At the end of last year, I created a Reading Challenge to help give me some focus to my reading life in 2017. As it turns out, the first few months of 2017 weren’t great for me (see this post to find out more) and I didn’t read much until April.
Now that I’m back into reading on a regular basis (you can see how I found time for reading in this post), I thought it was a good time to give an update on my reading challenge and check in with where I’m up to.
As a refresher, this is the reading challenge list:
As I’ve since rebranded my blog, I’ve created a new image with my new website and Instagram name on there. I’ve kept the old #LNFreadingchallenge hashtag but also created a new #LLreadingchallenge hashtag as well to keep track of the posts.
So of my list, these are the books I’ve read:
A book published in 2017
I was so excited to read this book. I love Brooke’s podcast (the Slow Home Podcast) and it was one of my very first introductions to simplifying and slow living. This is an easy book to read and has easy to complete activities to help you put some small actions into place to give you some more mindfulness and simplicity in your day. Brooke has said that she wrote this book for people who like the idea of slowing down or simplifying but claim they don’t have the time.
I read the book in about an hour (and Brooke recommends finishing it before implementing the rituals into your day) and the activities are all really simple and achievable. I talked about it a bit in my April Favourites post, and I think it’s a must read if you want to find some ways to get some more space in your day.
I even gave the book to my mum to read to give her some ideas for where to start with simplifying her own life (after she asked me for what books I recommended, I’m not just that presumptuous!).
The biggest thing I took away from this book was that a little work up front to set up some rhythms (not routines, read the book to find out why Brooke uses the word rhythm) and some mind-clearing habits will set you up to be able to handle anxiety or difficult times more easily because you have these habits to anchor you.
A book by an author you already love
I first read a book by Gretchen Rubin last year when I read Better Than Before, her book on habits which I loved. This was her first ‘improvement’ (or self-help adjacent) book and I don’t think I would have read it without already having been exposed to her other work.
Happiness seems to be an odd thing to write a book about, especially for someone whose life seems pretty good. In addition reading a book on happiness didn’t seem like something I needed when I was pretty happy with my life. But I’ve really enjoyed reading The Happiness Project.
It’s broken up into 12 parts, one for each month, where Gretchen tackles a different aspect of happiness in her life with experiments/activities to improve. It’s been really inspiring and has encouraged me to try to incorporate some of the activities in my life. I’m even thinking of incorporating elements of it into a happiness/slow living/life improvement challenge of my own for a year… I’m still not sure but I’m tossing the idea of it around.
I find reading about specific things people have done to improve their own lives really interesting and actually really applicable to my life. A lot of the problems Gretchen wanted to tackle in her happiness project (like wanting to stop nagging or be a better friend) are things that I know I need to improve on in my own life and I loved the insight that Gretchen’s experiment provided into how I can make some more positive changes myself.
I came away from this book with lots of great ideas for small but meaningful changes I can make in my everyday life to start improving my happiness and the happiness of the people around me.
I’ve since started her other book, Happier at Home, which is a second ‘happiness project’ focused purely on the home and I’m really liking it.
A book to ‘expand your horizons’
This book was all kinds of mind-blowing for me. I want to re-read it with a highlighter and pen in hand to make notes and highlight passages as I go (something I found I wish I had done when I finished it).
Reading this book came with the realisation that I have suffered from some form of anxiety probably my whole life and rather than freaking me out, this book made me feel okay about it. It’s a memoir-ish book by Sarah Wilson (of ‘I Quit Sugar’ fame) and it’s peppered with tips for managing (and thriving with) anxiety based on Sarah’s experience of the things that have worked for her. It’s both incredibly personal and very practical.
This is another one I wrote about in my April Favourites and I think it’s a must-read for anyone who struggles with anxiety. I just found it so helpful and enlightening, it’s almost too hard to put into words.
I like Sarah’s perspective that anxiety isn’t something we have to ‘beat’, but rather it is an inherent part of who we are and we should embrace that part of us. Not to say that living with anxiety with easy, it’s actually pretty damn hard a lot of the time, but it’s there and it can’t hurt to try to embrace it a little more and manage it in a way that is working with the anxiety (in a manner) instead of feeling like you’re battling against a part of yourself, which is an exhausting way to approach it.
I also really like that it’s not prescriptive in any sense. It’s very clear that this is Sarah’s journey and what works for her (with the exception of meditation, she says if you have anxiety then meditation is a non-negotiable and I tend to agree – as much as I don’t really enjoy meditating, it actually makes an incredible amount of difference). She’s not trying to convince you of anything, just starting a conversation, and that is a really gentle but powerful way to approach this topic which I found to be really refreshing.
So those are the books I’ve checked off my list so far. I’ve got a fair way to go to make it through the rest of my list but I’ve still got 7 months to go so I’m feeling confident of getting through it.
Have you been doing my reading challenge? Have you read any of these books?
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