Books Lately

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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

This book: takes a look at a wide range of people who have achieved success throughout history and what exactly made them so successful. Not so much a self-help book as a fascinating exploration of circumstances, culture, and determination. Gladwell delves into the lives of Bill Gates, the Beatles and several others who have obtained success (as well as those who might have…but didn’t).

What I thought:

  • Gladwell has a way of looking at the world from a different perspective that turns his writing into something unique and intriguing (his writing, to me, is very reminiscent of what you find in Freakonomics). He tells stories of true events and then ties them to the theory he’s exploring-in this case success. It reads surprisingly easily so I finished the book in no time.
  • Each of the stories he shares really sucked me in. History is so interesting and most of the stories are ones you probably have never heard before. My favorite chapter is the one about airplane crashes!
  • I love books where I’m learning stuff that I just want to share! This book is full of interesting little snippets that Ben probably got sick of hearing about.
  • My only complaint with the book is that the last couple chapters weren’t quite as exciting as the rest of the book…but still worthwhile.

Should you read it? I honestly give full recommendations. It was excellent.

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Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

This book: has been on my To-Read list for quite some time, having been heavily recommended by several people. It’s all about habits-why they’re beneficial, tips for creating new ones or squelching old ones, and information about how your personality impacts your habit making process.

What I Thought: I truthfully vacillated between loving this book and hating this book. Here’s what I loved:

  • The first few chapters of this book were pure gold for me. She explains 4 different types of people and how they respond to making goals, creating habits or responding to authority. Of course, I love anything psychology related, and the information in those few chapters is so insightful and really helped me to understand more about people. I honestly think everyone should read those chapters. It’s info that’s applicable to everyone-bosses, coworkers, parents-pretty much anyone who interacts with others…ever.
  • The book is jam packed with valuable little tidbits about making habits. If you’ve got some goals, I’ve no doubt this book would help inspire change, as well as give you some ideas of how to go about it.
  • So Rubin has a blog and she intersperses readers’ comments throughout her book, which I really love.

Here’s what I didn’t like as much:

  • This is a crazed rant, for sure. BUT. Personal background: I feel like every mother has a “catch all cure” that will fix 99% of whatever is ailing you. For my mom, the cure is to drink more water. Headache? Drink More Water. Tired? Drink More Water. Broken arm? Drink More Water (just kidding, Mom would’ve taken us to the hospital, but you get my point). I don’t think Mom’s totally crazy-lots of the times it works. Not to mention basically every health care professional will tell you that there are many benefits to drinking more water. So, back to the book, when Rubin went off on this huge tangent about how making a habit to drink more water is totally unnecessary and won’t really benefit you in any way, you can imagine how I kind of cocked my head and went, “HUH????” Much later we find out that Rubin is an avid (and from the sounds of it, exclusive) diet soda drinker. Not only that, but she won’t even claim that it’s a bad habit. She seems to have scrounged up the 2 articles that aren’t in favor of water, mounted them in gold, and said that they are the end all on the matter. Unfortunately, this made me skeptical through the rest of the book.
  • Rubin really contradicts herself several times throughout the book, and it always seems to be leaning in her favor. First, she explains that we should set goals while catering to our specific personalities and tendencies. For example, you should determine if you are an early bird or a night owl and then create your new goal during a time when you’ll be feeling the most energetic (this is, honestly, great advice!). BUT through the rest of the book she says several times that everyone should develop the habit of going to bed early and waking up early. Wanna guess whether she’s an early bird or a night owl? Yeah, pretty inconsistent.
  • I didn’t have goals in mind when I started this book and most of the goal ideas that Rubin presents are things that I’m currently comfortable with…so I didn’t really get inspired to change (which is mostly my fault).
  • Rubin sounds annoying…there, I said it! She tells about so many instances where she (unsolicited, of course) blatantly points out others’ bad habits, tells the person how to change, and then checks up on them regularly to see how it’s going. As a fellow Upholder, I think, “Am I this annoying???”

Should you read it? When I finished reading this book, I think I hated it more than I loved it. After giving it some time to simmer, I can see that it definitely has some powerful insights. I would recommend you read it if you’ve got some goals in mind, but need some extra momentum to get going. (Ha! Maybe this book should’ve had its own post because this is the longest review ever).

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Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody

This book: was highly recommended to me by my mother-in-law. It’s an autobiographical account of Ralph, who was just a boy when his family moved across the country to settle in Colorado and try their hand at ranching.

What I Thought:

  • First, let me say that this is a gem of a book. It’s the kind of book that can reach any age and that would be excellent for reading together as a family.
  • The writing style was the slightest bit difficult for me to get into (but really just barely). Also, the setting is over a hundred years old, so there are some references and terminology that were totally unfamiliar to me. Even so, it was easy to understand what was going on.
  • Books set in earlier time periods always make me think about what a lazy butt I get to be. It’s so crazy to think of what had to happen in a day to get dinner on the table. And if you didn’t do it, you didn’t eat. Now, if I don’t feel like cooking, I just call Pizza Hut and call it a day. Makes me feel a bit like an L-7 Weenie…but that’s probably a good thing every once in awhile.
  • The dad in this book is so amazing. He gives the best lessons in the best ways. The book could probably be renamed “Kick-A Parenting 101.” There are a billion great quotes in this book that I just L.O.V.E.D. A classic is:
    • “A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn’t do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”   (Ben actually tells his classes the story behind this quote every semester…cheating isn’t worth it!)
  • No surprises here, but the book made me cry.

Should you read it? Again, I confidently give it my full recommendation. It’s wonderful for every age.

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Peek-a Who? By Nina Laden

Every once in awhile, I throw in a book that Wendy has been loving for anyone who’s looking for baby/toddler books and this one has been a total winner. It’s insanely short so it’s not awful if I have to read it 50 times in a day and it seriously cracks Wendy up every time we read it. She loves it so much that even when we were at the library, she somehow found this one on the shelf and pulled it down as her choice of reading.

One thought on “Books Lately

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Malcolm Gladwell! Seriously, one of the best! I’d highly recommend any of his books. That goal-setting book gives me anxiety just reading *about* it, so I’ll be skipping it for sure, lol.

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