August Reads

August is gone, and it was one of the better months I’ve had in a long time, but I’m optimistic that September will be even better (yay!) Being able to go back to work in a physical location helped a lot with my mental health, and while a lot of changes were happening in my life at work, I also managed to get a lot of reading done.

This month I went with the one non-fiction and one (actually more like three, maybe four) fiction book goal again. The non-fiction book I decided on reading this month was 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson. It was one I had heard a lot about and was interested to read for myself and see what I thought. If you don’t know, Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and a super smart guy, best known for the simple logic of his philosophy laid out with excellent clarity in this book. As the name would suggest, the book consists of 12 essays, each of which breaks down his logic behind a “rule” that he believes humanity should follow. Some of the rules seem very simple, others are not quite what you would expect. I adored this book. I found it fascinating to get into the mind of someone who has spent so much time pondering huge life questions and coming up with answers that are shockingly simple, yet exceedingly complicated. I will be the first to admit that I felt uncomfortably personally called out at several points during reading this book–which is probably the point. This man has an uncanny ability to dissect and analyze the stupid things people do to make themselves miserable. He points a path to greater happiness through honesty and the willingness to not be lazy in our relationships or our conclusions about life as a greater whole. He also isn’t afraid to go to a very dark place. He points out terrible things that have happened in history, ways that mankind have tortured and murdered one another, and dives deeply into the philosophies and ways of thinking that cause them. He explains the logic behind them, showing how easy and almost reasonable it is to allow yourself to slide into such a way of thinking. But when you follow that trail of logic you ultimately find out that it leads only to misery, cruelty and possibly insanity. Once he has led you to realize this, and only then, does he explain his higher way of thinking, his rule that he believes guards against terrible philosophies such as these. It’s a very interesting approach. There are obviously a million things I could say about this book, but instead I’ll just encourage you to read it for yourself. It was definitely super deep and took me just about the entire month to read and digest but it was 100% worth it.

Now for my fiction book. As I mentioned, I actually read multiple this month but I’m only going to talk about the first one, the one that got me into all of the others. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty was another random find while scrolling on my library app. As soon as I started reading this incredible piece of fiction I was so sucked into it’s world that I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than two days and then promptly devoured two more of her books. Moriarty’s works are dark mysteries set against backdrops that seem perfect on the surface but have dark secrets lurking beneath. Nine Perfect Strangers is a story about a diverse cast of characters who all choose to attend an extremely expensive health retreat in the middle of the Australian desert known as Tranquillum House. Each character goes for a different reason, each is troubled by a heavy burden they are hoping to lighten. The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the richness of the characters. As the title suggests there were nine guests in the house, and the chapters skip from perspective to perspective so you see the story through all of their eyes at one point or another. There’s Frances Welty, a prominent romance novelist in her 50’s who is dramatic, extravagant and adorably comical. There’s Ben and Jessica, the couple who won the lottery, Lars the divorce lawyer, and the couple with their young daughter who are grieving a terrible loss. I was drawn in and came to care about each of the characters. The plot twists left me shocked in the best way possible. The build up to them is definitely slow and I have seen some people complain about this but I didn’t mind it at all. I found the narration and the story enjoyable and as soon as the more chaotic parts started I was just more entertained, but also feeling deeply for the characters too. I can see why fans of Moriarty’s work might not like this one as much as her others, but because it was the first one I read I thoroughly enjoyed it. Trigger Warning: drugs play a heavy role in the plot, suicide is a prevalent theme. If you’re ok with this and you like this type of book I would for sure recommend it!

I’m pretty sure this post is way too long, but if you’ve read this far give it a like or a comment and I’ll be sure to respond.

xo,

Olivia

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