Books · Self-development

Book Review: We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham

Claire Eastham’s (blog here) book We’re All Mad Here promises to be a complete, no-nonsense guide to living with social anxiety. And in a lot of ways, that’s exactly what this book is. And in a lot of other ways, it’s not. In short, I have a lot of feelings about this.

First, let’s talk about the good

Claire is a very personable, witty author. I admire her honesty and vulnerability when talking about her own mental health. She isn’t scared to share funny little anecdotes where she might have made a bit of a fool of herself, and I thought that was great. More than once, this book made me laugh out loud. It’s like you get to know Claire just a little bit better, and I really enjoyed that.

“At this point most people would probably accept that shit was about to go down, but not me. I like denial land – I’m all about denial land!” 

I also though that most of the advice she gave was very actionable and clear. Claire never leaves you hanging with the question ‘What can I do about this problem?’ I particularly liked the advice she gave about the cognitive behavioural therapy exercises that she likes, as well as what she had to say about public speaking. In the book, Claire also reminds you that you’re never alone. That, for example, It’s normal to feel nervous when you get into an important meeting – plenty of people feel the same way. I really appreciated that.

But there were also some things I didn’t like..

Don’t get me wrong. I thought this book was okay, and some parts I even liked, I would probably rate it 2.5 out of five stars, but I didn’t love this book the same way as some people love this book. Even though I tried really hard. There were a couple of things in this book I took issue with.  Continue reading “Book Review: We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham”

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Books · Self-development

My (Somewhat Unconventional) Reading Goals for 2018

I wanted to write a post talking about which books – and how many – I’m planning to read in 2018. Maybe I’ll make it to 52, or even 60, I thought to myself, feeling excited. Until I started to really think about that goal. We’re talking about reading books, immersing ourselves in stories and reflecting on them afterwards. Books are (in my opinion) meant to teach you something, meant to leave a mark on you one way or another. Meant to make you feel something. Then why would I make it a goal to read as many books as possible?

To quote this very profound piece published in The Guardian, ”literature is one of the few areas of modern life where it’s not all about the numbers. Of course figures matter to bookshops, publishers, writers and even libraries, but if we enjoy reading – if reading is in some sense good – it doesn’t make any sense for the reader to say that if you double the number of books you manage to get through in a year, it will be worth twice as much.”

Stop worrying about how much I’ve read, or haven’t read

If a ”read x amount of books a year” challenge works for you, then more power to you! but I’ve noticed that around the internet – on YouTube, blogs, Goodreads, etc – it has somewhat become a competition to read more. I often see people read novella’s or graphic novels (that you can read quickly) just so they can finish their reading challenge. Personally, that competitive mindset isn’t for me, not when we’re talking about books. So one of my goals for next year is to completely stop worrying about how much I’ve read, and especially haven’t read.

I’m still going to set myself a ”loose” goal of reading at least one book every week which will land me somewhere between 25 and 52 books at the end of the year. But that goal is meant to keep myself in check and practice my reading habit. The most important part for me is to not beat myself up if the one-book-a-week doesn’t work out, as long as I’m enjoying my book. Continue reading “My (Somewhat Unconventional) Reading Goals for 2018”

Books · opinion · Self-development

The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)

I hate The Secret. There. I said it. Can’t go back now.

I know I’m a self-help blogger, and this book is like a bible to those who like to consume self-help content, but I hate it. It’s a godawful book and I feel like I need to tell you why.

I feel like every generation has it’s own self-help book, at least in the past century. In 1936, Napoleon Hill did it first with Think And Grow Rich. Hill was also a fraud by the way, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. This is a really interesting 20,000 word longread I recommend. Twenty years later, The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage, written by the guy who was also Donald Trump’s pastor when he was a child. Which is just a weird fun fact I wanted to share.

And for our generation, it’s Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a short book that describes the so-called ‘law of attraction’. A philosophical concept that basically comes down to this: if you want to attract positive things, you need to think positive thoughts.

Each of those self-help books, from Napoleon Hill to Rhona Byrne and many books that were published in between, focus on the same ideas, each tailored for its own generation. Think and Grow Rich was released in the time of the Great Depression, and mostly focused on making money. ‘The Secret’, launched in the age of social media and the smartphone, reads very self-centered. It’s full of questionable advice, superstitious bullshit and entitlement. I believe that anyone who reads this and applies the advice given will be off worse in the end. But first, let me explain the main points in the book, so you don’t have to read it and instead, can read something that’s actually worth your time.

What’s ‘The Secret’ anyways?

The book is simply a rehash of ‘The Law of Attraction’: the belief that whatever consumes your thoughts will be what you end up getting in life. So if you only focus on the things you don’t want, you will only get those things. And if you focus on the things you do want – a nice house, lots of money, happiness, a good job – you will get those things.

“Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source – you.” ― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

There aren’t many self-help books that bother explaining why the law of attraction works, but Byrne gives some half-ass explanation about the universe and how it’s made up of energy and that all energy has a frequency. Your thoughts also emit a certain frequency, and therefore the frequency of your thoughts will resonate with the frequency of other energies. Or something like that. It sounds just as weird as it is.  Continue reading “The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)”

Books · Listicles · Self-development

6 (Self-Help) Books Every Recent College Graduate Needs To Read

Congratulations, recent college graduate! You made it, and I’m really proud of you.

Now it’s time for you to enter what people call the ‘real world’ and that can be very scary. I can tell you up front, the real world is a very mysterious place full of unpaid internships, dark jokes about the bad economy and awkward network events.

In between job-applying, moving to the big city and paying off your student loans you might as well read a book every once in a while. Here are a few of my favorites.

Book tips for recent college graduates - when you don't know what you're doing

‘The Interestings’ by Meg Wolitzer

The New York Times bestseller ‘The Interestings’ by Meg Wolitzer is not your typical self-help book. It’s more of a novel with tons of important life lessons woven into the story. That’s exactly what I love about it. The book follows the story of Jules Jacobson, who wants to become an actress. Instead, she chooses for a more practical occupation and lifestyle, but is that the best choice? This book explores the meaning of talent and following your dreams, and it will motivate you more than anything to follow yours.

‘The Opposite of Loneliness’ by Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan graduated Cum Laude from Yale in 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at The New Yorker. This girl was on the rise. Unfortunately, five days after her graduation, Marina died in a car accident. She left behind a rich legacy of beautiful essays and stories, bundled in this beautiful book (that will make you cry). Continue reading “6 (Self-Help) Books Every Recent College Graduate Needs To Read”

Books · Listicles

My 5 Favorite Self-Help eBooks under $5

What can you buy for five bucks? A cup of coffee at Starbucks, or an eBook that will change your life.

Personally, I love the combination of eBooks and self-help. Often, I don’t read a self-help book from back to back. Rather, I like to read chapters here and there, while having the ability to compare the advice from one book to another. Having tons of eBooks stored on my eReader at the same time makes it possible for me to do that.

Here’s a little rundown of my all time favorite self-help eBooks, all under $5! Continue reading “My 5 Favorite Self-Help eBooks under $5”

Books · Reviews

Book Review: The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

stephenkind_billhodges_trilogy

When you think Stephen King, you think horror. Even if you haven’t read his books, you’ll know the movie adaptations of It, Misery, Carrie, The Mist, The Shining, The Green Mile, I could go on.

But for me, the stories that get under my skin the most are the ones where the villian is human, without supernatural powers. The Bill Hodges Trilogy is exactly that – at least most of the time.  Continue reading “Book Review: The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King”

Books · Reviews

Book review: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's Key Book ReviewParis, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in theVel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

The Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup  isn’t a well-known holocaust event, and even to this day, the French don’t like to talk about it. De Rosnay uses this to create two narratives: The compelling Sarah Starzynski and the annoying American journalist Julia Jarmond. The short chapters constantly jump around in time, which made it a bit hard for me to get truly invested in the story.  Continue reading “Book review: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay”