So it’s almost November. I should probably get around to my Q3 books in review before Q4 is over…*excuses* *excuses* *something about a 10-day social media fast so I didn’t want to post then so I didn’t even work on it* *excuses*
Here ya go.
Is it OK to just have Brandon Sanderson be a category? Yes? OK.
By: you guessed it. Brandon Sanderson
Oathbringer is the third in the Stormlight Archive series. It is the last in the series that is currently published and I think that is just cruel. I should never have started on this series without thinking about how long it would take for the next book to come out (especially because 10 are planned in the series and it took 3 years for the 3rd book to come out after the 2nd). Alas, here we are. Since it’s a series, I can’t really say anything about anything or it will give away the previous books and how we got to this place. This is more of the same with fantasy wars and things of that nature. The interesting thing about this book is how much it delves into issues with mental health, as displayed through the main characters. This blog gives a pretty good summary (careful, though, because #spoilers): Ideal Heroes: Mental Illness in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.
It was so interesting to read of strong characters and their struggles and I identified with some of them at times. It’s so nice to acknowledge the deeper struggles of life.
And quotes like these are just awesome:
“Sometimes a hypocrite is nothing more than a man in the process of changing.”
“The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it? It’s the next one.”
“A journey will have pain and failure. It is not only the steps forward that we must accept. It is the stumbles. The trials. The knowledge that we will fail. That we will hurt those around us.
But if we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fail, the journey ends. That failure becomes our destination.”
These books are compelling and fun, if you like fantasy.
Mistborn: The Final Empire
By: Yes, Brandon Sanderson
The first Sanderson book I read was Elantris. I liked it, thought it was a good read, but didn’t love love it. But since then everybody has said I have to read Mistborn. So here I am beginning the Mistborn series. Another series. At least this one is mostly written, with the 7th in the series projected to come out next year. And these are divided halfway in eras (look it up if you really want to know what I mean), so you can stop halfway if you need/want to.
Mistborn is so named because of the powers that certain people have to “burn” metals inside of them and do superhuman things. This tale takes place in Luthadel, a place with noblemen and skaa, the latter being slaves to the noblemen. All are ruled by The Lord Ruler who conquered something known as the “deepness” and thus reigns supreme. The skaa have risen up against the noblemen before, and been crushed each time, but a new team has a better plan to defeat The Lord Ruler. Will they succeed? Dun. Dun. Dun.
I read way too many self-help/educational books this time around…
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
By: Stephen R. Covey
I’m actually a little shocked that I haven’t read this book before. There *may* be a part of me that has heard all the hype of this book and didn’t want to give in to the idea that it was all that great. The truth is that it really is a great book with some amazing ideas and brilliant perspective. The key, I believe, is to actually make changes in your life as a result of what you read. This book actually inspired me to change a few things in my life.
- Quadrant Planning. I changed the way that I prioritize my work and it has been so much more effective. Covey suggests a quadrant style of planning with important and not important along the sides and urgent and not urgent along the top. The key is to focus on the important and urgent. I used to manage my work with a long “to-do” list that just got longer and longer. I never really prioritized my work in a list, just in my mind. The quadrants have helped me focus my efforts where they need to be focused. When I write something down, I know what the priority is and I make sure to manage my work accordingly.
- Personal Mission Statement. As Covey said in the book, a personal mission statement is “defining the personal, moral and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself.” I have a large number of quotes that are inspirational to me and that guide my life, but I haven’t spent a lot of time writing down (not just thinking about) my personal mission. I did the recommended exercise and wrote some of my thoughts about what I think my mission is. I am still working on modifying it, but it has been a valuable exercise.
- Put first things first. This book, along with Essentialism (which is the review just below this one) helped me think about some things I was not putting first. I have almost always been someone who studies scriptures at night. I love that I can read and study without having a time limit because I can just stay up later. But I found myself in the last year (and perhaps it was my study of the Old Testament that did this…) just reading a chapter or to to check “scripture reading” off my list and I wasn’t studying as much. So I decided to try moving my study to the mornings and “put first things first.” It means waking up earlier, and I still haven’t figured out how to exercise in the morning and read scriptures with the proper balance, but I have shifted my study at least. And dang it all, I like it better in the morning. Times and seasons, friends. I also liked it at night, but this shift has been beneficial for where I’m at right now in life.
I also gained many good insights into how to be a better family member and manager at work as well. This book is worth your time.
By: Greg McKeown
I thought this book was great, BUT I wouldn’t recommend reading it at the same time as Seven Habits. They have similar philosophies and directives and I got confused a lot as to which was which. Essentialism is all about helping you focus on what the most essential things are in life. It is about prioritizing your own life so that other people don’t prioritize it for you.
For much of this book, I was actually a little bugged by some of the premises like, “Don’t say yes unless you want to.” And I still am a little bugged by a few things proposed. However, I’ve reconciled it by looking at my personal mission statement. I believe that my family comes first in everything. And I believe in following promptings from the Spirit and making myself available to be there for and help others, even at a moment’s notice, when appropriate. So I’m anxious to say “yes” when people need help. By deciding that following the Spirit is my priority, that has actually helped me plan, prioritize and live my life a little better. So “not saying yes” doesn’t mean saying no all the time. It’s learning what the right things to say yes to are. Complicado, no? Good to think about.
Good quote: “[The first personal learning in writing this book] is the exquisitely important role of my family in my life. At the very, very end, everything else will fade into insignificance by comparison. The second [learning] is the pathetically tiny amount of time we have left of our lives. For me this is not a depressing thought but a thrilling one. It removes fear of choosing the wrong thing. It infuses courage into my bones. It challenges me to be even more unreasonably selective about how to use this precious–and precious is perhaps too insipid of a word–time.”
I agree. I couldn’t say it better than that, as I also see my family as “exquisitely important.”
Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford
By: Kristin Wong
Someone recommended this book to me, and I enjoyed it. As the name suggests, it is, indeed, a finance book. I’m super interested in making wise financial decisions (aren’t we all?) And I read all sorts of stuff and talk to all kinds of informed people to be more financially literate. This book is a good place to start if you don’t know much. I actually knew about and practice much of what the book talks about, which is maybe why I liked it, haha. (Sometimes it’s good to know that you are doing something OK in life). I’d recommend this book because the more you know and understand about your money, the better you will be able to run your own life, instead of being ruled by money.
Dads Who Stay and Fight: How to Be a Hero for Your Family
By: Greg Trimble
My co-workers in the mental health field often recommend various books to me. This is one of them, in case you’re wondering why I’m reading about dads. The first half of the title could be a little misleading because this is about dads who stay and fight in the good way… who fight for their families. It’s a short and simple read. Most of what I thought about it as I read it is how much (from my own perception) we don’t talk to dads about how to be good dads. As a woman, I feel like we hear SO MUCH about motherhood and how to be a good parent and so on (which is good; I eat it up). But I just don’t hear about how dads can do the same…very often. It’s not the most well-written book in the world and I’m not 100% on board with #allthethings, but I think it’s important for us to talk more frequently to men about being good fathers. And this was a good, faith-filled start.
By: Tara Westover
This was a difficult read. It is the memoir of a young girl who is raised in rural Idaho, largely home schooled (if you could call her schooling that), who lives a life of abuse and other sad, sad experiences. She manages to leave her existence with her survivalist family and rise above to graduate from college, land a fellowship at Harvard, and get a PhD at Cambridge.
I can’t say that I enjoyed this book. Her family members were extremist members of my own religion. And it is evident that several members of her family struggle with severe mental illnesses. It is not enjoyable to read of abuse and misguided lives. But it was an eye-opening book to try to understand how people are able to break away from a literally insane life and make it in what we see as the highest circles of educated society.
As you read through this list, you’ll notice that there was A LOT of self help and a lot of heavier reading (even the fantasy books are about war!) So I took some recommendations from a friend and read some younger age books to tone down the heaviness.
By “lighter,” I don’t mean that they aren’t a little crazy and dark, I just mean that they’re for a younger audience so I could handle them better.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
By: Trenton Lee Stewart
A peculiar ad appears in the newspaper seeking for gifted children who are willing to take a test. Those who pass the test will become part of a group that has a very special task to perform at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. The personalities in this book are fun and the problem-solving skills of these talented children are fun to watch. The book tidies up extremely nicely, so much so that I didn’t realize that it is also a series. I wonder if the author actually intended a series or just decided to after the success of the first book…who knows. But it was a fun, compelling read with one of the most delightful surprises at the end of the book. It is a teensy weensy dark in some places, just in case you’re looking at this as a review for your kidlings as well.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling
By: MaryRose Wood
This is a super fast read and seems to hit a cadence of many popular series (yes, another series) of young children who live unfortunate lives but who solve mysteries or are involved in them at least (such as “A Series of Unfortunate Events”). The Incorrigibles are children who were raised as wolves in the forest. They are captured on a wealthy estate by an owner who hires a governess to teach and control them. The book carries on at a rapid pace without too much intrigue, but also seems to hint at some Jane Eyre-ish type mystery. Aside from the obvious overtones against hunting (which I did not like), it was an OK book. I liked it better when I thought of it as a Jane Eyre primer. I’ve heard the other books act as hauntings of other famous works as well, but I have yet to read any more of them.
In short, a good round of books for this quarter, but I’m also taking a step back, based on my Essentialism reading, and considering what books I really want to fill my time with and how. I will be just as interested as you are to see my next quarter of reading.