Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

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Let me begin by saying, when I started this book I had heard of Trevor Noah’s name, but never listened to any of his content. I knew he was a comedian, but nothing more. After reading Born a Crime, I now know Trevor Noah is so much more than a comedian.

Born a Crime is Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa, in which he was literally born a crime. His mother being a black Xhosa woman, and his father a white Swiss man, meant his birth was punishable by five years in prison in his parents were caught. Noah tells the story of his childhood through eighteen personal essays in which he transforms from a wild, mischievous kid, to an ambitious, and ultimately successful man. His transformation was based around the relationship he had with his mother, or as he calls her, his teammate. She was the one who was determined to save his life, and for his life to have a bigger meaning.

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

This memoir is a funny a lot of the times, sad at moments, and most of all makes you want to give your momma a hug. Trevor Noah has written a memoir about the stark realness of apartheid South Africa. One of the reviews that I read about it, was that this was essentially a love letter to his mother. And it is just that. It is the story of a boy whose mother stood up against the tidal wave of racism brought to a country, and decided to raise a child that would overcome it.

“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.”

There are essays in Born a Crime, that are absolutely, pee your pants funny. He has you killing yourself laughing into the spine of the book. This is definitely a necessary part of the story, because you are really hit with the fact that this country was torn apart from apartheid, and just how lucky we are in our country. Whether it’s the food on your table, the education you receive, or the safety you have in your home… this was not Trevor’s upbringing. But what he did have was a mother whom would do anything to propel him forward. The ending of this novel, left me feeling gutted and crying. 

The world needs this memoir, and also Trevor Noah. He’s exactly the type of person we need as role models in the world. Lastly, go listen to Oprah’s episode of Super Soul Sunday with Trevor Noah. It’s also brilliant, and funny.

Happy reading!

 

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Becoming, by Michelle Obama

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I had been resisting reading Becoming, by Michelle Obama since there was so much hype around this book. Then when a client said it was amazing, I downloaded Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations with Michelle Obama, I was HAD to read it. Sidenote: If you want to be inspired, go listen to it. It’s just everything.

Michelle Obama has been proven to be one of the most inspiring and iconic women of this era. A lawyer, the first African-American First Lady of the United States of America, a wife, and a mother, she really has no limits that she won’t try to rise to. This memoir is a story of becoming herself. She invites readers into her childhood, on balancing motherhood and work life, and lastly on her experience in the White House. She is incredibly honest in her memoir, and also reminds you to reflect on your becoming, and how you got here.

To say I was going into this book skeptically is an understatement. I always head into a memoir like this, thinking that is going to be a version of the author’s self that they best want to represent. But friends, I will tell you that this book was not that. The more I read it, and the more I thought about it upon closing it, the more I keep thinking about it.

For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.

This memoir is such a great insight to how Michelle, and her family in the past have had to overcome hardships and stigma to rise to the top. Michelle is an absolute powerhouse. From a young age she was a perfectionist. She could read before she entered school, and had extremely high expectations of herself. There are so many pieces of the book that will stay with me forever. There was one moment in particular that gave me goosebumps, and that was when she talked about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She describes how deeply it affected her and Barack, and that they would never truly know how the families lives of the victims would forever be changed. We all know that feeling of knowing exactly where we were when terrible things happen. But having to face these families, knowing that nothing can make them whole again is a whole other hardship.

Becoming is just the most perfect title of this. Michelle says in the preface that she hates that age old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, as if growing up is finite and once you get there you are done becoming. Well, when you reach adulthood you realize this. And Michelle has totally captured the essence of growing as an individual, as a partner, a mother, and also a role model. This is an important book to read, and I think so wonderful for a young person who is finishing high school, or if you are curious about her life, or someone who continues to become yourself.

Anywho, that’s all for today. Have you read this one? I have so many thoughts about it that my head is about to explode, and would love to chat. Drop me a message in the comments so we can chat 🙂

The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

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My mom had been pushing me to read The Boys in the Boat for almost a year! I had picked it up shortly after she suggested it at Vinnie’s Ptbo, and it has been sitting on my shelf since. This year I had made a goal of actually reading books that people suggest to me. Sometimes it’s easy to just get caught up in what you want to read, but there is so much pleasure in being able to share a the thoughts and feelings a great book can bring. The minute I finished this book, I called my mom to tell her she was right. This is a great book, in which you feel adrenaline, you cry, and you fall in love with the characters.

In the middle of the Depression you are introduced to Joe Rantz. He’s been abandoned at their family farm by his family when he isn’t even a teenager, and you learn quickly that even though Joe has nothing, he is unbreakable. He eventually goes to the University of Washington, and ends up on the rowing team. Here is where he meets the 9 man team in which will end up at the 1936 Olympics. This is the story that describes the making of a the boat, the mechanics of rowing, and the rhythm of a team in unison.

To see a winning crew in action is to witness a perfect harmony in which everything is right… That is the formula for endurance and success: rowing with the heart and head as well as physical strength.

Daniel James Brown was approached by Judy Rantz, the daughter of Joe Rantz, because her dying father was a fan of him and wondered if he could talk to him about the story of his rowing team who won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. What he learned was the incredible story that became this book.

What I loved about this story was so many things, but here we go… this is when sport was just purely raw, and beautiful. Before the protein powders, insane calculations about body mechanics, and blood doping. These are boys who literally worked as lumberjacks, farmers, and smoked cigarettes, and ate whatever their hands could get a hold of. Daniel James Brown built a non-fiction book that reads as exciting as a fictional novel. The whole time you have the back story of the dark looming cloud that Hitler would bring upon the world after Germany hosted the 1936 Olympics.

You are introduced to the team, and the coaches, even the man who was behind the building of the boat. I became so intertwined in their lives that I ended up crying several times during this book. I even felt the adrenaline rushing through my veins as the races were being described. It’s an incredible story, that I can’t wait to see in movie form. One of the most interesting things is that in 1936, they had to travel by boat to get to Germany for the Olympics. Some of these athletes partied pretty hardy, others lost tons of weight due to sea sickness, or gained tons of weight because they were eating and not moving for the 2 week journey.

Well, that’s about all I think I will say about this one, otherwise I will be gushing for a LONG time. And Mom… if you are reading this, great book pick and I can’t wait to chat more about it 🙂

A Tribe Called Bliss, by Lori Harder

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I stumbled upon Lori Harder when a client had recommended her podcast called Earn your Happy. So, after some intense binge-listening, I heard she released a book based on how she reached her highest potential. I ran out to the only bookstore that had it and bought the last one… and happy danced upon holding it in my hands!!

A Tribe Called Bliss is based on Lori’s journey through dealing with anxiety, loneliness, and disconnection. She describes in detail on how she shed those unfulfilling friendships, and discovered her untapped potential. This book is truly a manual on how to create deeper connections with people, instead of burying deeper inside yourself. It’s also a manual on how to use specific tools that will help you become a better and more whole being.

At this point in my life, I feel like female friendships are interesting. I have some friends I’ve had for a super long time, and those relationships are the ones that feel authentic and always pick up where they leave off. It’s cool if we haven’t talked in a bit, and we always check in on each other, and reach out to each other. BUT, meeting new friends at this stage is such a hard ship to navigate. With a young family, time is limited… and sometimes you may click with someone who could potentially become a really good friend, but the time is so limited that there isn’t much time for it to flourish. Or sometimes these new friendships start off great, and then you start to realize that maybe you didn’t have as much in common as you thought you may have. Either way… it’s a weird thing to struggle with at this stage in my life… but in talking to other women after reading this book, there are a lot of people who feel the same way.

What I loved about this book was it made you really look inside of yourself, and figure out what exactly holds you back from connecting with other people, and most of all, yourself. I’m not really on the level to air all my dirty laundry on here, but I will say that there was one line that made me realize what does hold me back. Upon reading this line, I cried, and cried, and then I journaled.  Another thing resonated with me is that Lori talked about how often we cut people down because of our own insecurities. She talks about how malicious gossip is so hurtful, and there is a difference between that type of gossip, and the processing and venting that can be helpful. Lori shares quotes all through this book, and here’s one that made me go AHA, about gossip;

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt.

One last thing I will share with you that I took away from this book is that Lori Harder must be a huge bookworm, because she even references Anne Shirley. She talks about how she always believed there would be one friend who would be her “bosom buddy”, and that this belief had proven to be untrue. So, as you may guess, anyone who is an Anne fan already feels like a kindred spirit to me.

Anywho, that’s all on this one friends. I’ve been really trying to sprinkle in some more non-fiction, self-help, memoir genre books to give my reading life a little more variety. I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews as much as I’ve enjoyed reading these books.

Up next, a fiction title that a client has lent me called The Rent Collector. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one, and it also has referenced some great books in it… that’s a win/win, friends!

You are a Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero

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In light of my recent career changes, I picked You are a Badass at Making Money up in attempts to have some hard steps help me grow my business. You may all remember my raving review for You are a Badass… I was/am still obsessed with that book. It was amazing, so I was pretty eager to pick up her next one.

You are a Badass at Making Money is written by world-renowned success coach Jen Sincero. This book is basically a summary of all the decisions that have lead her to becoming a someone who is scraping by in life, to someone who is kicking some serious ass financially.

You can have excuses or you can have success; you can’t have both.

Jen Sincero’s writing is easy to read, and so funny!! This book is filled with quotable lines, in which I have underlined and dog-eared to go back and remind myself. She’s an incredibly wise woman, who definitely believes in the Law of Attraction.

What comes out of your mouth comes into your life.

If you are looking for hard steps/facts that will lead you to financial success, this isn’t your book. Jen Sincero’s approach is a much more modern day, “if you build it, they will come” type method. In a similar vein to You are a Badass, she gives you steps in which to encourage confidence, visualization, and wanting something bad enough to make it happen. While I agree that all these things will put you on the right path to success, I also think that this type of jump-in-with-both-feet-without-thinking attitude can be detrimental. I do believe in a little thing called luck, and that some people do have it. On the other hand, if you never try to do anything how do you know if you aren’t the lucky one??

I really liked this book, I think it’s everything that I want to believe can happen if you truly desire something. But I do think it’s worth saying that there are flaws in it for sure. I don’t think that everyone can afford to take a chance, and this is where the lines get a little muddy. Not everyone can throw caution to the wind and invest in a dream. Dream chasing can be a luxury, that not everyone can afford.

Anywho, that’s all I have to say on this one today! Up next I’m reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Let’s just say I’m mildly obsessed with the glamour of the Fitzgerald’s, and I’m excited to share this one with you!

Until next time, happy reading!

Girl, Wash your Face, by Rachel Hollis

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Before I get started… jump on over to your library and grab this book. Or better yet, go buy. Mark it (if you bought it), highlight it, dog-ear it, and be ready to come back to this one over and over. I bet you can guess that I loved this book. If you have’t noticed, I’m on a bit of a self-help binge right now. A book that encourages me to live a more meaningful life… I’m there! But after a couple of these you feel like you’ve read them all. BUT Rachel Hollis nailed this book. It spoke to me on such a level that I actually said aloud to my hubby that this was the book I should have written. It’s the words right out of my mouth.

Here’s the premise… stop believing the lies you tell yourself. Rachel Hollis shares with readers the 20 lies that she has told herself over her lifetime, and how she overcame this narrative that she had told herself for so long. This is where I was sold. I am constantly telling myself “lies”, and even worse… believing them. Sentences such as, you aren’t smart enough, you need to be fitter, you need to eat better, you need to try be prettier, you need to be a better person, are constantly running through my head.

You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.

I’m going to make an effort to stop watering that negativity plant. I’m going to water positivity, and allow it grow. I am also going to make an effort to surround myself with the people who energize me, and encourage me to be better. This book has shown me that the people who are positive, who wanting to better themselves, and also listen to my crazy ideas, are the ones whom I want to be surrounded by. Let’s just do away with negativity, and self-doubt altogether. It’s reminded me that I can do anything I truly WANT to do. Upon finishing this book I made a list of ridiculous goals, that are really far fetched, but things I really want to do.

Your dream is worth fighting for, and while you’re not in control of what life throws at you, you are in control of the fight.

My new narrative includes, you got this! You are smart, and willing to continually learn. Your body is strong, and my mind is even stronger. You can do anything, as long as you tell yourself this. Life is going to be the story that you are willing to write!

Anywho, that’s all for tonight. Happy reading, friends!

 

You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero

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This book is definitely badass. I’m not one for the “self-help” genre, but every now and then I hear from multiple bookish people that a book is great and I finally cave. I have seen this splashy cover all over Instagram and actually thought there is no chance in hell I will read this book. It sounded cheesy and self-righteous. Like come on, “start living an awesome life”?!? Then I heard the girls on By the Book Podcast recapping their experience of living by this book for two weeks, and chatted with a friend in the same day about how awesome this book was… so I ran on over to Hunter Street Books to buy it.

You are a Badass is a book aimed at people who want to improve their lives. Jen Sincero is a success coach, and a writer, who has documented the process on how to start understanding yourself, and start kicking some ass!

If you want more time in your life, show time some respect.

This book has so much great information, but the main thing is… it’s all things that we know, but just aren’t putting to practice. Sincero gives some really honest, and great advice. The one thing that really rang loudly for me was changing my internal story. I’ve been juggling two jobs for awhile. One where I work at a clinic, another where I am self-employed and trying to build my own business. And in all honesty, I’m exhausted lately, and tired of saying how busy I am. Sincero had said to try changing your story to let’s just see… and maybe from there you can start giving it a shot. For a long time my internal story was I need to keep both jobs for security, because what if my business doesn’t work. Well, from now on I’m just gonna see if I can really make it work. I finished this book, and decided that I need to quit my one job, and really make space for my business to grow and flourish.

I have lived a long life, and had many troubles, most of which ever happened. – Mark Twain

Another thing that this book reminded me was that I’m the WORST procrastinator ever! I will literally put something off to the very last minute, then run around like crazy to get the job done. You are a Badass totally kicked me out of that procrastination habit… for awhile. Let’s see how long that lasts 🙂

Well… honestly I could go ON and ON about this book, and the lessons that it reminded me and taught me. I have dog-eared, and highlighted the shit out of this book, and I have also reflected back on it so many times already. It’s an easy-to-read, full of sarcasm, and completely inspiring book. I suggest it whole-heartedly, and am literally telling everyone I meet about it.

Anywho, until next time, happy reading!!