March reads

March reads

I read two books in March and started another. One was a tough read (for me, anyway), the other was a breeze. Here are my thoughts.

Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan
**1/2

Manhattan Beach is not a particularly long book, but it took me nearly a month to read it. I was in awe of the historical details of the World War II-era Naval yard setting. I liked Anna, the protagonist, for the most part. I wanted to keep reading to learn what happened to Anna’s father and what would become of her mother and sister, even though I often had to look up the definitions of words Egan used. I did keep reading, but the story fell apart for me when Anna went down a path I wasn’t pleased with. Because of the effort this book takes to read, I do not recommend it.

Outer Order, Inner Calm
Gretchen Rubin
****
This small, pleasantly designed book read like a long blog post, and I was OK with that. It’s a collection of tips, tricks and advice from Rubin, best know for The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed. (Read my take on The Four Tendences here.) Many of the recommendations were not new to me as someone who’s read earlier decluttering books like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but they were practical and good refreshers nonetheless. My favorite: “When trying to make a tough choice, challenge yourself: ‘Choose the bigger life.’” Rubin’s example—her family debating about getting a dog—is a discussion our family is in the midst of, too. “By choosing the bigger life,” she says, “we make space for our lives to expand in a new direction.” As a homebody and a naturally unspontaneous person, I love that.

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Photo: Marisa Palmieri Shugrue

February reads

February reads