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My Summer Reads

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Over the past few months, I’ve racked up quite a few miles in the car getting to and from some incredible destinations during wedding season in the Pacific Northwest. Something that makes it infinitely more bearable—even enjoyable!—has been an audiobook app called Overdrive that I was introduced earlier this year. My life as a busy mom and business owner doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading, but I’ve been desperately missing that feeling of getting lost in a good book! Listening to an audiobook isn’t the same as the tactile experience of turning real pages, whether crisp and new, or vintage, yellowed and well-worn, but passing the miles with a great narrator and an engaging topic has been revelatory. Here are some of my faves from my time on the road this season:

 

 

Dream Year Ben Arment Review

Dream Year  – Ben Arment

Seriously life-changing! If you’re looking for some motivation or momentum in pursuing your dreams, as well as the nitty-gritty steps to take towards making your vision a reality and living a life in pursuit of your dreams, pick this one up! I’ve rarely felt more energized about my goals and business than after reading this book. It’s one of the ones that makes you stop (in my case pull off the road) and take notes because you’re just so excited that you don’t want to forget a thought or action step or idea! Especially good if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, but great for anyone with a big dream or goal to pursue.

Tidying Up ReviewThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

 

I can’t think of this book without a chuckle. It’s renewed my determination to live with less and declutter my consumerist lifestyle. We end up with so much stuff, and so much of our culture is about acquisition, that it feels nearly impossible to avoid the inevitable buildup of clutter. But I’m coming to realize that having less stuff means appreciating each thing more—fewer clothes means each item gets worn and enjoyed more often, and less stuff means less time organizing, cleaning up, picking up, taking care of, and storing that stuff. More space in your home to enjoy, and more time to do things you want to instead of folding and picking up and putting away. I’ll probably never achieve minimalism, but this book is a big help on my journey to let go of things that don’t bring joy and function to my life. Sometimes it gets a little silly—the author comes from a Japanese tradition that is rich in anthropomorphism, so while imaging one’s belongings as creatures with feelings might seem silly to a North American mindset, it makes more sense in the author’s cultural context. Yes, she talks to her stuff, thanking her coat and purse for their hard day’s work and imagining socks resting in the drawer after a tough job under foot all day, but I think the lessons in letting go and systematically purging are helpful in doing the emotional work of clearing the clutter from a maximalist lifestyle.

Interstellar Age Review

The Interstellar Age – Jim Bell

On the topic of the Voyager I and II space probe missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. I’m fascinated by space exploration and the history of the space program, and I remember seeing photos from these missions in dusty National Geographics from my parents’ collection. I loved to take a stack of yellow-spined magazines outside with me on hot summer days and pour over the incredible images while munching on frozen strawberries from the previous year’s u-pick excursions. My favorite features were always the space exploration articles, probably spurring my teenage obsession with Science Fiction. Anyways, this was a great narrative of one scientist’s career involving the Voyager missions, from his college days to his career with NASA, all tied together with the history and science involved in the groundbreaking missions.

Monuments Men Review

The Monuments Men – Robert M. Edsel

This is one I’ll need to read again, because it was very complex and detailed—weaving together military history during WWII, art history, and the lives of the incredible men who worked tirelessly in Europe to save, preserve, and restore the art treasures of Western Civilization. I found the book to be quite different from the movie in tone, but both are entirely worthwhile  and fascinating interpretations of the events. It’s amazing to try to wrap your mind around the sheer number of artifacts stolen and appropriated by the Nazis before and during WWII, and the work done to restore as many pieces as possible to their rightful places was nothing short of heroic.

Steve Jobs Walter Isaacson Review

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

A biography of the man who co-created Apple, a company whose products have undeniably changed the fabric of civilization and the ways we live modern life. While not always complimentary, Walter Isaacson’s biography is an often sympathetic look at a dynamic figure who lived a sometimes tumultuous life. Jobs was polarizing, visionary, relentless, and dictatorial, and somehow he had a unique understanding of aesthetics, design, elegance, and technology. While the puzzle pieces of the man, such as his appreciation for calligraphy and Zen Buddhist philosophy, do give insight into how and why he was able to generate the driving force behind such incredible technological innovations, Steve Jobs remains enigmatic—more than the sum of his disparate parts. I also enjoyed the film Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, whose gangly, piercing portrayal of Jobs will now be forever linked in my mind to the man himself.

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