Creative,  Reading

Early October Book Report

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these and I really don’t have a whole lot to report. If I don’t write one now it might be a few months before I get to one!

Finished Reading

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

    This book was making the blog rounds last spring and I wavered back and forth on reading it. I opted to listen to it as an audiobook via our library’s download system. It was a very easy listen, I think 5-6 hours, maybe a little bit more. The premise is that by keeping clutter and ‘things’, it can impact our mental status and can distract and affect our moods. It is built off of the minimalist living premise and culture. The author is Japanese and I believe the book was originally written in Japanese as sometimes there’s a weird flow going on with the reading/listening of the book.

    Downsizing our stuff five years back and then getting it once again when we moved into our house 3.5 years ago was overwhelming. We went from having just a little bit of stuff to getting all of our stuff back plus buying more stuff to round out what we didn’t have. And then getting stuff from various family memebers who were getting rid of their stuff and feeling the sense of obligation to take it. Honestly, we don’t need some of the things we’ve kept around. I’ve debated getting rid of holiday stuff for awhile (non-Christmas) (but I drool at pumpkins and fall decor at the stores!) and we have boxes of shells and decoration stored in various storage areas around our house and outbuildings and frankly we don’t need them. Things are always stored for ‘someday’ and usually someday never comes and it sits there taking up space.

    Kondo’s advice is to go room by room and just take it all out and ask yourself if each piece ‘sparks joy’. If it doesn’t get rid of it/donate it. She gets a little carried away and takes this a little too far with photographs and other more sentimental items, of which I absolutely didn’t agree with. However, I think her premise makes a lot of sense. The Root Simple podcast has talked about her a few times, too. I think they like her premise but their problem is like so many of us out there, the DIYers who keep stuff because it might be of use one day. It was a predicament they were working through, trying to focus on actual projects and crafts/hobbies they know they will do and enjoy and not trying to worry about trying this or that hobby out because it is out there and available. Basically, becoming a specialist and not a generalist.

    My problem is that I would like to do some of her techniques but I don’t necessarily have a spouse that’s on board with that. So, I could apply it to just things that are in my control like my craft room and my clothes but not necessarily to other items that are of shared use.

    Some of the reviews I saw for the book took things a little too seriously and got upset with the author for some of her premises but I say, read it, and apply what you can and want of it to your life.

    Moral of story: You don’t need a bunch of stuff.

    You can watch a video of her here

  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed

    Ok, I am really kicking myself for holding out so long to read this book. Part of me is glad for a delayed reading in that I am reading it outside of all of the hubbub surrounding the novel. I held out because I had a bad grudge against it because it wasn’t a thru-hiking book. This despite several reputable people (Patrice!) telling me that it was well worth the read. I finally bit the bullet and read it and was pretty much captivated from the start.

    I should preface this to say that I had watched the movie last spring so I was familiar with the storyline when I went in to reading the book.

    This is not a thru-hiking book but a thru-hiker can definitely identify with it. Was she well-prepared? Nope. That was part of her story. But there were so many other moments that, like I said, a thru-hiker can identify with. The hiker hobble. The hiker hunger. The worry about making the miles. Wondering what’s up ahead. The thrill of going to town. The not-so-thrilled feeling about leaving town with a heavy pack.

    The hiking parts I really, really loved. Her story about her mother and life before the hike, well, I liked her writing but I really just could not identify with how broken she was enough to wreck her marriage and set off for flings and take up shooting heroin. There are some really tough scenes in the book that she flashes back to and sometimes I was annoyed that she had to switch gears from her hike back to a point in her life. However, I get it. I often flash back to various scenes in my life when I’m hiking. And of course the story was about how she was overcoming the troubles she’d gotten herself into and those moments had to be in the novel.

    In all, I definitely recommend reading this book. Also, listen to Cheryl on the Longform Podcast.

Currently Reading

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. This is the first in a series of books from her I plan on reading. I’m only a little bit into it but I am enjoying it so far.
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’m listening to this one and it is kind of in the same vein of Marie Kondo but less about ‘things’ and more about strategies for life. Do Less, Enjoy More is the theme I’m getting from it so far.
  • The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling. I’m about halfway through this as an audio book and am thinking of abandoning it. I liked what I heard so far but I’ve read a lot about being an introvert and none of it is really new to me. It’s definitely for people just discovering their introversion or for extroverts wanting to figure out a friend or family member who is an introvert.
  • Illumination in the Flatwoods by Joe Hutto. *still* reading this one but haven’t really picked it up in awhile. I’d like to knock it out soon.
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. I’m re-reading this for the third time (and I started thinking about it, it might even be my fourth time) with Elizabeth and we’re discussing it on her podcast every few weeks in anticipation for the second season of Outlander on Starz. Yeah, we’re hardcore fans!!

That’s about it. Reading is probably going to take a backseat in the next few months as I want to get some more creative things done around here and I am planning on using NaNoWriMo in November as NaNoEdMo and finish editing my book in a hardcore way. I keep putting it of and putting it off and it’s driving me nuts. Once it is edited I can call it done and if it gets published or not at least I’ll have something final for myself.

What are you reading?


  • Patrice

    The funny thing about the Kondo book is that I caught a segment on someone’s talk show at my parents’ house about a woman who followed the book’s advice and cleaned up her tiny apartment. It was interesting how she implemented some of the suggestions. They talked a bit about how the book was sometimes too literal, but, like you said, the moral is simple. I still can’t believe we have a 10×10 storage unit, a closet full at my parents’ house and another closet full at Justin’s mom’s house, plus what we carry in our car!! I feel it is too much stuff, but if ever the day comes when we settle down … I would kick myself if we had to start over.

    So glad you liked Wild!!! I agree, I really can’t get how she threw her whole life away, but I am also not sure how I would have reacted had my mom died at age 22.

    I always wanted to participate in one of those NaNoWriMo … but for now I will live vicariously through you!!

  • Chris

    I started reading Wild a few months ago, but haven’t finished it yet. I guess I hit a slow spot in the book and just forgot about it. I should finish it.

    I AM reading the Kongo book and feel much the same way as you do about a few things. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, but am finding too many things spark joy for me! And crafty stuff hanging around….oh, yeah, I have tons! I think I’ll set a goal of sorts for myself and “if you don’t make something with it or out of it my January 1st, throw it out!

    Ohhh….we’ll see how that goes. When does Outlander start up again? I need a dose of men in kilts 😉

  • chel

    I just started Big Magic, which is great so far. And I loved Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin (who also irritates me a little bit with how inflexible she is, but I find her books very insightful).

    Last month I read parts of Fates & Furies, but couldn’t stomach the entire book. It was just ridiculous. I read a review that said it had a big “twist”, so I got all excited, but then I started reading it and it was just a bunch of nonsense. It taught me the importance of reading more than one review before I pick up a book, because when I looked at more reviews after I decided not to continue with it, I realized the majority of them called the book out on the same issues I had with it. Sometimes even the most beautiful writing can’t make up for absolute plot insanity and completely unlikeable characters.

    I skipped the Kondo book because I have actual OCD (tidiness/no clutter is one of the things I obsess about) and I thought the book might trigger me into a bit of a frenzy. I get into moments when I feel like I *have* to get rid of things that feel like they are just building up, or things that don’t have a specific use anymore. The issue is that I live with two other people (plus a bunch of pets) who value their things, whether they are practical or not. And so it’s a balance for me. I’m not minimalist, but I thought this book would probably feed the fire a bit too much. I actually look at YouTube videos of messy art studios to soothe myself when I get into a mood to declutter (it makes me realize what I think of as “clutter” around here is absolutely not clutter at all), so the idea of immersing myself into a book that would give me more reasons to declutter would not be a good choice. I’m so tempted, though!

    I couldn’t get through Wild. I wanted to, but I agree 100000% with what you said : “I really just could not identify with how broken she was enough to wreck her marriage and set off for flings and take up shooting heroin.” She’s a great writer, but what part of the book I did read just kept making me so angry and frustrated with her, I wound up not caring *what* she did.

    Since I have so little time to read, I really really try to read only stuff that makes me feel good and improves my mood. I know that sounds kinda silly, but I spent a lot of my teenage years and adult life reading a lot of heavy stuff, so I figure it’s okay to take some time off from the literary heavyweights and just stick with things that make reading something I really look forward to 🙂

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