Summer Book Report

An advantage to Boston's around-the-clock nursing schedule is that I've been reading a ton. Here are a few of the books I've read lately.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Quick, easy, fun read. My mom handed this to me on our way out the door to the mountains in early August. I needed a book that was easy to jump into and this was it. The story was an interesting look into immigrant families in the early Twentieth Century. I was fascinated by the Jewish family's lifestyle, attitudes, prejudices and pre-conceived notions. The semi-familiar backdrop of Boston was also entertaining.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Deep, emotional, war-time read. This book was recommended by my sister and I wish I could re-read it for the first time again. The story and characters felt very real-- as any wartime novel should. Set in France, the story follows one French family's story through Nazi occupation. The attitudes, politics and fear from World War 2 were quite tangible. Hannah's writing is superb and the book feels complete. She wraps up her story nicely without going too far into details beyond the actual plot. (Unlike other stories that needed more concise endings, like this one and this one. Apparently a good ending isn't required for a Pulitzer anymore.) Have you read anything else by Hannah? She has written a ton but I'm struggling to find one whose story is as engaging.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Quick, enlightening, engaging read. Life everyone else online, I read this book this summer. Tons of people have written reviews and agree that the premise of Kondo's work boils down to one question: Do the items in your home spark joy? I skimmed this book and found the order she suggests one approach decluttering helpful. She recommends you declutter by category (clothes: tops, bottoms, bags, accessories, etc; books; paperwork) rather than by room. She suggests you take ALL of the items in the category at hand, place them on the floor and then sort keep-giveaway one item at a time. Taking each item in hand, you are to ask yourself, does it spark joy? If the answer is no, get rid of it.
Before reading this book I had gone through my closet. I had a hard time getting rid of anything (even though I knew I had too many clothes) because I am so postpartum in-between sizes. Using Kondo's question, I've bagged up at least forty items of clothing that do not bring me joy- whether they fit me now or in a year. Success!
Kondo recommends things I find a bit unnecessary: you thank the discarded items for completing their purpose in your life, you wipe down and remove all bath products after each shower, you empty the contents of your purse every night. Yikes! I barely have energy to take the trash out when it is full.
My takeaway: don't fill your life with things you don't need and things that don't bring you joy.

Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Blair
Entertaining, thought-provoking read. This is the first design book I have read cover-to-cover. I ordered it from the library and sat it on my coffee table. Every few days I would pick it up and read a section. The book is divided by room and is full of ideas for implementing a beautiful, family-friendly home. Blair includes ideas for children of all ages. One of my favorite ideas is the family resolution journal. Each new year, everyone fills out their own resolution page. Blair offers prompts: I want to learn... I want to read... I want to make... I want to be better at... After several years of this, I imagine it is a beautiful collection of her family's interests and goals. I hope I remember this idea in a few years.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
Easy, period-piece, descriptive read. I wanted so badly to love this book but it just did not grab me as I hoped. The narrative format is interesting- flashing between the lives of two women in the 1920s and 1950s. The world of perfume creation was fascinating since I've never considered it before. The plot and character development fell a bit flat and anti-climatic. I had hoped for so much more.

Please share your recent reads with me in the comments. I just accidentally deleted my ongoing list of books to read; I am desperate for suggestions!

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