"Summer read" season is fast approaching so if you're looking for a great book to bring in your suitcase, the below reviews might give you some ideas.
And one of the authors is largely responsible for my legal career.
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.)
By sharing these reviews and ratings I hope I can encourage you to pick up a book, or to try a genre you wouldn't normally read.
I've challenged myself to read 100 books this year so you'll have a few to choose from each month! Look through the list and see what sparks your interest. And there'll be links to previous 'book nook' posts at the end if you want even more options.
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 May 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 8 different books. Here they are.
Book #40 of 2019: "When's Happy Hour?" by The Betches
Started: 1/5/2019 Finished: 4/5/2019
Given that Betches is a popular blog, and this book touted itself as a way of building a great career, I assumed it would be aimed at self-starters and online entrepreneurs.
Instead, it focuses on finding your first job out of college, making the transition from student life to indentured slave, and trying not to kill your colleagues.
And other work-related stuff.
I have to say, while I appreciate it's meant to be light-hearted, some of the advice is laughable. I mean, I'd venture a wild guess that we all know not to wear a tube top on our first day at a Fortune 500 company but, just in case you don't, Betches have got you covered.
Towards the end it does deal with branching out on your own, but I was expecting it to be much more applicable to the self-employed than the salaried.
Still, it was (intentionally) hilarious so that earns it some brownie points.
Rating: 3 books. Funny and, overall, a practical guide... for college grads
Book #41 of 2019: "Nine Perfect Strangers" by Liane Moriarty
Started: 5/5/2019 Finished: 8/5/2019
I like Liane's books but this is zany beyond belief. Still, it kept me guessing so that counts for something.
It tells the story of a group of struggling souls who sign up for a wellness retreat, each for deeply personal but not immediately apparent reasons. Touted as being a transformational experience, they're eager to see what's in store for them. Little do they know, though, that the owner has decided to change tack and try out some experimental treatments to help everyone reach a breakthrough.
There's a lot to keep up with, and it gets more ludicrous with each passing page... but I kept turning anyway.
Rating: 3 books. Wacky, but maybe that's exactly what you're looking for
Book #42 of 2019: "Save Me From Myself" by Brian "Head" Welch
Started: 8/5/2019 Finished: 10/5/2019
I've been a Korn fan for about two decades and have seen them live at least twice. So when I spotted this on the Kindle Unlimited recommended reading list, I went ahead and borrowed it.
If you're unfamiliar, Korn are an internationally acclaimed rock band (or "nu-metal", if you want to get more specific about it) with many multi-platinum albums and world tours under their belt.
In 2005 their lead guitarist suddenly announced he was quitting the band in favour of following Christ. Needless to say, it caused a bit of a stir at the time.
This memoir recounts his time with Korn, some of the antics they got up to, and the journey that ultimately led him to Jesus. (He's since re-joined Korn, but keeps his faith.)
It's an interesting look into the life of a successful band, while detailing the troubles and addictions of one of its members. It's also not a very flattering portrayal of the author, so I can only assume the content is, at least for the most part, reasonably truthful.
It does fall a little flat, though. (The guy's a great musician but only an OK writer.) I didn't feel particularly moved by any of it, and if you're looking for a tell-all about what it was like to tour with the band, you'll be a bit disappointed.
And you should definitely avoid if religion is a sore spot because god ends up being the main man in this one.
Rating: 3 books. Read if you're a hardcore Korn/Head fan
Book #43 of 2019: "Sh*t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern
Started: 10/5/2019 Finished: 10/5/2019
If you're familiar with the Twitter account this is based on, you'll have some idea what to expect. If not, the author went viral with his hilarious tweets about the crazy things his father said (and if you're easily offended, you should look elsewhere).
This book gives those tweets context. It paints a picture of the family dynamic, and the pivotal moments in the author's life... and what his dad had to say about them.
So often, "viral sensations" milk their 15 minutes until everyone realises it was just a blip. Not so here. Justin Halpern is clearly a talented writer with razor-sharp wit.
And it's easy to see where he gets it from.
Rating: 4 books. Hilarious & heart-warming
Book #44 of 2019: "Decluttering At The Speed Of Life" by Dana White
Started: 10/5/2019 Finished: 13/5/2019
Back before Dana went "public" on her blog, A Slob Comes Clean, she wrote under the pseudonym Nony (short for 'anonymous'). To this day, I still sometimes have to remind myself what her real name is.
Anyway, as the blog title suggests, Dana was living in a messy, cluttered home. When it got too much, she finally decided to try dig herself out, and all while documenting the process. As you can probably imagine, she was big on baby steps and keeping things as practical and achievable as possible.
That spilled over into the book, which is an incredibly helpful guide to dealing with clutter when you feel it's completely out of control.
What I liked about this one is that it intersperses her real-life story with her decluttering steps. So often I find books deal with one and then the other, which can make for frustrating reading. (Get on with it, already!) This was a good mix, with Dana explaining the steps and sharing how she came to implement them in her own life.
If you're looking for ways to get a magazine-worthy home, you're in the wrong place. You also probably won't find much here if you're reasonably on top of your cleaning routine.
But if things are starting to spiral out of control and you don't know where to start picking up the pieces (literally and figuratively), this won't steer you wrong.
Rating: 4 books. Excellent guide to clearing real-life messes
Book #45 of 2019: "The Danish Way Of Parenting" by Jessica Joelle Alexander
Started: 14/5/2019 Finished: 15/5/2019
Curious about how the Danes consistently rank as the happiest people in the world, the (American, married to a Dane) author set out to discover their secrets. While noting that there are several contributing factors, she thinks it essentially comes down to how they raise their children.
By collaborating with a Danish psychotherapist, as well as observing how her own husband interacted with their children, she put together this little guide so that everyone can help raise a generation of happy people.
Most of the ideas in the book make perfect sense to me, and it was a gentle reminder of some of the areas in which I'm lacking.
I did find it a bit over-simplistic at times, though, as it tends to paint a picture of "perfect world" parenting. It's also worth remembering that most of this is based on the author's own observations rather than stringent studies and research. Nonetheless, with the rates of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety skyrocketing, it's worth a shot if we want to save our children from adding to the sad statistic.
Rating: 4 books. A little "best case scenario" but worth a read
Book #46 of 2019: "You Are A Badass Every Day" by Jen Sincero
Started: 15/5/2019 Finished: 15/5/2019
I wasn't a huge fan of the original "You Are A Badass" so if you loved it you may disagree with that I'm about to say, but I feel that this is more a marketing exercise than anything.
The premise is that you read a section a day to give yourself a bit of a boost. Most are less than 2 pages, while some are simple, one-sentence quotes, so it's definitely easily digestible.
I read it in one 50-minute sitting and didn't once feel the desire to get up and kick ass.
Maybe I was just particularly tired that day.
Rating: 3 books. Won't change your life but might brighten your day (particularly if you loved the original Badass book)
Book #47 of 2019: "And The Sea Will Tell" by Vincent Bugliosi
Started: 16/5/2019 Finished: 31/5/2019
Prosecutor-turned-defender, Vincent Bugliosi is one of the mains reasons I became a lawyer.
The first book of his I read, many moons ago, was "Helter Skelter". (If you haven't read it, remedy that.) It's based on the Manson murders, the author being the chief prosecutor in the case. While the story itself is obviously despicable, the detail-oriented nature of due process hypnotised me.
Not a stone was left unturned in that tome, and the same is true here. (Note that that makes for a long book.)
When two couples separately sail off into the sunset, each in search of the deserted island paradise of Palmyra, neither has a true understanding of what lies in store. Months later, friends on the mainland lose radio contact with one of the couples, and when the other returns on the boat of the missing two, questions are raised and arrests are made.
The surviving couple claim innocence and ignorance about the disappearance and, without a body, investigators hesitate to make a case for murder. But seven years later, a skeleton washes up on shore.
Vincent Bugliosi decides to defend the female, Jennifer, believing her male companion Buck to be solely responsible for the killings. But will the jury believe he committed murder on a remote island and managed to hide it from his devoted girlfriend?
Fascinating, gripping, haunting, remarkably well written, and stranger than fiction, this is the cream of the crop when it comes to true crime.
Rating: 5 books. So good you'll want to go get yourself a law degree
A lot of the above books have audio versions, if that's how you prefer to consume content. Here's an affiliate link for two free audiobooks:
It feels great to round out another month of reading on a high note. I'm also well on track to hit my reading goal of 100 books for 2019, so my inner bookworm is well fed. (You can also follow my progress on Goodreads if you're so inclined.)
Of all the books above…
Which do you think you'd actually read?
Want to catch up on previous book nooks? Click one of these: