In the ongoing need to organize and analyze every aspect of my life to the point of madness, I’m scanning my Goodreads account and linking up with Haley and Anne because otherwise how will I remember all my favorite books of 2013??? Must. blog. minutiae.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey
I read both Stephen Covey’s original ‘Seven Habits for Highly Effective People’ and ‘Seven Habits for Highly Effective Families’. I especially enjoyed the second, but I’ll admit we have yet to craft a family mission statement or organize an official family meeting. My biggest takeaway was his writing on the ‘Emotional Bank Account’. It was a concept my husband and I joked about for weeks, about whether or not we were making deposits or withdrawals. Surprising me with a can of Coke: deposit. Me making a joke at his expense: withdrawal. Overall, I felt like to fully implement everything Covey wrote would require me to run off for a week somewhere quiet and meditate, write and plan out my (our) ideal life. And honestly, I still can’t figure out what the heck a quadrant four task is, however, there were enough ideas in ‘SHFHE Family’ that I could immediately implement that made a difference. I can think of several families who would benefit from this book but since I’m not going to anonymously leave it on their doorstep and drive off, just assume this selection is for you. Yes, you. Your family would benefit from this book. But I mean that in the nicest way possible.
Way To Happiness: An Inspiring Guide to Peace, Hope and Contentment, Arbp. Fulton Sheen
I’m trying to read more of Fulton Sheen’s work so when I saw this beat up book on my mother-in-law’s shelf I quickly picked it up, because who doesn’t want more happiness in their life? As someone who hates reading religious books (I know, gasp, I’m a horrible person) Sheen’s writing is wonderfully engaging, entertaining and powerful without beating you over the head with doctrine. I might reread this book again this year because I didn’t take notes and unfortunately, I don’t remember much of what I read if I don’t. So you just have to believe me when I say I loved this book because now, I can’t remember exactly why I did/do, just that I folded a lot of corners in that copy so I hope my MIL doesn’t want it back.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
On a whim I picked up this Sherlock Holmes book at the library, thus lunching me into a Holmes reading frenzy until I finished all four of Doyle’s novels of the great detective. I have not yet read all the short stories, or even downloaded the book on my Kindle yet because I know I won’t be able to get anything else done once I get started. Of the four novels The Valley of Fear might have been my favorite, but I really liked the Hound of the Baskervilles too. A Study In Scarlett and The Sign of The Four round out the bunch.
Last Rights: Rescuing The End of Life Care From the Medical System, Stephen Kiernan
“Mama, what are you reading about?”
“Really?? Why are you reading about death??”
Because this book was an absolutely fascinated look into end of life care in our country. I think most people shy away from talking about these issues but there’s no avoiding death, and you can try to fight it off with all the medical advancements you want, or you can learn to say ‘when’ and die with dignity. This book makes the argument that not enough doctors are trained in end of life or palliative care and thus, keep pushing for treatment beyond what is reasonable or find themselves unable to give counsel or comfort to families when there is no more to be done. The argument is made that assisted suicide would not be considered by people if they were given correct palliative and hospice care. All in all, to become a more educated consumer of, or provider in, the healthcare system in the country, I would highly recommend this book.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
I love classic literature because bad people get what they deserve. Characters may engage in sinful vices and flaunt their lifestyle, but in the end, they’re always miserable. In today’s society Dorain Gray would be a hero, in fact, you could substitute many celebrities in his place. But while modern society would worship him and condone his actions, Wilde shows us the ugliness of the man and the ultimate horror of his unrepentant sins.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, A Mostly True Memoir, Jenny Lawson
I read a bunch of books written by bloggers this year. Most of them consisted of some back story on the blogger then chapters culled from popular blog posts. So while the first half or two-thirds of each book was interesting by the end, I was usually experiencing a bit of deja vu. However, the Bloggess’ book was so hilarious I could forgive her the reuse of some material. And her upbringing was so strange, it sort of made every other blogger’s childhood look tame or downright boring. In a choice between reading about a childhood in Texas with taxidermy puppets or growing up in suburbia anywhere else, I’m going to choose the story with taxidermy. Sorry. (Not sorry.) Just don’t read this book if you hate foul language, drug use, cats or weirdness.
On Writing, Stephen King
I mentioned this book before. I picked it up to inspire me during National Novel Writing Month and it did exactly what I hoped. King does not condescend to speak to us from some lofty pedestal, he simply writes about his journey in becoming a writer and what worked for him. I respect his opinion highly, not just because of his talent and success but because of his humility. His book is a lesson in hard work and perseverance with no fluff or short cuts. I read a few other books on writing this year and all were written by authors trying to make writing sound magical or groundbreaking in some way. They wrote like writers trying too hard to sound like fancy authors, not people writing books with practical advice that were enjoyable to read in the process. I almost didn’t pick this up because I was so off put by the other writing books I’d read, but I’m glad I did because it greatly exceeded my expectations.
Have you linked up your list yet? Or leave your favorite books in the comments. As you can tell, I prefer to read non-fiction of all stripes with bits of classic literature thrown in, but I’m open to suggestions. What one book do I NEED to read this year? Once you’ve decided, head back to Carrots for Michaelmas and Modern Mrs. Darcy for some more good reads for the new year.
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