Review: ‘Broken (in the best possible way)’ by Jenny Lawson

If you want to know about anxiety and depression and how it impacts you mentally and physically, then look no farther than Jenny Lawson. She has a way of taking such a serious topic and writing about it in the most hilarious way.

Lawson takes a lightened attitude when it comes to her mental health because I think she knows that there is nothing she can do about the craziness that is her life other than laugh about it. And while her antics may seem improbable to most, many others probably find themselves relating to her in more ways than one. I know I do.

“Broken (in the best possible way)” follows the same path of her other books – funny anecdotes with a hard mix of reality. However, I found that Lawson opened up a little more in this book about the more serious parts of her disease. Her letter to her insurance company, lamenting about the prescriptions they refuse to cover that keep her from committing suicide, is a real eye opener. It is a cry for everyone who suffers from mental health and has to decide whether to put food on the table or whether to pay for medicine that can keep them alive. While Jenny is lucky to be able to afford the absurd prices, it makes one wonder how many people have succumbed to their disease because they couldn’t afford it.

Lawson also delves more into the demons that plague her – from the cycle of depression that runs so deep that she is bed bound for days, the pharmacy of medications that have a domino affect on her overall health, to her tumultuous relationship with her husband, which she jokes has only been salvaged because she is too lazy to get a divorce. And because she is so honest about her life, it makes me realize that I could have it so much worse.

My husband suffers from anxiety and depression and is also medicated. Once in a while he says that he is glad that I didn’t know him when he wasn’t medicated – that it was really bad. I have seen him once severely depressed due to a lapse in his prescription at the pharmacy and I never want to ever see him that way again. But even though we deal with his ups and downs, we know that there are others – like Lawson – who have it so much worse.

I am glad that Lawson that is so open about what she goes through because whether she knows it or not, she is helping people who are dealing with similar issues. Hell, I may only suffer from anxiety but I find that I can relate to her – I also step out of my shoes, though none have taken a ride in an elevator.

Have you read “Broken”? What did you think? What other books about mental health would you recommend? Let’s discuss!

September 2021 TBR

I have so many things planned for this month. I just hope that I can get around doing it all. And where, you may ask, is this motivation coming from? I am trying to distract myself because I am waiting for some news in the next few weeks and the wait is killing me. I am in full planning mode and because I can’t plan yet for the other thing, I might as well plan for the blog and my reading.

Given that September marks the back-to-school season, I wanted to incorporate at least one read that I associate with school. I can’t believe that it’s been over 10 years now since I was last in school, and by that I mean college. Am I really that old?! Feeling nostalgic, I want to go back in time and remember all the books that I read when I was younger. Stay tuned for those posts.

Also, can we really be marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11? I can still remember what I was doing that day, as if it was yesterday. Upon perusing my shelves to figure out what I wanted to read this month, I came across a nonfiction book that I have had on my shelves for years and never read. I thought it fitting to add to my TBR this month given the anniversary.

As for the rest of my TBR, it is as usual so I am going to just dive right in.

Book Club Picks

Middlemarch” by George Eliot
(Parts 5-8)

The Modern Library Book Club has broken up this book into two months so my reading continues. I enjoyed the first half of the book and I am looking forward to see what the second half brings. I just hope that members of book club are enjoying it just as much as me.

Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe

This is the nonfiction pick for September in the Capital District Book Club. I heard this book is dense so I am hoping to start this book sooner rather than later. I have about two weeks to get this one done.

It’s been a while since I have participated in the Society of Avid Readers Across the Hudson Book Club and I figured it was about time that I joined them. This book is their September pick and I am really excited to get into it. I have a feeling that this a book that is going to stick with me and one that I am going to be recommending.

Mill Point Road” by JK Ellem

I am not sure if I am going to like this thriller, only because I may be having new neighbors of my own soon. This may hit a little too close to home. Otherwise, this book sounds like it’s going to be a fast read.

Personal Picks

I have had this book on my bookshelf for probably 10 years at least. Considering that we are about to celebrate 9/11, I thought it fitting to finally crack this one open. I am not sure if this will be dated given all that has come after but when we talk about the Iraq invasion, rarely do we discuss their Iraq perspective. I like stories like this that give me a glimpse into the other side.

Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

I think “Lord of the Flies” has been on my bookshelf the longest. I remember my brother having to read it in school and then he gave it to me to read. I never read it. I thought since it’s been a while since I had to read books for school, I would check it off my TBR once and for all. My husband says that it is a good book but disturbing, which is what I have heard from other people.

What books do you plan to read in September? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

August Reading Wrap-up

Where has the summer gone? Despite a week of hot and humid weather, we are right back to the gloomy, rainy days that has permeated the last few months. Technically, we do have a few weeks of summer left, but we all know that Labor Day marks the end of the season.

Despite the cold weather approaching, there are some exciting things going on in my life. I have to wait a few more weeks to be sure, but the fall could mean some big life changes for us. My husband and I are learning the value of patience, but the time consuming process that we are involved in is not making it easy.

To help distract myself, I am trying to just focus on reading. I think this is the first month in quite a while where I can say that I finished my TBR list, although to be fair, there was one book that I just did not bother finishing.

This book started out funny and ended up being somewhat sobering. Overall the Modern Library Book Club enjoyed “Ending Up,” though for a few of our elderly members, it was a little too realistic for comfort. It focuses on four elderly people who live together and their gripes about getting old. However, as we go along we uncover their personal demons and how they deal with getting older. For such a short novel, this book had so much going on, which is a credit to Kingsley Amis’ writing.

I absolutely loved “Project Hail Mary.” Although, Andy Weir loads this book with technical scientific writing, I was still able to understand everything that was going on. I loved how this story unfolded and how Weir used flashbacks to link the character’s past with the present. This was my first Weir book but it won’t be my last.

This was a book that was sent to me by a local author in upstate NY and it focuses on his childhood years growing up in Troy, NY in a house they called “The Embassy.” It was interesting glimpse into years that are long gone but reminded me of the stories of the 50s/60s that my parents shared all through my own childhood.

Cracking open a Jenny Lawson book feels like you pick up right where you left off with her, wherever that is. While she still provides some hilarious anecdotes, this book is more serious than her books of the past and provides a serious glimpse into the mental and physical challenges of anxiety and depression. I would highly recommend that people read her books.

So I have finished parts 1-4 of “Middlemarch” and I am really enjoying this book so far. I am still trying to digest what I have read so far, and we still have so much more to go. I plan to read the second half in September and I can’t wait to see what Eliot does with each of these characters.

I didn’t get far into this book before I got absolutely bored. I know that I should have given this book more of a chance but the lack of chapters or section breaks, as well as the character’s mixed thoughts just lost my interest. I ended up putting the book down and then had no desire to pick it up again. Maybe after hearing what others in book club think, I will want to pick it up again.

What did you read in August? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

Monday reading check in 8/30/21

So I didn’t get too much reading done over the past week only because it was a committee week at work. This means that I work 10 hour days and by the time I get home, I have just enough time to decompress and then go to bed.

What I recently finished

You all know that I love Jenny Lawson. I am so glad that I finally got around to her latest book “Broken (In the best possible way).” It wasn’t as funny as “Furiously Happy” but Lawson once again brings to the forefront the seriousness of anxiety and depression and the importance of mental health. It seemed that Lawson was trying to make a point that although she makes fun of the craziness that is her life, the issues that she deals with are not a laughing matter. In fact, some of the chapters in this book are a bit sobering. Her letter to her insurance company makes you wonder how many other people are going through the same thing. It made me so angry. Which is what makes Lawson’s books so great; they make you laugh, cry, rant and rave. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

What I am currently reading

I was really nervous about this book. First of all it’s a tome, but I was also scared that I wasn’t going to like it. However, I am actually quite enjoying it and have almost finished half the book for my September book club discussion.

What I plan to read next

I heard that this book can be a little dense so while I have a few weeks to read this for the Capital District Book Club, I want to get a jump start. Our last nonfiction book about murder was really interesting, so I am hoping that this is just as good.

What are you currently reading? Have you read any on this list?

August Book Haul

I have been trying to get back to the library. Really. I swear. It’s not my fault that the library doesn’t have the books that I want to read. Nor can I resist the huge book sales at the local book stores. I mean I have to support the small mom-and-pop book sellers, right?!

I am not make excuses, just merely explaining why this month I have acquired half a dozen books. Two of the six I actually did read, but the others have been added to my growing TBR shelves. Speaking of, I seriously have to do an updated TBR list, but that is for another post. Let’s get back to what I bought this month.

Damnation Spring” and “Project Hail Mary” I selected for my August Book of the Month Subscription Box. I have since read “Project Hail Mary” which I just reviewed and loved. I can’t wait to read more of Weir. I chose “Damnation Spring” because I am sucker for an environmental story. This is set in a logging town and questions begin to arise about the pesticides being used having an impact on the people living there. I think this is going to be one of those stories that sticks with you.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find this book anywhere and I was forced to order it. It was for my book club. I say unfortunately because I have since DNF’d it. The summary of “Wittgenstein’s Mistress” sounded interesting but I just couldn’t get into it.

I picked up these three books at a sidewalk sale at one of my local bookstores for about $1 a piece. I am a big Barbara Kingsolver fan so I had to pick up “Unsheltered.” My book club is going to be reading “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak in the fall. I have already read it but I figured it was a good time to read his other books. I own “Bridge of Clay” but have yet to read it. “I Am the Messenger” sounded too interesting to pass up. Maybe I will do a Zusak read-a-thon. As for “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” I bought because of the title. Even the woman who cashed me out said the book sounded interesting.

What books have you recently acquired? Have you read any of the above? Let’s discuss!

Review: ‘Project Hail Mary’ by Andy Weir

Imagine waking up, hooked up to a bunch of tubes, not knowing where you are, how you got there or why. That is how you feel when you first crack open Andy Weir’s latest book, “Project Hail Mary,” because that is how we find the main character, Ryland.

Ryland wakes up in what seems to be a medical unit, being cared for by a robotic machine. However, after a few days of slowly coming out of the lethargic fog that he woke up in, Ryland takes a precursory glance around to deduce that he is on a space craft on a mission. What that mission is has yet to be known, but he knows that it must have been super important. As he struggles to regain his full memory, Ryland tries to move forward with the mission.

This was my first Andy Weir book and I was immersed from the first page. I have never had any aspirations to go to space so the fact that we are joining Ryland on this journey was a nail biter for me. Not only does Ryland not know what he is supposed to do, he is alone, so it’s like learning a new job on the fly. I couldn’t help but hold my breath every time that he touched an unknown button or did something that was clearly not a good idea. Luckily, although Ryland’s memory is hazy, he realizes quickly that many of the things on the ship come easy to him, helping him conclude that he has some type of background.

This book can get a little technical with the scientific terms and the numeric calculations, but it didn’t hinder my understanding of what was going on or what Ryland was trying to do. I was more than happy to let him drive the ship so long as we didn’t crash or he didn’t die. But then I got to thinking – could this actually be possible? Could we build a ship that was able to travel so many light years away and survive?

Are we alone in this universe? It is the age-old question that there is still no clear answer for. Yet, Weir would have us believe that not only is the answer a resounding no, but we can communicate with them and live with them despite our differences.

I loved the relationship between Ryland and Rocky and how the two work on each other’s strengths to get the job done.

I liked the way that Weir used flashbacks to flesh out the story as well as Ryland’s character. Sometimes in books, the flash backs are random but not here. Ryland will look at a piece of paper and what may seem like numeric garble at first, suddenly triggers a memory of him working in a lab on Earth and looking at similar numbers.

I am not one to read science fiction, which is probably why it has taken me so long to pick up one of Weir’s books, but this book was a fast read and thoroughly enjoyable. Now I can’t wait to pick up the “Martian”, which I have heard nothing but good things about.

Have you read “Project Hail Mary”? What did you think? What other Weir books would you recommend? Let’s discuss!

Monday reading check in 8/16/21

What a difference a week makes. Governor Cuomo has resigned and NY is now getting its first female governor. So it’s no surprise that all of the news is currently about that as well as the Delta variant. This past week saw a flurry of events getting cancelled because people are once again nervous about holding events in person, which is understandable. It just means that my calendar has unexpectedly opened up.

Not that I am complaining. It means that I am able to leave work at normal hours and get plenty of reading in. I am blowing through my reading list, though that may slow down this week, since my book club read is not as exciting as I was hoping it was going to be. I may just DNF it because I may not be able to go to the book club discussion. On Wednesday, I am having oral surgery so I am probably going to be out for a few days, which includes both book club discussions that were planned for the week. The other one is discussing “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” which I loved. I am kind of disappointed I am going to miss the discussion for that one. I wanted to hear what everyone had to say. However, I am hoping that, pending how I am feeling, I can use the time off from work to catch up on my reviews.

I also hope to keep on track with the reading. I am glad that I am nearly through my reading list and we are only halfway through the month. Here is what I recently finished, what I am currently reading and what I plan to read next.

What I recently finished:

This was my first Andy Weir book and I absolutely loved it. Even though I may not have understood all the technical scientific terms that Weir uses in this book – and let’s face it, there is a lot – I didn’t need to know every definition to understand the story. This was a fast paced book that had me holding my breath at times. I mean the main character wakes up from a coma only to discover that he is riding in space, with two dead crew members and he has no recollection of why he is there or what his mission is – at least not at first. The reader feels like they are the ones that just woke up and they must discover the truth with him.

This was a book that was sent to me by the author who is from Troy, NY. He saw that I ran a local book club and wondered if we would be interested in reading it. I decided to read it myself. The book is about the author’s childhood growing up in Troy during the 50s/60s in a house that he and his family called the “Embassy.” It was interesting flash back to the past and reminded me of the stories that my own parents used to tell us of how they grew up albeit in New Jersey. The one drawback for me was the author’s style of writing. He used a lot of words in all caps which I think was for emphasis but was distracting due to the quantity. The author is interested in answering questions about the book, so I may take him up on that – at least for my piece of mind.

Books I am currently reading:

So this is the book club read that I am struggling to get into. I realized that there are no chapters or section breaks, which is a challenge when it’s a book that is not super interesting at the beginning. It seems to be one large narrative. The summary of this book says that the main character thinks she is the last person on Earth, which sounds interesting, but 30 pages in and so far it’s just stream of conscious style writing. I get that the author was probably going for that since the character is alone and of course, as she even admits, she has gone crazy here and there. But I just want to get to the part where we know why she is the only person on earth. Maybe I am being too impatient. I know I should give this book a chance, but I just hope it gets better. Otherwise I will probably not finish it.

Given my struggles with the previous read, I put it down and picked up Jenny Lawson’s newest book. And it feels like I picked up right where I left off with her. She is just as funny and her antics are just as crazy, though even more relatable. I am not that far into this book either but the first chapter had me hysterical as she tells about the times that she lost shoes, while still wearing them. And I can totally relate to it, though I never had to fight the elevator or tell a hotel manager that the elevator ate her shoe. HAHA. Though never say never.

What I plan to read next:

I have heard nothing but good things about this book and everyone at book club was raving about it when I announced that this was our next read. I am hoping that I feel the same way. Since this is a behemoth of a novel, we are taking up two months to get through it. We are reading parts 1-4 for September and then finishing the last 4 sections for October. I want to leave myself plenty of time to get through it, in case I don’t find it as great as everyone else thought.

How has your reading week been? What are you currently reading? Have you read any on this list?

Monday reading check in

I normally don’t do a weekly update. In the past I thought it was a bit of overkill, but honestly, since my reading has been a little off the rails of late, I thought maybe this could keep me on track. So I figured I would try it out for a few and see how it works.

This past week has been one huge dumpster fire at work to put it mildly. It started with the AG’s report on our governor and then spiraled out of control from there. Every day was either dealing with potential PR crises or just flat out busy with projects. I am definitely not looking forward to today as it is our monthly meeting and the Monday’s have a habit of getting a bit hectic. Shoot this whole week is going to be hectic. I just have to breathe.

To help distract me from the stress of work, I have been absorbing myself in my reading so I am currently on track in that department. So without further ado, here is what I recently finished, what I am currently reading and what I plan to read next.

What I recently finished:

“Ending Up” was as good as I thought it was going to be, though unexpectedly sad at the end. Overall, my book club thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought Amis was indeed a great writer. I hope to have a review up this week about our discussion.

What I am currently reading

I have never read Andy Weir before, though “The Martian” is currently sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. For some reason I picked this book for my August BOTM and when it arrived, I immediately got sucked in. Weir set up this story well, as we watch our protagonist wake up from a coma to find his crewmates dead and he has no recollection where he. Through brief flashbacks, he discovers that he is currently light years from Earth on a life-saving mission. This seriously is anxiety inducing as we learn everything with our character as he tries to remember what he has to do, right down to how to fly the ship that he is on. While Weir can get super technical on the science at parts, his writing is so clear and moves right along the page that even if you don’t know all the words. you don’t miss a beat. I am more than halfway thought this and I can’t way to see how it ends.

What I plan to read next:

This is my August book for “Metaphorically Speaking Book Club”. We meet on the 20th to discuss so I have to get this one out of the way. The summary is a bit elusive but intriguing. I am actually interested in reading this, only because I have never heard of it before.

Trying to get a handle on my reading

So this is going to be a quick rant but at the moment I hate going on Goodreads. Why? Because I am reminded by how much I am failing in my reading this year. Right after logging in, I am met with the large purple sticker that marks the Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge and the number of books I have currently read – 24! An average of 3 books a month.

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise since every single month this year I have failed to read the full number of books on my TBR. It’s probably one of the worst reading years I have had in a long time.

To make matters worse, Goodreads then has to promptly remind me that I am 13 books behind schedule. With five months left out of the year how the hell am I going to make up this deficit?

But I need to calm down. All is not lost – at least not yet.

There are still 5 months left out of the year. A quick math calculation shows that I only need to read 8 books each month for the rest of the year to not only make up the deficit but reach my goal of 65 books.

So here goes nothing.

TTT: Titles or covers that made me want to read/buy the book

I considered skipping this week’s Top 10 Tuesday simply because as of late I have been primarily reading books that have been picked by my book clubs. However, I looked over my book shelf and several books immediately popped out. These were the same books that drew me to buy them in the first place. I know that we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover but I would be lying if I said that a colorful cover or a quirky title didn’t give me pause in a book store or the library. So here are the books that I ended up buying and better yet, even read.

As soon as I saw this book, I immediately wanted it. I honestly didn’t even know what it was about, but when it popped up in the Book of the Month queue, I added it to my box. It was almost sent to a fate that most books go to once bought, to languish on a book shelf for years collecting dust. However, this book only sat for a few months before I jumped in and I was so glad I did. It was a compelling story about two sisters who are trying to deal with their racial identity and the decisions they make over the years that affect not only themselves but each other and their families. This was a pleasant surprise.

Both the title and the cover captured my attention. I immediately wanted to know what the author meant by the “Louding voice.” I don’t think I even read the summary before I chose it for another Book of the Month box. This book is so powerful and honestly I think it’s a must read. Everyone needs the opportunity to find their louding voice.

I knew as soon as I saw this book that it was going to be a good book. I normally don’t read young adult books unless they are chosen for book club, but this book I had to have. First off, look at that cover and then the title – it has so many meanings, which you don’t find out until you read the book all the way through. I absolutely loved this book and I am so glad that I own it.

I remember where I was when I bought this book. I was taking my second walk through of a local library book sale. I needed another book to make the sale even (I think it was a 3 for $1 deal). Then I happened across this book. The cover isn’t much to look at. But it was the title that grabbed me. I wanted to know everything that this person never told me. What I wasn’t expecting was just how much wasn’t said. This book has ended up in my Top 10 lists and is one that I have recommended to so many people.

This was my Book of the Month pick last month and I picked it because something about the cover just appealed to me. I have yet to read it but every time I look at it, I itch to pick it up. It just looks so enticing. I have heard mixed reactions to the book since purchasing but I am not going to let sway me either way. I plan to get to this book before the summer is over.

There was something about the title “Behold the Dreamers” that really caught my attention when this book came out. I remember seeing a review for this at the job in the paper and immediately making a note to check it out. As soon as I could get it, I checked it out of the local library. Once again my instinct was right. This is another one of my top 10 favorite books and have recommended it to everyone I can.

So this title is definitely a tongue twister, but it definitely caught my attention. At first I wasn’t going to read it because I had heard mixed reviews, but that damn title kept pestering me. I needed to find out what it was about. It was rather a surprising story and one that I enjoyed.

To this day I can’t say why, but there is something magical about this cover. Which I guess is the point since that is what the book is about but I didn’t know it at the time. I ended up loaning it at the library and I ended up loving it. And because I loved the cover so much, I needed it on my bookshelf.

This is a book that I read because of the cover and the title. However, my like for the book stopped at the cover. I ended up not liking the story and it went into the donation box once I finished it.

So if there is one thing I am a sucker for, it’s a title that has a metaphorical meaning. You can thank “To Kill a Mockingbird” for that one. I had never heard of David Guterson before buying this book at the library but I ended up buying it because of the title. It sat on my shelf for awhile before shoving it into a carry on bag when I was going on vacation. Let’s just say that I finished it before my vacation was over.

What cover or titles made you want to read the book? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!