A while back I mentioned that I was going to try to cut down on the amount of books that I read [particularly audiobooks] so I can be more present with my family. And true to my word, this is the shortest quarterly review I have ever done!
Let’s talk about DNFs. I’ve only heard this acronym for “did not finish” in reference to race performances, but I recently read a book blogger post about DNF books.
Confession: The old me pushed through every book I ever started no matter how painful. I simply could not leave something incomplete. However, a few years ago I read a book [ironically] that convinced me to stop finishing all the books that I’m not enjoying. So, I began DNFing [is that a word?] books.
This past quarter I DNFed [is that a word?] a record number of books. Here are all the books that almost made it on this review list, but I gave up on for one reason or another:
- The Dinner by Herman Koch
- Mindful Work by David Gelles
- Fat Chance by Robert H. Lustig
- The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
- You, Happier by Daniel G. Amen
- The Nurses by Alexandra Robbins
- This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
- Unbound by Tarana Burke
- Homeland Elegies by Ayad Ahktar
- On Animals by Susan Orlean
- How to Be Alone by Lane Moore
These books weren’t bad or anything [necessarily]. For some of them, it just wasn’t the right time. For instance, I tried to listen to Lustig’s Fat Chance on a six-hour road trip and it was just putting me to sleep. But someday I would like to read the physical book.
So what you’ve got left here are the real gems. Some of these were better than others, but they were all at least enjoyable or insightful enough for me to read all the way to the end.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley
This is a charming book that is both lighthearted and powerful. I thought it would be a fun, easy beach read — and it was fun and easy, but it also surprised me with its depth and lessons about love and loss and moving on and accepting oneself. It was really beautiful.
This was a great road-trip audiobook.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Loved this book, but I especially loved the audiobook [the extra star is for the audiobook] because Tom Hanks is an absolutely phenomenal reader [which I’m sure surprises no one]. I could listen to him read to me FOREVER! A great story about the bond between a brother and sister — and between a family and a house.
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
Jonathan Haidt is becoming one of my favorite authors. His books probably only appeal to people with very specific interest [such as moral psychology, politics, and ethics] and I am definitely one of those people. But everyone cares about happiness and of all the books I’ve read on the topic, this book is the best.
The Emergency by Thomas Fisher
This book was really eye-opening about how hospitals work and how underprivileged communities continue to be underserved by our health care system. It is also a very personal story of a man trying to help his community in a time of crisis. I really enjoyed it.
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris
Truthfully, I only gave this book four stars because Dan Harris is such a funny writer. His books are very entertaining. But I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as I liked 10% Happier [which I LOVED]. The structure of the book seemed forced and followed the story of a meditation publicity road-trip, which I just didn’t particularly care for.
The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger
Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is so powerful and beautiful, full of the darkest horrors and yet so full of hope and life. This is the most inspiring story with the most timeless and encouraging message I have ever read. We all suffer in some way and we all have a choice in how we will live.
“Here you are! In the sacred present. I can’t heal you—or anyone—but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now. My precious, you can choose to be free.”Dr. Edith Eva Eger, The Choice
I agree with Oprah [quoted on the cover]—I will also be forever changed by Dr. Eger’s story.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I heard so many good things about this book from a book blogger I follow…but I just didn’t care for it. I’m not sure why. Maybe I didn’t get it. But it was at least interesting enough to finish. Or maybe I was just curious enough to keep reading.
Josie’s Story by Sorrel King
This was recommended reading for my nursing program and I thought it was another really insightful look into the hospital system. Of course, it is a heartbreaking story [and as a mom, it is my worst nightmare], but ultimately it is about improving safety in the whole system. I’m so glad I read it and I want to remember Josie when I am a nurse someday.
The Stand by Stephen King
This was my least favorite of King’s books so far. It wasn’t even bad, of course, because Stephen King is a amazing at telling a story, it was just too long. I mean, it’s a 1200 page book and I felt like the story could have been told in half that many pages. I realize this is the expanded and uncut edition, but I kind of wish I had read the original shorter version because I think this one was just excessive with the details. I also felt like there were missed opportunities to create some really cool “ah-ha!” moments, but…who am I to tell Stephen King how to write a book.
Overall, I liked the story and I enjoyed the characters and as always, I am in awe of this man’s ability to write such sweeping novels.
As always, share your book recommendations in the comments! I love to read books that other people have enjoyed.
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