Book Review: Live What You Love

Live What You Love: Notes from an unusual Life

by Bob and Melinda Blanchard

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My Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I found this book on my bookshelf.  I must have bought it at a library book sale at some point.  I chose the book off my bookshelf because the title sounded interesting, and it looked like a very quick and easy read.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Bob and Melinda Blanchard’s first book, A Trip to the Beach, sold more than 85,000 copies and became inspiration for countless people who were ready to start living their dreams. Comprising stories, reflections, notes, insights, and a bit of advice, Live What You Love is the Blanchard’s warm, engaging, and personal response to the thousands of fans who’ve asked them, “How did you do it?”

“What happens if life falls outside the expected lines and inside others that are self-defined? Our experiences tell us that living this way is as wonderful as it is odd. We happen to believe that life really is about choices, and we love what happens when interesting ones get paired together.”–Bob and Melinda Blanchard

After the Blanchards’ published A Trip to the Beach, they found that readers responded personally and passionately, often buying multiple copies to give friends and family. They received countless invitations to lecture and requests for national television appearances, and have been asked to develop a series for PBS. Everyone, it seems, wanted to live their life: during the winter, the couple operate the most popular restaurant in Anguilla, the tiny Caribbean nation hideaway of celebrities, beautiful beaches and luxurious homes, and spend summers in the green hills of Northern Vermont.
Through delightful and moving stories, reflections, notes–and a soupcon of advice–the Blanchards have written a stunning, inspirational manifesto where truly living what you love becomes a revolutionary act, a rebellion against the common life. They show how, through self-trust, personal adjustment, and daily acts of commitment, each of us can live the life we love and make every day a personal treasure. Full of warmth, humor, wisdom, and charm, LWYL is the Blanchard’s love letter to life, a celebration of unusual choices, and a thank you gift to all of their fans.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I enjoyed this book a lot!  It was a very quick and easy read, and it held my interest the entire way through.  It was also very inspiring.  The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is because the story jumped around in time and that was confusing at times.  It was also difficult at times to tell which one of the authors was telling the story since they took turns writing the chapters.  I think the story would have been easier to follow if it had been written chronologically.  I have not read their first book, A Trip to the Beach, but I have added that to my list of books to read.

I would read Live What You Love again.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has dreams and just needs a little bit of motivation to take action on those dreams.

Check out more reviews on Live What You Love on Goodreads.

Favorite Quote

“Choose a rich life over an expensive lifestyle and curate your own memories as treasures you will share.” p. 182-183

 

 

Book Review: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

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My Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I got this book at a book sale years ago.  I was probably drawn to the title, and I was excited to learn about the wisdom that the Dalai Lama had to share.  Like many other books, this one sat on my bookshelf for several years before I saw it there about a month ago and felt called to finally read it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I was really hoping I would love this book and take away a lot from it.  Unfortunately, it was not an easy read for me.  It took me over a month to read this.  Happiness is one of my favorite topics, but unfortunately this book did not hold my interest like I had hoped.  Once I started reading, I was disappointed to find out that the Dalai Lama did not write the book.  The book was written by Howard Cutler, M.D., a psychiatrist who interviewed him.

Although this book didn’t meet my high expectations of it, there are some things that I really enjoyed about it.  I liked reading the direct quotes and the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, and this book has inspired me to read some of his books, including his autobiography, Freedom in Exile and The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus.

I don’t think I would read The Art of Happiness again, but I would not discourage anyone from reading it.  The Dalai Lama shares some great wisdom and advice, and there is a lot of information to take away from it.

You can check out other reviews about this book at Goodreads.

My Favorite Quotes

A few of my favorite quotes of the Dalai Lama from The Art of Happiness:

Definition of love (p.286) – “An utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual.”

“Motivation is so important…If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal.  Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort.  But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.” (p.272)

“I believe that each individual should embark upon a spiritual path that is best suited to his or her mental disposition, natural inclination, temperament, belief, family, and cultural background.” (p.294)

“The variety of people calls for a variety of religions.  The purpose of religion is to benefit people, and I think that if we only had one religion, after a while it would cease to benefit many people…religions are meant to nourish the human spirit.  And I think we can learn to celebrate that diversity in religions and develop a deep appreciation of the variety of religions…we must respect and appreciate the value of all the different major world religious traditions.”

“I think prayer is, for the most part, a simple daily reminder of your deeply held principles and convictions…Prayers are actually reminders.  Reminders of how to speak to others, how to deal with other people, how to deal with problems in your daily life, things like that…my practice involves reminders — reviewing the importance of compassion, forgiveness, all these things.” – (P. 298)

Book Review: The Energy Bus

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

by Jon Gordon

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My Rating: ***** (5 stars out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read:

I read this book because it was recommended to me by several friends who also enjoy books about personal growth and inspiration.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home.   Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful road map to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team.  When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I enjoyed this book a lot!  It was a very quick and easy read.  Although there wasn’t anything in there that I hadn’t already heard or read before, it never hurts to reinforce positivity and inspiring ideas.  I really enjoyed the way the information was presented.  It was presented as a story rather than just listing the 10 steps, and that held my interest more than typical self-help books do.  I would read this again, and I would definitely recommend this book to others who enjoy reading books about positivity and personal growth, especially those in a leadership position.

A few quotes I enjoyed:

“First decide what you want.  Then you can start creating it.  Don’t let the world create you.  You create your world.” – p.31

“If you build it in your mind, focus on seeing it, and take action, the success will come.” -p.44

“Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.”

 

Find out more about the book at www.theenergybus.com, and read more reviews about the book at Goodreads.

Book Review: The Gift of an Ordinary Day

The Gift of an Ordinary Day:  A Mother’s Memoir

by Katrina Kenison

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My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale several years ago, and it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.  Whether I purchased it because of the title or because of the cover (yes, I do initially judge books by their covers), I don’t remember.  I had never heard of it before, so it wasn’t because of a recommendation.  It may have just called out to me, as books often do.  So, I bought it, and it sat on my shelf for years.  The reason I chose this book to read among all the books on my shelf at home is just as puzzling to me.  It just had a way of calling out to me, saying “now is the time to read this.”  When that happens, I trust…because those are the books that often have the greatest impact on my life.  This one did not disappoint.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers–holding on, letting go.

Poised on the threshold between family life as she’s always known it and her older son’s departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.

The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women’s hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  This book must have been calling out to me because I chose to read it at a time in my life where I could really relate with the author.  As her teen boys approach the end of their time living at home, she feels a desperate need to spend more time being present with them, holding onto what is left of their time together under one roof, and appreciating every moment of it.  My daughters are a few years younger than her boys were when she wrote the book, but I still feel the urgency of savoring those moments, those “gifts of an ordinary day.”  I really loved the author’s writing style, and I felt like I was right there with her throughout the entire story, feeling her every emotion.

The author offers so many valuable insights in this book!  I recommend that every mom of a teenager read this book.  Although I imagine nothing can really prepare us for the inevitable day when our children leave the nest, this book helped to remind me that every stage of life is a gift, and learning to slow down and practice presence and gratitude in each stage will help to ease the transitions.

Find more reviews about this book at Goodreads.

Some of My Favorite Quotes from the Book:

“When we focus on what is good and beautiful in someone, whether or not we think that they ‘deserve’ it, the good and beautiful are strengthened merely by the light of our attention.  When we choose to see and appreciate what is good and beautiful in our children, that goodness can’t help but grow, and their beauty blossoms forth.” (p.169)

“The life we have right here, right now, is the best life there is.” (p.209)

“Grace is available for each of us every day — our spiritual daily bread, but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance (p.264)

“Do your work, then step back.  The only path to serenity.” ~Tao Te Ching (p.231)

“The only trust required is to know that when there is one ending there will be another beginning.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes (p.197)

 

Book & Movie Review: The Help

Book Review:  The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

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My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale years ago.  I saw the movie with some friends from a book club when the movie first came out, but I had not read the book.  This summer, I decided I wanted to read something easier than the self-help books I usually read, so I pulled this off my book shelf.  It pretty much took me all summer to read, but I’m glad I did.  When I finished the book, I went to the library and got the movie to watch again.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step….

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope,The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

This book took me much longer to read than I had anticipated, but I really liked it a lot, and I learned a lot from it.

This book taught me a lot about the relationships between blacks and whites in the South in the 1960’s.  It really opened my eyes to the cruelty and injustice that existed during that time.  This book reminds me of how far we have come in working towards eliminating inequality and racism.  There is still much progress to be made, but I think this book and movie helps to bring us one step closer to that.

I really came to love and admire the courage of many of the characters in this book.  I liked the way the chapters switched between the perspectives of the 3 main characters:  Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny.  Two of these characters are black, and one is white.  Each of these characters provides her own stories of life in the South during that time, and I admire the way each of them was willing to risk everything to fight for equality and a better life for all.

Thoughts on the Movie

I thought the movie was really well done!  It followed the book closely.  I saw the movie when it first came out.  I had not yet read the  book, and I did not understand a lot of the little details.  When I watched the movie again after reading the book, the details stood out and made much more sense.  I would definitely recommend both the book and the movie!  My daughters (aged 13, 12, and 9) all watched the movie with me, and they all enjoyed it as well.

My Favorite Quote from The Help:

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Aibileen, one of the black maids, said this often to Mae Mobley, the little girl she was caring for.  If nothing else, she wanted to teach her this important truth about herself.  I believe everyone should be taught to believe this about themselves.

For more reviews on The Help, visit Goodreads.

Book Review: Transformed

Book Review:  Transformed

by Rick Warren

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My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I am a member of a small group (we call it a Lifegroup) at our church.  For 7 sessions, we got together every other week to go through this book together, watch the video that went along with the weekly lesson, and discuss our thoughts and how we can apply the concepts to our own lives.

Summary (through Goodreads)

Transformed is a church-wide, 7-session campaign that will guide and grow your church by exploring what the Bible has to say about every essential area of our lives: Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial, and Vocational. The world is shouting for our attention with answers to our relationship struggles, solutions to our financial trouble, and explanations to our search for meaning. But the world’s promises leave us empty and searching for more. God’s Word is the only answer that promises to transform our lives from the inside out. Unite as a church and be TRANSFORMED together.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I really liked this book a lot.  Over 7 weeks (49 days), each day I looked forward to reading, reflecting, and journaling on the lesson of the day.  In those 10 minutes of each day, I felt so at peace.  I was able to leave all of my worries behind and connect with my source and my true self.  It was a wonderful feeling.  When I was able to spend this time first thing in the morning, it inspired me and provided me with a great start to my day.

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in becoming healthier in mind, body, or spirit.  The book covers just about every area of our lives:  spiritual health, physical health, mental health, emotional health, relational health, financial health, and vocational health.  The reading is very short, but the reflection and journaling is what I enjoyed the most.  To anyone who gets this book, I would encourage you to do the journaling if you want to get the most out of it.

Although I really enjoyed doing the individual lessons from the book, the part of this course that really made the biggest impact in my life was the small group discussion and the videos that went along with the book.  Find out more about the course at http://transformedlife.com/

 

Book Review: The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

by Gretchen Rubin

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My Rating:  *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

Honestly, I can’t remember why I chose to read this book.  I began it in April, at a time when I was really trying to focus on de-cluttering, so I must have seen it referenced somewhere since de-cluttering is one of the key recommendations for becoming happier.  I really liked the concept of the book as well.

Summary (from Goodreads)

What if you could change your life without really changing your life? On the outside, Gretchen Rubin had it all — a good marriage, healthy children and a successful career — but she knew something was missing. Determined to end that nagging feeling, she set out on a year-long quest to learn how to better enjoy the life she already had.

Each month, Gretchen pursued a different set of resolutions — go to sleep earlier, tackle a nagging task, bring people together, take time to be silly — along with dozens of other goals. She read everything from classical philosophy to cutting-edge scientific studies, from Winston Churchill to Oprah, developing her own definition of happiness and a plan for how to achieve it. She kept track of which resolutions worked and which didn’t, sharing her stories and collecting those of others through her blog (created to fulfill one of March’s resolutions). Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life.

The Happiness Project is the engaging, relatable and inspiring result of the author’s twelve-month adventure in becoming a happier person. Written with a wicked sense of humour and sharp insight, Gretchen Rubin’s story will inspire readers to embrace the pleasure in their lives and remind them how to have fun.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

This book took me a really long time to finish.  It did not hold my attention as well as I thought it would have.  I expected it to be a really easy read because the topic is something that I am very interested in, but it was not as easy of a read as I had anticipated.  I admire the author for her honesty and the way she points out her own flaws, and I can relate with her in many ways.  The book is filled with many examples from the author’s life, but in my opinion, it was a little too detailed and difficult to get through at times.

There are lots of great tips, precepts, and quotes in the book.  Nothing comes to mind that really stood out or inspired me, but I have done a lot of research on the topic of happiness so there wasn’t much that was new to me.  Just because the book didn’t have a life-changing impact on my life, it doesn’t mean it won’t on others, so I would still recommend checking it out for yourself.

You can find other reviews on The Happiness Project, and find out more about the author at Goodreads.