My goal this year is to read a little every day and/or read 30 books. It’s early March and I’ve already read 5 so I’m on schedule! Woo! Standard disclaimer: there may be spoilers, in case any of these are still on your “to read” list. Also: previous reads.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
This book was not at all what I expected going in…and that turned out to be perfectly fine. I was amazed by how well I felt like I knew Eva’s character despite learning about her primarily through the lens of others, and at how quickly I became invested in each individual’s story. Stradal did a wonderful job of weaving each character’s loose ends together as the story progressed; the glimpses of how each one evolved were satisfying, even though many of the details are left to the imagination. My only complaint is that I felt the ending was rather abrupt. I have so many questions about the Eva/Cindy relationship that remain unanswered…but perhaps it’s better that way.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.
These two sentences from the very end of the book sum the whole thing up rather succinctly. That said, even if the message is simple, I really enjoyed this book. There are parts that seem repetitive, and parts that seem flighty, and parts where Gilbert comes across as a bit too self-important. Still, I found value in her message.
I am currently mired in the daily minutiae of parenting small children and toiling in my very NOT artistic engineering job. I constantly struggle with wishing that I could do more with my other interests — quilting, graphic design, blogging. And yet rationally I know that stressing about my lack of “creative productivity,” if you will, seems ridiculous.
So this book, and its repeated theme that creatives need to work hard but also need stop taking themselves so seriously, was the right thing for me to read at this point in my life. It gave me a shot of confidence in simply following my interests, making time for them when I can, and trusting that if now is not the right time, maybe someday it will be…and that if that time never comes at all, well, so be it. Life goes on, and goes on happily.
Do Less: A Minimalist Guide to a Simplified, Organized and Happy Life by Rachel Jonat
This was a quick read, somewhat useful but sometimes preachy. I feel like I was already aware of most of the tips in this book, and there wasn’t anything really new here — just the same types of tips you can find anywhere, repackaged.
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
I had a difficult time getting into this book at first. I was confused about what was happening with Clare and bored by what was happening with Cornelia. But once their lives intersected, the story took a sharp turn for the better and I was hooked. I had no idea how the story would turn out and while it did feel like things were wrapped up a bit quickly — and a bit too cleanly — I enjoyed the process of getting there.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
I feel sort of bad giving this book only 2 stars, because I think Aziz Ansari seems fun and hilarious. I thought this was going to be a comedy book, and there are certainly funny bits and jokes thrown in, but overall it’s actually a pretty serious look at dating and romance in the era of smartphones and online dating. I found it interesting — although perhaps it would have been even more so if I weren’t happily married with kids. But it didn’t really hold my attention very well, and by the end I felt like I was reading just so I could say I finished it.