Just like that and the first month of 2023 is gone. Poof. On to the next.
In some ways I am glad because January was not kind to me. I received the ultimate test at work – a test of patience, perseverance and strength. I know that the talk around mental health has been at the forefront and now I know why. My mental health has severely suffered because of what has gone on at work, but I am working on correcting it and adopting tools for better stress management. It is why my word of the year is RELAX. And I am putting it to use – taking random days off when I exceed my hours for the week, giving myself pampering days and using the most important tool in my arsenal: reading.
It is so easy for me, probably like most people, to succumb to the mindless scrolling on our phones or plopping in front of the television and binge watch our favorite shows. While there have been a few days of that, I have been mindful of how much better I feel reading. Also, my determination to take a lunch break is helping. A few times, I startled coworkers who walked into my office and found me sitting on the opposite side of my desk (so I’m not tempted to check email), my feet propped up, head in a book. It only takes me 15 minutes to eat so I have a good 45 minutes of reading time. It’s perfect.
So let’s get to the books that I finished.
I knew that this book was set in Russia during World War II but I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard that it was good but I wasn’t expecting it to be so insightful and funny while also being heartbreaking. I loved the relationships that formed among the characters and how each of them overcomes their situation. Overall, this was a a great first read for the year.
This is a book that I have had on my shelf for years and while I enjoyed it, it was not my favorite. It is in some ways abstract and philosophical, which for me is always more difficult to read and wrap my head around. While I understood the essence of the story, Barnes seems to randomly throw in concepts and thoughts that I didn’t feel were relevant to the story. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a bad book but probably one that I would have to read multiple times to fully grasp at what she is trying to do.
This is biographical fiction but it might as well be nonfiction as Keneally provides a literary view of the man the world knows as Oscar Schindler. Keneally does a great job in presenting the facts about Oscar in a matter-of-fact way, while also unveiling the complexity of a man torn between his goal of making as much money as possible, loyalty to his country and saving thousands of innocent souls. Given the times that we currently live in, this book is more relevant that we realize. I will have a full review of the book later.
I am still reading this book so it will be moving onto my February TBR. The first 50 pages were a bit slow as Guterson provides a lot of backstory that I wasn’t finding relevant, but I have finally reached the premise of the novel so things are starting to turn. We shall see.
Susanna Kaysen writes an account of her time in a psychiatric institution and the people that she meets on the ward. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with the book, I found it rather flat and the non-linear plot kept pulling me out of the story. At first I was mad when I realized the changes that were made for the movie adaptation but having completed the book I can see why they were done. However, that is not to diminish the main point of the story, which is to bring light to mental health and the way people deal with it and handle it. In fact, there were some things that I found relatable.
So I was supposed to read “The Power of Now” as recommended to me and ended up reading Tolle’s other work which it seems just put the teachings into practice. I actually listened to it on audiobook as was advised, and I know I got something out of it because I have done a lot of reflecting since finishing it, especially regarding how I handle certain situations. Tolle basically outlines that there are people who live in the past or in the future, and the importance of living in the present. He provides various ways on how to overcome this and handle situations that might try to threaten it. It was definitely eye opening for someone like me and while I can’t grasp every single thing he talks about, I think I am going to be better overall for having read this.
Reading goals update:
Goodreads challenge: 5/65
Classic Club books: 1/12
Read more science fiction/fantasy: 0
Getting personal TBR below 100: 146/148 (read 4 but acquired 2)