What I Read: August 2016

I feel pretty accomplished in saying that I’ve been successful in my goal of blogging more consistently (and intentionally) throughout this past month. Now that school is about to start, I know I’ll have less time per-say, but I’ve also come to realize that it’s more about allocating time wisely than anything else, so I’m hoping to keep the trend going with this here blog of mine. The first book that I read this month has a lot to do with this shift (I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam), so click through to see more of what I mean and to get the low-down on the three other titles that I read this month!

  1. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam
    • I really liked this book! I can’t quite remember where I first heard about it, but once I saw the title and tag line, I knew it was something I had to get my hands on. Laura Vanderkam has written previous books on topics like success and productivity, but this was my first book by her, and I was not disappointed. The purpose of this book is to debunk the myth that women don’t have time for both a successful career and a their family. Though my life revolves around career at this point as opposed to family, I loved reading this book because it gave me hope that, when the time for that chapter in my life begins, I will be able to do both without being completely strung out. For now, I viewed the dichotomy in my own world between school and my personal life, so the balancing act is between those two realms. There are two main points that I wanted to include in this review, and the first is the idea that women often choose fields that are seemingly more flexible/appropriate for having a family. She writes about a doctor who had several patients who wanted to enter the medical field but wanted to have a family one day, and felt that the two were at odds. She then explained that she has many friends who are teachers who actually have less flexibility than she does in her life. I think this is such an important point because I came very, very close to choosing a career field for those exact reasons. I am by no means saying that people who become teachers or speech-language pathologists or anything of a similar nature shouldn’t do that if it’s what they feel they would be good at and get gratification from, I just really loved the point that she made about how we should not just outright assume that certain fields don’t leave any room for family life (or just personal life in general), because work and life are much more nuanced than that. The second part of this book that I was really excited to share was this idea of the mosaic. Mosaics were charts that Vanderkam had women fill out and it was the basis on which her research findings for this book were revealed. A mosaic is basically a chart with different boxes that each represent 30 minutes of time for every hour and day of the week. You can fill out your own mosaic here. What I did after reading the book (and once I got my class schedule for this semester) was make a mosaic for each week. It’s kind of the inverse of what her participants did because they logged charts as things happened after each week to get an idea of how many hours were going to what activities. Anyway, I made a chart similar to the one linked above on Word, and then I filled in (in half hour increments) my class schedule, what hours I would sleep each night, when I’ll study, go to the gym, do laundry, blog, cook, etc. It was very helpful to do this at the start of a new phase in my life because it’s a concrete way of setting intentions for how I’ll spend your time. Nothing will ever be exactly as my week is structured to be, but I find that it makes things so much less stressful when you’re organized. It was also revealed through her research that people don’t work as many hours as they think they do (the minority of those she interviewed worked more than 60 hours per week), and that most of us are getting more sleep than we think we are! I really enjoyed reading this book on several levels, and I tabbed a few sections about family for future reading that didn’t pertain to my life at the moment. As someone who values self-care, sleep, having time for hobbies and other means of joy (like this blog), and also wants to find success in school/my future career, it was so affirming to read this book. It left me feeling a sense of empowerment over my future instead of dread and worry that I’ll never have time for what’s important to me other than work. This was an unintentionally super-long review, but I didn’t want to leave anything important out! I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads, but would have given it 4.5 if I could have.
  2. Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams by Jeremy R. Paul and Richard Michael Fischl
    • Okay, so I’ve never in my life read any books on how to do well on exams, but when I was gathering a few books to read this summer to get ready, this book came up on a few lists, so I thought I’d give it a try. I definitely liked this book – the writing style was pretty accessible even though I am not yet familiar with some of the terminology that they used. I put a bunch of post-its on the parts that seemed useful, just not right now at this stage in my education (i.e., before classes have even begun). I will definitely be turning back to them in the coming months when exam time approaches. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.
  3. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
    • Somehow, this is the first Shauna Niequist book that I’ve read. I have two of her other books on my shelf (and one is coming your way for my September Reads – hello, Present over Perfect). I was reading the Simply Real Health Food Blog about a month or so ago and I came across some favorite books of its author, Sarah. (You can find them here.) One of the books was Cold Tangerines and I loved the sound of reading that in the last month of summer, and so I did. And, boy, did it not disappoint. Reading Shauna’s writing is like listening to a good friend calmly and eloquently reveal beautiful and deep spiritual truths to you that we never realized were embedded within the every day. It’s accessible and beautiful. It will make you smile and tear up and get that warm-in-your-chest feeling that the best pieces of art always do. It will make you feel at home and at peace and it will reaffirm or breathe new life into your faith and relationship with God. I simply loved this book and I can’t wait to read more of her work. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
  4. Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together…Finally by Nicole Lapin
    • I first heard about this book on the Lady Lovin’ Podcast and I wanted to read it to get a better idea about budgeting, and also just about learning more financial terms. I’ll be honest here when I say that I skimmed certain parts of the book that either didn’t apply or appeal to me, so my review here isn’t as filled with gusto as the one’s above. I did liked the book, but I didn’t find it to be overly profound or revolutionary in the ways in which I view budgeting and finances in general. I found the Podcast to be somewhat more informative. There were definitely some smart percentages that she points out in terms of how much of your money should go toward what categories in your life (i.e. rent, savings for the future, recreation) that I found interesting. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for next month’s batch of books in a few weeks time!


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