March was the month when it seemed that ALL of my library holds became available at once! I tried to keep up and managed to read four of them, but I’ve still got a few left for April.
Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
Evidently, I like books focused on hypothetical lives (see my review of Come with Me). This one was more along the likes of what I was hoping the aforementioned book would be–a telling of one couple’s meeting and how their relationship might unfold in three different ways. I found it a little difficult to keep track at first, as the author describes a short segment of time in three different ways…and then the next segment of time, and so on. I almost wish the author had told the couple’s entire story from start to finish three different times, if that makes sense. Anyway, I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and I think the author was right to portray each storyline as appropriately balanced with joy and loss. Nobody’s relationship is perfect all the time, and this book reflects that fact.
Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee
I suppose another theme in my reading selections is the subject of happiness (see my reviews of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home); I also focused a lot on joy last year during my Project 365. Maybe in another life I might have opted to get a PhD in the psychology of happiness. Anyway, I first heard about this book on John & Sherry’s podcast, and added it to my library requests immediately. Through the course of book, the author untangles several themes among things that bring people joy, such as energy, abundance, play, etc. Overall, I liked this book, but I’ll admit that parts of it read a bit more like a textbook than an engaging non-fiction read. Granted, the author clearly did her research and needed to demonstrate that fact, but I really enjoyed the parts where she related the “theme” being discussed to her personal experiences. It seems like she’s met some pretty interesting people, from esteemed designers to creative philanthropists. Accordingly, I think it would be interesting to read a follow-up to this book in a memoir format about what brings the author joy and why she has devoted so much time to studying it. This book reaffirmed my belief that it’s important to focus on little moments of joy as often as possible.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
This book has been getting some buzz as the latest psychological thriller. It must be popular, because I had to wait a few weeks to get my hands on a copy from the library. The story focuses on a young woman (Jess) who volunteers to participate in a psychological study of morals…and ends up entangled in some serious drama as a result. I ate this right up, finishing all 350+ pages in a weekend. Although sometimes the authors used some hokey writing to build suspense, I was totally captivated by the plot and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next between Jess and Dr. Shields. I hope they make it into a movie!
The Orchid and the Dandelion by W. Thomas Boyce
I’ve been getting a lot of book recommendations from listening to NPR lately, and this is one such book. I heard an extended interview with the author a few weeks ago and again, immediately requested it from the library. This book is an explanation of two types of children: orchids (highly sensitive but truly special human beings) and dandelions (individuals who are less responsive to positive or negative changes in their environments). Now that I have two children, I am very intrigued by understanding how children think and experience the world; I’m old enough that it’s hard to remember now! Boyce has devoted his lifetime of research to this distinction between “orchids” and “dandelions” and explains the science in a compelling way, sprinkled with anecdotes from his personal life and clinical experiences as a pediatrician. I found the explanations of basic scientific principles a little annoying sometimes (I think we all know what “experiments” and DNA are, right?), and the author does like to toot his own horn quite often (we get it, you have extensive training and are published in a bunch of journals, dude). That being said, I think this book is a worthwhile read for any parent. What I found particularly interesting is the physiological manifestations of psychological categories (e.g., cortisol levels to measure emotional reactivity; the correlation between lemon juice taste and introversion). I thought the means by which Boyce and his colleagues operationalized stress reactivity in children were quite clever.
What did you read in March?