As someone who loves to-do lists and makes a lists for making lists, in an attempt to control my chaotic life, I decided to read books that would help me doing that as the first books of the year. Yes I read three books already, and yes they were all non fiction. I am surprised too.
All the three books are from Netgalley and I was waiting for the new year to begin with them. Now that is adulting right, right? Anyway let me get this pesky disclaimer done with, so that I can start with my monthly review shots!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sharing a copy for review and it no way affected my unbiased and honest opinion.
Hear truths to be who you want to be
Book Name: Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be
Author: Rachel Hollis
Genre: Non Fiction – Self help
No. of Pages: 240
Let me start by saying that I have not heard or read about the author before I picked the book, and I did that only because of the hype it created in the blogosphere.
In Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel talks about how the lies we tell ourselves hold us back and takes us through her own grief and trauma. ‘Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business’ is a quote we should all remember to tell ourselves. #GirlWashYourFace
I liked Rachel’s simple and no nonsense approach to the subject and her enthusiastic writing. And I never felt I was reading a memoir or a self book, the whole book gave a feeling like I was reading a blog and getting to know the blogger slowly and personally.
The author doesn’t offer great advices or groundbreaking insights, yet I am glad this was my first book of the year. Yes it was inspirational as it was supposed to be, but this is more of a ‘things that worked for me’ kinda list so take it with a grain of salt.
Final thought: Cheerful and motivational. Take it with a grain of salt.
Recommended to: Twenty something women entrepreneurs especially in a non traditional job.
Warning: May come off as spiritual and religious tone.
Plan your goals and keep at it
Book Name: You Goal, Girl: A Goal-Setting Workbook (The Totally Approachable, Not-Scary Guides)
Author: Elise Williams, Meleah Bowles
Genre: Non Fiction – Self help
No. of Pages: 188
You might have read my struggles with being organized and how hard I have been working to make this year and myself better organized. I am glad that Netgalley granted my request to read You Goal, Girl.
The book is marketed as a workbook, and is rightly so. The writing is definitely motivating and the book itself is very colorful. I finished reading the book itself in less than an hour, but it is the worksheets that will need more than a cursory reading.
The principles are fairly well known and pretty basic, and the book puts them in a clear perspective, thus makes working on them easier.
If you have a goal setting spreadsheet or a planner, incorporating these ideas into them will be easy. Or you can use these sheets for working them directly, if you have a physical print.
Final thought: Basic goal planner that works if you want it to
Recommended to: Those who are beginners to goal setting and planning
Knowing why we do what we do
Book Name: Mastering Adulthood: Go Beyond Adulting to Become an Emotional Grown-Up
Author: Lara E. Fielding
Genre: Non Fiction – Self help
No. of Pages: 224
While most of the books in the self help category tell what to do, Mastering Adulthood talks about why and how we do the things we do. It talks about identifying patterns in our behavior, emotions and reactions.
Mastering Adulthood comes with exercises and QR links to videos which are interesting and will be helpful in the long run. The writing is cheerful yet a bit long winded at places. Some may feel it be patronizing.
Final thought: Do not let the title fool you. It goes well beyond the adulting that we rant about.
Recommended to: Anyone who is into mindfulness, yoga and CBT
Let us talk
Do you read non fiction? Have you read any of these books? What was your first book of the year? Let us talk.
When I read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? years ago, I had been watching The Mindy Project on my television. And the show was before it became famous, I was even worried they would cancel it off.
It may have something to do with the fact that there weren’t enough shows that revolved around a WOC, and an Indian woman at that, who did not look perfect (in the Hollywood standards). Or maybe it was just because it was damn funny.
So I picked the book up and was absolutely surprised because not only this woman made the snarky early twenties in me laugh but also made me pause and think about things that were not spoken out so loudly then. Needless to say I loved this chirpy, crazy woman and her writing. Obviously when I heard she had another book out, I had to grab it.
I know I might be reviewing it a little late (as per my usual these days) but I am doing it anyway. So let us read ahead to know how Why Not Me? fared on my grown up scale, shall we?
About the book
Book Name: Why Not Me?
Author: Mindy Kaling
Genre: Non Fiction – Memoir
In Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling keeps it real. She doesn’t sugar coat it nor make it sound like her life is a miracle. She says how the show’s success changed her. She talks about her insecurities which changed later into confidence, but she doesn’t belittle them. She talks about her flaws as they are. More than all, she is freaking hilarious.
There were some chapters that were a little so-so but the ones that were good were really good. There is a chapter on her confidence which was the best of the book and I loved it.
It’s just that, the truth is, I have never, ever, ever met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.
Things that worked for me
- Her cheerful yet honest voice that made it like we are best friends than a writer and reader.
- I couldn’t help cheer a WOC who made it through sheer hard work. She is definitely a role model.
- I loved her pieces on confidence and her imaginary alternate life.
Things that didn’t work for me
- I didn’t find her as relatable as she was in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? but maybe it was just me missing the dorky Mindy.
- You might not enjoy this one as much if her shows didn’t appeal you.
Bottom – line
I love Mindy and that is exactly why I picked this book and I was quite happy with it. It is not a life changing book but it made me laugh a few times and kept me engaged till the end.
Though, I didn’t love it as much as I did the first book, I would recommend ‘Why Not Me?’ to anyone who wants to read a funny, celebrity memoir.
Let us chat
Have you read this one? Do you read celebrity books? What is your favorite celebrity memoir? Let us talk.
Y’all by now should know that I have a weakness for World War II stories. My curiosity towards Holocaust and the tragedies related to that has lead me to some good books and several hours of random history lessons on the Internet.
And I was offered by Ishai Kalinovsky to read an ARC of his memoir I’m not from Around Here in exchange for a review, I had to accept it even though I don’t read many memoirs generally. How did it turn out? Read ahead to know more.
About the book
Book Name: I’m not from Around Here
Author: Ishai Kalinovsky
Genre: Non-Fiction – Historical, Memoir
Characters: Lola, Stashek, Hannah, the narrator Sam, Emile.
Setting: Poland, Germany, and Israel
Disclaimer: I received this indie book from the author in exchange for an honest and fair review.
I’m not from Around Here reads like a diary of the author Ishai Kalinovsky that talks about the experiences of his Jewish family right from the time of the World War II in Poland. His mother is a labor camp survivor while her dad was a street fighter in Warsaw. The couple meet immediately after the end of the War and escape to Germany to win what was looted from the Jews.
I’m not from Around Here is not about the war but its aftermath on Jews and the other survivors. The narrator’s father, Stashek is an unscrupulous businessman who would do what he has to provide for himself, his mistresses and his family. He takes up to the black market business and has a great influence on the society by being fearsome.
When his parents break up his mother Lola takes up another man and gets pregnant, which is a total no-no in their orthodox neighborhood. Lola was a timid, weak girl when she entered the labor camp. But her firm belief in her guardian angel helped her survive all the adversities in her life.
Meanwhile, the narrator’s estranged father and stepfather are arrested for smuggling cars into the country. How the narrator and his family survive the final blow of being strewn across the country forms the rest of I’m not from Around Here.
Being a memoir we get to take a glimpse at what really happened in the camps but that is just a small part in the book. I sort of guessed the story would end up before the young ones grew up and am glad it ended so.
Even though the narration is by the young Ishai Kalinovsky through out, I’m not from Around Here has multiple point of views which work in some places and not in others.There were too many characters mostly minor that do not contribute much to the story, which may be partly owing to the genre.
Usually I don’t read many memoirs because they would hard for me to relate to. But maybe since I’m not from Around Here had multiple POV and the narrator was a young boy I was able to relate and I ended up liking the characters.
Bottom – line
I’m not from Around Here is quite long with about 400 pages but it was totally worth the read and it left me emotionally drained for hours.
Let us chat
Do you read memoirs? Is it easier to review or talk about memoir than fictions? Do you feel emotionally drained after you finish reading a book? Let’s chat.
Thanks to the holidays and festivities we have all started realizing (read as dreading) the kinda havoc that the dysfunctional families would be unleashing this year.
8 bookish dysfunctional families from my favorite books
To get you through the myriad of unwanted questions (Any wedding bells yet? Baby in the making?) and the offensive comments (No, you can not say that word anymore) arm yourself with one of these books with the worst of dysfunctional families. At least they will make you feel better about yours.
Read some of other listicles here:
8) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
What happens when you find your ‘favourite’ child’s body in the bottom of a lake?
Meet the Lee’s, a quintessential Chinese American family from the 1970s. Jason Lee is a US-bred guy of Chinese descent who would give anything to fit in. He puts in his focus and efforts on making his daughter Lydia popular and has friends, like a normal American teenager.
Marlyn Lee, his wife, an American woman who wants her daughter to achieve things that she couldn’t. Their oldest Nathan and youngest Hannah suffer their invisibility in silence. The siblings are set to determine the cause of the death of Lydia. How this broken family grieves her death in isolation and guilt under one roof forms the rest of Everything I Never Told You.
7) A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer
This real-life memoir of the author, talks about his childhood spent being abused by his mother. Dave as a child was beaten, starved and tortured by his emotionally unstable mother, who considered him a slave, even calling him ‘It’.
He pretended everything was fine at school coming up with excuses for his bruises and stealing food from his classmates. Having two brothers who got off easy and an alcoholic father who neglected the whole situation puts the Pelzer family on my dysfunctional family list. A Child Called “It” is no book for the weak hearted.
6) The God of small things by Arundhati Roy
Roy’s portrayal of the Ayemenem, Kerala in the 1970s left a nostalgic tinge when I first read years ago. But what stuck with me far deeper was their family. The main protagonists of the plot are Rahel and Estha fraternal twins who are parted by circumstances for years.
As kids, they had to live with their Uncle Chacko at their late grandfather’s family estate when her mother Ammu divorced their father. Ammu is a free spirit and was not someone who would follow the rules, even for her kids. While their childhood was far from peaceful, the twins had at least each other. But an incident changes everything in their lives and now Estha doesn’t speak anymore. The God of small things will work both as a compelling tale as well as a masterful social commentary. Read my review here.
5) The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
In about 50 pages Gillian Flynn makes the Burke family spooky enough to be listed on my most dysfunctional families list. Susan Burke requests our narrator to visit her house to heal their haunted house. Looking for some quick bucks she agrees, only to realize she has gotten involved in things far more than she bargained for.
She realizes Susan’s teenager son Miles is creepy and wile and her house has a darker and sinister past. And even Susan is not as dumb as the narrator assumed her out to be. Read The Grownup to know more about the unreliable Burkes and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Read my review here.
4) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
A blinded father, a mother who did not want to be one, a sister who feared everything and a 15 years old psychopath who killed nine people in a high school massacre – how is that for a dysfunctional family?
We Need to Talk About Kevin is written in the form of letters from Eva, a writer to her estranged husband Franklin, narrating the incidents of their lives until the day before the fated Thursday. Their son Kevin killed seven students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him two days before his sixteenth birthday. This international bestseller set in the 2000s definitely should be on your to be read list.
3) Mummy’s Little Angel by JW Lawson
Speaking of bad mothers, Joanna could not love her twins Annie and Maggie any more than she already does, and as any good children do, they both compete to become their Mummy’s Little Angel. The Stokes family have faced a lot worse in the past – Joanna is mobility impaired, her husband is shot and is labelled a paedophile, one of her twins is disfigured and suffers from amnesia due to a fire accident and the other twin is blamed for it all and is imprisoned.
The timing could not be any worse for her schizophrenic mother, who had abandoned her twenty years ago, to come back to their lives. What more could her daughters be hiding from her? Find out with Joanna by reading Mummy’s Little Angel. Read my review here.
2) Dark places by Gillian Flynn
7 years old Libby Day testified against 15 years old Ben, her brother in the case of the bloody massacre of her family. Their mother, Patty was shot in her head, both Patty and Debby had been slaughtered with an axe, and Michelle was strangled to death.
Libby herself has been affected mentally by the event and is on medicine to help her cope. Now after twenty-five years, she visits her ghosts and tries to remember the day of the horrific event and her equally dysfunctional family or whatever is remaining. Gillian Flynn is one of my favourite authors and this definitely is one of the most disturbing books I have read, by far. Read my review here.
1) The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
As far as dysfunctional families go, the Lisbon’s can easily be the toppers. With all of their five daughters committing suicides could there be a worse dysfunctional family? The strict and devout Christian mother who never let the girls out of their sight did not let them date or even attend dances except for one.
Their submissive father who could not live any duller life in their all woman house did not help their case either. Once the youngest one Cecilia succeeded her attempt in committing the rest of the family came tumbling like a house of dominoes, while the entire neighbourhood watched. The Virgin Suicides is one of my favourite books to read not just for the plot but also its beautiful prose. Read my review here.
What are your favourite families with dysfunctional families? Let me know which fictional family would make me feel a lot better about mine. And more importantly, share your secret excuses to get away from the family dinners quickly *wink wink*.
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