March was an excellent reading month!
I was pretty run down for part of the month, meaning I did less work in the evenings and more reading. Plus, hubby was away for a few days and I always read more without him around – I lock up downstairs when my daughter’s ready for bed and that’s us done for the night.
Here’s last month’s reading list:
1) DIGITAL MINIMALISM by Cal Newport.
I really enjoy Cal Newport’s work. Deep Work was also amazing. I’m quite into the idea of concentrating on one thing at a time, and reducing distractions. Reading this book caused me to delete virtually all of the apps from my phone, getting rid of notifications for most things, and setting up limits for my social media use each day. I also set up “downtime” on my phone each day from 8pm-7am.
This is a really good read if you’re concerned by your use of technology and want to break the habit a little.
2) Showing & Telling in Fiction by Marcy Kennedy
This is a really quick and practical guide book (part of a larger series of work she has) explaining this one particular part of writing fiction – how to show, not tell.
This is an aspect of fiction writing I’ve always struggled with and this book sets it out extremely well and gives some very handy examples.
3) The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Hot on the heels of discovering this author and falling head over heels in love with The Secret History, I gave this one a try, and was left a little underwhelmed.
It’s about a young girl who decides to solve the mystery of how her brother died years ago, but it seemed that actually this took up very little of the narrative.
It certainly isn’t a bad book. The characters were done wonderfully and really came to life (and there’s something particularly magical about an author who can create great literature and equally bring some real redneck characters to life very vividly!), it just didn’t live up to my expectations after loving The Secret History so much.
4) Lost Connections by Johann Hari
I saw this book on a table in Waterstones and picked it up by chance, thought it looked interesting and really enjoyed it. It’s about depression and anxiety and the role that disconnection plays in these conditions.
It shares some really quite terrifying research about the use of antidepressants (here’s the short version: vastly overrated, will only ever work for a minority of people and even then only as a short-term solution).
I’d really recommend this, even if you’re like me and don’t suffer with depression or anxiety.
5) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
I loved this novel about an African-American couple who find the trajectory of their lives changed forever when the husband is falsely accused of rape.
I absolutely recommend this!
6) How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill
This book has been on my Amazon Wish List for years (I adore non fiction books about coffee shops. One of my all-time favourite books is Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz), working it’s way towards the bottom as I’ve added new items. Something made me decide to buy it last month and it was a nice read.
A successful man from a very elite background loses everything and takes a job as a barista in Starbucks – this is the story of what the experience taught him and how it saved his life.
It was a nice story of his transformation and how losing so much allows him to see some of the real world and understand people from very different backgrounds. He isn’t particularly likeable at first, but stick with it.
7) Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
I was approached and asked to review an advance copy of this book by productivity and leadership expert Michael Hyatt.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be doing a separate post all about this one.
8) The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris
A novel about the mysterious goings-on in a chocolate shop in France, where good… and maybe bad magic lurks.
This was enjoyable but my least favourite of the four Joanne Harris books I’ve read so far.
9) Rising Strong by Brene Brown
I listened to this in audiobook format after deciding to give podcasts a break and listen to a full audio book. I’ve read the book before and listened to the audio before.
I absolutely love Brene Brown’s work and she’s a very engaging presenter so I really recommend her audio programmes.
10) How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith
This is an interesting book about the habits and practices that women need to break in order to continue to rise within their careers.
Marshall Goldsmith is famous for writing What Got You Here Won’t Get You There which is, again, about breaking habits that allowed you to reach a certain point in your career so that you can continue advancing further – however, he has found that many of the lessons in that book don’t apply to women who bring very different skills and attitudes to leadership and career progression.
It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it to any women who want to move further in their careers.
Even as I looked at my ongoing list for the year that I keep in my diary, I didn’t realise how many books I’ve read this month.
The majority of these are big, chunky reads too – even the fiction ones were long books.
How have I managed to read so much more than normal?
The not necessarily great answer is that I’ve worked less. I haven’t worked on my writing for at least two weeks, maybe more like three.
Time that I would have been spending on writing or managing that one of my businesses has been spent relaxing. The five evenings when my husband wasn’t around would have been great chances to catch up on writing usually – last month I just went to bed early to read.
Clearly, I can’t keep that up. I expect that April will be back to a lower number of books read, and more productive writing time, but last month my body was telling me I needed a break, and I listened to it.