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I am months behind in sharing my recent reads. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been busy with my full-time job and college classes, but honestly, I just wanted to write more exciting blog posts (like our Dominican Republic vacation recap!) than book reviews. Even though I haven’t quite finished all of the DR posts that I had planned, I need to take a bit of a break from them since they are so time-consuming to put together.
If you’re new around these parts, Recent Reads is a monthly blog series where I recap the books that I read the previous month. I’ve been an avid reader since I was 6 years old and I’ve read thousands of books since then…. but reading so many books can be a problem because I tend to forget what I’ve previously read! I believe that life is too short and there are too many good books to spend time re-reading books, so I created this blog series as a way of recording which books I’ve read and to inspire others in finding new books to read as well.
I used to read anywhere from 5-20 books per month, depending on my life situation at the time. Right now, my goal is to read 3 books per month. As a reminder, I provided a summary of the books (either from Amazon or GoodReads) in italics with my review beneath that.
Andrea Petersen was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of twenty, but she later realized that she had been experiencing panic attacks since childhood. With time her symptoms multiplied. She agonized over every odd physical sensation. She developed fears of driving on highways, going to movie theaters, even licking envelopes. Although having a name for her condition was an enormous relief, it was only the beginning of a journey to understand and master it—one that took her from psychiatrists’ offices to yoga retreats to the Appalachian Trail. Woven into Petersen’s personal story is a fascinating look at the biology of anxiety and the groundbreaking research that might point the way to new treatments. She compares psychoactive drugs to non-drug treatments, including biofeedback and exposure therapy. And she explores the role that genetics and the environment play in mental illness, visiting top neuroscientists and tracing her family history—from her grandmother, who, plagued by paranoia, once tried to burn down her own house, to her young daughter, in whom Petersen sees shades of herself. Brave and empowering, this is essential reading for anyone who knows what it means to live on edge.
This was one of the picks for the “book club” I’m in. (I use the term “book club” loosely, hah! It’s actually a committee at my work that reads potential books that we may or may not pick for students to read in the future.) As someone who has diagnosed anxiety (both generalized and social anxiety), I could relate to many of Andrea’s experiences. However, this book is not just a memoir, as it does include a good chunk of medical/science information of anxiety, its causes, and possible treatments; I can’t begin to understand in-depth medical or science things, so I did get a bit lost through those chapters. That being said, this book is an excellent resource for both medical professionals and everyday readers to learn more about anxiety through a firsthand recollection.
During her multibook investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively. More than 600,000 people have taken her online quiz, and managers, doctors, teachers, spouses, and parents already use the framework to help people make significant, lasting change. The Four Tendencies hold practical answers if you’ve ever thought… ‘People can rely on me, but I can’t rely on myself.’ ‘How can I help someone to follow good advice?’ ‘People say I ask too many questions.’ ‘How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask—or who keeps telling me what to do?’ With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. It’s far easier to succeed when you know what works for you.
This book has been revolutionary in my life. For so long, I’ve wondered why I can’t be as motivated or productive as others. After all, I’m a type-A personality! While reading The Four Tendencies, I realized that I am productive– but I’m an Obliger, so my productivity is tied to someone else, such as a professor or boss. This explains why I flounder in things like working for myself and studying on my own– because there’s no one else to help me stay accountable! I’ve mentioned here and there that I’m an extremely picky eater, and as much as I’d like to change that habit, I’ve just been stuck. Reading Erica’s post about her experience with a health coach was a lightbulb moment for me since I realized maybe there are health coaches who specialize in picky eaters like myself. Before I read The Four Tendencies, I always thought there was something wrong with me (and there is- hah 😉 ) but that it would never change. Now I realize that I can change, it just looks different from someone who is motivated solely by their internal willpower.
When I started my journey into parenthood I never thought it would look like this. I never planned on having three adopted children, and I certainly never imagined that two of them would have Down syndrome. But like most of the things God does, once we stepped into the craziness and confusion of the unknown and unplanned, we quickly realized that we were indeed among the lucky few (….) Even though at times His plan seemed terrifying and even downright foolish, little could we have known how much goodness, blessing, and joy would flow out of loving these three little people He’s put into our lives. No, it’s not been easy: not the open-heart surgeries or the challenges of raising two children with Down syndrome or the complexities of dealing with birth-families or the struggles we’ve had with the public education system. But through it all, every new and uncomfortable situation has only proven to be another chance to see how very good God’s plan is for our lives and how downright lucky we are to be able to live it out. It’s only the lucky few that recognize that the most beautiful things in this life are often found in the differences. What some would see as misfortune, I’ve learned to see as nothing more than pure luck.
This book was one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve read in a long time; I sobbed and sobbed while reading it. Andrew and I have discussed fostering and adopting children someday, whenever the time is “right” for us, and reading this memoir fueled that desire even more. This book was so touching that I started following Heather Avis on Instagram, so I can see how God continues to work in her life and in her family.
What books have you read lately?