Sierra's View: BOOKS IN MARCH.

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Monday, April 4, 2016


I can't stop reading. And apparently I am on a nonfiction, self help, biography kick as well (I didn't even realize this until I wrote this post!). I didn't want to do a separate post about each of these books because, well, let's be honest, this isn't a book review blog (although, recently, it has turned into that). If you hate to read, sorry. If you love it, then, well, I guess, you're welcome. Anywho, here are the books that I read/listened to in March. You can see me ALL OVER on Goodreads (if you don't have this app, get it now. The best!).

Lean In// Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Self Help/Autobiography 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortunemagazine's Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale. 

My thoughts: I'm not sure if it's the natural feminist in me or what, but I loved this book. I loved the idea that women, in general, can do what they WANT to do. In the western society, we live where you can work and be a mother. Sheryl reiterates this concept time and time again. While reading this, I never felt as though Sheryl was making men feel less than or that we don't need them. What resonated the most for me was the idea that we, as women, need to work on our natural leadership gifts in the workplace and find what works for us, in our career AND in our homes.

I've also been criticized for being too direct -- something that is not considered negative for a man. It made me think about how I approach meetings. Do I speak up? Do I wait for someone else to ask a question so I won't have to? Do I sit at the table? Do I have a voice that says I'm not qualified? Am I an imposter? Thinking about these questions made me realize that I can (and need to work on) be a confident AND kind woman in the work place.

The best message to take from this book is to be aware of what is going on in the workplace. Take the opportunity to change the inequality. Don't wait for someone to "fix" things for you. When opportunities present themselves jump on them if it's what you want. Take control. I loved this book. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“I hope you (women) find true meaning, contentment, and passion in your life. I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve. I hope you find whatever balance you seek with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you - yes, you - have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it.” 

Boys in the Boat//Daniel James Brown

Genre: Memoir/Biography

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

My thoughts: I read this book out loud to my sixth graders. I was a little nervous that it would be too advanced for them, and there were definitely parts where I had to stop and analyze situations, vocabulary and other connotations of words. But, in my opinion, that's what makes for a perfect read aloud: for students to learn and grow as readers. I thought that this novel was incredibly inspiring. I loved the message of teamwork and work ethic that evolved throughout this story. Unfortunately, I did not love all of the detail that was placed in this novel. I felt that there was too many little details that did not help me stay as engaged. I loved the bond that was created between the men and the moral of this story, however, I was a bit bored at many of the parts and wanted some details to be taken out. Overall, an inspiring and wonderful book that will make you "feel good!" 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.” 

Dad is Fat// Jim Gaffigan

Genre: Memoir/Autobiography

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”).

My thoughts: Okay, this book does not have that good of reviews on Goodreads. So I was a little nervous to read it. This book, however, was a little different for me because I listened to it and didn't read it. And I LOVED IT. I literally (and this is the correct usage of it, for your information), could not stop laughing out loud while in my car. I listened to this book in two days while driving. I am not a parent and I'm sure this book would be even funnier if I was one, but I truly thought that this book was HILARIOUS. I gave it a 5/5 stars because I was truly entertained. Sure, it isn't the best written novel, but Jim Gaffigan is freaking hilarious. The end. My favorite part is him talking about home births. I am laughing just thinking about that right now! 

Favorite Quote from the book: 

(seriously, how do I choose just one?) 
“But truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body. When you compare that to the male’s contribution to life, it’s kind of embarrassing, really.” 

My Accidental Jihad// Krista Bremer
Blog Post 

Genre: Memoir/AutoBiography 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer was a surfer and an aspiring journalist who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity. Then, on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail, sincere, passionate, kind, yet from a very different world. Raised a Muslim—one of eight siblings born in an impoverished fishing village in Libya—his faith informed his life. When she and Ismail made the decision to become a family, Krista embarked on a journey she never could have imagined, an accidental jihad: a quest for spiritual and intellectual growth that would open her mind, and more important, her heart.

My thoughts: My favorite aspect about this book was the romantic, honest prose that it was written in. I think Krista did a wonderful job conveying the hardships of marriage, in general, which is something that many of us can relate to. To add onto that, though, I think that she was brutally honest, which I enjoyed (probably because I am a brutally honest person! Ha!). Her transition could not have been easy, trying to deal with all of the cultural differences, and that was fascinating to read about. She was a bit whiny, which was a little annoying at times. I wanted to know more about her and Ismail's relationship, which is why I only gave it a 4. Overall, such a fascinating book! 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
"I would not find happiness in status or possessions. Every breath takes you one breath closer to your final destination. This body I cherished and adorned was just a temporary home for my spirit, which would one day fly away like a bird released from its cage."

Quiet// Susan Cain
Blog post

Genre: Self-Help/Nonfiction
Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. 

My thoughts: There were many moments in this novel that stood out to me, specifically, the idea that Introverts, biologically, respond to stimuli differently than extraverts. Another thing that stood out to me is this idea that people's relationships with introverts can be quite complicated. Introverts, as well, have this need to "act more extraverted" in "order to survive in this world." I didn't LOVE this book, but I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the concept of it and the fascinating research that she reiterated. It is definitely a book that helps you understand introverts. I would encourage all extraverts to read this book.  However, I did disagree with some of the aspects of introversion that she spoke about. I did feel like she was, in a way, being victimized and whiny for being an introvert, which was annoying to me. Overall, a great, interesting book though. One of my favorite book club discussions to this day. It had my brain reeling and I couldn't stop writing in this post about it. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“...I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.” 

Rising Strong// Brene Brown
Blog Post

Genre: Self-Help/Nonfiction
Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. Brene tells us what it takes to get back up, and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle, Bren√© Brown writes, can be our greatest call to courage, and rising strong our clearest path to deeper meaning, wisdom, and hope.

My thoughts: I LOVE Brene Brown. She is one of my favorite researchers and writers. I was listening to a part of this book (I tend to listen and read a book at the same time. Does anyone else do this?) with T and he kept saying, "Uhhh...she sounds exactly like you. I feel like she thinks like you!" My response was a resounding YES, I KNOW! I feel like she "gets me" and I absolutely love her research. I think I want her job. I loved that Brene used her own life stories and examples in this novel to help get through the challenging life experiences that may get you down. I don't have much to say, other than this book is a great one. It helped changed my way of thinking when it comes to difficult times. I need to work on setting boundaries and still being able to function with boundaries. She talks a lot about building these boundaries and still being a healthy and happy person. If you are struggling with setting boundaries, I would recommend this book to you. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
(so hard to just choose one!) 
"Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment."

Other Book Reviews: A Man Called Ove // Go Set a Watchman // These Is My Words //  Intuitive Eating // Happier at Home // Happiness Project // Wild // Elizabeth Smart: My Story // Daring Greatly // 

What did you read in March? What are you currently reading? 
I am always looking for more recommendations! 

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