is addictive.
– I can’t always be self- possessed.
– Sometimes I need a cheerleader.
– I like being part of a community.
– Asking for help is hard, but necessary.

Embrace the wobbly balance.”  

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