What’s On Your Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Sarah

Poppin' Bubbles

Happy Friday! I hope you had a great week. I am excited about (hopefully) having a low key weekend after this being a fairly hectic work week due to the kids being on school vacation next week. We don’t have any big plans for vacation but we are hoping to get outside as much as possible and hopefully meet up with some friends for a couple of play dates. I am also hoping to catch up on some reading, blogging, and sharing as I have felt a little behind the last couple of weeks.

I am excited to introduce you to my friend Sarah today! Sarah and I met in an online pregnancy message board/group when I was pregnant with our second child and she was pregnant with her first. At the time she as living on the west coast but had been married in Vermont and was photographed by the same wedding photographer as we were (the same connection I have with my friend Kristy) which felt like such a fun coincidence.

We connected again when she moved to Vermont just a couple of years ago and now are friends in real life too. Sarah and her family are amazing skiers and she juggles a  challenging career while also doing so many amazing outside adventures which is so inspiring to me! At our last get together we drank coffee and walked around Target discussing books and podcasts, I mean how much better could it get?!

I hope you enjoy learning more about Sarah today. ❤


Introduction:

Hello! My name is Sarah. I live in northern Vermont with my husband, our two children (ages 6 and 4), and our two elderly labrador retrievers, Summit and Ellie. I am an emergency room physician, but in my off-time, I love to ski, hike, bike and, of course, read!

When I was growing up, I was always that kid with her nose in a book. And I was a true child of the 80s – my favorites were Sweet Valley Twins, The Babysitters Club, R.L Stine, and Christopher Pike. High school kept me pretty busy, and I found myself reading less, and even less so when I went off to college, medical school, and residency. When I finally finished my training and felt like I could join the land of the living, my husband and I started a family. So here I find myself staring down the barrel of middle age and finally catching up on lost time! My nightstand might reflect this ambition — haha!

What is on your nightstand for books?

SO MANY BOOKS. Usually, I don’t have this many books all stacked up, but we are preparing to go away for winter break, so I have a few extra set out that I may pack for our trip. I’m currently trying to make up my mind between The Wife Between Us, The Woman in Cabin 10, Sometimes I Lie, and This Is How It Always Is. I love fast, suspenseful reads that I can’t put down, especially on vacation.

The main book I am currently reading is The Devil in the White City (I told you I was catching up on lost time!). I am enjoying the parallel storylines, though admittedly some parts of this book have been so disturbing, I have been tempted to just put it away for good! So many friends have recommended it, so I’m keeping it for now. I am also slowly making my through Duct Tape Parenting, which was recommended to me by my hairstylist (who also, I like to joke, serves as my life coach). It really helps remind me to stop meddling and let my kids be independent and start taking responsibility in the home.

Other books that have found their way to my nightstand include The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors!), Weekend in Paris (looks like a fun, quick read), The Emperor of All Maladies (the size of this one intimidates me, but I do enjoy medical non-fiction). I also have Mom’s Five-Second Memory Journal (this is also a favorite of mine to include in baby shower gifts), How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (recommended to me by my son’s preschool teacher), and Fodor’s New England (we recently moved back to Vermont from the west coast, so I’m always looking for inspiration for mini vacations and day trips!).

What is on your Kindle? 

I’m a bit of an old school reader on this one. My husband has a Kindle, but I’m still reading regular old books. This is partly because one of my favorite things to do is find and collect good books to read from consignment shops and used book stores. I have amassed quite a collection, and I don’t think I’ll ever run out!

What are you listening to? 

I love to listen to podcasts on my commute to work or when out for a run. I am not much of an audiobook reader, but my favorite podcasts are EM-RAP (Emergency Medicine Reviews and Perspectives – nerd alert, haha!), Unladylike, On Point, Forever 35, This American Life, and The Longest Shortest Time.

What else is on your nightstand?

My nightstand also holds a few extra sundry items. One is Palmer’s cocoa butter, which I use on my lips before bed. The texture is smooth like lip balm, and the smell is heavenly! I also love to use Badger Lavender & Bergamot Sleep Balm on my face and neck before bed. It smells wonderful. Additionally, I have a small lavender-scented candle from Pelindaba Lavender, based out in our former hometown of Seattle, which I like to burn sometimes before bed. And finally, I have a small hand-painted tile I bought on our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, which I use as a coaster.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Gen!! xo


Thank you so much for sharing today, Sarah!

What’s On Your Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Courtney

Poppin' Bubbles-7.png

Hello! This post is a little late because there have been a lot of other obligations that took priority over book blogging this week. I’d like to think eventually I will stockpile of some of my posts so I can schedule them in advance but for now, I am working in “real time”…so thank you for your patience. ❤


Today I am excited to introduce you to my friend Courtney! Courtney is another one of my mom friends who I met through school. She has all boys as well and there is something special about having some friends who are in the same boat as you. She hosted a gingerbread decorating party with 6 boys 10 and under and did it all with a smile. She has the best advice and is always up for an outside adventure. We love to walk our dogs together and catch up at the same time, its the best kind of multi-tasking.

Courtney and I loved talking about books and she especially is a big fan of audiobooks! She does a lot of her listening while driving and is such a great example of how you can still read a lot while utilizing audiobooks.


Introduction:

Hi! I’m Courtney, I live in Vermont with my husband and 3 boys. We also have two Goldens, Duke and Bear and a little Dachshund named Bella. I am mostly a SAHM but I also manage some rental properties that my husband and I own.

My nightstand, similar to my life is a scatterbrained pile of all of the things I would like to be working on whether for myself or my kids…The truth is, most nights by the time I get my 10yo to bed I am ready for bed myself, and I haven’t successfully figured out how to incorporate actual reading into my night time routine. If I’m lucky enough to read a little at some point during my day I like books that I can read a chapter at a time. In the meantime, I use the endless amounts of driving I do to listen to either fiction or parenting books, depending on what I am in the mood for.

Currently reading:

Right now I am listening to The Yes Brain by Dan Siegel, I love how Dan Siegel can simplify the steps to become a person with a yes brain mentality. Something I have found my kids need to work on. Being excited to take on a new challenge or try something new, isn’t something that comes easily for at least 2 of the 3.

The Big Life Journal is a really cool little company that puts out all of these materials to help kids also cultivate a positive approach to life and the world. They also have a teen version that helps mold a teens mind to think on a large scale of what they can accomplish if they put their mind to it.

I am super into educating myself on food and the most nourishing healthy diets, that’s why a friend gave me Brodo for Christmas and I have been thumbing through the recipes in that as well as Gweneth Paltrow’s new book The Clean Plate. She has some really great interviews with some well known alternative health Docs.

Make Your Kid a Money Genius is sort of self-explanatory, I always seem to have something I’m reading to help me in raising the sort of adults I hope to be turning out. How to handle money is something my parents never taught me, and school certainly didn’t, so it’s something I am really trying to teach my kids about.

The Epstein Barr Virus Solution is one that has been in my pile for a while…its a topic that fascinates me since most of the population has EBV, and it can be the cause of so many health issues. But its not really one you can read in little bits….so it will probably be a while before it makes its way off my nightstand!

What else is on my nightstand:

I can’t go to bed without my homemade lotion on my hands and feet (I can’t seem to find anything store bought that does the trick for mine or my kid’s dry skin) as well as my eminence citrus lip balm on my lips. I am also completely obsessed with Lunaroma’s lavender oils and I love to spritz their room spray up in the air as I’m settling into my pillow at night, as well as diffuse it in the evenings so my room smells like lavender when I get my jammies on each night. Not pictured is my big hydro flask filled with Pellegrino, my water of choice. I lug that thing around with me all day because I love how fresh my bubbly water tastes in it.

Thanks for asking me to share Gen!


Thank you so much for sharing, Courtney!! I need to check out that Big Life Journal, it sounds great!

Memoirs | Recommended Reading

Blank Instagram Portraits-44

In the past couple of years, memoirs have become one of my favorite reading genres. Memoirs have the ability to take you to places and perspectives that are so different from your own life and I learn so much from them. I am listening to Heavy on Audible and all of these other books I would highly recommend adding to your reading list.


Becoming by Michelle Obama

“An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former first lady of the United States. In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As first lady of the United States of America – the first African American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the United States and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites listeners into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

My review of Becoming can be found HERE.


Heavy by Kiese Laymon

“In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. 

Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion, and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been. 

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence to his suspension from college to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free. 

A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood – and continues through 25 years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.”


And Now We have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O’Connell

“When Meaghan O’Connell got accidentally pregnant in her twenties and decided to keep the baby, she realized that the book she needed — a brutally honest, agenda-free reckoning with the emotional and existential impact of motherhood — didn’t exist. So she decided to write it herself.

And Now We Have Everything is O’Connell’s exploration of the cataclysmic, impossible-to-prepare-for experience of becoming a mother. With her dark humor and hair-trigger B.S. detector, O’Connell addresses the pervasive imposter syndrome that comes with unplanned pregnancy, the fantasies of a “natural” birth experience that erode maternal self-esteem, post-partum body and sex issues, and the fascinating strangeness of stepping into a new, not-yet-comfortable identity. 

Channeling fears and anxieties that are still taboo and often unspoken, And Now We Have Everything is an unflinchingly frank, funny, and visceral motherhood story for our times, about having a baby and staying, for better or worse, exactly yourself.”


“One morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and spur her to investigate the broader role America’s culture of fear plays in parenthood. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? Why have our notions of what it means to be a good parent changed so radically? In what ways do these changes impact the lives of parents, children, and the structure of society at large? And what, in the end, does the rise of fearful parenting tell us about ourselves?

Fueled by urgency and the emotional intensity of Brooks’s own story, Small Animals is a riveting examination of the ways our culture of competitive, anxious, and judgmental parenting has profoundly altered the experiences of parents and children. In her signature style―by turns funny, penetrating, and always illuminating―which has dazzled millions of fans and been called “striking” by New York Times Book Review and “beautiful” by the National Book Critics Circle, Brooks offers a provocative, compelling portrait of parenthood in America and calls us to examine what we most value in our relationships with our children and one another.”

My review of Small Animals can be found HERE


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

“Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.”


All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chuung

“What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them? 

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth. 

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.”


Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden 

 “In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before. Joe and Jill Biden’s eldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor fifteen months earlier, and his survival was uncertain. “Promise me, Dad,” Beau had told his father. “Give me your word that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right.” Joe Biden gave him his word.

Promise Me, Dad chronicles the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden’s extraordinary life and career. Vice President Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. When a call came from New York, or Capitol Hill, or Kyiv, or Baghdad―“Joe, I need your help”―he responded. For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family. And never far away was the insistent and urgent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016.

The year brought real triumph and accomplishment, and wrenching pain. But even in the worst times, Biden was able to lean on the strength of his long, deep bonds with his family, on his faith, and on his deepening friendship with the man in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Joe Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.

This is a book written not just by the vice president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband. Promise Me, Dad is a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future.”


Educated by Tara Westover 

“Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.”


Call me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

“Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies.

Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee.

In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America–filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi–did not come easily. Parts of his story were first heard on the BBC World Service and This American Life. Now a proud resident of Maine, on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.”

 My review of Call Me American can be found HERE


A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

“On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

(All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.)”


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. ‘I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”‘ When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.”


The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner 

“Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turned a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or electricity. At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth’s father—the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony—is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.

In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where her mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her. As Ruth begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, she struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself.

Recounted from the innocent and hopeful perspective of a child, The Sound of Gravel is the remarkable true story of a girl fighting for peace and love. This is an intimate, gripping tale of triumph, courage, and resilience.”


 

Marriageology: The Art and Science of Staying Together by Belinda Luscombe | Book Review

Book Review-33.png

“A smart and concise guide to staying together that draws on scientific findings, expert advice, and years in the marital trenches to explain why marriage is better for your health, your finances, your kids, and your happiness

Like you, probably, Belinda Luscombe would rather have had her eyes put out than read a book about marriage; they all seemed full of advice that was obvious, useless, or bad. Plus they were boring. But after covering the relationship beat for Time magazine for ten years, she realized there was a surprisingly upbeat and little-known story to tell about the benefits of staying together for the long haul. Casting a witty, candid, and probing eye on the latest behavioral science, Luscombe has written a fresh and persuasive report on the state of our unions, how they’ve changed from the marriages of our parents’ era, and what those changes mean for the happiness of this most intimate and important of our relationships.

A guide to staying together that combines the latest scientific data, personal stories, and expert advice, arguing that marriage is better for your health, your finances, and your happiness, by an award-winning Time journalist.

Surveying the latest behavioral science and folding it into her witty, engaging, and candid knack for storytelling, Belinda Luscombe has written a fresh and persuasive report on the state of our unions. This book examines the six major fault lines that can fracture a marriage, also known as Luscombe’s F-words: familiarity, fighting, family, finances, fooling around, and finding help. She presents facts, debunks myths, and provides an entertaining mix of data, anecdotes, and wisdom from a wide range of approaches to married life, as well as experts and therapists of the wedding, marriage, and divorce industries. Marriageology gives the reader something to think about and maybe try, whether the marriage in question is on the brink of collapse or just needs a bit of maintenance on the foundations.”


Marriageology was such a fascinating read on marriage and long term relationships. Luscombe’s writing was approachable with the perfect mix of scientific research, personal stories, and advice. I found myself nodding along so many times with her anecdotes regarding her own marriage history. She shares a wonderful perspective that is relatable yet also hopeful. Her ability to share the hardships of some of the biggest stumbling blocks of marriage was super accessible.

She points out the 6 major “fault lines” that can fracture a marriage and how to navigate them personally and as a couple. Like many non-fiction books, certain chapters stood out to me more and I especially connected with the commentary and research she shared in the parenting section, it was spot on. I also am so happy she talked about how helpful therapy can be, and not just at times of serious distress but also as a regular practice.

I learned so much from this book and I highly recommend it for anyone that is navigating a long term relationship. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig | Book Review

bookreview-32

“The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.”

“I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind from being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.” ― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

This book was my first by Matt Haig and I found it very engaging. I love how he normalizes mental health issues but also asks such thought-provoking questions within his writing. I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and devoured the short chapters which led to very interesting conversations with my friend who also was reading the book at the same time.

The chapters are short and quick and so it is a book that is easy to take in a little at a time. I love the importance he places on true connection with each other. Some of it was a little “out there” but I do agree that technology has changed the ways we interact and connect with one another and he had some powerful reminders and perspective about this.

What’s On Your Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Emily

poppin' bubbles-4
Good morning! I am excited to introduce to you to my friend Emily, today! Emily and I talk regularly about books and I always love her wonderful insight. She should have a book blog because her reviews are always super in depth and she always is able to look at things from different perspectives. She is truly one of the most empathetic and understanding people I know which makes so much sense when you learn about the work she does. I hope you enjoy hearing what is on her nightstand, today.

The Nightstand Series Intro:
Hi, I’m Emily! I moved from Vermont to San Diego about seven months ago to join my husband who is stationed at Miramar…and, to be honest, I really haven’t missed the snow all that much (yet)! This past May I graduated with a Master’s in School Counseling and due to the move I haven’t had the opportunity to land a dreamy job (another yet!); but oh how I miss the deep conversations and connections that were fostered throughout my Master’s program. This is where reading comes in! Over the past year, I have completely indulged in reading and expanding my reading interests. It really has been delightful and I value the thought expansions, conversations, and challenges (or simply entertainment) that are gifted with each read. Much thanks to you, Gen! You have greatly impacted my reading journey!
What’s on my nightstand for books:

 

I am currently reading this book (I am about three-quarters of the way in) and I must admit that it is falling short for me thus far. I find the setup of the story to be confusing and challenging to keep up; it is set up as if I sneakily peeked at the end of the book and then began to read backward. The first chapter is being told at the current time of 5:00pm, the second goes back to 4:00pm, then 3:00pm, and so on. However, I am holding out hope that the story will wrap itself up in the end and that I will find appreciation within its pages. Here is what I can appreciate so far: 1) The topic of abortion is prominent to our culture, 2) The idea that although individuals (or groups) may have two completely opposing views, there are ways to find commonality and kindness. Sometimes I think in the middle of all arguments there exists a common goal with different perspectives that hinder our ability to see the picture as a whole. 3) Respect for this author. Picoult constantly dives into work where difficult topics are dissected and somehow she challenges my brain to find compassion in areas in which I never thought possible.

 

Okay, here’s where I need to take a detour. I’m a avid book gifter / lender / leave-a-book-with-a-friend-in-hopes-they-read-it-and gain-from-it-kind of person. So, I have a lot of favorite books that are seemingly “missing” from my nightstand that I would love to share with you!

 

This is a book that belongs on everyone’s shelf! The depth of vulnerability, acceptance, courage, and forgiveness (both of self and of others) was humbling. Doyle does not “preach” about how life “should” be lived or what the meaning is behind everything, rather she offers empathy for the struggles in which we all face in this world. She does not “push” religion onto you, rather offers insight on how she has invited religion into her own experiences throughout her life. She does not try to explain away the “whys” of her behaviors, rather she opens up to share honesty, vulnerability, and space for others to relate without judgment. This is a fluid, beautiful, raw, and original book that all souls can relate to. I adore this book so much that I can’t even remember who has my copy right now and have bought many copies to gift to loved ones!

 

This novel sent vulnerable shivers through my spine, tears to my eyes, warmth to my heart, and completely blew my mind. We so often hear the world’s events through the perspective of adults and this refreshing perspective on trauma through a young child’s existence was powerful. Navin aided in my understanding (or growth of understanding) of how young minds view and adapt the world and the experiences in which they endure. I admire the youth, their minds, imagination, and resiliency. This novel beautifully illustrates them all.

 

A perspective-changing, must-read while we are in this time of our lives where the topic/issues of race, minority status, privileged status, equality, etc. are so very prominent. As a whole, we need to be better at “leaning into” areas of discomfort and seeking out understanding of others. It is not about who is right or wrong; it is about really listening, practicing empathy, and shredding the layers of defensiveness that we may carry with us on our journey of interactions with others and view of life. Dare to not just step outside of your comfort zone, but to expand its boundaries.

 

This was a recommendation from Gen! My heart has never been so moved by a book! I was thrown back into what the beginning of finding your true love/person/ whole being felt like. Those teenage years where everything romantic is so new, fresh, exciting, scary, and tingly; what it is like to reconnect with your person after missing them for so long.
Lauren captured what true love can look like, through the good and the not-so-good. Forgiveness, growth, time and vulnerability are such prominent aspects of living. She perfectly illustrates that life and love are all about taking chances and trusting yourself; that true happiness and fulfillment doesn’t exist by settling. I am in love with this book and for all the emotional waves that came with it.

 

In addition to these, I am a mystery/thriller junkie and absolutely love anything by Harlen Coben, The Lies We Told by Camilla Way, An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, and the Amos Decker series by David Baldacci… just to name a few 🙂

 

What else is on my nightstand:
Pictures of loved ones and happy moments; I absolutely love going to bed looking at the smiling faces, happy memories, and just feeling close to my people…especially after moving across the country!

 

BODY BUTTER! I cannot and will not go to sleep without massaging this body butter into the heels of my feet and into my hands. “Ugh” to dry skin problems.

 

I also am always drinking water and am absolutely a sucker for corny/funny coasters. We must find ways to relieve ourselves from all the “seriousness” of life! (I also have an unhealthy collection of coffee mugs like this which drives my husband bonkers)!
Xo

Thank you SO much for sharing, Emily! I hope this gives you all some great reading inspiration, I know it did for me. ❤

What’s On My Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Genevieve

poppin' bubbles

I have been very inspired by the New Year and I love using it as a reflection time of what worked last year and also what I might like to implement during this next year. I have been thinking that I really would like a regular series on here that show you not just what I am reading and loving but what my some of my friends and reading buddies are up to.

I love seeing what people’s everyday spaces look like. I am not talking about house inspiration in magazines or on Pinterest but really what people’s home look like when they live there. If this is something that fascinates you too then I think you will find this interesting.

I love making book suggestions but I also think it is helpful to see other perspectives and genres and I thought this might be a fun way to do this and also share a little more variety. I am going to share mine below and I have some friends lined up to share in the next couple of weeks. If you would like to be a part of this (and I would love that!!) please send me a message or leave a comment below.


The Nightstand Series Intro:

I am Genevieve and I live in Vermont with my husband, our two sons and our Springer Spaniel named Buzz. I am a photographer for my job and photography is also one of my very favorite hobbies. I have been a reader all of my life but really got back into it again once both of our kids slept through the night a few years ago…I love reading fiction, memoirs, self-help and personal development books the most. I primarily read on my Kindle but I love hard copy books and I will never stop buying them.

What’s on my nightstand for books:

On my Kindle: I am currently reading an advanced reader copy from NetGalley of Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood and I am loving it so far! I am enjoying her writing so much that I took out a copy of her book Rust & Stardust on my Libby App to read next. I always like having a plan for my next book even though it doesn’t always go as planned.

Hard Copy Books: I love to have books on my nightstand. It is a mixture of ones I just love a lot and like to look at (I am looking at you Brene Brown!) and ones I am planning on reading in the next month or so.

A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne. This was was my Book Of The Month selection for November. I got this before I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies and now I want to read it even more. But I also want to wait because I don’t want to compare the two, so I am trying to find the right balance…

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen. I think books like this are so important to help normalize what so many people deal with everyday.  I am so glad there there is so much more awareness of mental health issues now even compared to 5 years ago.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I read this in December it and it was AMAZING. It is story telling at it’s finest and shares the life of Cyril Avery, both the peaks and the valleys and how life can really come full circle. It was such a satisfying read and is a book that I know I will never forget.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) by Brene Brown. This is one of my very favorite self-help books and it was life changing for me. Brene talks about and vulnerability and so many important things that a lot of people feel but don’t always want to discuss. She is real and honest and has impacted me in such a big way.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and it is the perfect time of year to read it. This will be released at the end of this month in paperback so I am hoping to read it soon so I can do a review!

What else is on my nightstand: 

I wear contacts and hardly ever wear my glasses which I really should be better about. Anyway, I am nearsighted so I mostly just use them to watch TV once we are in bed, and I don’t watch a lot of TV so they are usually just sitting there looking quite dusty…

I have to have a cup of water on my nightstand and it always has to be full before I go to sleep. I love using tumblers and I have had great success with the Simple Modern ones and this Hydroflask one which I found at Homegoods.

I love this table “tray” (I am not sure what else to call it) because it is quite heavy and so it doesn’t slip around at all. It is a great place to put smaller items that would normally fall off and get lost under our bed.

I only take one kind of medicine and for a while I could never remember if I had taken it or not… Finally I realized that that is probably what these weekly pill containers are for (besides just traveling) and all my problems went away. I fill it on Sundays and I have it on my nightstand because I know I will see it as soon as I wake up. I have a terrible memory anyway but I feel like I am the worst in the morning because there is so much to do before we leave for school at 7:30am. Now if only I got that doormat that says “did you turn off your hair straightener?” I would really be all set!

I have already talked on here about my love for Laneige lip balm(or as they call it, a sleeping mask) but i will say it again, this stuff is the best! It lasts forever, doesn’t have a strong flavor and it works so well. I use it every night and I use The Burts Bees tinted lip balm in red dahlia or rose during the day.

My jewelry dish is a soy sauce bowl (I think) but it works great! I like to take my rings and jewelry off when I am cleaning or sleeping so I like to have a specific place I put them because I would definitely lose them otherwise…

I always like to have a spare bookmark because I will totally fold the pages over otherwise and I know that makes some book lovers just cringe!

I hope you enjoyed this random glimpse into my life. ❤