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What I Read: Fall Edition

I have done a lot of reading the last couple of months. A very eclectic mix. Time for another round up…Enjoy!

Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones) by Nataly Kogan

Happier Now by Nataly Kogan is a book that I actually read a couple of years ago. It is one of those positive psychology books that I am sure my library friends are getting tired of me talking about but that I find so inspiring. Nataly used to work for companies like McKinsley, but realized that she was burned out and needed a change. So she started her own movement basically. She is the co-founder of a wellness company called Happier, a TEDx speaker, and during the pandemic she started hosting weekly Wednesday web sessions streamed to Facebook and YouTube on various wellness topics as part of an Awesome Humans Project. I am posting about the book because I just completed participating in a cohort of her program Leading Through Adversity which goes into more depth on a lot of the topics in her Happier Now book. She is an immigrant who came to the states as a teenager with her parents and the book details her experiences with that and how it shaped her views on happiness. She also has a new book coming out in February called The Awesome Human Project. I am currently reading an advanced readers copy and it is so good. If you hear me saying “you are only human”, that is her influence!

By Any Other Name By Lauren Kate

By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate was definitely a feel good book. It takes place between NY and DC (mostly NY) between a book editor and a novelist. They have worked together for over seven years…via email. However, it is only when Lanie Bloom is promoted that the truth about bestselling romance novelist Noa Callaway is revealed. Many of the scenes reminded me of Nicholas Sparks which must have been a big influence. A particular influence was most likely The Notebook. There are plenty of meet cutes as well as diverse characters. I also loved the descriptions of the scenes like Central Park. It was not a favorite or groundbreaking read, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just need to read something lighthearted with a happy ending. #NetGalleyARC #March2022

Teen Titans: Raven, Beast Boy and Beast Boy Loves Raven By Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo

I am a Marvel fan girl, but have a soft spot for the Batman fam. My son also watched a lot of Teen Titans growing up, so the BeastBoy/Raven dynamic is second in my mind to Babs/Grayson. So when DC came out with their YA series of graphic novels featuring the Teen Titans’ BeastBoy and Raven, I checked them out. Kami Garcia is the author and Gabriel Picolo is the illustrator. The awesome part is that Picolo was hired for the job because of his Teen Titans fan art. These are fantastic! Both BeastBoy and Raven have their own novels before they meet up in the BeastBoy Loves Raven book. It is a great spin on the lore from the comics. There is even a Bat fam representative in the form of Damian Wayne joining the ensemble in later volumes.

The Love Hypothesis By Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is a must read. I am recommending this to my STEM in Libraries course students next summer as a STEM adult fiction book. Every year I have a couple of students who want to focus on adults instead of kids for STEM in Libraries, so I think I will put together some titles for them. The book is a rom-com featuring fake dating (a favorite trope!) in an academic setting…Stanford University to be exact. Olive is a PhD student in the Biology department and Adam is the hot shot professor of the department. He also has a reputation for being one of the toughest professors. Thankfully, he is not one of her professors and not involved in any way with her dissertation committee. So no inappropriateness happening here. There is a lot of talk about Title IX rules in college settings. Even though they were fake dating, they checked with the department dean to make sure there were no problems with a student dating a professor. Olive’s two best friends feature heavily in the story. In fact, the fake dating is all so her friend Ahn doesn’t think she is hung up on another guy. There is a lot of BIPOC/women in STEM discussion and her roommate Malcolm is also LGTBQ. So diversity features heavily as well as discussing how toxic an experience STEM fields can be for those who don’t identify as straight white cis males. Ahn and Olive love rom-coms which reminded me of a STEM professor I once interviewed who once told me about how her not being into sci-fi was seen as odd for being in a STEM field. There are lots of stereotypes and judgements that happen in the STEM fields. I loved this book because the romance was sweet (and probably the steamiest I have read in a long time). The character interactions and dialogue were realistic (he calls her a smart ass and she calls him an old man). There is a slight age gap, but it is not cringey (less than a decade, and she is closer to 30 than 20). My favorite part though was all the talk about protocols and proposals and research and defenses. Been there, done that. It made me feel I got very lucky with my committee experience (though I am still recovering). If you like romance, add this to your to be read list!

Take Time for You: Self-Care Action Plans for Educators (Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Positive Psychology) by Tina H Boogren

This book is amazing! Every teacher and librarian should read it…it WILL be incorporated into a future trainings. I made lots and lots of notes. The author takes each level of the pyramid from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs chapter by chapter to explain how human motivation affects burnout and the need for self-care associated with each of those levels. She uses the image of a ladder to describe how you need to move up the stages in the order defined by Maslow of you risk weakening the other rungs. Without a sound foundation, you risk falling. I think that is a perfect metaphor…I may even have discussed something similar in my own research when it comes to librarians. The author is a professional development instructor which means that she teaches other teachers. That is very similar to what I do teaching other librarians. But even though this book was designed for educators, there is enough overlap for other fields that I think it can apply to anyone.

Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

There is a lot of overlap from the information contained in the other books on this list. I think that helps reinforce that this is all based on grounded research and applicable to many people. I have read Burnett and Evan’s other work and highly recommend them. They are both researchers from Stanford and their previous book Designing Your Life is something I have referenced in my leadership programs as well as productivity. Designing Your Worklife is even better because is focuses on that part of our lives which take up most of our time…work. I really like the examples and scenarios they give. They even came out with an updated version that was published last month…gee wonder what global issue influenced that update? Once again, I took lots of notes and my copy is filled with post-it’s galore. If work has you stressed, then you need to read this, but remember what I said about foundations, start with the first book if you haven’t read it.

Read to Lead: The Simple Habit That Expands Your Influence and Boosts Your Career By Jeff Brown and Jesse Wisnewski

Okay, I admit that Read to Lead was a bit like preaching to the choir, but I was curious. So I put in the request on NetGalley to see what it was all about. I had expectations that it would discuss books that should be read as part of professional development, but it also went deeper than that. It talks about the importance of making time to read and how to actually make that time. It was interesting to read the authors journey of personal development and transformation through books. The librarian in me was very happy to hear that connection to informal education. One of my biggest takeaways was the discussion on a research study that lots of children’s librarians want to reference. The study found that children that grew up with books in the house were more likely to be successful. The study always bothered me because while I grew up with stories, I didn’t really have a lot of books as a child…and I like to think I turned out pretty successful (Imposter Syndrome, you were not invited to this conversation!). Well, Brown and Wisnewski discuss how the study actually found that the reason for this correlation was because these were homes where the parents emphasized the importance and value of education. And yes, that can be done without having an in-home personal library. Yes, the librarian said it!

Not Seeking Mr. Right By Natasha Moore

Reading for pleasure is just as important as any other form of reading. Fluff has its place in your to be read pile just as much as the serious stuff, Not Seeking Mr. Right is fluff. The story starts at a wedding in a small town. Hurting from being dumped by her long term boyfriend who went back to his ex-wife, Ginny starts a flirtation with a much younger waiter which carries over into a one night stand with no strings attached agreement…except there is a pretty big consequence of their night together. In order not to ruin either’s reputation in the small town, they agree to be friends and fake date so that unplanned pregnancy doesn’t seem to scandalous. But soon the feelings become real. The book demonstrates that there are many types of families. It was a sweet read.

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