february and march 2021 books

Long time, no type. 2021 has been a bit of a whirlwind thus far (in a much more positive way that 2020 was!). I am popping in for a quick summary of the books I managed to read over the past few months.

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine Aron, PhD

I am not sure how I stumbled upon this book, but the title obviously spoke to me. No surprise here, I considered myself a highly sensitive person, even before I read Dr. Aron’s definition in this book. I’ve been called shy, observant, conscientious for much of my life, and as it turns out some of those traits combined translate into being sensitive. The author does an exceptional job of making the case for sensitivity as its own dimension of personality, what it is and what it is not. Granted this book is probably slightly biased in its positive depiction of HSPs because the author identifies as one herself. Beyond the detailed descriptions of HSPs, this book also contains a multitude of practical advice for HSPs and for the people who deal with them. For example, I saved screenshots of tips for both healthcare professionals and teachers working with HSPs, two roles that I occupy in my current position. This book took me quite some time to read (more than two weeks), not because I didn’t like it, but because each page was such a wealth of information that got me thinking of specific examples/scenarios in my life.

Life Admin: How I Learned to Do Less, Do Better, and Live More by Elizabeth Emens

I first heard about this book months and months ago on my favorite podcast (OK, it’s like the only one I actually listen to consistently!). I am all about efficiency in every part of my life, so the concept of this book appealed to that side of my brain. Life admin is essentially the work that is required to be a human in today’s world; it’s what some might call “adulting.” Paying bills, doing taxes, arranging for repairs, writing grocery lists, communicating with cleaning services/babysitters, etc. One of the foundations of this book is that there exist four main categories when it comes to approaching life admin: super-doer, reluctant doer, admin avoider, and admin denier. Fortunately, Seth and I both probably fall somewhere between super-doer and reluctant doer for most things. We’ve kind of organically reached an agreement as to who does what kind of admin for our household, but this book has made me question if we need to have more explicit conversations about the duties we usually divide in silence. Scorekeeping is not the goal, but I think it’s easy to forget how much your partner handles when you don’t see it happening. Another key point from this book is that multi-tasking is not really a thing. We humans are really not adept at doing more than one thing at a time, as much as we think we are. Setting aside time for life admin and accounting for it usually bodes for a better job in executing necessary tasks.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

After two non-fiction reads, I needed a novel in my life. The premise is that Edward is the sole survivor of a plane crash; 190 passengers, including his parents and brother, perished in the tragic event. The author alternates between scenes from the plane ride itself and from Edward’s life after the crash. This sounds like it would be a depressing book, which it is to an extent, but I consider it more of a story about resilience and turning a tragedy into an opportunity to do good for the world. As a whole, I think humans are pretty amazing creatures, and as we’ve seen in the past year, we can withstand some crazy shit and come out the other side as stronger and more compassionate people. This book was also a welcome reminder to hug the ones you love, as tomorrow is never promised.

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