july and august 2020 books

I’m overdue for a few book reviews. The latter half of the summer has been busy at work and home for our family, so reading (and blogging about reading) have not been a top priority, sadly. Nonetheless, the books I did read the past two months were quite excellent. Quality over quantity, right?

Outer Order, Inner Calm: De-Clutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin

Y’all know I love me some Gretch, so it was only a matter of time before I checked out her book all about one of my favorite pastimes, organizing. This was a delightful read that I finished over the Fourth of July weekend, although not terribly informative for someone like me who already spends a lot of time thinking about de-cluttering and managing the “stuff” a family accumulates over time. I didn’t gain a multitude of life hacks from this book, but what I did benefit from was the forced contemplation on why organizing matters. I happen to enjoy the activity itself, but what is more important is that leading an orderly life leaves more time for spending with my family and leaves me feeling content rather than crazed by clutter.

4/5 stars.

Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Spoiler: this might be a front-runner for my favorite book of 2020. It’s actually the perfect candidate, considering the resilience that this year is instilling in all of us. I picked up this book because Duckworth’s well-known “Grit” scale is now a part of the intake assessments we use for both clinic patients and research participants. As you might imagine, achieving health goals (most notably, weight loss) requires a considerable amount of “passion and perseverance,” so it’s helpful to know where an individual lies on this spectrum at baseline. I also read this book in a transition period in my career, when I have had to closely evaluate exactly what fulfills me and where my true passions lie. Every couple pages contained a passage with which I truly connected and was able to apply to a specific aspect of my own professional life. Because this book was not available as an e-book, I actually bought a used hard copy, and I am SO glad. I can see myself reading parts of this book over and over again. Heartily recommend this one.

5/5 stars.

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

I am a long-time fan of the series on PBS by the same name but had no idea it was a book–a thoughtful blog reader-friend informed me of this fact. So, of course, I added it to my queue on the Libby app (my preferred reading platform these days). I read about a third of it during my beach week in late July, but my library loan on the e-book lapsed before I could finish it–definitely one of the cons when comparing hard copies to electronic! However, I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t just abandon it. I requested it again and waited another few weeks for my turn to finish it! Midwifery is such a fascinating occupation to me, mostly because I think pregnancy and childbirth are just about the most miraculous processes I’ve ever experienced/witnessed. I think it takes a very special kind of healthcare professional to take on such a high-stress, emotional, and occasionally risky task such as childbirth; I can assure you that I would not be mentally strong enough to do it myself. The author does an exceptional job of capturing the physically taxing but emotionally rewarding nature of the job, and the characters are ones I know and love from the TV series. There are a few minor differences between the book and TV show (e.g., the book delves much more deeply into the subject of prostitution…), but none that I objected to all that much. This was a fun distraction.

4.5/5 stars.

What did you read this summer?

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