My favourites for this month include a LOT of books…and I always love to hear whether or not you agree with my assessments, and what other titles you may recommend!
Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson (received free review copy)
I’m a sucker for a celebrity book, and I was excited to get my hands on this one. Divided into four sections (Cultivate an Intuitive Relationship with Your Body, Eat Well, Awaken Your Body and The Miracle of Mindfulness), the book is a positive, encouraging health and fitness manual. Now despite Hudson’s protests (at one point she actually writes, “This isn’t new agey!”), the book feels very much so to me.
Hudson says she wrote this book because she was tired of hearing sound-bytes taken out of context from her interviews referring to her health habits: “Kate Hudson goes vegan” or “Kate Hudson works out three hours a day”. Pretty Happy tries to set the record straight.
What I love about this book is that Hudson is extremely open and honest when it comes to the topics at hand (no celebrity tell-alls, or anything about work or relationships; she stays strictly on message), and admits that she’s just sharing her own research and experience – no pretense of professional expertise.
There are several interactive workbook type components (quizzes, blank lines for answering prompts), and Hudson refers back frequently to her/the reader’s “Drawing Board” – which can be anything from a traditional vision board to a list in a smartphone app.
For me, I was more interested in learning about Hudson than actually getting nutritional advice – My diet is not the most nutritionally balanced and I acknowledge that, okay? – and she lost me as soon as she suggested cleanses that involve eliminating gluten dairy and sugar. Readers out there who are passionate about healthy eating and exercise and always looking for new ideas will absolutely love the book.
If not – it’s worth it just for all of the beautiful colour photography.
The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
As seen on The Social, I picked up this book, quite truthfully, to feed into my productivity obsession. (My husband: “Uh, shouldn’t you be looking for a book about how not to want to be productive?”)
Filled with research, especially based on the author’s own project (subtitle: “Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention and Energy”). One area where we totally agree: being as productive as possible with your time doesn’t exclude relaxation and fun. In fact, I believe that by being as efficient as possible with certain pockets of my day, I actually earn myself more time to sit on the couch in front of the TV with a book (or take a bath with a book, a runner up for my favourite way to unwind).If you want to get more done, check it out.
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
My mom shared this one with me because she knows my taste so well. Hatmaker, who is among other things a mom of five and a pastor’s wife, is hilarious…which might surprise you since this book of essays is heavy on Christianity (you caught the pastor’s wife part, right?). Her chapters about media and marriage (“Marriage is completely beautiful and sometimes not so much…”) were particularly striking to me, as well as some of her insights about the church: “Young adults are abandoning church, so we can either listen carefully or watch their backs as they go.”
I actually read a passage to my daughters from her “Dear Kids” chapter, and a quick skim of copyright assures me that I am breaking no laws by sharing this much with you:
“Some of your classmates barely get out the door every day. You see them. They are picked on or mocked or completely ignored, as if they don’t even matter. They pretend they don’t care or can’t hear but you know they do…First, I hope you see them. This is harder than it sounds; you have to learn to see hurt people, because they figure out how to act invisible…My dream is that you see hurting kids and do the simple brave work of kindness. This isn’t fancy at all. It sounds like: Do you want to sit with us? or I really like your outfit or What’s up, man? or What are you reading? It doesn’t seem like much, maybe, but if it’s the only kind word they’ve heard all day, it can literally give them strength to go on.”
With passages like that, I know Hatmaker is a mom and wife whose advice I want to take, and I will be looking for her other books ASAP.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
In the midst of a marital crisis, High Court Judge Fiona Maye must decide whether a seventeen year old leukemia patient (also a Jehovah’s Witness) should legally be able to refuse the blood transfusions that will save his life. Heavy, obviously, and fascinating.
The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
This month’s The Social Chapter pick, I really enjoyed this novel about the converging stories of three different American women living in Hong Kong. Warning: there is a child disappearance, which kept me from sleeping the night I read it, but I was fascinated to learn about the life of expatriates in Hong Kong – a topic I knew nothing about before.
Spark Joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up by Marie Kondo
Companion to the #1 New York Times best-selling The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
While I disagree that rolling my socks into balls is cruel to them, and talk of the gods of tidying doesn’t exactly fit with my faith, this was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. However, that doesn’t mean you will agree! When I showed the book on Facebook one friend commented that I don’t need it (though I have to say I definitely learned a few tricks and was inspired to clean out my kitchen cupboards and organize the spice drawer the night I finished it) but really it just makes me irrationally happy to “spend time” with someone (Kondo) who sees things about clutter the way I do. And I also agree with her that once you’ve done a marathon tidy it really isn’t as hard as you might think to keep things that way…and it will bring you so much joy! (I may have missed my calling as a professional organizer. If I didn’t already have three jobs I might have to consider adding that on the side.)
Clearly this month was more about reading, but I did enjoy…
How To Be Single
Even a smug married like myself could enjoy the humour (I mean, Rebel Wilson!) and (spoiler alert) a happy ending for a woman doesn’t have to involve a man.