This month I revisited an old friend and made a few new ones, including the best book I've read in a long time. And let me just take a moment to praise local libraries (yet again) and their apps that allow you to borrow eBooks. Without them, I'd either be poor or, at the very least, reading an awful lot less.
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 day, usually for an hour or two before bed. I’m regularly asked for recommendations, so I thought I’d share what I’m reading each month.
My hope is that it will 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 March 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 9 different books. Here they are.
Book #16 of 2019: "Getting Things Done" by David Allen
Started: 19/2/2019 Finished: 2/3/2019
This is my third reading of this book and it won't be my last. If you haven't already heard me preach about GTD, suffice it to say I refer to it as the productivity bible. If you're a Type-A list lover, and you thrive on systems and routines, this book is going to revolutionise your life.
These days I read it as a refresher, but also just for fun. The control freak in me finds it endlessly soothing and comforting, and after this reading I immediately decluttered all my desk drawers and files and put some new systems in place.
If you're anything like me, as soon as you reach the end of the book you'll want to flip back to the beginning and start all over again. Still, there's plenty in here for non-nerds so if you want to manage your time a bit better or be a little more efficient, pick it up.
This is the first productivity book I fell in love with, and it's a relationship I'll continue to benefit from for the rest of my life.
Rating: 5 books. Prepare to be productive
Book #17 of 2019: "Scrappy Little Nobody" by Anna Kendrick
Started: 2/3/2019 Finished: 3/3/2019
For me, autobiographies or memoirs can generally be summed up as such: "I may be famous but I'm still so relatable". This was no exception.
Still, this doesn't come across quite as try-hard as many memoirs so I can buy into the possibility that Anna is indeed more relatable than most stars. Funny, self-effacing, and structured (something I always look for in an autobiography after reading one too many haphazard retellings), Anna peels back the curtain just enough to allow you a sneak peek, without revealing too much.
If you're looking for a "tell all", this isn't it. To me, that's a good thing.
Rating: 3 books. If you're a fan, this should satisfy you
Book #18 of 2019: "The Secret Life Of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd
Started: 3/3/2019 Finished: 3/3/2019
I adored this story of a young runaway so much I devoured it in a day.
Haunted by the memory of having accidentally killed her mother, Lily dreams of escaping her abusive father and setting off in search of a new life. One day, in less than ideal circumstances, fate steps in. Segregation is rife in 1960s South Carolina, and when her black friend finds herself in trouble, Lily comes to her rescue and is then forced to go on the run.
She slowly carves out a new life for herself with 3 bee-keeping sisters. But while she's learning to face a whole new set of challenges, dealing with new loves and lost ones, the past is slowly catching up with her.
I'll be honest here and say that there's a coincidence in the book that's so convenient it's almost laughable. Still, the story is so beautifully written that I was prepared to suspend a significant amount of disbelief. And, because the rest of the tale is so touching and tragic, it didn't leave me feeling like everything was wrapped up in too neat a bow.
Rating: 5 books. Heart-wrenching, yet uplifting
Book #19 of 2019: "My Sister, The Serial Killer" by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Started: 4/3/2019 Finished: 5/3/2019
This one received a huge amount of hype so I was excited to get stuck in. It tells the tale of Korede, a self-conscious and straight-laced young woman who finds herself covering for her sociopathic sister. But their secrets seem likely to be spilled when Ayoola sets her murderous sights on a young doctor who just happens to be the object of Korede's affection.
Look, I think we've already established that I'm prepared to suspend a large amount of disbelief. I mean, I've read the Twilight series, and was happy to believe that a sparkly vampire and needy werewolf fought for the affections of a pasty, clumsy teenage girl. But I just couldn't get on board with a serial-killing sibling at all.
The book is funny and fast-paced, and presents a unique story (which, these days, is rare). I didn't love it, but I know I'm very much in the minority.
Rating: 3 books. Takes sibling rivalry to a sociopathic level
Book #20 of 2019: "Girl, Stop Apologizing" by Rachel Hollis
Started: 5/3/2019 Finished: 6/3/2019
The follow-up to her massively successful, "Girl, Wash Your Face", this one aims to quash your excuses once and for all. Each chapter deals with a lie we tell ourselves for why we can't live our dream life – not good enough, not smart enough, not enough time, etc. – and tries to stamp it out.
While it's not as good as its predecessor, it's still a reasonably decent read. Rachel pulls heavily from her own experience, so you get the impression these are conversations she's had with herself many times, not just some made-up motivational phrases designed to sell books.
Rating: 4 books. Read if you're ready to get out of your own way
Book #21 of 2019: "Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan
Started: 6/3/2019 Finished: 16/3/2019
I rarely say this but the movie is superior. And I didn't particularly like the movie.
While I can forgive the plot line its predictability, the characters lack depth and dimension. I'm not even sure why I bothered seeing this one through to the end (I started reading another book in the middle of it), but my stubborn streak won out.
I wish it hadn't.
Rating: 2 books. If you have to see what all the hype is about, ditch the book and watch the movie instead
Book #22 of 2019: "Love The Home You Have" by Melissa Michaels
Started: 7/3/2019 Finished: 18/3/2019
This book is like that boy you dated back in school. Your relationship got off to a rocky start but you decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. And things did improve but the relationship inevitably ended, albeit amicably, and you never thought of him again.
The author starts by outlining her endless quest to find "the perfect home", detailing each and every space she's lived in from the time she got married. It was all very vague in terms of advice, but picked up the pace as it went, becoming more and more instructive and useful along the way.
Still, it was a slow road to get there and then I quickly moved on.
Rating: 3 books. Light on practical advice (at least in the beginning)
Book #23 of 2019: "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" by Jenny Han
Started: 16/3/2019 Finished: 22/3/2019
Young adult fiction about the loves of teenager Lara Jean. When someone finds and sends her journal-like love letters to their subjects (who were never meant to see them), she scrambles to save face.
This isn't a genre I usually enjoy, and follows the predictable plot of "quirky, quiet girl somehow attracts the attention and affection of handsome rogue". Nonetheless, it's witty and well written, and offers what I would consider a slightly more realistic take on teenage love than most of what's out there.
Rating: 3 books. Read it if modern teenage rom-coms are your thing
Book #24 of 2019: "Real Life Organizing" by Cassandra Aarssen
Started: 23/3/2019 Finished: 23/3/2019
I'm a big fan of Cas and her Clutterbug channel. (In fact, we did a collab in March, which is what finally prompted me to pull the finger out and read one of her books.)
Cas is a self-proclaimed (recovering) messy person, so all the advice is clear and easy to implement. Everything is meant to be manageable for an average home, with a step-by-step process and simple tips. She's also hilarious, so you'll have a few laughs along the way. (Is it any wonder I love her?)
If you're looking for something from a Martha Stewart magazine, this isn't it. If, on the other hand, you want practical solutions you can actually implement in your own home, this one's a winner.
(And no, I'm not just saying that.)
Rating: 4 books. A great practical guide to getting your home in order
So yeah, some highs and lows this month but, overall, I think it's a decent bunch of books. And I'm still on track to hit my goal of 100 books this year.
If you want to see what I'm reading in "real time", follow me on Goodreads. Otherwise, I'll see you soon for the next instalment.
I’m always looking for new material so…
What's a recent book you read where you had to suspend a lot of disbelief?