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Reading Roundup // August 2016

August 30, 2016
AUTHOR: Emilie
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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Do you ever look at the calendar and just think to yourself OMG, HOW IS IT NEARLY SEPTEMBER?!?! I feel like I’ve been doing that for the last week. Instead of saying that I “just” moved down to North Carolina, I’ve realized that, well, I’ve been here for over three months; that’s a third of the time I lived in Baltimore. Time is just absolutely flying by. As you get older, time really does go by more quickly. I’m sure I don’t get it yet, but I’m starting to.

When I first moved to Baltimore, a year ago last week, I set the goal of reading seven books between August and December 31. I completed that goal, but I did have to spend a portion of December 31 reading because I didn’t want to miss my goal when I was so close. As a result, when I set my goal for 2017, I wanted to find a goal that would be reasonable without over doing it. I wanted to keep reading, a hobby I had always loved but didn’t have the time, energy, or will to read for pleasure when I had nearly a thousand pages to read each week. Now, three-quarters of the way into the year, I wonder if setting a goal of only 20 books wasn’t pushing myself enough.

Goals should not be easy things to accomplish. You should have to push yourself to reach your goals. But I am going to very easily get 20 books done this year. I will definitely have to up my goal for 2017.

You see, I didn’t post a Reading Roundup for July because I didn’t finish any books in July. Disappointingly, it’s not even the first month this year where I didn’t finish any books. In other words, there were multiple months this year where I didn’t finish a book or barely read and I’m still going to breeze through to my goal. Definitely need to be more ambitious on this front.

That being said, let’s talk about the books I did read, shall we?

I finished two books in August. They’re both similar books, in a very loose way. I would categorize both of them as productivity/self-help targeting to women. That’s probably where the similarities end.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

First, I read You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero, success coach and motivational speaker. I read this as the Shield Sisters Initiative Book of the Month. The book was, well, interesting. It was super motivating. Here’s a great excerpt:

You’ll probably have to do things you never imagined you’d do because if any of your friends saw you doing it, or spending money on it, you’d never live it down. Or they’d be concerned about you. Or they’d stop being friends with you because now you’re all weird and different. You’ll have to believe in things you can’t see as well as something that you have full-on proof are impossible. You’re gonna have to push past your fears, fail over and over again and make a habit of doing things you’re not so comfy doing. You’re going to have to let go of old, limiting beliefs and cling to your decision to create the life you desire like your life depends on it.

You can see it, right? How hearing that- how being told you’re amazing and deserving of all your hopes and dreams- for 200 pages can be motivating AF. It’s like having a person trapped in your mirror who reminds you every day that you are the most beautiful person in the world and everyone wants to be you. That’s essentially what Sincero does- tell you how amazing you are, that you are deserving of your goals, and that if you work towards them you will achieve them.

I just don’t know that Sincero needed 200 pages to do that. The message is great and books have an average size, but I found the book to be slightly repetitive, at least thematically.

Good read. Would not re-read. Three stars. 

I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

Second, I read I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam. (Laura Vanderkam is also a Princeton alumna, but that does not affect my opinion.) I originally ordered this book because my Princeton Kappa mentor, a Zeta Phi alumna who I have stayed in touch with since graduating, recommended it after I asked her how she managed being a a mom and having a thriving career. I ordered the book right away, but it took a while to get to me. It sat on my shelf for a couple months, but now I’m so glad I read it! This book changed my whole perspective on life and time management, which has always been a subject of interest to me.

I did my very own 168-hour time long (one week) while reading the book and I’m so glad I did! (I’m hoping to start doing one each month as part of a new series that I’ll be launching. Details coming soon!) What Vanderkam points out is that we don’t need to do things every day in order to get them done. You don’t need to read/write/stitch/clean every day for them to be done. As she said to me in a follow up email conversation I had with her, “Ah, email… It can take all available space.” It really can! I don’t need to answer all my emails every single day because I will get back to them at some point. I do not need to wash the dishes every day or I’ll spend more time than needed washing dishes. 

As a twenty-something, I feel guilty for admitting that we have a cleaning lady that comes once per month to deep clean our house. Between that, I maintain the house, but the deep cleaning- the toilet scrubbing, oven cleaning, and stair vacuuming- is taken care of my someone else. That I pay. With money. And it’s some of the best spent money in my budget each month. You see, I hate cleaning. No, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate cleaning. I always have. When the trade off is that I could spend three hours cleaning and being miserable the entire time or I could pay someone $75 to come clean my house while I’m working, it’s a no brainer. But I always felt guilty.

I would much rather spend those three hours doing this, writing blog posts, or doing work for my freelance clients or learning or reading. That $75 buys me three hours of freedom and makes me quite happy. And that is a-okay. It was like I needed Vanderkam’s reminder that other people have the same struggles I do and that there are multiple solutions to every problem. For us, it is worth giving up a date night to have Mary come once a month and make the house smell lemony fresh.


Both of these books definitely fall into the “self-help” category (one of my favorite categories lately!), but they take two very different approaches to their guidance. While Sincero preaches affirmations at the reader, Vanderkam lists examples of ways that subjects have changed their lives. One is not better than the other, but the latter spoke to me much more.

I’ve really been inspired by Heather‘s push to simplify her life by decluttering. I know it’s trendy right now, but, keeping in mind that we are going to be moving more often than the average family anyway because of the military, I don’t see a benefit in accumulating a lot of stuff that doesn’t bring a lot of happiness or utility. As a result, I’ve been mailing off my books to friends as I finish them. I’m happy to say that these two and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (which I reviewed in March here) are off to New Orleans, LA to bring happiness to my friend Ashley Meeks! I can’t wait for them to bring someone else joy.

I’m also very happy to say that two months into my Book Spending Ban for Quarter 3 2016 I still have not bought any books (or makeup)!  You Are A Badass was a gift from Megan Kubasch of Haute Copy Co who is my Shield Sister Coach, though, so it wasn’t already on my shelf.

Next, I’m going to be reading The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greuttman and Sacred Spaces by Corie Weathers. These two are books, like You Are A Badass, that I did not buy, but also weren’t on my shelf. I am on the launch team for TRS and was gifted SS by someone who is on the launch team. I might just have to expand my ban to another quarter!

Have you read anything good this month?

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