February #HWRbooks: Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Announcing February’s #HWRbooks selection:

64CE9390-DEA4-4E70-96FD-0F8624A7D3BC.JPG

Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle by: Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA (Ballantine) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

From the publisher:

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.

I like to keep these buddy reads as easy and carefree as possible so everyone can enjoy the book and not get too freaked out or worried.

The discussion for Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle will be on Saturday, February 22, 2020.

There will be a post on my Instagram feed (find me here: @happiestwhenreading) with some discussions relating to the book. There is no specific time to check in and discuss – because if your life is anything like mine, it’s chaotic. When you have some time, check in and throw your thoughts out, respond to some other people, and continue to do that…obviously, the more interaction, the more fun this will be!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know!

Until then, happy reading!

January #HWRbooks: Dear Edward

Announcing the first #HWRbooks selection of 2020:

Dear Edward by: Ann Napolitano (The Dial Press) – Pub Date: January 6, 2020

From the publisher:

“Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.”

I like to keep these buddy reads as easy and carefree as possible so everyone can enjoy the book and not get too freaked out or worried.

The discussion for Dear Edward will be on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

There will be a post on my Instagram feed (find me here: @happiestwhenreading) with some discussions relating to the book. There is no specific time to check in and discuss – because if your life is anything like mine, it’s chaotic. When you have some time, check in and throw your thoughts out, respond to some other people, and continue to do that…obviously, the more interaction, the more fun this will be!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know!

Until then, happy reading!

December Discussion #HWRbooks: The Stationery Shop

F91A4F93-6FCB-4DFB-95EC-D19CF623F62E

Roya’s mother had always said that our fate is written on our foreheads when we’re born. It can’t be seen, can’t be read, but it’s there in invisible ink all right, and life follows that fate. No matter what.” (pg 4)

Have you ever wondered what life would have been like had one tiny little thing played out differently? Would if you wouldn’t have made the train that day where you ended up meeting your future spouse? Or would if you wouldn’t have gone on that blind date where you totally hit it off with that special person? Or would if your country wouldn’t have experienced a coup the day you were supposed to meet your beloved at the town square?

The Stationery Shop is a book that inadvertently explores that idea. Roya is supposed to meet her boyfriend, Bahman, in the town square at a particular time, but on that same day, there is a staged coup to overthrow the Iranian leader. They never end up meeting and, as a result, both of their lives drastically change direction.

Roya moves to the United States with her sister to pursue an education. Bahman ends up marrying a woman of his mother’s choosing. Through a mutual friend, Roya and Bahman keep track of each other’s lives. When that friend dies, their “connection” to each other is lost. Life goes on (as it does) until Roya encounters a man that strangely reminds her of her long lost love. Will she finally find out what happened that day, sixty years ago, that changed the direction of her life forever?

“We do not always get what we want, Roya Khanom. Things do not always work out the way we planned. Those who are young tend to think that life’s tragedies and miseries and its bullets will somehow miss them. That they can buoy themselves with naīve hope and energy. They think, wrongly, that shomehow youth or desire or even love can outmatch the hand of fate. The truth is, my young lady, that fate has written the script for your destiny on your forehead from the very beginning. We can’t see it. But it’s there. And the young, who love so passionately, have no idea how ugly this world is. This world is without compassion.” (pg 127)

What worked for me:

  • I loved the theme of fate woven throughout the entire story. I’m very much intrigued by the whole “sliding doors” concept (remember that movie?!?!)…I’m always wondering, “what if this had happened instead, how would that have affected this…”
  • The characters! I loved them all in their own way (well, except Mrs. Aslan. I don’t see any redeeming qualities in her.)
    • Roya and her independance and strength to pick herself back up after all her heartbreak.
    • Bahman for his activism and for standing up so strongly for his beliefs. And for continuing to love Roya through the years in a way that inspired him to create a bookshop reminiscent of where they met.
    • Zari for her foresight and endless amounts of warnings.
    • Walter for his patience, support, and acceptance of Roya and her past
    • Fakhri for his bookshop and his small hand in Roya and Bahman’s budding romance.
    • Roya’s parents for their modern thinking – for accepting their two daughters (in a society that values a son more than a daughter) and for wanting them to be educated and independent!
    • Jahangir and his dedication to his friendship with Roya and Bahman.
  • The political information throughout the novel. I went down a rabbit hole on Google to read a little more about the coup mentioned in the book and I was fascinated by what I learned!
  • Learning even just a little bit about Iran and its complicated history. I would love to learn more! A glimpse into the Iranian culture was fascinating!

What didn’t work for me:

  • Simplistic in its delivery…from the overall story to the language and syntax used. It just felt a little shallow to me, and maybe I noticed it more because it had such potential to have a lot more depth.
  • For me, the pacing fell apart towards the end. It took awhile for the story to build up and then it speeds through the last 25% of the book. I missed the depth the first half of the book possessed and wish it would have carried through to the end.
  • Mrs. Aslan – I understand that she had a mental illness and that was the driving force behind her dispicable character, but for me, she wasn’t convincing. Instead of feeling that sympathy, I questioned her diagnosis of mental illness and wondered if she really just suffered from narcissistic and manipulative behavior.

Overall, this was a great book and I would recommend it to others. The few things I didn’t like about it weren’t deal breakers. Thoughout the story, I had hope for Roya and Bahman ending up together, but even when they didn’t, it was satisfying to know that they both had happy and fulfilling lives. The story came full circle by the end and it was the perfect feel good story admist the craziness of the holiday season!

Discussion time:

Below, you’ll find some discussion questions. Please reply and discuss at your leisure. Beware…there could be spoilers!

  1. Fate is a huge theme throughout the book. What are your thoughts on fate and how it related to Roya’s life? Did it seem like her life was mostly guided by fate, by her own personal decisions, or by entirely other influences?
  2. Mrs. Aslan had a huge influence on Roya and Bahman’s relationship. Do you respect Bahman for standing by his mother, or do you think he should have stopped letting her manipulate him and lived his own life?
  3. How do you feel about Fakhri’s role in breaking up Roya and Bahman? Do you think he owed Mrs. Aslan or do you think he should have stayed out of it?
  4. Going back to the idea of fate…do you believe in fate? Do you think there’s only one path written for us or multiple options that will be just as good? Do you think Roya would have had a better life with Bahman?
  5. What frustrated you about the book, the characters, or the choices made? How would you have changed it? What would you have liked to see happen?
  6. What are your overall thoughts on the book? What would you rate it? Would you recommend it to a friend?

Stay tuned for the January selection which I’ll be announcing on January 2, 2020! I hope you’ll join me for the buddy read and the discussion to follow!

Announcing: December #HWRbooks Selection

IMG_4943

The Stationary Shop by: Marjan Kamali (Gallery Books) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019

From the publisher:

A novel set in 1953 Tehran against the backdrop of the Iranian Coup about a young couple in love who are separated on the eve of their marriage, and who are reunited sixty years later, after having moved on to live independent lives in America, to discover the truth about what happened on that fateful day in the town square.

Some of my most trusted sources have read and loved this one already, and because I’d really like to get it read before 2019 ends, I figured it would make a good choice for our monthly read along!

Sure to be full of discussion points, I hope you’ll join me on Saturday, December 28th, 2019 for our online discussion. Just find my post that day over on Instagram (@happiestwhenreading), and the discussion questions will be in the comments section. You can discuss at your leisure and come and go as the comments roll in!

Announcing: November #HWRbooks Selection

IMG_4595

I’m excited to announce The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (Riverhead) as my November #HWRbooks read along, and I really hope you’ll be joining me!

Published in February 2018, I’ve certainly seen mixed reviews about this one. But with themes of love, friendship, grief, healing, and an incredible bond with a dog, I can’t just can’t resist giving it a try. It’s been on my list for quite awhile, and I really want to get to it before the end of the year.

From the publisher: When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

Because of Thanksgiving happening at the end of the month, we’ll have the discussion a week early, on Saturday, November 23. As always, read at your leisure and join me for our discussion, where you can answer and discuss when it works for you!

Happy Reading!

October #HWRbooks: The Dearly Beloved

fullsizeoutput_3dbb

“There are three kinds of trials in life. There are the trials God gives you, which almost always lead to wisdom, and so are worth the trouble. There are the trials you force upon yourself, which should be abandoned at their onset. And there are the trials we create for one another, which are more complicated because it is impossible to know whose hand is guiding them. The only advice I can give anyone is this: Don’t ever shrink from those last trials. Run to them. Because only in the quality of your struggle with one another will you learn anything about yourself. Sometimes that struggle is nearly impossible to survive, but it is those trials which make a life.”

So many people have loved this one, and I had severe #fomo not having read it yet. From the reviews I’d read, there were a lot of talking points, so I thought it would make a great book for my monthly read along (you can find these under #HWRbooks on instagram!).

Throughout most of the book, I feared that the hype had ruined it for me. I found the writing and the story just fine…but nothing to write home about. Part 3 totally saved the book for me and that’s where I found myself most interested in the story.

I really didn’t love or connect to any of the characters. While I generally love books that dive deep into character’s inner lives, this one fell short for me. I didn’t feel any sort of emotion towards any of them, and for a book that deals with some heavy themes, I desperately needed to. I found Lily to be such a despicable person, and while she does eventually evolve into a much nicer person, it wasn’t enough for me. Her attitude kind of just ruined the whole book for me.

Also, I didn’t find the relationships between these four very believable. For me, it didn’t serve a purpose at all except to show the juxtapositions of each of their beliefs about faith. This aspect of the novel was very intriguing and the part that makes this a solid choice for any book club. Each character has a very different view of faith and its role in their life, and the greater world. As someone who hasn’t ever delved deeply into the philosophical aspects of faith and religion, I found this to be especially interesting. (If religion and faith aren’t your thing, don’t worry…every character has a different idea of faith, so you can relate to at least one of them!)

As I mentioned above, Part 3 completely saved this book for me. It’s where the characters become so much more real and believable to me. I absolutely loved the introduction of the twins (especially Will), as they soften Lily and help her become a more likable person. I also loved Annelise and James and their storyline as well.

This book is a slow build that definitely pays off by the end. It won’t be topping my end of the year lists, but admittedly, it did have a way of getting under my skin and sticking with me. Sadly, I think this is a story I’m likely to forget the details of as time goes on.

(I’d love to have you join the conversation over on my Instagram page: @happiestwhenreading!)

Announcing: October #HWRbooks Selection

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 9.11.01 AM

Cara Wall’s book, The Dearly Beloved, is everywhere! With themes of faith, family, and finding meaning in our lives, it’s got all the elements of a story that I love.

I’m excited to announce this as my October #HWRbooks read along, and I really hope you’ll be joining me!

I’m going to try something different this month and only have one discussion (at the end of the month – Saturday, October 26 to be more specific). Read at your leisure and join me for our discussion, where you can answer and discuss when it works for you!

Happy Reading!