Book Nook: February 2019

Yes this post is late, but I've been busy reading. 😉 A bit of a mixed bag in terms of content but all non-fiction, which is probably why I didn't read as much as last month. (I read fiction much faster because it usually requires less concentration, and it's much easier to get sucked into a good story and keep going.)


I've added links to where you can find each book on Amazon US if you want to purchase it or read more reviews, as well as links to free trials on Kindle Unlimited and Audible. All of them are affiliate links meaning that, if you purchase through them, I'll make a small commission. Thank you! (For more info, read my disclosure.)

Book Nook | Book reviews | Goodreads reading challenge 2019

I read every single day, sometimes just for a few minutes and sometimes for hours. I started this series because I’m regularly asked for recommendations.

I also hope I can encourage you to bring more books into your life and make it easier to find books you’ll enjoy. Check back every month for more reviews.

Rating System

1 book: Well, I won't be getting that time back

2 books: Not my cup of tea

3 books: Yup, that'll do nicely

4 books: Thoroughly enjoyed

5 books: One of the best things I've ever read


I think anyone who writes a book is a damn hero. My personal opinions of the content are just that – personal opinions. If something didn't float my boat, I still applaud the author. Their discipline and determination amazes me.

OK, on with the show.


For the month of February 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 6 different books. Here they are.

Book #10 of 2019: "Design The Life You Love"  by Ayse Birsel

Started: 1/2/2019     Finished: 2/2/2019

The author's "day job" sees her re-working everyday items to make them more efficient, comfortable, space-saving, etc. Applying those principles to life instead of furniture, this quick read describes how to deconstruct your beliefs and habits so you can weed out what's not working, and then rebuild some better ones.

It's essentially an activity book, meant for you to draw and doodle your designs and ideas. Unfortunately, the interactive element was unavailable on the Kindle version (and, truth be told, I wouldn't have done it even if I'd had a physical copy 'cause my Type-A personality thinks writing on books is the devil's work).

Also, I don't know about you but I rarely complete exercises from a book. (I had enough of that in school, thanks.) I appreciate the guidance and the opportunity to give a topic some thought, but as for actually whipping out a pen and getting my doodle on? I only do it if I think it's really going to change my life.

Rating: 3 books.   Interesting concept, but a struggle for Kindle users or Type-As.

Book #11 of 2019: "The Other 8 Hours"  by Robert Pagliarni

Started: 3/2/2019     Finished: 10/2/2019

I was skeptical about this one because, while I understand the idea that we generally sleep for 8 hours and work for 8, I think most of us would agree that we don't then have a free 8 hours in the evening to do as we please. There's eating, commuting, cleaning, preening, wrestling and wrangling sleepy bears children...

So I was pleasantly surprised by how practical this book is. The author doesn't shy away from the fact that most of us struggle to find 5 minutes to ourselves, let alone several hours. Instead, he offers solutions, and a step-by-step guide to getting the most out of whatever time we do have.

Whether you want to up-skill, start a side hustle, take up a hobby, or simply make the most of your downtime, this book provides simple, actionable advice, as well as a healthy dose of motivation to get you moving.

Rating: 4 books.   Realistic and useful guide to getting the most out of your day

Book #12 of 2019: "Time Management From The Inside Out"  by Julie Morgenstern

Started: 10/2/2019     Finished: 15/2/2019

Another helpful handbook to help take back control of your time. While none of the information was new to me (I've been in the productivity game a long time), I always appreciate a guide that gives practical advice that can be implemented immediately.

If you're looking for a great starter guide to getting more done in a day, I'd recommend this one.

Rating: 4 books.   A helpful, easy-to-understand guide

Book #13 of 2019: "The Real Simple Guide To Real Life"  by Real Simple

Started: 15/2/2019     Finished: 17/2/2019

I'm at least a decade too old for this book but if you're in your late teens or early twenties, you'll probably find it useful. It covers everything from how to land your first job to finding your first apartment and all that other grown up stuff.

If you're fresh out of college (or about to be), this is a great roadmap to the rest of your young adult life.

Rating: 3 books.   Read it if you feel unprepared for the real world

Book #14 of 2019: "Live Lagom"  by Anna Brones

Started: 17/2/2019     Finished: 17/2/2019

I picked this one up after reading another book on 'lagom' last month and loving it. Sadly, this one fell short. While the other painted an enchanting, enthralling picture of the Swedish way of life, this did little more than describe facts and recount personal experiences.

If I hadn't read the other, I may have enjoyed this a lot more (as might you), but this one didn't make me want to break out the blankets and light a bunch of candles. 

Rating: 2 books.   Sells you an idea but not really an experience

Pro tip: I’m often asked how I manage to read so much. One of my tricks is to include shorter books like this that can be read in one or two sittings.

Book #15 of 2019: "How To Murder Your Life"  by Cat Marnell

Started: 17/2/2019     Finished: 18/2/2019

Before reading this, I had no idea who Cat Marnell was. Now, I know too much.

This memoir is equal parts fascinating and disturbing. Cat describes her introduction to, and inevitable destruction at the hands of, drugs, while trying to make her mark in a demanding media career.

I have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I worry that, in parts, it glamorises drug use. Her life is one that younger readers might wish to emulate, full of raucous parties, designer handbags, high-profile fashion and beauty events, and free stuff. (How old am I that even just typing that sentence makes me want to stuff my face with sandwiches and then take a nap?)

On the other, it serves as a stark warning that, recreational or otherwise, things can quickly get out of hand and lead you down a dark and dangerous path where your life is no longer your own and the people in it start to value the "fix" more than the friendship.

This is the literary version of "car crash TV", where everything is horrifying and you know you'll never be able to scrub the image from your brain once it's been burned onto it, but you still can't seem to tear your eyes away. You're simultaneously full of curiosity and regret.

I think that's a strong testament to Ms. Marnell's talent and wit as a writer.

Maybe I'm too "innocent" and old-fashioned but I hesitate before I even take a painkiller, so her world seems foreign and frightening to me. Her story continues to haunt me, in the same way addiction will continue to haunt her. (But they do say that the best stories are the ones that stay with you.)

Rating: 4 books.   Graphic depictions of drug use from a media darling living the high life (in both senses)

An interesting selection, I think you'll agree. It made me marvel at how wonderful and awful life can be, and I'm that much more grateful for my own uncomplicated existence.

What’s the most unsettling book you’ve ever read?

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  1. “(How old am I that even just typing that sentence makes me want to stuff my face with sandwiches and then take a nap?)” and then I am the same age… LOL

  2. Don’t remember the name or author but it was the first book in a fantasy series then boyfriend (now hubby) recommended I read. The images made in my brain stay with me still and it has to have been 12 years now. I didn’t finish the book and I didn’t read the next 4 books.

  3. The main bad guy wizard tortured children to make himself more powerful. The children were groomed to believe he was a god. Big nope from me.

  4. Behind Closed Doors is the most recent unsettling thing I have read.

    It’s about a husband who has complete control over his wife – to the point she is locked in a room most of the day. She has tried to escape but has failed. She then finds out that her husband is trying to get her disabled sister to live with them and has even built a chamber in the basement to ‘house’ her. So the wife has to find a way to escape…

    The book made me feel sick and upset in places but I couldn’t put it down! Really interesting ending too!

    • Definitely sounds unsettling. I hate when I hear stories like that in the news. (Horrifying to think that stuff actually goes on in real life too.)

  5. Behind Closed Doors by B. Paris. Super creepy story of marital abuse. It haunts me to this day.

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