The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

I cannot lie.  I am completely in for Hygge now.  I don’t know what possessed me to check this book out months ago, in the blazing summer heat that I love, but I did.  Now that it’s fall and I finally got around to it, I’m in.  I listened to the audiobook, which was a super short 3.5 hours, and so I got the pronunciation down (I think) and now I pretty much walk around my house chanting, “Hygge!  Hygge!”

Basically, Hygge seems to me to be a lot about making things nice.  Just nice.  Cozy.  Good smelling.  Friendly.  Nice.  And, to be honest, I think that I could really use some nice right now.

While I checked this book out, I have put it on “to be purchased” list.  It includes lists, recipes, ideas, the sort of thing that I can see myself referring back to now and then.  The basic concept is simple enough.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that you’ll see a number of reviews that talk about candles.  There is a lot of talk about candles.  I’m not currently in a position to light many candles, as I have a toddler who likes anything he’s not supposed to have, but I don’t feel put off by that.  Hygge socks?  That’s a thing.  I HATE socks but I don’t feel put off by that.  Instead I feel inspired to make these coming winter months and every day before them a little more homey and nice.

I liked this one a lot.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I don’t remember what made this book pop in my head way back in July.  All I know is that I was sitting at my desk one day and I thought about it and I could see that green spine on the shelf and I decided that I wanted to re-read it.  I’ve been kind of in the mood for re-reading lately and it seemed like the kind of thing that I could get through quickly.

Now, when I first read this book seven years ago, I thought it was okay.  It was one of those books that had a cult following and I liked my favorite book with a cult following better and that was that.  Though, I apparently liked it enough to give it four stars.

This book was so much better than I remember.

I mean, it’s serious and it deals with really serious issues but it does so with a lot of heart and humor.  I laughed.  I cried.  I gasped at one point and said, “Charlie!  No!”  I read some of it out loud to Hubby, much to his dismay.  I really enjoyed it and it was the kind of book that I found myself wanting to read every chance I got.  It was a great experience.

This is the story of Charlie, who is writing letters to someone who he heard didn’t sleep with that person at that one party.  Charlie is about to start high school and he is nervous.  His only friend, Michael, committed suicide and Charlie is just kind of alone in the world.  Not long after he starts school, he goes to a football game and sits with Patrick, who he knows from shop class, and Sam.  They are seniors and they take him to Big Boy and take him under their wing.  Meanwhile, Charlie’s English teacher is giving him special reading and has told him to participate in the world.  Charlie writes letters through the year as he falls in love, dates, notices things about his family, deals with some heavy stuff, and experiments with illicit substances.  Charlie is mostly clueless which is kind of endearing, even when he does blatantly stupid stuff.  Charlie is also dealing with his mental health and always gives off a feeling of fragility that isn’t explained until later in the book.

This was excellent.  I’m so glad that I reread it!

More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes

This book was on my Amazon wish list for so long that I don’t even remember why I wanted it or when I wanted it.  It didn’t seem like a bad idea to read it, though.  Presently, I am working full time, writing in my spare time, raising a toddler, and managing my home.  Tantrums, laundry, cleaning, looking for lost items (that usually have been stolen by a cat or a toddler), making sure everyone (including cats) is fed, and trying to be a human being is, like, more than enough for anybody.  We also have a small house and a lot of hobbies which means a lot of stuff.  I wasn’t really expecting to take much from this book but I decided to give it a try anyway.

I was right.  I didn’t take much from this book and what I DID get from it wasn’t what I was expecting.  Barnes has some unrealistic expectations, in my opinion, and we have different ways of doing things.  I have never been a fan of that “I have five minutes before I have to run out the door, so I’ll just scrub this toilet” mentality.  I don’t need to schedule vacuuming in and if a friend invites me to lunch when I’m supposed to vacuum, I’m definitely going to lunch.  The system seems too complicated.  I don’t want to store things and keep a list of where everything is stored.  And I was really annoyed by how often they talked about picnics.

Well, until the chapter about picnics and then I decided that I really need to have one and that it’s the kind of memory that I want to make for my family.  In the end, what I took from this book was more human.  It encouraged me to change the way I was prioritizing my life and helped me to change the way I was treating my husband, who is a saint for living with a crazy woman.

While I don’t agree with Barnes and I lead a much different life than her, there are a lot of useful things in this book and there are a ton of checklists so it might be perfect for you even if it wasn’t for me.

Jay’s Journal- “Anonymous” (Beatrice Sparks)

One day I was playing around online and come across someone talking about how Go Ask Alice was made up.  Now, somehow I had failed to notice this scandal.  I vividly remember reading the book in high school because it was THE book to read about drug use and teens, even though it was old.  As a teenager I was super into reading books about drug use and Alice was “real.”  I still have teenagers reading it and thinking it’s true but apparently it’s not.  Or, at least, Sparks eventually admitted that she drew some of it from the diary and some of it from her work as a youth counselor in the Mormon church.

Go Ask Alice was a sensation and when it came out Sparks was approached by a mother whose son had recently committed suicide.  She felt that Sparks would be able to use his journal to write another book and help more kids.  The result was Jay’s Journal and when the book was released the boy’s parents were very upset.  Apparently, Jay wasn’t into Satanism and Sparks only used about 25 entries from the original journal.  Again, Sparks claimed that she filled it in with her history of working with teens and with interviews with the boy’s friends.

Literary scandal and a book about Satanism just seemed up my alley because I’m strange like that.

Honestly, though, this book was a bore.  It took me way too long to read.  It’s just entry after entry of a dramatic, egotistical, wishywashy boy who really likes his mother’s bread.  The story behind the book was much more entertaining.

Pass this one up.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

It happens once in a while that I will go to watch a show and have to turn it off because it’s so good that I want to read the book first.  That’s how I decided to read Sharp Objects.  Actually, Hubby put the first episode on and I was hooked but I had to go to bed and he watched the next one without me.  It might have been spite reading but I don’t regret it.

I listened to Gone Girl a few years ago, when it was all the rage, and a friend of mine told me she really liked the book but “it was kind of a dark time.”  That’s how I think of Flynn’s writing.  It’s excellent but it’s dark and messed up and you are probably going to spend the week under a kind of dark cloud.  Still worth it.

Camille is a barely making it reporter at a barely making it paper in Chicago when her boss calls her into his office and asks her about what is going on in her home town of Wind Gap.  A girl was murdered there a year earlier and now one has gone missing.  Suspecting that they might have the lead on a serial story, and also thinking he can do something good for a not-so-healthy Camille, she is assigned to the case and she grudgingly returns home.

Wind Gap is one of those delightful small towns that I like to read about.  It’s small, everyone knows each other, there are lots of quirks and gossips, and, most of all, it’s f*cked up.  Camille is the product of this town, a woman who knows she is beautiful and ran with the popular crowd but also has had a lot of unhealthy sex that she doesn’t think is unhealthy, a serious problem with self-mutilation, and a bit of a drinking problem.  Camille is the kind of character who never really pretends to be okay while still totally pretending to be okay.  She talks about how she’s been really good about her drinking and she’s going to get better about it but she does this while drinking from a water bottle that’s been filled with vodka.

Camille’s family is loaded and owns the pig farm that provides jobs for the poorer half of town.  Her mother, Adora, runs the show and is pretty much intolerable from the start.  Her half sister, Amma, has a lot of the same tenancies as her sister, drinking and hanging out with boys who are too old for her and a real mean streak.  Camille also has a dead sister whose memory she can never live up to.  This is a messed up family and it never gets any easier to read.

This whole novel has this oppressively dark feeling about it and Flynn has a way of throwing in a disturbing image here and there, just when you start to feel settled.  Basically I loved it and I loved it enough to go check out Dark Places and decided that I just have to read everything Flynn writes forever because her brain is scary.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

A while ago I came across this book as a Kindle deal of the day.  I was curious.  I wanted to read it but at the time things were tight and I was trying to cut back on how much I spent on books and so I let it slide.  Then it came up again on the By the Book podcast and my librarian brain went, “Hey, librarian!  Did you realize you have access to pretty much any book you want for free?”  So, I requested it and finally satisfied my curiosity.

I have been on a bit of a self-help bender this year and I feel like it’s put me in a unique spot.  I LIKE this book a lot.  I like it a lot because it’s easy to read and I know that the suggestions are sound.  In fact, this book could have been a 4.5 or 5 star for me except that I could have done with less of Elrod repeating his story and more of him giving me the material instead of telling me to go to his website and download it.  This constant website promotion made the material that I knew was good and beneficial feel a little slimy and infomercial-like.  Instead I felt like if I had purchased the book I would have felt ripped off.

That being said, Elrod’s advice is sound.  In fact, it wasn’t until I was almost done with the book that I realized I already incorporate most of the Miracle Morning into my day.  I exercise, meditate, and journal and these are the things that I have sworn by FOR YEARS.  I have exercised five days a week pretty consistently for 20 years.  I have journaled almost daily for 22.  I picked up meditation a couple of years ago and swear by it, even if I only do 5 minutes/day.  I KNOW that these things work and that doing them in the morning sets a good tone for the day.

So, it is kind of basic advice.  Still, I intend to incorporate these things into my morning a bit differently because of this book and I intend to add affirmations and visualization.  Hal managed to get me pumped and that is never a bad thing.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This is another book that I read purely because of the By the Book podcast and it was another surprise.  I think that it makes sense.  The only difference is that I went into this one expecting to be surprised because the ladies had such positive things to say about it.

I see a lot of people discouraged by the amount of Christianity in this book but honestly I just didn’t pay attention to it.  The ideas were interesting enough for me to breeze right by it.  Though, I will say, I HATED that any time Chapman talked about someone whose language was physical touch and that person or example preferred the intercourse part, that person was a man.  Ladies like it too, thank you very much.

Chapman’s philosophy is that everybody has a love language, of which there are five.  The five languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  I honestly knew mine just from reading the list but what I found interesting was how the book made me realize that I try to speak my language to my husband, who is definitely neither of those.  I think this is a completely normal thing, right?  Do unto others and all of that.  I just never thought about it.

I listened to this audio and it was just over 4 hours so it was a quick one for me.  I probably wouldn’t have cared for it if it were any longer.