I had another good reading month with seven books down in August. Oddly, I read two books about World War II and two books named Born to Run.
I’m telling you, if you want to “read” more, but don’t necessarily have a ton of time to read (although I will argue that you need to make or prioritize time if it’s something you actually want to do) seriously consider audiobooks. I use Audible and Overdrive through my local library (yep, FREE audiobooks!). I listen while I’m getting ready, doing my hair and makeup and sometimes very long beauty routing (think masks, lotion, etc.), cleaning, walking the dog, editing photos, and driving. And honestly, I get in SO MANY books, in addition to the ones I read digitally and real books.
AUGUST BOOK REVIEW
1. Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures, by Robert K. Wittman with John Shiffman
Being someone who loves art and crime stories, I ate this book up!
What seemed serendipitous about this book is that I had downloaded it from my local library (an audiobook) right after I went on a work trip to Boston. The trip to Boston in which I was doing a photo shoot at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The museum in which at least 1/4 of this book was about. I had no idea when I downloaded it, that it had anything to with the Gardner Museum. The project I did in Boston was so last minute, I didn’t even have time to research the museum, I just knew my client wanted photos in the courtyard, we were on a tight schedule, so we were in and out of the museum as fast as we could get the photos. So I didn’t even read up on the museum (bad art lover!). I literally had NO IDEA there were stolen paintings from that museum, and that the museum left the empty frames on the wall, until someone commented about the heist on an Instagram I did from the museum, and I thought, huh, I didn’t realize there were stolen paintings. Then I went almost straight from my Boston project to a work trip in Tahoe with zero time to look into the story, and started listening to this book where I basically got the entire story. I just couldn’t believe the timing of it.
Back to the book, it is absolutely fascinating. If you like stories about the FBI, stories of undercover cops, and anything about art, you will LOVE it.
2. Blue Nights, by Joan Didion
As I was typing up what I wanted to say about this book, I felt as though this book deserved its own post. Didion shares how she felt gutted by her daughter’s death. It definitely makes her human and relatable as a famous author. Read the post for all of my thoughts on this book!
3. Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan
This book. This book is up there as one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is VERY very good. And it’s based on a true story, which makes it even better. If you like World War II history or even historical fiction, you will LOVE this book. Even if you don’t love historical fiction, you should consider reading this book. The story is beyond captivating.
4. We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter
5. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall
I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book or not. I had come up in my book searches time and time again. I’m not exactly sure why, but finally I caved and read it.
I’ve always enjoyed the stories of professional athletes or “superathletes”. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself, not to the limits like these people, but just in ways that I put limitations on myself.
This book didn’t end up being anything like what I thought it would be like.
It was much better.
It was a story like I’ve never heard before, with multiple interesting angles and layers. It was stories, and feelings, and science, and relationships all together. Surprisingly, I thought it flowed together nicely.
It’s hard to gel multiple concepts together into one cohesive, interesting book, but this one was successful in my opinion. I enjoyed every moment, and it even made me want to try barefoot running. It changed my outlook on running. I won’t tell you why, I want you to read and see for yourself.
6. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
This book was fascinating to me. I really didn’t know anything about Bruce Springsteen, and I thought his journey was really interesting. I love knowing how people got to where they are. Especially people like Bruce who grew up in a family where every penny counted (basically poor) and he was just determined to be a musician. I also find behind-the-business stories to be interesting.
One particular line stuck with me from the book when he was talking about Elvis:
“…all you have to do to see the real world…to taste real life, is to risk being your true self. To dare, to watch, to listen…listen to what this world is telling you, for it is calling for your love, your rage, your beauty, your sex, your energy, your rebellion, because it needs you in order to remake itself. In order to be reborn into something else, something maybe better…more wonderful, it needs us.”
Highly recommend this book if you like Bruce, like music, and/or are curious about the ins and outs of the music industry. Bruce himself did the voice on the audiobook.
7. Go from Stressed to Strong: Health and Fitness Advice from High Achievers, by Laurie A. Watkins
Full disclosure, I actually know Laurie. We lived in the same building in DC and both went to the same CrossFit gym. Although she went to the 6 am class everyday, and I went to the evening classes everyday. In her book she makes the case for working out in the morning and how people who workout in the morning more often stick to their program and exercise more long-term because nothing gets in the way of it. There is much less of a chance that you will have to go to work early, or that something will get in the way (besides sleeping of course) of a 6 am workout than an evening workout where all sorts of things can go wrong in your day preventing you from getting to your workout. It’s a point that’s hard to argue with.
One line really stuck with me from the book: You can keep putting everything and everyone else before you, or you can choose yourself.
I learned a few new things too. I already knew that drinking natural tart cherry juice (you can mix it with water, I did this for years when I had insomnia) is a natural melatonin and helps you sleep, but I didn’t know that a banana could help as well as the magnesium and potassium act as natural muscle relaxants. Also good for stress I assume.
I also learned about Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) which is basically a medical term for night owls. People who are naturally awake late and sleep in. Still only getting 7-8 hours of sleep, but it’s just later than most people’s natural sleep cycle.
I think this book is good if you are at your wits end and are at the very beginning of your “get healthy” journey. Having read a lot of these types of books before, I’d say this book is best for the beginner. Someone who needs inspiration and a bit of a road map. Laurie talks about five areas that she feels most people struggle with: nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and time management and even includes recipes in the book.
What have you read this year? What should I add to my list?
Photo by Emma Weiss for MegBiram.com; bedding from Brooklinen