What I Read in March 2016

After reading last month’s What I Read post, one of my friends told me she thought I was weird for giving books I was disappointed with 4 stars. Ha. She has a point. Maybe you thought that was weird too. So I thought I’d shed some light on it.

It’s rare I give anything 1 or 2 stars, because I don’t usually finish those books. I give 3 stars to books that were easy enough to get through and didn’t send me into a rage but didn’t particularly inspire me either. Books that were a bit blah, I guess. I give 4 stars to books I thought were pretty good. I give 4.5 stars to books that I looooooved. And I give 5 stars to books that were totally fucking amazeballs changed-my-life fantastic. So while I give 4 stars out like candy, I’m super stingy with 5 stars. If you see me give something 4.5 stars, know that it’s pretty fucking awesome. But 5 stars is life-changing. If I can’t quite decide how much I liked something, I will swing my vote depending on what I think it’s worth objectively. As in, is this worth 4 stars?

For ease of reading, my starring system:

1 = total dogshit
2 = why isn’t this better than this?
3 = easy enough to get through, but a bit blah
3.5 = can’t quite decide whether it was good enough for 4 stars
4 = enjoyed; thought was pretty good
4.5 = loooooved it
5 = totally fucking amazeballs changed my life fantastic

Alright, on with this month’s reads!

What I Read in March

Make Your MarkMake Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact, by Jocelyn K. Glei (editor)
Finished on: 4 March — Kindle — 4/5

Confession: I started reading this about a year ago. Maybe longer. Then I put it down for aaaaages. Not because it was bad. (It wasn’t.) Just because, I dunno… I suck at reading business-related books. I loved reading the first book in this series — Manage Your Day-to-Day — probably because it was all about productivity, which is a topic I cannot get enough of. This one was about making an impact with your business. It contains useful info, but stuff I have already read a trillion times. If you haven’t read about this stuff a trillion times, it’s worth a read.

Screenshot 2016-04-06 13.45.45Still Alice, by Lisa Genova
Finished on: 10 March — Kindle — 4.5/5

Another confession: I went into this book thinking it was a memoir. Then I thought about it, and was like DUH. This is about a woman’s descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s. How could it be a memoir? How would she have written it? Silly me. So, yeah — it’s fiction. Obviously. And it’s really, really good. Unlike anything else I’ve read. It was engaging, well written, and heart-rending.

Zombie Survival GuideThe Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks
Finished on: 15 March — Audiobook — 4.5/5

Oh my god, this was so much fun to listen to. I have a feeling it would’ve been pretty boring to actually read, but having it read to me by some American dude who sounded like he was ready for action was awesome. I don’t usually listen to audiobooks in the mornings, but I listened to this while making my breakfast every day. It made me feel like I was preparing for battle, which is obviously a brilliant way to start the day. It was also funny in places, so extra points for that.

Not Giving a FuckThe Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, by Sarah Knight
Finished on: 21 March — Kindle — 3.5/5

How could I not read this book, right? Well, arguably because I don’t need much help with not giving a fuck, but still. I picked it up for the hell of it. It was a quick and easy read, though sometimes convoluted. In places I felt like I could written it myself, which was entertaining (of course). It wasn’t totally amazing or anything, but I did agree with most of it (even if I didn’t glean anything useful for myself). The Kindle formatting was a bit weird though, which was a shame. It loses points for that, because the reading experience is important too, you know, and bad formatting can pull you out of it.

Reasons to Stay AliveReasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig
Finished on: 31 March — Kindle — 4/5

This seems to be getting rave reviews everywhere lately, so I decided to give it a bash, despite not suffering from depression. Which I guess is a not a prerequisite for reading it, but I do think it would’ve helped my enjoyment. Again, this was quick and easy to get through, but because I couldn’t relate to it all that much… hmm. At any rate, it’s well written and interesting.

My Book Statistics

Books read in March: 5

No comics this month, so my number’s a little lower than usual. Also, only one audiobook! (But a damn fine one.)

2016 goal: 75 books

Total books read: 36/75

Progress towards goal: 48%

Average books needed per week to reach goal: 1

Books bought in March: 22

  • Attack on Titan, Vol. 18 – Hajime Isayama (preordered)
  • Beacon 23 – Hugh Howey
  • Better – Atul Gawande
  • Brewster’s Millions – George Barr McCutcheon
  • Chocolat – Joanne Harris
  • Lock In – John Scalzi
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  • Runaways, Vol. 1 – Brian K. Vaughan
  • Spark Joy – Marie Kondo
  • Stuart: A Life Backwards – Alexander Masters
  • Ten Years in the Tub – Nick Hornby
  • The Best American Essays of the Century – Joyce Carol Oates (editor)
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2013 – Jason Wilson & Elizabeth Gilbert (editor)
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
  • The Lady in the Van – Alan Bennett
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck – Sarah Knight
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
  • Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
  • Vagabonding – Rolf Potts
  • World War Z – Max Brooks
  • Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes

(Apparently buying 20+ books every month is what I do. Also, if you’re paying attention you’ll notice that I only actually read one of them. Ack.)

Currently reading: 3

  • The Art of Asking — Amanda Palmer (err, didn’t pick this up once in March) *
  • The Best American Essays 2013 — Robert Atwan & Cheryl Strayed (editor) (I WILL finish this this month) *
  • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

* indicates books that have rolled over from the previous month(s).

Some Thoughts on Quitting Books

One of the things I’ve been actively trying to do more of lately is quit books I’m not into. When I was younger — late teens, early 20s — I would stubbornly make it a point to finish any book I started. As I got older, I found myself naturally putting books down and just never picking them back up again — lack of interest being the driver rather than any active decision on my part. Now I’m trying to take it a step further by actively quitting books that aren’t doing it for me. I’ve done this with a couple of books so far this year.

One was The Bees by Laline Paull. It sounded awesome. It sounded like 1984 (one of my favourite books) but with bees (one of my favourite animals). But I just couldn’t get on with it. I got about a quarter of the way in before deciding to drop it. I deleted it off my Kindle account and everything. I wasn’t exactly not enjoying it. It was confusing in places and pretentious most of the time, but it showed a little promise. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? It didn’t show enough promise. Not for me. So fuck it. I don’t want to stumble my way through a book that’s kind of okay when I could be racing through something I adore.

The other book I gave up on was the famed Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I enjoyed reading the bits about morning pages and artists’ dates. I like those ideas. But all the god-related shit? Totally not my bag, though not a reason in itself to give up on a book. Mainly, I realised that this book was simply not written for me. I don’t need help giving myself permission to be creative. I’m not holding myself back. I don’t have any emotional barriers to break through. And so, yeah — I realised that this book was not for me, and that to read it anyway would be a waste of my time. There are so many other things to read, you know?

Sidenote: I usually don’t add a book to my ‘currently reading’ list until I’ve got a bit of the way in and decided it’s for me. If I only read the first few pages of a book, I have no problem putting it down — might return to it later, might not. That’s why you’ll never hear about most of the books I start but don’t finish.

How about you? What did YOU read in March? (Sorry, no giveaway this month!)

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