What I Read Last Month :: September

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. Although at various points in my life I have made this a higher priority than I have at others, I am happy to have found many ways to make this a very consistent and important part of my day-to-day life presently.   As part of my Happiness Project this year, I have tried to focus the genre of my reading on whatever area of my life my resolutions are focused on for that particular month, but September was a little scattered.   Since what I read often comes up in my writing on the blog or my real life conversations, I thought I would start a new tradition of sharing what I read over the past month at the start of a new one. So here is what I read in September:

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
John Gottman and Nan Silver

I started out September by finishing up my “Marriage Month” books which included this very practical and interactive book. For those who may not know, John Gottman is highly regarded as one of the foremost experts in marriage and relationships who has countless years of experience in his Love Lab which has been designed to scientifically measure the interactions between couples to predict the likelihood of their martial success. He has written several books (a few I read back in August as part of my Marriage Month) which outline his research methodology and key findings (I highly recommend Why Marriages Succeed or Fail) and while this book did outline in detail, with examples each of the seven principles, it also included a litany of questionnaires, activities, and projects to work on with your significant other in order to apply each of them practically. Jon and I do have a weekly tradition of reading one chapter of another book, Cherish, and taking Coco for a walk on Friday evenings to discuss the questions at the end of each chapter for now. Once we finish that book and discussion, I think we will move onto some of the activities that John Gottman outlined in this book.

Gut Reactions
Justin and Erica Sonnenburg

If you look through the recipes I post or my Instagram feed, you will quickly see that I am a devout disciple of and evangelist for Paleo and more specifically Whole30 eating. For the past almost three years I have done a lot of research and self-experimentation to find a sustainable healthy lifestyle that works for me across a wide spectrum of health metrics. A relatively newer and growing area of nutrition science has been focused on the microbiota and health of our large intestine (aka the gut) and its impact on a variety of areas of wellness including weight management, immunity to sickness and diseases, as well as even brain functioning and mood. I do firmly believe in the importance of nourishing our bodies well and have myself as a data point of one to prove that what we eat does in fact impact all these perhaps seemingly unrelated areas of our lives. Although I am not quite convinced that I would adopt every recommendation that is outlined in the book (I haven’t had much success in digestion of legumes historically for example), it was interesting to read and I look forward to the continued progress in this field of study.

The Four Tendencies
Gretchen Rubin

I was SO excited for this book! As previously mentioned, my fabulous husband bought me a flight and tickets to go to the first stop of Gretchen’s book tour so I had my book signed on the first day of its release!! I immediately began devouring and finished it in less than two days. I was already very familiar with her framework which outlines the four different ways that people tend to respond to internal and external expectations, but I still found the book to be fantastic. Essentially Rubin argues that there are four different types of people when it comes to the way that they respond to outer expectations (those that others place on us, like a work deadline, accountability partner, grades in school, etc.) versus inner expectations (those that we place on ourselves, like a goal or new years resolution, etc.). You should DEFINTIELY take the quiz on her website to see where you fall and then read the book which argues that each of the different types comes with its own set of strengths to be leveraged and maximized as well as weaknesses to be acknowledged and mindful of. Her thesis is as follows: “when we consider the Four Tendencies, we’re better able to understand ourselves. This self-knowledge is crucial because we can build a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own interests and our own values. Just as important… we’re better able to understand other people. We can live and work more efficiently with others when we identify their Tendencies – as coworkers and bosses, teachers and coaches, husbands and wives, parents and children, health-care providers and patients. Understanding the Four Tendencies gives us a richer understanding of the world.” I personally am an UPHOLDER extreme.

168 Hours:   You Have More Time Than You Think
Laura Vanderkam

As someone who is obsessed with maximizing my time and life to the full, I was interested in this book and was pleasantly surprised by how unlike many other time management type resources it was. Vanderkam presents interesting data along with stories of highly successful and deeply satisfied people to counter the widespread argument (and often deeply held sentiment) that we are too busy. She encourages people to view their time in a week span, which is 168 hours, rather than on a day-to-day basis, while clearly defining what we do well, what we like to do, and what is a priority for us. Vanderkam is blunt, and a times even a bit harsh, but her major point is that what we do is always a choice and matter or priority, and she arguges “there is always time: 168 hours is incredibly vast. There is time for anything you really want to do. Once you realize that, you can move from panicking to looking at the data objectively and then putting yourself in charge of getting the most out of your 168 hours.” In many ways, my ongoing Happiness Project has taken a similar approach and I will definitely agree, by knowing myself, what I like and what is a priority I do find myself spending more time on those things and feel immeasurably more satisfied.

Fitness Junkie
Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

This was a just-for-fun novel which I chose to read over the past weekend in light of a few relatively under-scheduled days. It was a pretty hilarious satire on the absurdity of many fitness trends and the obsession of women with weight and appearance. Although the book was a big departure from what I have been reading and a bit crude in terms of language and topics at times, it was fun, funny, and easy to get through. I laughed aloud while reading many times… admittedly while decked out in Lululemon and snacking on coconut yogurt topped with bee pollen and raw organic cacao nibs. It was funny to see how in many ways, the way that I workout and eat might look to an outsider, although thankfully I have never had many of the extreme experiences or taken anywhere near as drastic measures. Importantly, the message was a good one, illustrating the dangers of obsessive striving and allowing others to dictate what we should be.

And that’s it! I am off to start the new month a with a whole pile of new books and will report back accordingly. I would love to hear of any recommendations that you may have (I enjoy all types of books and genres) or your thoughts if you have read any of the above.

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