Is it just me or did January feel LOOOOOONG? The good news is this long month allowed me to read ten books.
1. Designing Your Life
I read this one for Women in Higher Education (higher education friends-click here to subscribe to our badass higher ed feminist newsletter). I've been doing career and academic coaching/advising for a decade, give or take, but this book definitely gave me some new insights. Their advice to prototype or test your career interests before making a commitment is really important. There are several activities in the book that you can complete to help you zone in on your next steps to design your ideal life. If you are unhappy at work or unclear about your future, this one's a worthwhile investment.
2. The Atlantis Gene
I'll give The Atlantis Gene the award for weirdest book of the month. First off, I want to say that this book and its sequels are all huge success stories and they are being made into movies. That being said, this is wicked out there (as we say in Massachusetts) and the storyline required a constant suspension of disbelief as I followed the plot that includes time travel, portals, Nazis, and Tibetan monks. I still tore through it in a couple of days but I don't think I'll be reading any of the sequels. Might watch the movie though.
3. Understanding the Enneagram
If you are into personal growth and development books I think you'll really love the Enneagram which is basically an ancient system of psychology. The core idea here is that people are constantly changing; it's impossible to stay the same. The question is, do you want to be evolving or devolving? Based on your answers to a short questionnaire you are assigned a number from one to nine. I'm a five. The system then outlines the ways that you typically devolve or evolve. I found this incredibly accurate, interesting, and highly motivating. I want to evolve y'all!
4. Ink & Bone
If there's a book about books or libraries I'm probably going to read it. This book was enjoyable but I didn't feel super connected to the teenage characters. It held my interest and the writing is smart. It's part of a trilogy that I don't think I'll continue but this was still a solid read.
5. The Chemist
This book started out so strong. I love technothrillers and there aren't enough written by female authors. But then Meyer became hyper-focused on a very dreary and somewhat lame romance instead of her main character's more fun and evil qualities. I finished it quickly but wish it had held the tight energy of the first few chapters.
6. The Codex
I'm on a quest for the next Michael Crichton (i.e. Sphere, Congo, The Andromeda Strain). This was a quick and light read that I finished in a few days. I don't think I could tell you the names of any of the main characters though. Fun but no emotional connection here for me.
7. Astrology and Consciousness
An astrologer that I follow online recommended this as one of the astrology books that most influenced her. Olesky does a really good job here of making astrology empowering and practical. As with any good astrology book he goes much deeper than sun signs and really approaches astrology from a spiritual and psychological perspective. Hobbyist astrologers might not want to get this intense but if you love astrology like I do, this is worth a read.
8. Lucky Boy
I have a full review on this forthcoming on a literary website so I won't say much here except that this is the rare book that contains a ferocious plot, characters you won't be able to let go, and a heartbreaking theme that will stay with you long after you're done reading. Timely and important.
9. Spiritual Astrology
Spiller's writing is very accessible and there are a lot of great sections here. I love how she weaves in past lives. I think her handling of the personal planets was a bit stronger than the social and transpersonal planets. She goes into lunar and solar eclipses which was awesome but some of the explanations on how to determine aspects was confusing. Definitely a worthwhile perspective but not my favorite astrology book.
10. The River at Night
This suspense novel is getting a lot of press and the premise is really strong: a group of middle-age women (shit, am I middle-age?) goes on a whitewater rafting trip in Northern Maine. Danger and death ensues. The setting here, a river that is mostly untouched by human hands, becomes a character in itself. You'll finish this one fast. While I definitely recommend it, I felt like the narrative arc was slightly off with the ending feeling a bit rushed. But if you're looking for a great suspense lead with strong female characters, this is one to check out.
Happy reading and happy February!
This one's a little late due to the holidays. Despite the busy season, I managed to read six books. #nottooshabby
This is a tough one for me because I'm quite sure that Crosstalk's author, Connie Willis, is an incredibly talented writer. I truly appreciate that she tried something new and took some risks here. But this book made me carsick and I wasn't in a car when I read it. Crosstalk explores our society's hyperconnectedness problem and it's written in such a way that you are experiencing the same level of hyperconnectedness as the characters, who eventually are able to communicate telepathically. The entire book (over 500 pages) is frantic. It was like listening to someone who talks a mile a minute and doesn't pause for a breath. I'm sure there are some who loved it, but this one wasn't for me.
2. Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story
This was one of my 5-star reads this month. Oh, how I loved this book. This is the kind of book that can change the world. It was recommended to me by my workshop leader at Kripalu, Joan Borysenko, who knows Mark Matousek personally. I don't know how I hadn't heard of it before. It's major. A spiritual classic that I couldn't put down. Matousek has a book on how to write memoirs coming out in May and I can't wait. In the meantime, read this book.
3. The Three
This definitely falls into the weird category. The premise drew me in: four planes crash on the same day. One person survives each crash. Cool, right? It kept my attention and was a quick read, but I wasn't moved or satisfied with the ending. There was a lot of potential here but I didn't feel like the book lived up to it. But if you love weird books, you might still want to check it out.
4. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
This is another recommendation born of my Kripalu retreat and workshop with Joan Borysenko. I'm still happily working my way through that reading list. I had a funny experience with Anam Cara. I read a few chapters and found it really beautiful and peaceful writing, but I didn't feel compelled to continue. I placed it on a bookshelf in my library and thought I was done with it. But about a week later, it kept popping into my head, asking to be finished. There is a great lesson here about learning to notice and flow with the energy of the universe. I believe that faith isn't about believing in something you can't see, but rather about noticing all of the things that aren't visible to the logical mind. This book harnesses that brilliant Celtic wisdom and makes you believe in the power of magic.
5. Black Moon
Obsessed. Completely obsessed. This is the third book in the Zodiac series. I loved the first two and this only deepened my obsession. I am basically now trying to build a Zodiac-themed room in my house so I can pretend to be Rho, the heroine of the series. Thirteen Rising, the final book, doesn't come out until August, so I'm just realizing now as I write this that my new life goal will be to score an advanced reader copy before then...if the stars align of course.
This probably seems like a fairly random read. I found this book because I searched for books similar to the Michael Crichton genre. It was basically absurd but also awesome. Just pure fun and totally engaging. If you're willing to suspend disbelief and you enjoy the techno-thriller genre, I think you'll love this book. I've got some more James Rollins books on order from the library so expect to see more of him in my reviews.
That's it for me this month. What was the best book you read in December?
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