I've started tracking the books I've read again. Here's a link to the entire years books. If you'd like to see what I've read previously, here's a link to Reading List 2015 and Reading List 2014, the last time I kept track.
March was both great and awful for me. I was sick, sick, sick. I was also released from all physical restrictions for the first time since April 2014. My reading list reflects my health. I chose a lot of fun, cozy mysteries to keep me in good cheer over heavier instruction or business books.
An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
When I was a therapist, I worked with a lot of felony offenders in a drug and alcohol program. I specifically ran a research project to study felony offenders. I tell you this because this book involves an African-American man who is falsely charged with a crime. The focus of the book is the marriage between the man and his wife. While I found the book interesting and certainly well written, it seemed unrealistic to me. I read it for my book club. I was the only person in the book club who found it unrealistic. I am also the only person who has or had personal experience in this type of situation. I certainly have written a lot of fiction -- some realistic, some not so much. Some of the fiction I've written was true to fact, but seemed unrealistic to some readers. It happens. Everyone in my book club enjoyed the book.
These are the Lady Hardcastle Mysteries. I had purchased a Quiet Life in the Country a while ago (April 2017) and hadn't read it. I jumped in this month. I enjoyed the stories and the characters. Lady Hardcastle is a funny and brilliant. Her sidekick and lady's maid, Florence. After many years in the service of British Intelligence, they are now retiring to the country. Mayhem ensures. Lady Hardcastle is a decent detective. Flo is hilarious. The mysteries are unique and intricately involved. There are lots of fun supporting characters. The characters value good cheer, friendship, reading good books, and adventure. In a time of such chaos and upheaval, they are refreshing.
The Legacy of the Bones, Dolores Redondo
This is the second book in the Baztan Trilogy. These books are originally written in Spanish. They are about the Baztan Valley which is near the border of Spain. I read the Invisible Guardian last year after watching the movie (with the same title) on Netflix. These are complex, excellent books. The books follow Inspector Amaia Salazar. There are two main story lines in the book. One is the actual mysteries -- who is killing whom? Why? How do they get prosecuted? The other story line is about Amaia's family. She is the youngest of three. Her mother tried to kill her when she was about ten years old. Her family dynamic is so similar to my family dynamic that I found it both shocking and refreshing to see it outside of my own memory. (My mother tried to kill me a number of times starting when I was six months old. My siblings act as accomplices rather than actual siblings.) These books look at some very dark history as well as ancient myth. I am both drawn to them and repulsed by them. This was probably not the greatest choice to read while I was sick, but hey -- they are compelling mysteries and I do love a mystery.
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
This book was recommended to me by my primary care physician, Tim. He and I both have a lot of Irish in our genetic make up. He suggested that I would find it fascinating. The New York Times says: "Now, along comes Mr. Vance, offering a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion, particularly the ascent of Donald J. Trump. Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans." The book is compelling. It's dense with every paragraph a hot poker poking holes in the narrative fabric of the usual American story. In places, I thought he was writing about my father's sisters or possibly my maternal grandmother. In other spots, I was sure he was talking about the husband's relatives. He speaks of the dynamic between expectation of great thing and desperate rage for not getting them without every adding the driving engine of actual work to move expectation into reality. Read this book. No really. READ THIS BOOK! It explains a lot.
Unfuck Yourself, Gary John Bishop
I love this book, full stop. I read it for the first time last year. It helped me shake off the post-illness blues and make efforts to move on in my life. The book is an odd juxtaposition with Hillbilly Elegy as Bishop says that it doesn't matter who made the mess. If you're in a mess, you need to clean it up. Full stop. We now own this book in audio, eBook, and hardback. It's just around the house making it easy to pick up and read a page or two for another kick in the pants. If you need to kick the blues and get the fuck on with your life, this is a great book for that. I have read thousands of self help books for the Open Grove. This is one of the few books that is actually helpful.
4 Pillar Plan, Rangan Chaterjee. This book is packed full of actionable advice. Stop eating sugar. Take 15 minute breaks when sitting for a long time. Practice breathing exercises. Fast for at least 12 hours a day. Through a variety of disconnected circumstances, we are actually following most of his advice. I find that I have better days when I move around after working for 90 minutes. I've been fasting 12 hours a day. This not because of the book, but the book confirmed what I thought.
Unplug, Suze Yalof Schwartz. This is a book about the benefits of meditation. While practical, it only really talks about meditation. So I'm not sure why the book isn't called "Meditation". Shrugging Meditation is awesome - truly.
Writing that Works, Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson. This was an interesting refresher into business writing. It's fairly basic -- use neutral gender pronouns, be brief, make a point, etc. It's always good to review.
You are not your brain, Jeffrey Schwartz, MD This book's main premise is that your brain is fighting against your desire to change. It teaches mental hacks to avoid procrastination. I don't tend to procrastinate so it wasn't dynamically important to my life. Interesting though.