Book Nook: September 2019

I have a great reason for literally only reading one book in the first half of September – I got my work groove back! Since burning out in September of last year, I've really struggled with my productivity levels.

But after an entire year, I'm finally getting back on track and have been making the most of it as I settle into a new routine. So yes, that initially meant a little bit less reading. And I was OK with that.

Thankfully, I found a good rhythm again (and was in bed with a bad cold) so things started to pick up thereafter.

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September 2019 Book Nook | Book reviews | Goodreads reading challenge 2019

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.

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

Disclaimer

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.

Reviews

For the month of September 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 7 different books. Here they are.

Book #71 of 2019: "40 Things To Do When You Turn 40"  by Ronnie Sellers

Started: 31/8/2019     Finished: 15/9/2019

I recently decided I might like to do a '40 Before 40' challenge where I try tick off some bucket list items before the milestone birthday. I turned to this book for inspiration.

Sadly, I didn't find it.

This is a collection of essays by people who have recently turned 40, reflecting on what they've learned. And, while some of it could be said to be practical (like the advice to remodel), most of it is the standard life stuff about being physically and financially sound.

Rating: 2 books.   Expectations unmet but it's not without merit – it's always good to gather wisdom from your elders



Book #72 of 2019: "Outer Order, Inner Calm"  by Gretchen Rubin

Started: 20/9/2019     Finished: 20/9/2019

This is Gretchen Rubin's drive-by version of the KonMari Method, featuring bite-size bits of advice about decluttering and generally sorting your sh*t out.

If you haven't yet started your "tidying festival" because you're too overwhelmed by the thoughts of it all, or maybe you've started and are now stuck, this book should give you a bit of a boost.

Rating: 4 books.   Not life-changing, but quick and uplifting



Book #73 of 2019: "Deep Work"  by Cal Newport

Started: 15/9/2019     Finished: 20/9/2019

This one's difficult to rate because I really enjoyed it but the first part dragged a lot. For that reason I'm leaning towards a 4.

BUT it's not an exaggeration to say that this book played a huge part in me getting my productivity groove back.

"Deep Work" by Cal Newport

I plan on writing an entire post about it because it's revolutionised how I work, but suffice it to say that if you read this and don't try it out in your own life, you're doing yourself a great disservice.

Stick with it if you find Part One to be dull; it does get better.

Rating: 4 books.   It could have been shorter but, if implemented, the advice is life-changing



Book #74 of 2019: "Digital Minimalism"  by Cal Newport

Started: 20/9/2019     Finished: 23/9/2019

Another life-changer but I can't give this one as many props because a lot of the groundwork, I felt, was laid in the previous book, and this one's longer than it needed to be too. It's hard to say how much of an impact it would have had if I hadn't read "Deep Work" first.

It's slightly different to other books that examine the general evils of the internet in that it doesn't suggest ditching technology completely (though it makes a strong case where social media is concerned). Instead, it challenges you to distinguish between the true benefits and what's just distracting (and, potentially, harmful).

While I felt it was much longer than it needed to be and, as I said, has its foundations in "Deep Work", nonetheless this solidified my desire to go on a bit of digital detox and I haven't scrolled through my Facebook or Twitter feeds since.

Rating: 3 books.   Feels like more of an addendum to "Deep Work", albeit an interesting one



After "Digital Minimalism" I hit a bit of a brick wall with the self-help and productivity topic. I actually started 4 different books but couldn't get into any of them so I decided I needed to switch gears to something a little bit "lighter". Something that didn't require a huge amount of concentration. Enter:

Book #75 of 2019: "Stranger Things"  by Gina McIntyre

Started: 26/9/2019     Finished: 27/9/2019

This was the perfect palette cleanser to my productivity overload.

I was a little wary at first because I know how much a behind-the-scenes account can really ruin the magic for fans. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it deepened my love for the show.

It covers seasons 1 and 2, sharing how the show came about, the casting process, the set and costume design, concept art, and so much more.

While it does explain how certain scenes were made, it mainly offers insight into the inspiration behind various aspects of the show. It probably comes as no surprise that the Duffer brothers were heavily influenced by 80s horror (a genre I'm happily familiar with), but the connection and level of thought that went into each detail is incredible.

Fans of Spielberg and King, in particular, will get a kick out of it, but there's something in here for every 80s kid.

Rating: 5 books.   If you're a fan of the show, this is nerd heaven in hardback



Book #76 of 2019: "The Overdue Life Of Amy Byler"  by Kelly Harms

Started: 27/9/2019     Finished: 29/9/2019

Maybe it's because I recently read and loved "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" but I had high expectations for this one that, sadly, weren't met.

Three years previously, Amy's husband went on a work trip to Hong Kong and then called to say he wasn't coming home. Suddenly a single mother, Amy was forced to make some difficult decisions and adjustments. But now he's back, wanting to spend the summer with their two children, and Amy finds it hard to let go of the martyr role she adopted after his departure.

Finding herself without responsibilities for the summer, and her ex-husband's credit card, she soon re-discovers what she's been missing.

And then everything is tied up in a pretty neat but completely unrealistic bow.

Rating: 2 books.   Would make a good beach read if you're dreaming of getting away from your kids for a bit



Book #77 of 2019: "The Science Of Success"  by Napolean Hill

Started: 24/9/2019     Finished: 30/9/2019

This is one I started before "Stranger Things" and couldn't quite get into. And, if I'm being totally honest, I only finished it because it was a reasonably short book and, on the last night of September, I wanted to get one more ticked off the list.

Napolean Hill has been on my reading list for quite some time but, until now, I just never seemed to get 'round to him. Sadly, I chose the wrong one to start.

This is more a collection of essays and newspaper columns so, while a lot of the content is good, it feels a bit fragmented. I'm guessing if you're familiar with his other works it's a nice synopsis but, for the newbie, it's a little hard to digest.

I'll try another and see how I go.

Rating: 2 books.   Steer clear if this is your first foray into Hill territory



And that's it for September. Three quarters of the way through the year and just over the three-quarter mark in my Goodreads reading challenge. I think I'm going to stick with fiction for a book or two now because I'm a bit jaded with the self-improvement stuff (even though I read some excellent ones this month). I'm currently reading "The Hypnotist's Love Story" so look out for my review next month.​​​​​

Let me know if you've read any great novels based on quirky characters. I loved "The Rosie Project""A Man Called Ove", and "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine", just to give you an idea. I generally like Type-A, (unintentionally) witty main characters.

What recommendations do you have for me?

To read more reviews, check out these other book nook posts:

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2 Comments

  1. I recently joined goodreads which is a book reading community online. Best thing I ever did!
    Firstly I set myself a yearly challenge, to read 12 books and then set about viewing all the reviews of various books I was interested in. I found some people who liked similar books to me, so I studied their reading lists for more ideas and rare finds. Then I started my own reading list, ticking off books I had read over the past 30 years, even including childhood favourites. One reason I wanted to list all the books I’d previously read was because I don’t keep books as I’ve “minamalised my stuff”, and having an online list saves me re-buying or re-reading a book in error. The site has re-awoken my passion for books and reading and stopped me wasting time in bookstores being stumped by what to read next. I’d highly recommend goodreads website. (And I have exceeded my yearly reading goal even beyond my own expectations)

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