Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happiness is...a good book. (Summer Reading edition #42)


I'm cheating a tiny bit. I had started an adult fiction book recommended to me by a co-worker and try as I might I just couldn't stick with it (why does everything have to be about sex?) so I abandoned it to try something else. However, my self-imposed time-limit was staring me in the face and I needed one final review (not to mention I had some library due dates to comply with before leaving on my trip) so I'm reviewing this book which I am actually reading but haven't actually finished yet. Just FYI.


Creating Your Best Life
Author: Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP and Dr. Michael B. Frisch
Pages: 270
Age Range: Adult
Published: 2009
Genre: Non-fiction/Self-help
Cover Score: **
Overall Grade: ***
Rating: PG


The subtitle for this book is "The Ultimate Life List Guide".  As you all know i am a sucker for lists. I lurv them! And that is why I first picked up this book.  Actually I didn't even pick it up. I saw the title in my library catalog while I was doing a search for a patron and put it on hold for myself sight unseen. I'm only a bout half way through it at the moment and I haven't followed all of their recommendations and activities listed at the end of each chapter but I am taking it with me on vacation and intend to do some serious mulling and reflecting while I'm in the airport and on the plane.

The authors begin by discussing the idea behind life lists, the psychology of it all and how they can be used to help a person find direction and accomplish their goals. There is a bit of research quoted and real-life situations and scenarios relayed but the main purpose is to get the reader to put it all into action. Each chapter ends with a brief re-cap of the important points covered and then a few exercises or lists to create.

There's the typical focus on a 'bucket list' or 100 things to do before you die but also creating more happiness moments in your life, building self-esteem, being more productive, finding your talents and passion, reaching your potential, creating a life mission statement, being well-rounded and setting goals in all areas of your life and more. There's not really any new information here but I love that it's all in one place.  The back matter contains some black lines of the worksheets/lists they ask you to think about and there's a list of additional resources (all websites) in case you need more.

I would definitely recommend this for anyone feeling a bit lost or unproductive or needing to reevaluate or make changes or shift directions in their lives. (I'll let you know if that changes after I actually finish it!)

This was a rather fitting finish for my experiment as it's given me some encouragement to reflect on where I am and what I want to be doing with my life. I realized the other day that my year is more than half over and I haven't given a lot of thought to my new year's resolutions since maybe March or April. I've also sort of bailed on my list of things to do this summer (and summer is quickly running out!) So, now that my time crunch is off and things have calmed down a bit at work it's time to re-focus on getting back on track and being a bit more productive.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Wow! My goal was to post one book a day for six weeks. It was a little ambitious given my increased schedule at work (which is when I do the majority of my reading) but I made it!  So here is a breakdown of what all went on:

  • 12 young adult books
  • 12 juvenile fiction books
  • 12 picture books/easy/beginning readers
  • 6 adult books
That adds up to 42 books with an average of one book per day
  • 35 of those were fiction
  • 7 were non-fiction
  • 2 epistolary novels
  • 2 sci-fi
  • 4 auto/biographies
  • 7 historical fiction
  • 7 fantasy
  • 2 sci-fi
  • 19 realistic fiction
  • 2 horror/suspense
(several overlapped genres or didn't fit neatly into one of the above so don't panic if the numbers don't add up!)
  • 32 women authors
  • 12 male authors
(with a couple having multiple authors, so again the numbers don't quite come out even)
  • 16 were illustrated
  • 31 were published in 2010 or 2011
  • 11 were published prior to 2010

For a grand total of 8253 pages and who knows how many hours and minutes of reading!  Whew!

I didn't get around to reading The Red Tent (it's my own personal copy and I had to keep pushing it aside for the books that came from the library and had return dates) but it's going home with me on the plane. I also missed out on Dorothy Parker and the Outlander series. They are both still on my list so never fear. I think Dorothy Parker will be first up when I get back. It seems like one that can be read in small chunks since it's mostly poems, articles and quotes. Outlander may still have to wait for a bigger chunk of free time. Oh well.

I've also realized a few things. I'm not overly discriminating in my reading. I didn't give any books just 1 star (though I had 2 I abandoned that probably would have qualified if I'd finished them) and only 2 got 2 stars. Most of them fell in the mid-range with 3 and 4 stars.  I did have a few favorite reads that garnered a 5-star rating: Me...Jane, Blackout, and Wrapped were probably my absolute favorite of the lot. I may go back and amend my Kat Incorrigible review to make it a 5 as well since I've come to like it more and more since finishing it.

Fantasy/sci-fi has been my genre of choice for the last little while but my reading trend for the past 6 weeks surprised me by leaning more towards the realistic fiction and my favorite reads would all qualify as historical fiction. And as the book I am (slowly) working on writing myself would also qualify as historical fiction I payed particular attention to those and realized how picky I am in wanting resources notated and fact/fiction clearly distinguished. It's definitely something I will keep in mind as I write.

None of the adult books I read made a truly lasting impression but I definitely feel a gap in the adult reading I do. I'm going to re-double my efforts to fit quality adult reading into my life (and am more than willing to take suggestions as to what I should read first!) I also need to search out more male authors. They were sadly outnumbered by women over the past few weeks.

I have really enjoyed having a bit of a challenge to keep me going during the wretched heat we've been experiencing this summer. I will continue to highlight some of my favorite reads periodically on the blog and may even do the Summer Reading extravaganza again next year. I may also adjust my format just a bit as I go so watch for what the future might bring!

But just now I intend to spend the next week and a half relaxing; playing with my darling little nephews, hiking some gorgeous red rock canyons in Southern Utah, wandering the vast beauty of Yellowstone, spending some quality time with my grandparents, getting a massage and a haircut and a pedicure, basking in the glory that is Josh Groban's voice and eating my weight in Arctic Circle shakes (I hate that I can't get a decent shake out here on the East Coast!) Yep, that just about covers it.

Thanks for indulging me in my experiment. See you all in mid-August and happy reading!

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