The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin

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If you have seen My Happiness Project, or my review on Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, you will probably see how much I admire her work. She takes practical small tasks, and shows you how to use them to transform into big results. BUT I will say that The Four Tendencies wasn’t my favourite of hers. This book just seemed like it was a repeat Better than Before…. which happened to be a book that I found really useful. Here’s a quick synopsis:

Gretchen Rubin believes that there are two types of people this world… one that divide the world into categories, and the other who do not. She is a categorizer, and believes that there are 4 different types of people: the Upholder, the Questioner, the Obliger, and the Rebel. This book is basically a road map for how to handle your own personality, the people around you, and how it can affect you in different areas in your life.

If personality books interest you, pop over to Gretchen Rubin’s quiz to see what category you are. I am an Upholder… and that comes as no surprise to me. I fit into this category so easily… one thing that really confirmed it was that I constantly hear people say “How do you have time to do what you do?” and my answer is always… “I make it”. And that is one thing that the Upholder will always do, find a way to make it work, or give it up. It’s really fun to see what category you fit into, and she gives great advice on how to motivate yourself, and deal with other types of people. You should definitely check the quiz out!

I think this book would be a great addition to a library of someone who works in the public sector. Being an RMT I find it hard sometimes to motivate different types of people to do homecare, but reading this book helps you understand just exactly what motivates some people and how you can use that to get them doing their tasks. I also think this book was a great realization of how and why your brain functions the way it does, and that it’s okay for you to be the way you are!

Anywho, that’s all about this one. Like I said not my favourite, but still very insightful. So now head on over to do her quiz, and in the comments tell me what category you fit into!

Until next time, happy reading!

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The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn

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Ohhhh this book!!! I admit, I avoided reading this book because the hype around it was EVERYWHERE. I usually don’t like to jump on board with the hottest, newest book… but I just kept on hearing how great this book was. So off to the library I went to put it on hold, and low and behold… this book was incredible! I’m going to share with you a list of reasons why I loved The Alice Network:

  • Full of strong women who make a difference.
  • References to poetry (Baudelaire mostly) and music (Edith Piaf).
  • A history lesson.
  • A little romance!

What a treasure it is to read a fast-paced, well told story, and learn about this time in history. If books like this one weren’t ever written, I wouldn’t have heard of these female spies of WW1, and how they helped change the path of the War, and saved so many lives.

This book fits into the historical fictional category, and comes in at almost 500 pages. I’m going to give you the synopsis from GoodReads, because I could go on and on… Two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

This. Book. Is. Great!!!! Just read it, please!! You will fall in love with one of the main characters, Eve. She is a kickass spy from WW1, who is at first very abrasive and rough… then as more of her story pours out you see how much depth she has, and the incredible experiences she has been through.

I will not tell you one single solitary fact about my work, my friends, or the woman I was arrested with. But I will tell you this, Rene Bordelon. You’re a gullible fool. You’re a terribly lover. And I hate Baudelaire.

The fact this this fictional story is based on real people, and their real experiences is fascinating. Kate Quinn has done something that is so unique by creating a story full of historic facts. She’s given us all the chance to learn more about these women, this time period, and for that I am grateful. The women in the Alice Network were incredible, and their stories need to be heard. Do me a favour… and read the Author’s Note at the end of this book. Then flip through all the books that Kate Quinn used for research. I love when an Author’s Note elevates the experience of a book, and that’s exactly what this does.

So I guess my lesson of the day is, just read the damn book if everyone says it’s great… because it probably is. Until next, happy reading friends!

 

 

 

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

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Last year The Handmaid’s Tale made a resurgence in the book world. With Hulu creating a series based on it, but also with the political climate, the parallels had people reading… and talking about it. I had put off reading it mostly because I’m not a huge fan of jumping on the band wagon. But overtime I have had many people mention to me how much they love, and remember this book. So I finally picked up my copy and read it.

Freedom, like everything else, is relative.

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in dystopian Gilead, which is a formerly an American state, ruled by a totalitarian government. Offred is a Handmaid in Gilead. She is allowed to leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. But it hasn’t always been this way… although her memory is fuzzy, Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke. When she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.

Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some.

How do I begin to even tell you about the importance of this book? The very best thing to me about this book is that in Gilead, women aren’t allowed to read, or write, and yet we are reading a powerful book in which it’s words are deeply inspiring. The best quotes from The Handmaid’s Tale are as chilling today as they were when readers first read them in 1985.  The government issues in Gilead run parallel to the world that we exist in today. The sexism, the racism, and the ignorance of people are all too familiar, and because of this Atwood’s depiction of a near-future it continues to resonate with readers.

One scene that I will never forget was a flashback from Offred’s memory of her life and the way it was before. She remembers back to when she is a working women, and she finds out her bank account has been frozen, and she has been let go from her job. When she relays this to her husband, he basically tells her not to worry, he can look after her. In that moment the reader realizes that all the power is being turned over to the men, on a small level, but a large scale too.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. 

Well friends, the power of this book lies in the resistance that the Handmaid’s are slowly brewing. Like today with the #metoo campaign, and people who are standing up for what they believe… we do hold the power, it’s just realizing that more people are behind us than we think are. It’s pretty awesome for Margaret Atwood to be writing a novel like this in 1985… raising eyebrows, and calling out people on issues… she’s a badass, and I love her for it! Plus, she’s Canadian, so there’s also that.

Have you read this one? And, have you watched the series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time, happy reading!

 

6 books that Shaped my Reading Life

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Today I wanted to share with you the books that over my reading life have really shaped my views and way I read. Not only are we going to talk great books, but I will share with you the reasons why I connected with these books. Think of this as a look into my reading soul! I hope this post inspires you to look back and think about the books that have meant a lot to you at certain points in your life.

The BFGThe BFG, by Roald Dahl. As a kid, I adored Roald Dahl. I ate his books up like candies, devouring each one until I looked up one day, and there were no more to read! But of all his books, this one is the one that made me fall in love with reading. I still re-read it frequently for myself, but also with my son. I remember being completely wrapped up in Sophie’s story, and the idea that dreams could be locked up in a jar.

 

Nancy Drew Mystery Collection Vol. 1-10 (Boxed Set of 10 books) [Hardcover]Nancy Drew Series, by Carolyn Keene. I feel like this one is a given, and that most people can relate. I remember being a kid reading under the covers, just trying to figure out how Nancy Drew would work it out. They are great stories, and my parents bought these for me one after the next, because even as a kid I needed to read them in order. Thank goodness my parents always encouraged this, and I think it’d be so fun to read the whole series again!

 

The Piano Man's DaughterThe Piano Man’s Daughter, by Timothy Findley. This book… oh man! You have all read about my love of Tiff. But it was my grade 10 English teacher, Mrs. Desjardins, who introduced me to Timothy Findley… and from there I became enamoured with him and the idea that someone so creative could live so close to me. From here on out, I have read A LOT of his books. Not all, but one day I will get there!

 

The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge Book 1)Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. Here’s a special one. Growing up I had heard my parents talk about this book. They had talked about how it’s based around a cathedral… and all I could think was wahhhh wahhh wahhh… it sounded so boring to me. THEN, a friend’s Dad had bought it for me as it was one of his favourite books. I then read it, and did not put it down until it was done. I loved it, and it made me realize that I really loved historical fiction. Also that my Mom and Dad’s book taste, was actually pretty damn awesome!!

 

Jane EyreJane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Before I read Jane I had a view that classics were tough books, and only for people who studied classic literature. Then I read it, and I fell so deeply in love with the wuthering Yorkshire winds, old mansions, and the complex time it was for women. I also fell in love with the Brontes. This classic is a classic that still stands up today, and is a must read. Click here to see my review.

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a recent read of mine, but holy smokes did it pack of punch. And there are sections of this book that will never leave my memory. Gilbert’s theory is that an idea is something that floats around, and can be yours if you take it… but it also can pass on to the next person. And her example of this with Ann Patchett is truly inspiring. This book made me want to stand up and be authentically me. Check out my review here.

So that is it for today, bookish friends! Please leave me a comment with some books that have shaped your reading life. I’d love to hear them.

 

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin

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If you could know the date of your death, would it change the way you lived your life? Well, this is what this book is all about. There is a ton of hype around this book… in fact I  have been hearing about The Immortalists for the last year. So when it was released on  January 9th, I resisted the temptation to run out immediately and buy it. Then after hearing Chloe Benjamin on Just the Right Book Podcast, I thought “screw it”, and went out to buy it. I’m really glad I succumbed to FOMO, because it’s a very special book!

The Immortalists is a book based in the literary fiction genre, but really it is a book that crosses many genres, making it widely accessible to many types of readers. It is a super fast read, as the book is a beautifully told story, with an element of suspense. It had me turning the pages so fast, and I felt fully entrenched in the story.

Based in 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, the Gold children: Klara, Daniel, Varya, Simon, seek out a mystical woman, who is traveling psychic claiming to tell anyone the day they will die. What they hear forms the next five decades of their lives. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

So, this is how it started: as a secret, a challenge, a fire escape they used to dodge the hulking mass of their mother, who demanded that they hang laundry or get the goddamn cat out of the stovepipe whenever she found them lounging in the bunk room.

So here we are, back to the original question… If you knew the date of your death, would you live your life differently? Would you take risks? Would love harder? This concept alone had hooked me. Then once I started reading, it was so interesting to watch these four siblings lives play out based on the knowledge that they knew. These characters were so layered. At moments you loved them, then you hated them, and then you wanted to shout at the top of your lungs for them to stop what they are doing. THAT, my friends, is exactly how I knew I loved this book.

Magic is only one tool among many for keeping one another alive.

The big theme that really stood out to me was the belief of a higher power. Each character had something that they believed in, whether it was religion, magic, art, or science. They all had their passions that allowed them to live bigger. And although their each one was different, it was as if the characters were completely bound to one another through these… as if it was their life lines.

Anywho, I hope this post inspires you to go buy this book, or put it on hold at your library. It’s truly a work of art, and I am so excited to hear other’s thoughts on it.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

 

 

 

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Happy Sunday! Today I’m coming at you with a non-fiction book about creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert has written many novels, but you probably know her best from the bestseller, and movie Eat Pray Love. I had put Big Magic on my required reading list for My Happiness Project for the month of January. I thought that maybe it might inspire me to live a little more creatively and write more.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simple do not have time anymore to think so small.

The key points of the book are to stop being so afraid of doing what you want to do, and to stand up like your badass self and embrace the thing that makes your heart sing. There is a wonderful story about one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s friend in this book who at the age of 40 decided to start figure skating again. She described that her friend had a completely different feeling within herself when she would skate, even though she hadn’t done it since she was a kid. So she did it, and still does it. She’s not preparing for the next Olympics… but she is happy, and healthier for it.

She also talks about how originality isn’t the key, but authenticity is. The idea of thinking up something entirely original is really daunting. Because in all honesty, how many ideas are really original. All the great writers, songwriters, athletes, and everyday people have most likely been inspired by someone else’s thoughts. So you do you, and embrace the ideas and feelings that make you want to be creative.

To me this book is all about inspired living. I love to read. I love to write. I love to run. I also love my job as an RMT. This book has ignited a fire within me to just do what I love to do, and fully commit to it. Be in the moment, and let the magic take over. And likewise… if you need to go through the motions of your day before you can arrive at your beloved task/hobby, do that without complaints. It’s all part of the process.

It’s nobody’s business but your own.

You may think that the books I’m reading are a waste of time. You may think that my writing is terrible. You may think that my career choice is crazy. But dammit, I really don’t care what you think. I know in my heart that I love these things. I know that the books I read are part of a bigger picture for me. I know the writing that I do is part of my process. And I know for sure that my work is deeply meaningful to me, and my individual clients. So, friends, your opinions are great, but what they are are yours. And this book has taught me to be authentically myself, and go where my heart wants to.

Believe in the magic. Until next time, happy reading!

Podcast listeners may enjoy these with Elizabeth Gilbert:

 

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

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How I have made it this long in my life without reading this book… I don’t know!! I feel like almost everyone read it in high school. I did not. So I the fact that it was required reading for most high school English classes made it seem really unaccessible to me. Almost as if I’d have to study themes, and what not to understand it. But this was not the case.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was first published 1953, and in interviews he claims to have written it at a time in which that he frustrated with the censorship, banning of books, and an illiterate society . He choose his best avenue to voice his opinion, although it was not received well by everyone!! For a book about censorship and the implications it would host… this book has been censored and banned numerous times over the years. Kind of ironic! It is a short book of 165 pages, and in the dystopian sci-fi genre.

“It was a pleasure to burn.”

Here’s a quick synopsis… if you haven’t read it yet. Guy Montag was a fireman whose job was to start fires, and he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs or the joy of watching pages consumedly flames, never questioned anything until he met a seventeen year old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do…

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” someone said.

Words are power. Books have the ability to help you forge a new opinion, change your mind, or influence an opinion that you may already have quelling inside of you. Isn’t this the reason that a book can evoke such strong emotions in a reader? It can figuratively light a fire inside of you. Whether it’s positive or negative, it holds that power. This book is exactly what this is about. Over the history of literature, people have used words to influence people… this is seen in the Bible, classic literature, and modern literature. The big theme that spoke most to me throughout this book is freedom of thoughts, and speech.

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?

Did you know where the title comes from??? Fahrenheit 451 is actually the temperature that is required to burn books. Just further confirming that Bradbury is a pretty badass, rise up and speak for what you believe in writer.

To all the podcast fans out there… I listened to a GREAT episode from Overdue, Episode 274, breaking down their thoughts on Fahrenheit 451.

Until next time, happy reading!