Reading Taste Test · Reviews

Reading Taste Test | @jacksepticeye

Hello and welcome to a new thing I have been wanting to introduce on my blog for some time. I am always getting book recs and such from book blogs, bloggers, and friends who love reading a ton. While I LOVE the recommendations, I have always been curious to see if books recommended by those who are not known for their love of books would be just as enjoyable or maybe even a new favorite. So over the past few months as I watched youtubers or their other social media accounts who are not book centric and started to take some notes of books they mentioned. This month I decided to give jacksepticeye’s or Seán McLoughlin’s book recommendation a try.

This pick I came across in his video entitled, Jacksepticeye’s REAL Personality Revealed (Enneagram Test), who would have thought a book rec would have come from a title like that? lol. But, this just comes to show you that you can find books anywhere. Anyway, the book mentioned in this video is How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald J. Robertson. When I studied history for my degree I did take quite a few philosophy courses, but have not really touched it since then, a shame because I really liked those classes because they challenged your own thinking. So, when he mentioned this book, I knew it was one I was going to use in this series.

Description

“Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian—taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day—through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.

Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.” –goodreads.com

First Impressions

Even though I was already sold on this book because it is a topic I want to explore again I didn’t know too much about the book itself until I got my hands on it and read the above description. What stood out to me most was the fact that this book seems like a combination of a history, philosophy, and self help. On top of that it seems like the author is going to be taking ideas that many scoff at because they are “old” and revitalizing them though a modern lens. As someone who has studied history, you really can see a lot of parallels to old idea and civilizations and the modern day if you only took the time to really see the connections. Obviously, this is not to say the past is perfect in anyway, but nor are we perfect now. One thing for sure is that the past and present are connected.

What I Liked

While I really loved this book quite a bit, there are a few things that stood out the most while reading this book. The first being the authors ability to showcase ancient philosophy in a way that is easily understood. Not only was it easily understood, I liked how the author connected this philosophy to modern psychology. As someone who studied both of these a bit in the past, it really solidified my understanding as well as cementing the fact that this does in fact have a place in the modern world. I would like to make it clear that I feel like this book would still be easily understood and impactful if the reader does not have any background or previous interest in these fields. The authors plain language and explanations don’t come across as belittling or condescending, but like a friend talking to you and explain something new to you. Nothing is overly complicated in the slightest.

The second things that really stood out to me, I kind of already hinted at, but the authors way of telling the story of Marcus Aurelius or Stoicism was phenomenal. As someone who had no idea about either of these topics. Though his narrative way to telling the history combined with his friendly way of giving examples of how to bring these practices to your life it is an enjoyable read. It neither reads like someone knowledgeable talking down to someone or like you are in a lecture. When reading about ancient ways of thinking or individuals, this can often happen. But, Donald J. Robertson stands out in this regard.

What I Didn’t Like

I have to say I really don’t have anything specific to note in regards to dislikes when reading this book.

Overall

I am really glad that I came across this video by jacksepticeye because otherwise I would have never read this book. If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. I annotated it quite a lot. You would be hard pressed to find a page without a scribble or underlined passages. It was organized very well, the narrator/ author had a very clear and kind tone, and I learned quite a lot without feeling like I was attending a class or seminar. My personal opinion is this is a wonderful book and if you are interested in this topic, look further into this book.

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Monthly Intent · To Be Read

Monthly Intent | August 2021

Books I plan on reading this month!

Hello and welcome to my monthly intent post for August! I hope everyone has a lovely July, and August will even better! This month I have quite a few things I would like to see or give a try. I am really hoping the weather ends up cooperating because a lot of them are outdoorsy or a DIY I would need good ventilation.

Reading Plans

This upcoming month I have three books I really would love to get to. The first one being Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann, I have wanted to read this for months and for some reason I just have not picked it up. I was in a bit of a slump after the first few months of the year, so I am going to blame it on that. Thankfully, I think it is starting to go away since my reading has gone up a bit the last few months. Next, I really would love to read Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin. I read Fever Dream by the same author and I really loved it so I have very high hopes. Her last one had a bit of a horror twist that I was not expecting. I want to slowly read all of her stuff. Last, but not least is Writing on Stone by Christina Marsden Gillis. I recently picked this up, but I just want to get to it right away! It’s a nonfiction about a small island community in Maine.

Crochet Plans

This month I want to finally finish my Macchiato Crochet Poncho created by BrianaKdesigns. I am loving how it is coming out and I just cannot wait to get to wear it in the fall. Another thing I want to attempt to do is knit a pair of socks. I signed up for a class of sorts to try and learn, we shall see how it goes! I do not have the highest of hopes, BUT I am excited to give it a try and also have the support if I need it. Even if they come out wonky I will love them. I might just hang them on the wall as an art piece instead of functioning socks though. lol. If I happen to have time I have a few smaller projects I want to work on to try to get ahead on gifts during the holiday season.

Random Goals

This month I have it in my head to dye my own yarn. I found a method using blackbeans and I was thinking of giving it a go. The post I found is called Natural Dyeing with Black Beans by fiberartsy. I just need to find the right kind of yarn to dye, I feel like that is going to be the most difficult. I want to use a cotton, but we shall see! Next, I really want to go to an art museum of some sort. I have a few that are within my state so I am trying to decide which one I would feel the most comfortable going to.

What are you planning on doing this month?

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Monthly Digest

Monthly Digest | July 2021

Hello and welcome to my monthly digest post where I talk about how the past month has gone in terms of reading, crafting, and random life events. This month was a really fun one. I did some reading I didn’t think I would get to and created quite a few things as well. I went on a few adventures, which was a great change of scenery since I have not really gone far from home over the last 15 months or so. Anyway, here is what happened over the past month!

Book stack of read books, current crochet project, and my D.I.Y. room spray.

Reading

  • Hauled The Domestic Life of the Jersey Devil by Bill Sprouse
  • Hauled Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yu
  • Read Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
  • Read Later by Stephen King LOVED
  • Hauled The Field House by Robin Clifford Wood
  • Hauled The House of Lobster Cove by Jane Goodrich
  • Hauled Writing on Stone by Christina Marsden Gillis
  • Hauled A Haunting Fog by Heidi Martin Washburn
  • Hauled Wild! Weird! Wonderful Maine! by Earl D. Brechlin
  • Read Cursed Objects by J.W. Ocker
  • Read How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson LOVED
  • Read The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Read Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power by Sady Doyle LOVED
  • Hauled and Read a story I cannot share, but know that it was great!

Total TBR Count: 35, Last Month: 33

Crochet & Crafting

Over this month I crocheted quite a bit, I made at least 4 market bags and gifted them to family members. I really need to make myself one in the future. Now that we can start using our own bags again I think it would be great to use for produce instead of the plastic bags. I did also made a ton of progress on the  Macchiato Crochet Poncho created by BrianaKdesigns. I am about 1/3 of the way done with it, but sadly I did not have the time to dedicate to it like I thought I would this month. I am planning on continuing this pattern in the upcoming month. Another crafting this I did this month was restore an antique picnic basket to use for my larger crochet projects because I have a few blankets I need to be making in the near future. I resealed it and even sewed a liner, a first for me! It even had button holes! As for the goal of making a room spray I ended up making the Mood-Boosting Blend room spray by Hello Glow. It included mixing up orange, lemon, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils with a little bit of vodka and filtered water. If you want to make some for yourself, I suggest checking out their post. I really loved how mine ended up smelling. I keep using it and I plan on making it again!

Life

Yard when staying with family.

This month was filled with a ton of really memorable things. As I mentioned in the start of this post, I went on a few adventures. The first being an almost 2 hour trip (one way) with a friend to a indie yarn store called Yarnia. I went a little over the top with picking up yarn because there were so many beautiful options I don’t see normally. Also, can I just say the name of this place is just perfect! A pun involving reading and yarn, not easily topped. I also decided while I was here I would attempt to maybe learn how to knit…it isn’t going so well. I am a crocheter and to be honest, I think it is going to be hard to break away from that.

Another thing I did was finally visit with family I have not seen in nearly 2 years. We got to spend a week together in the middle of the woods. It was so peaceful and calming. It was just great to spend quality time with them once again and also not have to deal with all of the people and congestion that goes on in my daily life. I ended up doing a lot of reading, relaxing, and just spending time outside. Spending time outside and in nature really is something I treasure because it also grounds me no matter what is going on in my life. I really wish I made it more of a priority because it makes such a difference. I will for sure need to work on that going forward.

I hope you had a wonderful July and have a few great memories to dwell upon in the future. I would love it if you shared something you tried or did over the past month. I also hope you have a wonderful month ahead!

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Hauls & Unboxings

Books I Bought at an Indie Bookshop While Visiting Family

Hello and welcome to a very specifically themed book haul. I have not done a standalone book haul in a while, but I recently traveled a bit to spend time safely with family in the middle of the woods. Side note, being in the middle of the woods and away from huge crowds of people did wonders for my reading. You can see this in my post called, Books I Took On Vacation and Did I finish Them?. Anyway, when I was there I decided to stop at an independent bookstore to support them, but also buy some books that take place in the general vicinity or state I was in. That way when I miss my family or want to trick my brain into thinking I am somewhere else relaxing I can pick of one of these books/souvenirs.

The Books

Wild! Weird! Wonderful! Maine. by Earl Brechlin, is a nonfiction book that accounts the “out there” history of Maine from ghost stories to aliens, Inventors to interesting people. It just sounded like a fun look at the legends, myths, and the not so known facts and stories about Maine.

The House at Lobster Cove by Jane Goodrich, this historical fiction novel follows a wealthy man named George Nixon Black who wasn’t very social, but liked in a house known by many. It seems like while it is know by many, the house was not visited often by others. This story seems to lift the veil of this mans private life in this beautiful house.

The Field House: A Writer’s Life Lost and Found on an Island in Maine by Robin Clifford Wood, is a nonfiction novel following the life of an author by the name of Rachel Field. She was a very prolific author who won tons of awards, but her name has been lost to history. The author of this book takes a look at her life and her home to get to know Field’s.

Writing on Stone: Scenes from a Maine Island Life by Peter Ralston, his nonficiton novel takes a look at Gott’s Island and its history, but also the story of a family. At least to the best of my knowledge from the description.

A Haunting Fog by Heidi Martin Washburn, is a fictional novel that follows Madelyn Davis during a tough time in her life. It is affecting her in every where to the point her boss tells her to take a break. During this break Madelyn becomes a caregiver of an older women who has secrets of her own and mystery begins to unfold.

I am really looking forward to all of these books for different reasons, but each one just sounds like a story I can easily fall into depending on my mood. Darn being a mood reader! I really do like how I picked up a wide range of books, fiction and nonfiction so I can explore Maine in various ways while I remember the memories I shared with my family while in that state. Also, helping support indie bookstores is another huge bonus!

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To Be Read

To Be Read | May 2021

Hello and welcome to my May TBR! This month I am going to be keeping my TBR on the smaller size to hopefully give me the opportunity to do some mood reading, which really helped out the second half of April.


The Books

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, I have been reading The Discovery of Witches series on my ereader and really enjoying it. I ended up walking into my local indie bookshop and I was talking about really enjoying it and the seller recommended this book to me. It is a historical fiction, but all about sisters joining the suffragist movement with a twist of witchcraft from my understanding.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, I have heard nothing but great things about this book and I came across it being on sale on a recent trip to the bookstore, so I thought it was the best time to pick it up and give it a go. I am really interested in this because it is multigenerational from my understanding and is historical fiction.

A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, I picked this book up on a total whim if I am being honest. I saw a youtuber I enjoy watching get this book and they were so excited about it I just couldn’t help myself. I have no idea what it is about, but I feel like that it is kinda fun and will make it all the more interesting when I read it this month.

The Agonist by Shastra Deo, not pictured, I am reading this book digitally. This is a collection of poems by an author who was born in Fiji. Reading the blurb and reviews I have come across say that it is beautifully written as well as being food for thought and conversation.

What do you plan on reading this month?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Book | Annelies from Annelies Explores | The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray

Next month I am reading a book picked by Annelies, who you can find on twitter as @AnneliesExpl or on their blog called Annelies Explores. I am really looking forward to reading the book they picked for me, it just sounds grand!

One Sentence Review

uyky

Description

We’re told that happiness is in the extraordinary. It’s on a Caribbean sun lounger, in the driving seat of a luxury car, inside an expensive golden locket, watching sunrise from Machu Picchu. We strive, reach, push, shoot for more. ‘Enough’ is a moving target we never quite reach.

When we do brush our fingertips against the extraordinary a deeply inconvenient psychological phenomenon called the ‘hedonic treadmill’ means that, after a surge of joy, our happiness level returns to the baseline it was at before the ‘extra’ event.

So, what’s the answer? The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary theorizes that the solution is rediscovering the joy in the ordinary that we so often now forget to feel. Because we now expect the pleasure of a croissant, a hot shower, a yoga class, someone delivering our shopping to our door, we no longer feel its buzz. The joy of it whips through us like a bullet train, without pause. –goodreads.com

What I Liked

As someone who loves crochet and reading, the authors point of view now in life aligns quite a bit more to me. I really enjoy the quiet moments that are small and meditative in a way and those truly give me joy. The author really wants to share this with others, which I think is wonderful. Small things really can give you true joy and comfort, but everyone needs to find out what they is to you.

I felt the format of this book lent itself in a way that was great for the reader to make connections because it changed up perspective and time frames often. Talking about their own personal past and experience with the constant chase of happiness, and how they have found happiness now when they are not chasing it. I did also enjoy the lists in this book, I felt like it was a great model of sorts for those who are trying to find the small joys in their life or rediscover them.

What I Didn’t Like

Some of the things mentioned in this book that the author viewed in the past as things that would make her happy, I never wanted in my life honestly. So, this made it a bit hard to relate to the author in a lot of ways. Which, made it a bit harder to “buy in” in some sense. I seem to already be more on the side of already finding joy in the ordinary, but it was an enjoyable way to rediscover the idea and reflect to see if there are any other “ordinary” things I find joy in.

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I feel like it is a great example of finding joy in the places you can without always thinking about something giving you joy that a dream or something that will happen in the future. It is also a way of being mindful and in the moment and finding joy within that, which I think is important personally. I think this is a wonderful read and I think the lists and such would be a great way to explore the ordinary in your life that you enjoy. If this sounds interesting to you, I suggest picking it up from the library or your bookstore!

Rating


Next month I am reading a book picked by Tee, who you can find over on twitter as @teesbookreads. She is very kind and her timeline on twitter is a mixture of her life and her love of books. It is also good for a good few laughs and reactions to her reading.

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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To Be Read

To Be Read | April 2021

Hello and welcome to my April TBR, if you have read my March wrap up or have seen my on twitter, you will know that I didn’t really get through many books last month. So, due to this my TBR for this month will be to finish the books I am currently in the middle of, anything more will be a great bonus in my eyes.


The Books

I am currently in the middle of and enjoying both The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein and An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon. I have to say, I read the first four chapters of The Color of Law already all I can say is wow, I have annotated so much and a lot of it has been me writing at people of the past for being complete and utter racist morons if not worse. This nonfiction dives into the history of how housing policy set by the government segregated America following the end of Reconstruction. On the other hand An Echo in the Bone is a historical fiction fantasy book that is the 7th in a series, in this series the current time period is right before the American Revolution. I don’t want to say too much about it because it is in the middle of a series.

I do have two more books on my TBR that are not in the picture because they are an ebook and an audiobook. The first being A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, which I am currently reading with a friend from work. This is a modern day fantasy novel that is filled with witches, vampires, and daemons that revolves around a historian at Oxford. Just right up my alley honestly. The next is a Someone Picks My Book pick, so I don’t want to give that away just now, but keep your eyes open for what Tee picked for me!



What do you plan on reading this month?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | March 2021

Hello and welcome to my March edition of my monthly wrap up, I am sad to say that this month has not been the best reading wise, but I am hoping that April will knock this month out of the park. I am happy that I was able to finish a total of three books, one of which was a tome. Anyway, on to the books I read this month!

Royal Assassin: The Illustrated Edition (Farseer Trilogy, #2)Royal Assassin: The Illustrated Edition by Robin Hobb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am still very much enjoying my first read through of this series and my first jump into the world of Robin Hobb, I have the next one sitting next to me ready to go!

View all my reviews

The Unexpected Joy of the OrdinaryThe Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am going to be posting a dedicated review for this book, but over all I liked it! Keep an eye out for the review for some of my specific thoughts.

View all my reviews

I managed to read a total of 3 books, 1,280 pages.2 of those books were fiction and the remaining book was nonfiction. I read 1 audiobook, 1 hard cover and 1 soft cover books. I have 1 4 star read, 1 3 star read and 1 2 star read this month.

What was your favorite book you read this month?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book Haul | February 2021

Hello and welcome to a bit of a book haul for February. This month was really great for my book buying and I am thrilled about that. I love when I read more books than add to my TBR. But, because I picked up so few books, I am really, really happy about the ones I did decide to add to my shelves. Anyway, here are the books I decided to add!


The Last Negros at Harvard by Jeanna Ellsworth and Kent Garrett, I picked this up at my local bookstore, but I had heard about it on twitter and thought it was a very interesting story. I really want to know the experiences of these very brave and intelligent men who attended Harvard during a time described as “between integration and affirmative action” in the description.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel, this was my BOTM pick for February. It follow a very young family who have traveled from to the US from Bogotá and stay longer than their visa allows because they want what is best for their family. It follows them as they move from place to place and the stress and hardships that follow.

What Would Frida Do? by Arianna Davis, I am going to be honest here, I don’t know too much about Frida and I saw this on BOTM so I decided to add it to my box this month. This is a nonfiction book about the artist and I have heard that you can really read the passion the author has for this prominent figure. It seems to not just talk about her art, but her life as a whole.

Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom, I have had this book on my to buy list for a very long time and I finally came across it in the bookstore so I picked it up. This is a grim book, but I find it to be a very interesting topic. This book dives into the history of books bound in human skin. The author, who is a librarian, goes through the myths and legends and uses science to see if the books that are claimed to have been bound in human skin, really are.

This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch, I picked up this thriller for a series on my blog called, Someone Picks My Books. I don’t want to say too much, but I did post the review for this book already so you can find that here, Someone Picks My Books | Nicky from @cre8ive_nicky | This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch.


What book have you recently added to your shelves from the library or the store?

What book have you recently read?

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To Be Read

To Be Read | March 2021

Hello and welcome to my March TBR list! I cannot believe I am already planning my reading for March, I still feel like February just begun and I have a ton of time to keep reading my February TBR. Nope, not the case at all. I will have to move a few books from February to March since I just ran out of time…oops! Anyway, this month quite a few of the books I don’t quite have a physical copies for so they are not in the picture. Some are ebooks and another is a preorder I can’t wait to get my hands on.


The Books

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, ebook not pictured. This is a book for my read a shortlist challenge for 2021, if you want to see the details you can see that in my post called, Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist 2021. I am excited to get to this one because it was awarded the International Booker Prize so I have high hopes especially since I have enjoyed the other books on this list so far.

The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray, audiobook not pictured. I am really excited to get to this book, I have not read a book quite like this one is described in some time and I think it will be very refreshing and uplifting.

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb, pre-ordered not pictured. This is the book I currently and waiting for release day, which is early on in March. This will be the third book I have read by Hobb this year and I am really enjoying her style of writing and the world she has created.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, pictured. I started this tome in February and I really want to continue and finish it up over the next month. As always I am curious as to what Clair and Jamie will be getting into. I am actually crocheting a few Outlander inspired things as I read this book, which has really added to the fun.

Dead Blonds and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle, pictured. I have had this non-fiction on my shelf for a bit and I am really feeling the urge to read it now. The second part of this title is “Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power”, I mean that alone just draws me in.

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, pictured. I am reading this with Jenna this month so we can discuss it as we read, which I think will be really good and spark some very good discussions on systematic racism.


What do you plan on reading this month?

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