I'm in the midst of a streak of some awesome reading, and I'm excited to share these recommendations with you!
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
The President of my Foundation Council loaned me this book to read while he re-read it, as he felt that there would be some great takeaways for the Council. He’s right – with tons of interesting real-life examples, Daniel Coyle describes how safety, vulnerability, and purpose serve primary roles in developing a rock-solid culture. There were plenty of passages I would’ve loved to highlight and anonymously send to various people.
As good as this book might be for a leader or influencer of any group, I was surprised to find that there were some principles that I’ve found myself wanting to apply to my household as well as just me and how I approach decisions, challenges, and priorities.
Read this book and celebrate the impacts you can make with the sound advice, and then loan it forward!
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
I flew through this book, partially because it was a quick read and partially because it really appealed to me. Some of the memoirs are a sentence or two, and some of them are a couple of pages. I really enjoyed almost all of them. They ranged from sad to sweet to literally LOL (including one I read when I was feeding Jax at 3 am and I think I woke up Jeff with my snorting.)
This was the first anything I’d read by Fennelly, and I’d love to read more. It looks like she primarily writes poetry, so perhaps that’s a chance for me to expand my horizons a little bit.
Now I want to write a book of micro-memoirs. Do you think she’d be mad at me for stealing her idea?
Up Next –
I’m not really living my life right now, I’m just going through the motions of things I have to do when I can’t be reading this fascinating book about a modern-day cult. I’m also just a little bit along in a so-far-so-good nonfiction book about three women’s stories that reads like a novel. I think I’d be flying through it, also, but I have to finish up this cult book so I can get my life back.
Although I have to say, I find that sort of reading experience one of life’s greatest pleasures – a story so interesting and so well told that you give yourself up to it a little bit.
Wow, I am still definitely not reading at quite the clip I usually do. It's cool, as I'm still filling my time with fun activities like baby-holding and spending time with family and friends. I enjoyed my 20th high school reunion this past weekend. Call me crazy, but I actually like reunions. It's very liberating to chat with people without being choked by my own awkwardness/gawkiness/hormones.
However, I have managed to push through a couple of great books in the last couple of weeks!
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
If you love food, you should try to read some Ruth Reichl. The way she describes her culinary experiences is out of this world – you really feel like you’re eating whatever it is right along with her. That said, the food in Save Me the Plums is not showcased quite as much as in her other books, but this was still a great read about Reichl’s time as Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine. I really enjoy books about workplace dynamics AND I love food so this was a win for me. Ruth Reichl is an easygoing gal with an amazing palate and has had quite the career.
Oh and it includes recipes!
Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert
It’s been a long time since our book club read Moloka'i, but I recollect that all of us absolutely loved it. So I have been looking forward to reading the sequel for months. I finally got around to it, and it was solid. It featured a crappy part of American history I knew nothing about, so that was eye-opening. Aside from that section, Daughter of Molokai was lighter on plot and heavier on character. My one gripe was that it was sentimental enough in parts that it almost became sappy. In short, the daughter of Moloka'i’s life sorta sucked for the first half of the book and then it was just pretty much great for the second half – not a pattern I’m used to in the average novel.
If you liked Moloka'i – this is a must-read. If you haven't, you should read it. It's about Hawaii and leprosy and love and loss.
I’m flying through a book suggested to me by my Foundation Council President, which is loads of fun AND it means I can read at work cuz it’s FOR WORK! Right?
Also on my phone I’ve got a book of micro-memoirs all ready to go. Ain’t no memoir like a micro-memoir! I got time for that!
What are YOU reading?
These days I'm doing a little more baby-holding and walk-taking and a little less reading, but I finally knocked out our book club picks for August and September!
My Cross to Bear by Greg Allman
I have a love-hate relationship with this memoir. I *loved* how it sounded like Gregg was just sitting there talking to me. His voice comes across so strongly it’s like he was RIGHT THERE at my kitchen counter, pouring himself a drink or shooting up drugs in his arm, or what have you.
Otherwise, I’ve got some hate.
I don’t think he knew whether he wanted to be sex drugs and rock’n’roll with this memoir or if he wanted to come across cheesy as hell, but he did a little of both. In fact, this book actually read like he was on-and-off some kind of happy medicine. He provided lots and lots and LOTS of examples of using his fame to get himself some …<female genetalia, not sure if I’m going to introduce stronger language than that in my blog – what if my kids read this some day? Or YOUR kids?> and then later he’ll talk about how much he loves women. And all of God’s creatures.
He talked about a lot of real cool cats, man. And so-and-so who was the best guitar player EVER. Or so and so who was the best drummer you’d ever want to meet. This went on through the 60’s, the 70’s, the 80’s and beyond. Lots of cool cats. Lots of sex. Lots of drugs. (LOTS OF ROCK N ROLL!)
He spoke about Cher. He thought she wasn’t a very good singer. He was glad she thought that he was good between the sheets. One of the best she’s ever had. But he couldn’t even pretend in his memoir that he thought she could carry a tune. Jerk move!
I decided I didn’t like Greg Allman. But he had an interesting life.
Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein
There are SO many WW2 novels. Most of them I’ve read are really good, but I choose carefully so that they don’t blur together.
This book (and the Allman memoir) were selected by my book club. It seemed like about half of the group loved it and the other half couldn’t get through it. I admit that it took a bit to really get into it, but that’s partially because I’ve been busy and had been reading it in stop-starts for about a week. Then I had a chance to really devote some uninterrupted time to reading it and that made all the difference (without a doubt, the best way to read *most* books – with as few interruptions as possible!)
The characters were layered, the plot was interesting, and the book did a good job of showcasing how the awful treatment of the Jews evolved prior to the Holocaust without sending the reader to bed in a fog of depression. Let me explain: to me, good books about something horrific strike a balance. Nothing is sugar coated and enough details are provided to help readers understand the gravity and general horribleness of the situation but it’s not 400 pages of torture. Readers should be able to come up for air at the very least.
This is really a novel about friendship and family dynamics in an unthinkable situation. It’s meh, then it’s good and good and good and then it’s excellent (and then it’s over).
Next up: Oh my gosh I am absolutely flying through another memoir that’s currently sitting at five stars for me, no question. I also just started the sequel to a book our entire book club loved about ten years ago.
What have you been reading?
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.