Since I never did a book review post for February, and now here we are almost done with March, I figured I’d combine the two months and write about the four books I’ve read in the last little bit. Hope you enjoy!
Strengths Based Leadership– While I mostly read this book for work purposes, I still found it very educational and would definitely recommend it! Strengths Based Leadership is a book written by Barry Conchie & Tom Rath about the Clifton Strengths philosophy. According to this idea, there are 35 strengths that everyone in the world possesses to some degree, but everyone has a different ranking order. There are your top 5 strengths, your top 10 and so forth. The book talks about how important it is to understand what your top strengths are so that you can capitalize on them to be the most effective leader and team member you can be. In the back of every copy of the book is a code to access their online strengths test, which will tell you what your top 5 strengths are. At my place of work, they give everyone a copy of the book and have us all take the test so that we know what our strengths are and know how to understand the strengths of those that we work with. The book talks in detail about how important it is to focus on your own individual strengths and how to best use them rather than trying to be like other people that you admire, because trying to be like everyone else will only make you less effective in the long run. I found it really helpful to learn about these strengths and understand why they’re important. If you work with people, or are in any kind of leadership position you should definitely read this book!
Wuthering Heights was my fiction book for February. This year I really wanted to focus on reading the classics that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. Wuthering Heights was one of those. I knew it was a classic, I knew it was historical fiction, I knew I would probably love it, but I’d just never read it. So I decided to pick it up, and it was of course amazing. I was swept right into the drama of the narration, and it stirred up a lot of emotion for me. It’s definitely a frustrating book to read, and I feel like in that it accomplishes what good fiction is meant to accomplish; inciting emotion in its reader. The character of Heathcliff is totally insane, and I found myself watching in fascination to see what he would do next. I loved that most of the book was narrated by the family servant, I think those kinds of outside perspective looking in narrations are so interesting and take so much skill to write. You’re watching the lives of these crazy, irrational characters play out from the point of view of someone who also thinks they are crazy and irrational, but she also has a love and an attachment for these characters even though she often gets frustrated with them, which bleeds through to the reader and makes the characters more sympathetic. It’s quite brilliant, and there’s something about a tragically doomed love story that just…satisfies some part of my soul.
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis was my non-fiction selection for the month of March. I have such mixed feelings about this book. Rachel Hollis is a very gifted writer and she has a lot of good advice. In this book specifically, she focuses on empowering women who may not believe in themselves to chase after their goals and how they can overcome excuses, adopt behaviors, and develop skills that will help them achieve that which they’ve always dreamed of. Sounds great right? In a way it was. She’s great to read when you’re wanting to get really fired up and shove aside all the lies you’ve been telling yourself and just go for it. Whatever it is. But there are a lot of problematic things about Rachel Hollis that made me enjoy her book a lot less than I probably otherwise would have. The main thing that bothered me was just how much humble bragging she does in the book. She’s constantly tooting her own horn, and talking about how successful she is, which I don’t mind to a certain extent but it really got old by the eighteenth time she reminded us how much popular demand she is in as a conference speaker or how many companies she’s built from the ground up. She talks about how as a child she was poor, and her parents were always fighting, and she promised herself that she would never live a life like that as soon as she was old enough to control it, which there’s nothing wrong with, but she kind of bashes on her mom a lot in the book and guilts her even though she goes on a whole rant about how mom guilt is a terrible disease and how moms who are trying their best should never feel guilty. There was a whole chapter about how failure is an inevitable part of life and we can all learn from it where she uses her own “failure” as an example. She talks about how her first self help book Girl, Wash Your Face didn’t make it on the NY Times bestseller list even though she told all of her followers that it was her goal. But it didn’t happen, and she failed…..that is until the book had been released for 10 weeks after which she found out that it did make the bestseller list after all. Basically, there were things all throughout the book like that, that got on my nerves. I could probably write a whole blog post about just this book and the issues I have with it, but I still got some good things out of it and some inspiration, so I will say that reading it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett yesterday. It was another one of those classic books that I’d heard about a lot but never read. The book came out in 2009, when I was 10 years old, and I remember my mom reading it for a book club just like probably every other mom was doing at the time. But let me tell you. This. Book. I was completely transported into the world of Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s, I was existing, breathing in this story and the characters were so real to me. The emotions they felt were mine. I felt so much affection for Aibileen’s character, she was narrated so well and truly did have so much wisdom, grace and just pure love emanating through the pages of the book despite the hardship and heaviness she had endured in her life. I loved spunky, hotheaded Minny and her revenge pie, as well as the courage she showed in supporting her family in the midst of incredible oppression and fear. And I related so much to Skeeter, with her burning ambition to write about something important and the feeling of being stuck in a place she didn’t want to be. The characters were all written so beautifully and the story being told was so important. I cheered for them when the book was published and felt equal parts excitement and fear to see what the consequences would be. It was a beautiful story and if you haven’t read it, you need to!
Stay tuned for my April book post to see what books I get around to reading next and I hope you are all having a safe and healthy week!