Maybe Matilda: October Reading

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Reading

October turned out to be a rather surprising month of reading in two ways: 1) 6 books?! I generally average 4 books per month, and was surprised to tally it up this morning and find I’d read 2 more than my usual. I attribute it to a lightbulb finally switching on in the old noggin, and the realization that I could listen to audiobooks instead of Carrie Underwood on morning runs (yes, I run now—contain your shock and disbelief), and hence have more ‘reading’ time. So I did read my typical 4 books this month, but managed to squeeze in another 2 while running. And surprise #2) so much non-fiction! I am generally not a great reader of non-fiction, but have found some I’ve been loving lately (it started with All Joy and No Fun, followed by Quiet). Who would have guessed it—non-fiction is only boring if you try to force your way through topics you don’t care about. All sorts of genius revelations over here.

October Reading + Book Reviews //

I’m a Stranger Here Myself I’m a rather devoted Bill Bryson fan (other favorites are The Mother Tongue, At Home, and A Walk in the Woods), and I think this is probably my least favorite of his books so far. This isn’t saying much, however, as I still thought it was tremendously good. This one reads quite a bit differently than his other books--it’s a collection of his newspaper articles observing American life after spending 20 years in Britain. If you’re new to Bryson, I’d recommend starting with something else (A Walk in the Woods might be a nice one to begin with).

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Rob Thomas) Very ‘meh.’ I listened to this on audio while running, and it was just interesting enough to be able to run to, but not a single ounce more. I’ve already forgotten the plot completely. Maybe I would have liked it more if I had ever watched Veronica Mars—I have no experience with it whatsoever, beyond hearing other people say they love it (makes me wonder why I thought to check it out in the first place? I must have been desperate for an audiobook).

The Secret Keeper (Kate Morton) I’ve now read everything Kate Morton has written, and I’m a little upset about it. I love her dearly—her blend of mess-with-your-brain and history and suspense and creep factor is so spot on I could cry—and I can only hope she’s got something new in the works, because I may go into withdrawal. On a happy note, though, this was a fantastic book to go out on! This one and The Forgotten Garden are hands down my favorites that she’s written. And if anyone knows of any Morton read-alikes, I’m all ears.

The Confidence Code (Katty Kay and Claire Shipman) I’ve got some seriously mixed feelings on this one. The first half of the book delves into the research and science and stories behind women’s lack of confidence—why do we hold ourselves back and doubt ourselves and worry so much (especially compared with men who seem to never question or second-guess their decisions or abilities?), and how does this low confidence affect our professional lives? It was engrossing and, truth be told, a bit scary to see just how much we women doubt ourselves and prevent ourselves from moving up and forward. And the source of my mixed feelings came in the second half of the book—I don’t feel like any meaningful solutions were given. Yes, the authors gave some advice and tips for improving confidence, but they felt so general, so meaningless, and so vague that I was left with more questions than I had started with. I also wish the authors had focused less on the career effects of low confidence and talked more about how confidence also affects our personal lives (which I don’t believe was ever mentioned).  I still think it was a fantastic book, but only as a look into confidence and not as a guide to developing it.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling) My second audiobook of the month, and oh, how I love Harry. The audio is unbelievably good, and how often do you meet a book that is just as wonderful re-read at age 27 as it was the first time at age 14?

Secrets of an Organized Mom (Barbara Reich) This caught my eye at the library since I’ve been working on getting my house under control lately. Nothing mind-blowing or revolutionary, but great motivation to get things orderly and throw practically everything I own away. Reich approaches organization one room at a time and gives specific tips for keeping each space in your home neat and orderly. She definitely comes across as holier-than-thou and preachy, but it got me itching to drag garbage bags full of junk to the curb, so I consider that a job well done.

What did you read this month? Any recommendations for me?


  1. maybe you wouldn't be too interested in this one now since you've already read an organization book, but i loved "It's All Too Much" by Peter... somebody. an australian guy who had (has?) a decluttering show. a great motivator to just throw things away. i love his process and suggestions, and his accent is a bonus. (:

    also, maybe you've already mentioned it on here, but "Unbroken" is an incredible read (listen to) also.

    some other favorites of mine - "Operation Mincemeat," "Endurance" (that one is a crazy amazing story), "One Second After" (kind of makes you want to stock up on food storage... and guns), "The Alchemist" (read it some years ago and then got the audio - read by Jeremy Irons and he does a fantastic job), "The Hiding Place," "The Secret Holocaust Diaries" (a tough read sometime - but books in this genre tend to lean toward tough), "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert - I've listened to this one twice and loved it both times.

    wow, sorry, didn't mean to take you through my entire audible library (and believe it or not, I didn't, i spared you quite a few), but maybe you'll find some that you like in there too. (:

  2. I love Veronica Mars even though the plots are kinda lame and very teenage drama driven. I'm still a sucker. I had no idea there were books much less audio books to fuel my obsession. Good news I'm not a runner, so I'm not as tempted to go get this now! I probably do need the organization book though...

  3. I think I already mentioned this on one of your IG posts- but I ADORE Kate Morton's stuff too! The Secret Keeper is my favorite so far. I just read The Distant Hours, which was quite good too, but I think I kept expecting it to be as good plot-wise as The Secret Keeper, and was slightly disappointed. Also- Love Bill Bryson! I laughed SO HARD while reading that book, and purposefully bought a copy so I could have it available for guests for light reading. He's hilarious!

  4. I think I desperately need to read the Organizational one. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Agreed that The Distant Hours was a bit of a let-down compared to Secret Keeper and Forgotten Garden. Still so enjoyable, but the other two are just WONDERFUL. And Bill Bryson is awesome! Glad you like him too!

  6. See, all my coolest friends love Veronica Mars, which makes me sorta wish it was on Netflix so I could try it out.

  7. Are you kidding, this comment is a treasure trove! Thank you for all the great recommendations!

  8. It's on free on Amazon instant video! Not that you need to fill your days with teenage WB drama from the early 00's but still.


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