While I didn’t make it a resolution, I still set myself a reading challenge for 2019. The aim is to finish at least 60 books by the end of the year. (Stretch goal is 100 but I’ll settle for 60.) Each month I’ll be sharing what I read and giving a little review. So if you’re looking for your next great read, you just might find it here.
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.)
I read every single day, sometimes just for a few minutes and sometimes for hours. I’m regularly asked for recommendations, so I thought I’d start sharing what I’m reading each month.
My hope is that I can encourage you to bring more books into your life, and to make it easier to find books you’ll enjoy. Check back every month for more reviews.
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 January 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 9 different books. Here they are.
Book #1 of 2019: "The Bullet Journal Method" by Ryder Carroll
Started: 1/1/2019 Finished: 4/1/2019
In essence, the book describes how to set up a bullet journal, with some tips and explainers along the way for getting the most out of it. On top of that, Ryder provides some advice on generally living a more thoughtful, intentional life.
It’s practical handbook meets self-help guide.
Already being very familiar with bullet journaling (and the self-help genre), I confess I didn’t find much that was new among the pages. In fact, I found some of it, like how to plan a holiday, downright confusing (and I love a good multi-column breakdown as much as the next nerd).
I also found it counter-intuitive to start by describing the daily log, which is one of the last things you add when setting up a bullet journal. It would have made more sense, I think, to start with the index and then follow the logical order of future log and monthly spread. Maybe that’s just me.
Throughout the book, Ryder provides examples from the real-life pages of passionate bullet journalists, but I was left a little disappointed that the vast majority were “decorated”. I would have liked to have seen more “plain”, minimalist pages (that being my personal style), and there were none at all from Ryder’s own BuJo.
He also recommends starting a new notebook each year, regardless of how much space is left in the old one. My inner Planeteer says nope.
Part III is where the motivational stuff really kicks in, and I found that the most helpful and inspiring of all.
Throughout, I was struck by how articulate Ryder Carroll is. His intelligence and thoughtfulness shines through, and he does provide some food for thought. If you’re a die-hard bullet journalist, it’s worth a read; if you’re new to the bullet journal world, start with the website.
Rating: 2 books. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high here
Book #2 of 2019: "The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo
Started: 5/1/2019 Finished: 9/1/2019
This is the third time I’ve read it so, at this stage, it’s lost a lot of its magic. Having said that, if it’s new to you then I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Most readers will already know of my love affair with the KonMari Method. My home has never been less cluttered, more organised, and just generally more joyful. For that, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Japanese tidying expert.
If you’ve heard about it – maybe you’ve read a few articles or even watched the “Tidying Up” show on Netflix – you may feel you have a good grasp of what’s involved. Let me burst your bubble right now and say that, unless you’ve read the book, you’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
This should be required reading for anyone embarking on a homemaking adventure, or who generally feels they’ve too much stuff. If you don’t want to dump half your junk afterwards, well, you’ve read it wrong. 😉
Rating: 5 books. The title delivers on its promise – truly life-changing
Book #3 of 2019: "A Teen’s Guide to Gut Health" by Rachel Meltzer Warren
Started: 9/1/2019 Finished: 15/1/2019
Having suffered from a mysterious (and, at times, debilitating) illness for several years now, one of my doctors recommended I try the Low-FODMAP diet. So when I spotted this book about that very topic at the local library, I picked it up.
I’d already done some research on the restrictive diet but it all seemed a bit overwhelming, so I figured a teen’s guide would make it easier to digest (pun totally intended). And it did. I have a much clearer understanding of what’s involved, how my body works, and how I might best support it.
While my specific affliction remains undiagnosed (so there’s no guarantee any of this will work for me) it did force me to face the fact that food has an enormous effect on my health and wellbeing. Now that I understand my inner workings a bit better, I’ve found I’m much more aware of how big an impact my diet has and, as a result, I’m making slightly healthier – and vastly more informed – choices.
Rating: 3 books. Informative and easy to understand
Book #4 of 2019: "Kind Of Coping" by Maureen "Marzi" Wilson
Started: 15/1/2019 Finished: 16/1/2019
I’ve followed illustrator Marzi online for many years now and her doodles about daily life as an introvert are always spot on.
If you suffer from anxiety (or know and love someone who does), and you’re looking for a book that’s equal parts supportive, informative, humorous, and easy-to-read, you won’t go wrong.
I’d also encourage you to follow her on Instagram for regular doses of introvert reality: @introvertdoodles
Rating: 4 books. A friendly (cartoon) face that understands what you're going through
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 #5 of 2019: "Almost Adulting" by Arden Rose
Started: 16/1/2019 Finished: 17/1/2019
I confess that I have no idea who the author is but, from what I can gather, she’s an online influencer.
The book is well written but, having already returned it, I had to hop on over to Amazon to use their ‘preview’ feature because I’d forgotten the general gist of it. In truth, I still can’t quite remember. (I do have a terrible memory though so take that with a pinch of salt.)
Not the most relatable book I’ve ever read, and I’m very resistant to taking advice on (almost) adulting from a 22-year-old. (It’s my own personal belief that until you hit 25, you probably don’t have a damn clue what you’re doing.)
Rating: 2 books. Read it if you're an Arden Rose fan
Book #6 of 2019: "Lies" by T.M. Logan
Started: 17/1/2019 Finished: 19/1/2019
Ah, the inevitable fiction break. Sometimes I get a bit jaded from reading self-help books so I turn to something a little lighter. My genre of choice is a good psychological thriller, so when this one popped up in my recommendations I decided to take a chance on it.
The action starts almost immediately, which is usually a good sign. It tells the story of Joe, a married father who spots his wife in a secret meeting with another man. I’ll spare you any spoilers but, long story short, the man goes missing and Joe is suspect numero uno.
Here’s the thing: when you read as many self-help or personal development books as I do, you tend to come across the same ideas over and over again. The same is true for psychological thrillers. I’ve read so many in my time that I can usually unravel a plot line faster than I can pick a joy-sparking outfit from my KonMari’d closet.
Not the case here, which is always a pleasant surprise. I won’t pretend it’s the best book I’ve ever read, and it does push the boundaries of believability quite a bit. But any story that keeps me guessing until the end, or has me certain I’ve worked it all out only to pull the rug from under me, will always get a thumbs up from me.
Rating: 3 books. It's rare that I'm surprised by a book. I was surprised by this one.
Book #7 of 2019: "Lagom" by Niki Brantmark
Started: 21/1/2019 Finished: 23/1/2019
Loved it. Given the overwhelming popularity of Scandinavian life advice recently (*cough* hygge), I was skeptical. But I can’t resist a cute cover and a “trendy” idea when it comes to living well.
And oh my, if a small hardback book doesn’t get me every time.
A very quick, satisfying, soothing read. If this one doesn’t make you want to be a better person and live a more simple, uncomplicated life, nothing will. We could all take a leaf from the Swedish way of life.
(I’ll keep the extra sunshine we experience further south though, thanks.)
Rating: 4 books. A little too “light” to be entirely life-changing, but a life-improver nonetheless
Book #8 of 2019: "Yes! Energy" by Loral Langemeier
Started: 20/1/2019 Finished: 25/1/2019
You may have noticed that I started this and then abandoned it in favour of Lagom. In truth, I struggled through it and it was pure stubbornness that made me finish it.
It’s based on the author’s formula for “extreme optimism and enthusiasm”. (Even just writing those words exhausts me.)
While it does, overall, follow a step-by-step structure (which I appreciate), this book suffers from something I’m noticing increasingly in recent years: it spends too long trying to convince me why the topic is important before it actually dives into the meat.
If I’ve picked up a book, there’s a good chance I’m already interested and think the contents are worth reading. My decision will be confirmed (or otherwise) by the content, not by being beaten over the head with it when I’ve barely begun.
It also felt a bit “salesy” and self-promotional in parts. Then again, I bet Loral could buy and sell me any day of the week, so she clearly knows what she's doing.
Rating: 2 books. Just didn't gel with this one
Book #9 of 2019: "Adulting" by Kelly Williams Brown
Started: 20/1/2019 Finished: 25/1/2019
Hilariously funny, this book takes you through a whole host of situations in which you’ll be invited to step up to the plate and perform some grown-up duties. (One of the author’s claims to fame is that she actually coined the term “adulting”.)
This one had me torn because, while it started strong, I was startled when it turned to such topics as politics. Perhaps it’s a personal preference, but I expected a book with a tongue-in-cheek tone to steer clear of something so divisive. It felt odd to be discussing serious subjects in an otherwise “silly” book.
Rating: 3 books. Strange changes in tone, but the funniest book I've read in a while
A bit of a rag-tag bunch, I think you’ll agree. So often, reading is like going to a thrift store – you have to sift through a lot of junk but sometimes – oh, sometimes – you uncover a gem. Before you find it, you swear you’ll never put yourself through this again. All that wasted time and effort. But then you dig out something dazzling, and you know you’ll be back.
I’m always looking for new material so…
What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?