Reviews of the books I've read

A list of all the books I've read this year. For these reviews, this is my book review scale:

burn Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.
mock This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.
don't Don't read this book.
desert If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.
fan If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.
worth This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.
strongly I strongly recommend this book
amazing OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.

Post date:

100 Reasons to Panic about Being a Grownup

Book Notes

I bought this book this past weekend on my walk-about around San Francisco last Saturday. I had walked to a Paper Source (I know, shock, I went to a paper store), which turned out to be a newly-opened, concept store (which means it has new merchandise before it is generally available at other Paper Source stores) on the walk for specific Pokémon, and, well, if you're close, of course you have to go it.

I'm uncertain what page in particular caught my attention. I think it was the positive aspects the book: here's a list of all the crappy things that are the result of growing up, becoming an adult, and accepting responsibility for ones own life. And yet, here are the good things that come of those crappy things.

You'll Feel LostI kinda feel like we could use this format for our adulting book.

Anyway, reason 32 in particular moved me.

You'll Feel Lost.*

Upside, *You're on a journey -- getting lost is part of the fun.

And that is the way to view this life.

Yeah, takes five minutes to read the book. It was adorable.

Indonesia Etc.

Book Notes

Really now, I need to change this idea of a "Book Review" to "Mom Chose This Book and I Read It Review." This is another of Mom's selected books. I think I'm nearing the end of her pile. That just means, however, that I'll start in on my pile, which is significantly bigger than Mom's pile, to be sure.

This book is the story of a woman's journey around Indonesia, with her saying "Yes" to every adventure that presents itself. Elizabeth Pisani had previously worked in Indonesia, a couple decades before, so knew much about the country, and had lived through much of its recent turmoil. As she describes it, her journey was much like trying to show everyone why your bad boyfriend deserves a chance, look at his many good qualities.

While reading this book, I contrasted the history telling of this book to the history telling found in the Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Mao. The latter was much richer in its telling, while Pisani's travels were much broader and more flavorful at the local, individual level.

I was surprised that I enjoyed the book, picking the book up more frequently than I thought I would. I had checked in with Mom when I first started the book, having discovered that Mom disliked one of the books we both read, and wanting to see if she had finished this book and liked it. She said, she had started the book, but had been distracted by another, so hadn't finished it yet. I think it's worth finishing if you'd started it, and an entertaining read if you're interested in a woman's year-long adventure in the world's largest nation.

Dear Data

Book Notes

"Here," he said. "I think you'll enjoy this. It seems right up your alley."

I keep track of all sorts of things. I absolutely love what numbers and visualizations can tell us about ourselves and the world around us. So, when Kris handed me this book, I have to say I was immediately delighted, and immediately oblivious to EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD as I read it. One of the very very few non-fiction books that I've devoured in a day. I love this book. I absolutely adore this book.

The book is a series of weekly postcards sent between Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, visually detailing some data they decided to collect for the week. They put the data into a visualization on a postcard and mailed the postcard to the other. There are so many of the postcards that I just loved ("OOOOOOOOOO, I should track that, too!").

I had an idea of doing this review in numbers (289 pages of the 308 page book actually numbered, something something something), but really, my description cannot do this book justice. So, really now, ignore me and go watch their videos or buy the book.

The book is cute, whimsical, and COMPLETELY MOTIVATING. I love it.


Recommended. Recommended.

Red Planet Blues

Book Notes

"Oh! My favourite author!


I'm an atheist because of him."

Okay, seriously, can you pay an author a stronger compliment than "I changed my religion because of you."? I think not. I had read Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God a number of years ago, and I have to wonder if that was the book that caused my friend to think critically about the world around him (and the nuttiness that religions inspire), but I hadn't been recalling that book when I picked up this one.

In reality, I picked this one up because it seemed to be a gumshoe detective novel with a science-fiction twist, which I happen *cough* Dresden *couch* to have a fondness for.

I enjoyed this book about Alex Lomax, a private eye working on Mars, searching for a missing person and eventually investigating a murder. The book has a number of small mysteries in the larger arc of the book, which I found a little off when I started reading the book (and came to the end of the first solved mystery), but they all tied together really well, and I enjoyed the book.

The Little Pilates Book

Book Notes

This doesn't really count as a book in my 52 books in a year book reading goal (which, I'm happy to say, I've reached). I'm still including it in my book review list, though, since it is a book.

This book sucks. That's not fair. It satisfies someone's need, to be sure. It doesn't satisfy mine.

166 pages long, the exercises in this book don't start until page 90, and the last 10 pages are index and reference.

Here, the important page, page 90:

Do the exercises in this order:

The Hundred
The Roll-Up
Single Leg Circle
Single Leg Stretch
Double Leg Stretch
Criss Cross
Spine Stretch
Single Leg Kick
Child's Pose
Double Leg Kick
Child's Pose
Spine Twist
Side Kick
Child's Pose
Side Leg Raises
Child's Pose
Child's Pose

There. Done. Now you don't need this book.

The Speed of Dark

Book Notes

Years ago, I read the The Deed of Paksenarrion, a compendium of Elizabeth Moon's three books Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold. I enjoyed the books, and so picked up The Speed of Dark when it was released. I hadn't, however, actually read it until now.

I know, I know, shock, not a book from Mom's list. And not normally a book I would read. I picked it up because I enjoyed the Paksenarrion books, which were fantasy novels. This one was more social commentary with a smidge of science fiction. The beginning of the book has a number of my discomfort triggers, so I was pretty sure this was going to become one of my permanently in-progress books, or maybe the first one since Mote in God's Eye 15 years ago that I decided not to finish.

I finished it by reading it really really really fast.

The book follows Lou Arrendale, a fictionalized, high-functioning, autistic process analyst, who can see patterns that most people can't. A new boss a couple levels up from him at work starts and decides that he hates autistics and that, despite the numbers of tax breaks and sunk costs and incredible productivity, he is going to shut down autistic department. He threatens his employees with layoffs if they don't take an experimental treatment that cures adult autism (the in-utero cure already happened 27 years before).

While the Rosie Project was an amusing take on how autistic actions can be interpreted, this book is a serious look at how a non-autistic person believes autistic people view the world. I'm not sure either is accurate.

The book has a happy ending, so there's that. It's a fine book. Not recommending it, though.

Paper Towns

Book Notes

Mom's List! Mom's List!

Okay, yes, this book was on Mom's list. In reality, I needed a break from the books I've been reading. I wanted something light, and this book qualified. Having read Looking for Alaska and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I knew what style to expect from John Green, and this book did not disappoint in my expectations.

Said expectations included high school or college aged kids, some sort of social awkwardness needed to be overcome, a main character who is a geek or geek-like outcast from the popular kids' social group, some internal growth, a revelation, a spurt of maturity, and a happy ending. Well, if not a happy ending, Green provides at least a satisfying closure. Essentially, everything wraps up cleanly.

And HEY, yes, this book fulfilled all these expectations!

We have Quentin, geek kid. We have Margo Roth Spiegelman, Quentin's love interest. We have the internal conflict of Margo. We have the external conflict of her disappearance. We have the journey to enlightenment, the revelation, and the happy-ish ending.

Which is to say, it was precisely what I needed: a light book to read in an evening for entertainment.

For the record, I refuse to ever read Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Not going to read it. Nope. No.

Hour Game

Book Notes

Continuing in the King and Maxwell series, the two of them have started their own detective agency, and things are going along pretty well, then BOOOOOM, shit a series of murders start happening in their home town.

Seriously, if I lived in a small town where the murder rate escalated from none in decades to over a dozen in two years, I would move over to the next town lickety-split. Or take an extended vacation in a different country, say, Mexico where the murder rate per 1000 is significantly lower.

Anyway, King and Maxwell. They have an agency of some sort, following up on various investigations. They are hired by a local lawyer to investigate a break-in at a prominent (read: f---ing rich) family's house. The break-in frames a local construction worker / handyman in such thoroughness that one assumes it has to be a frame job. During the investigation, a series of murders start in the town, with King and Maxwell drawn into the drama.

This book, unlike the last book, has all the characters introduced, including the bad guy. As such, the clues are sufficient (and really, IN ONE'S FACE) that the reader (read: me) can figure out the mystery.

I enjoyed this book, but won't be continuing reading the series. The reviews for the remaining three books in the series are bad enough that I'd rather have the two books as "enjoyed" than other few after that spoils the first two.

Seven Little Australians

Book Notes

I suspect the story of buying this book is more entertaining than my review of the book will be, but that could be because I lived through both.

I bought this book in Sydney when Mom and I went last October. After I had my talk and my workshop at Web Directions, Mom and I spent a couple days exploring Sydney. We went many museums, with one of them having a cute shop. I picked up two children's books in the shop simply because the binding of the books were so good. This was one of them. I love the bindings of this book. It is a beautiful, well constructed, delightful-to-hold book.

So, I was standing in line for this book when a senior couple came into the museum. I had already been standing in line for what I considered a long bit, waiting for the clerk to deal with a register failure and a difficult customer. I was patient, I waited without comment. The senior couple, however, were entitled American asshats, and decided they didn't need to wait. It was THEIR RIGHT to cut in front of the 8 people in line, and USE THEIR MUSEUM COUPON to enter the museum.

So, I flicked them off.

The old asshat guy saw me, and said, "You're evil."

Seriously, you're an entitled asshole, with no consideration for the other people who are patiently standing in line, and you consider a well-deserved bird as evil? Dude, you have serious world-view problems.

I responded, "I'm happy to give you some, too." and gave him the bird again.


Mom was not happy with my reaction.

So, this and the other book sat in my to-read box of books. I pulled it last week to read it. The book was written in 1894. It's the story of a seven kid 1880s Sydney household, ages ranging from 16 to 1, with the dad being a Captain and the current mother the mother of only the youngest kid. The older six kids were from the Captain's first wife. The kids are undisciplined. The new wife only 20 and unable to really curate their education. The book is their adventures for a few months one particular year.

It was an easy, fun read. The ending is sad and satisfying. I am glad I read the book. The thing that got me, though, was the vocabulary in the book. As I look up words I don't understand (and hence, much prefer ebooks these days for the ability to click on a word to look it up), I have to say that I was stumped SO MANY TIMES with this book. I flipped through my browser history to get a list of the words (and definitions).

Behold, the words a 1890s kid was expected to know:

veneration - great respect
slatternly - dirty and untidy, typically of a woman's appearance
pelisse - woman's cloak with armholes
paperchase - action of processing forms or other paperwork, especially when excessive
paddock - small field or enclosure where horses are kept or exercised
iniquitous - grossly unfair and morally wrong
canterbury - a late 18th century low wooden stand with partitions for holding cutlery and plates
mulcted - extract money from someone by fine or taxes, deprive someone of possessions by fraudulent means
ulster - man's long overcoat of rough cloth, usually with a belt at the back
liberality - quality of giving or spending freely
tucker - piece of lace worn around the top of the bodice or as an insert at the front of a low-cut dress
repast - a meal
gowk - awkward or foolish person (often as a term of abuse)
vituperation - bitter abusive language
stolid - (of a person) calm, dependable, and showing little emotion
serge - durable twilled woolen or worsted fabric
musk - relative of the monkey flower that was formerly cultivated for its musky perfume
peccadillo - small, relativesly unimportant offense or sin
neuralgia - intense typically intermittent pain along the course of a nerve, espcially head or face
jonquil - narcissus with clusters of small fagrant yellow flowers and cylindrical leaves
wattle - material for making fences, walls, consisting of rods interlaced with branches
pall - something enveloping a situation with an air of gloom, heaviness, or fear
hack - a horse for ordinary riding
stentorian - (of a person's voice) loud and powerful
provender - animal fodder / food
pater - person's legal father
cambric - lightweight, closely woven white linen or cotton fabric
risible - such as to provoke laughter
cachinnation - to laugh loudly or immoderately
celerity - swiftness of movement
ringbark - to girdle


Most of those words have fallen out of use. Perhaps they were used commonly enough that kids did know those words.

Split Second

Book Notes

I really thought I had already written this review. A little bit of a surprise to realize I hadn't, to be honest. I will likely find my original review later.

Because my stack of books these days consist of books from Mom and books I haven't finished, that this book came from my Mom stack of books should come as little surprise.

It tells the tale of Sean King, a former Secret Service agent who fell from grace when the presidential candidate he was protecting was killed, and Michelle Maxwell, a current Secret Service agent who is falling from grace when the presidential candidate she was protecting is kidnapped. Oddly enough, the two incidents, while similar, are not directly linked except by the fall from grace.

King is resistant to becoming involved in Maxwell's predicament, as he is dealing with a number of murders in his small town where he has rebuilt his life. He is a suspect in a couple of the deaths, as he knew the victims, so not really up for dealing with Maxwell's issues. She's an ex-Olympian, incredibly messy, smart, experienced agent who really needs to figure things out.

Because of the way the story unfolds, the ending wasn't one I could predict, one of those all the players aren't on the pages sort of thing. I enjoyed the book nonetheless. Enough to try the next book in the series.

Daring Greatly

Book Notes

After I had read The Power of Vulnerability, I knew immediately that I wanted to read this book by Brené Brown. Pretty much no way I wasn't going to read this one. And there are many overlaps between this book and the Power of Vulnerability. I knew that would be the case coming into the book. Unlike the previous book, which I listened to, I read this book, because I wanted to savor and ponder and stay with the words and thoughts, which is harder to do with audiobooks. That, and really, let's be honest, one can stand only so much El Jefé, before you want a dose of kindness.

Brown's writing is incredibly warm and welcoming. The book reads like a good friend sitting next to you, guiding you along the path to wholeheartedness. There are parts about building shame resilience. There are explanations about how we arrived here, and how we can survive a culture of scarcity.

What I liked most about the book is that while the explanations of shame, vulnerability, and wholeheartedness are great, the "here's how you get more of this into your life" parts are amazing. The book takes the research and turns it from a "that's nice" to a "here is how my world can change."

My plan is to buy a couple dozen copies of Daring Greatly to have available as gifts and help.

Highly, strongly recommend this book.

The Day of the Jackal

Book Notes

Okay, after reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and learning a bit about Dominican Republic history, I have to say, I was surprised when The Day of the Jackal also included Trujillo as part of the plot. I began to suspect that the new stack of books from Mom were all going to be connected by El Jefe.

Turns out, I was wrong. She just wanted to read this book, it's been around forever.

Where "forever" is defined as nearly the Unix epoch, or 1971 to be more precise.

This was a spy / mystery / crime / police / modern detective / thriller novel. I don't know exactly which genre it is supposed to be in, I'd shelve it in non-fiction barring any other guidance. It was a fun read, reflecting just how much the world has changed in the intervening 45 years. Much more footwork nearly a half century ago. Much more detective work and thinking, instead of "let's follow his electronic trail, checking out all these cameras, ENHANCE, ENHANCE, oh, just turn on the secret sms messages and we can track where the guy is, wait, he has find my iphone turned on, fine, just turn that on" that we seem to have today.

The plot is the anti-French-president terrorist (sigh, yes, hate the overuse of that word, but it is appropriate here) wants to kill the French President, and hires a professional assassin. Said person does a fantastic job of plotting and planning the assassination. Read the book to see his success. Very much a book of the seventies, it was an entertaining read. I'm more likely to recommend the Jason Bourne books, but this one was still fun.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Book Notes

Hey! What do you know? A new selection of books from Mom! I know! I thought I had finished that stack of books, too! To be honest, I have another stack of books from Bob Diller, too. That'll take me only a bit outside of my comfort zone.

I don't know how this book ended up on Mom's reading list. It's an 8 year old book. (Oh, I just looked it up, it was the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner - ha! and whoops. There we go.)

The book is about Oscar de León, a Dominican Republic kid raised in New Jersey (Hey! Just like the author! Write about what you know!). Oscar is overweight (based on the author's picture, maybe not about what you know) and cursed. Well, his family is cursed.

Being overweight and a nerd makes for a poor social life, so Oscar is pretty much an oddball. He loves writing, science fiction, fantasy, and, oh boy, can I relate to being unable to relate with women. I can't figure them out, either, and I am one.

The book tells the story about Oscar's family, heading backward, so we learn the histories of Oscar, Oscar's mother, his grandparents, along with the history of the Dominican Republic. I rather liked the history lessons, and looked up a bit more of it to understand the context of the storyline.

The title rather gives away the ending, being brief and all, but the story is engaging. Even knowing the ending that's coming, it still hurts a bit.

My favorite line of the book was when Oscar's sister, Lola, meets La Inca, his mother's cousin who raised Oscar and Lola's mom:

"She stood like she was her own best thing."

I want that. I want to be my own best thing. I want to know and feel this to my core.

I enjoyed the book. I'm glad Mom picked it out for us.

Aaaaaannnnnnnd, well shit, just read about the author. Egg on my face. He's an accomplished writer and successful person in general. Oops.

A Canticle For Leibowitz

Book Notes

In reading The Knowledge, several of the quotes at the beginning of chapters were ones from A Canticle for Liebowitz. Given the book was one of Paul's favorite books in high school, I thought I would read it again. I mean, really, it's been so long since I've read it that it is almost as if I hadn't read it, so it could be new for me again. Though, let's be real, reading a book as a kid, then reading it as an adult means you are reading a new book.

One of the defining ideas of the book is that, well, humanity pretty much destroys itself with a nuclear war, sending the world back to the dark ages where anarchy rules along with mutants and the church. No surprise there, the book was written in the sixties when the overt threat of nuclear war was far more in the front of people's consciousnesses. I would argue that the threat isn't really that much reduced, people as a whole have just moved on a bit. The threat of a nuclear bomb is sufficient, no one REALLY wants to use it.

In Canticle, people used it. People destroyed the world. Humanity survived. Humanity rebuilt. Humanity had the same stupid existential arguments, the same pettiness, the same everything that makes us human. Which means, of course, that we would regain the world, only to destroy it again.

In reading the book this time, I was struck with just how much of the discussions we had as a group in high school included the arguments and discussions from the book. I suspect just as my world was shaped more than I'd like to admit by the books I read in high school, this book shaped Paul's world. I could be projecting.

Many of the philopsophical discussions stuck with me, and I had to pause reading to think about them. I wish I had someone reading the book at the same time, so that we could talk about it.

My favorite quote: "No, you don't have a soul. You ARE a soul. You have a body."

Anna and the Swallow Man

Book Notes

My short summary of this book to Rob was, "Mom picked it out. About an orphan girl surviving WW2 Poland by wandering the wilderness. There's a mystery about who the swallow man is. Has been good, if sad," which pretty much sums up the book.

It's a quick read. I hadn't realized until just as I'm writing this review that it is a young adult / teen's book, which pretty much explains the quick read, short number of pages, and easy plot. That all said, it is a moving book, sad not only because of the horrors going on around a seven year old girl who understands much and understands so little about human nature and the war raging around her in Poland during World War 2, but also because of the personal heartache of the loss of a friend, trusted companion, and father-figure, even as he is still there physically.

I liked how the characters began shallow and deepened as the book progressed.

And how the reader is reminded, as the characters are, that life is more than just existing.

Career of Evil

Book Notes

This is the third of three books currently published in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith / J. K. Rowling. This one was also the most grisly (which, well, given all the violence in the world, isn't actually THAT grisly), and the one I read the fastest. Picked it up last night, finished it today.

Continuing in the series, we have Robin Ellacott still unable to communicate effectively with Cormoran, about needs and wants and desires. Cormoran isn't special, though: she can't communicate with her fiancee, Matthew Cunliffe either. We have the continual male-female tension between Cormoran and Robin, both attracted to each other but neither admitting it or moving forward with it, the tension made doubly so with a shocking (not shocking) revelation from Matthew early(-ish) in the book.

My enjoyment of characters and plot development in the last book lead me to believe I would enjoy this one, which I did for the most part. We learn a lot more of Robin, which is great, and a bit more of Cormoran, which is also great. We don't really learn that much about Matthew, other than he's still a money-obsessed asshat, but I suspect that's what J.K. want us to feel, so shrug on that one.

The delivery of the bottom half of a woman's leg, along with a couple other incidents of violence against various women, made parts of the story uncomfortable, but I think that's likely the point. The mystery's solution was revealed slowly, and in a good way to not have the reader going WTF, NO, which is good. I hope there's another Cormoran Strike novel, I'm enjoying the mysteries.

The Silkworm

Book Notes

After reading The Cuckoo's Calling, I started reading Anna and the Swallow Man, managing all of 10 pages before I really wanted to read more about Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin. I guess that means that CC was a good enough book that I wanted to follow the characters again, dropping another book for it.

I did not see this book's mystery revelation coming. I love that about this book, and Rowling's adult mystery writing. I did think "SO MANY WORDS" when I read this book, as with all of Rowling's latest books it seems, and that Rowling really needs an editor to help cut down on how many words she likes to write. I thought this of the last four Harry Potters, and I think that about CC and this book. So. Many. Words.

This book continued the life of Cormoran Strike, after he started to gain success from the previous book's mystery's solving. After dealing with a lot of soul sucking cases, Cormoran takes the case of a distraught woman looking for her husband to come home. Her motivation wasn't punishment or anger or suspicion, but a desire for her family to be whole again. This hit a nerve with Cormoran causing him to take the case. He finds the husband, and a who-done-it mystery at the same time.

I'm enjoying these Strike books, and look forward to reading the third one, too.

The Cuckoo's Calling

Book Notes

The first of three Cormoran Strike detective mystery books, I have this book on my list because, I know you'll be shocked here, Mom selected it. I know, I know. Shocking.

Suffice it to say, I managed to read about a third of it before I thought, "So many words," and had to look up the details of this Robert Galbraith author dude. Last time I thought "so many words" was from the last four Harry Potter series, so maybe this was a British author kind of thing?

Turns out, yep, not only a British author kind of thing, the same British author kind of thing: Galbraith is a pseudonym / pen name of J.K. Rowling.

So, there you go. Another book that needs an editor's hand. Read it fast enough, and you might mind less. I did. I read it fast, and enjoyed it. I TOTALLY missed the boat on who the bad guy was, which is ALWAYS delightful. Having an author who can lead you down the wrong path and still have the correct path make sense, is just totally delightful.

I went ahead and checked out the next book in the series. The physical description of Cormoran reminds me a lot of Jonathan, which contributed, no doubt, to my enjoyment. I'm curious where the series (of three books so far) goes.

Remains of the Day

Book Notes

I have to say, this one was a rough read. Seems that the books I'm reading as of late are all about people who are incapable of expressing their love and, while also craving it, affection. I might have to start reading my non-fiction in-progress books just to move away from these tragic love stories.

Remains of the Day is nominally about the several journey of a post World War 2 butler, Mr. Stevens, as he goes to visit a former housemaid of the manor. On the journey, Stevens reminisces about the past, through which we learn about Lord Darlington, Darlington Hall, the decades of Steven's service, and Darlington's political views. The movie, which I haven't seen in years, does the book good justice, if I recall it correctly. It may lose some of the nuances, but I seem to recall most of the major plot points when reading the book.

Yeah, so, the idea of unrequited love, two persons incapable of expressing their fondness for each other, their inability to communicate, these things really hit me hard. I've struggled with vulnerability, both in the giving and the accepting in others. Being vulnerable is the only way you can be with someone when you want to be intimate. Knowing, trusting, feeling in your bones that the other person has your best interest at heart, that arguments aren't for winning but for understanding the other person better, is hard, really hard sometimes. Really really hard, and worth the effort.

Unsurprising, as much as I struggled with this book, I, of course, recommend it (or the movie, since I'm less dogmatic these days about books being the better way to go).

Power of Vulnerability

Book Notes

This isn't a book review, even though the content type under the title of this page says "Book Review." This is more of a rambling set of thoughts about why I picked up this book, and why I want you to read it too.

Okay. So.

It has been a long while since I've read a book that moved me to tears as well as to laughter. It has been a long time since I've read a book that left me feeling that the world can be a better place, that my life can be a better life. It has been a long time since I've read a self-help book that I has been as inspirational as this one is (which is kinda saying something: I've read a lot of self=help books).

The big caveat of this is, of course, that I didn't read this book, I listened to the audio book, and am very thankful I did. The book is a series of six lectures by Brené Brown as she goes through her research on shame and vulnerability, some the findings, and many of the ways that one can improve one's life. Not improve it in the "have more wealth" way or "eat this, lose pounds, get laid" way (though, maybe the same result could happen), but in the base, fundamental joy one has in being alive.

Ooof, now there's a big promise to make.


Okay, so, why did I read this book?

I've seen Brené Brown's Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, when it went viral back in 20111. Ugh. Five years ago.

The audio book was on sale, and I recalled the video when I was buying a book for my mom, so I threw this one into my cart, too. I don't know what lured me to the book specifically, to be honest, so let's go with impulse purchase.

Which is to say, when the student is ready...

Brené's style of speaking, and way of interleaving personal experiences, hard times and humour together, makes this an amusing listen. The studies she cites, her motivation for her research in this world of shame, and the permission she gives too the listener to _be_, is just amazing.

That permission, that you're allowed to say no, that you're allowed to say yes, that choosing discomfort (for the briefest of times) over resentment (for a much longer time) is worth the effort, that breathing and mindfulness and calm and understanding, and shit, I just can't list all the of amazing parts of this book without trying to cite the whole thing, so, yeah.

I'm going to add this this book to my recommended, repeat-read, buy-many-copies, hand-it-out-to-all-my-friends list that currently includes "The Happiness Hypothesis" and "The Antidote: Happiness for People who can't stand Positive Thinking."

This book is a series of lectures that Brené Brown gave when her book Daring Greatly was coming out. I plan to read that one soon.