{the life} What I’ve Been Reading

by Rachel on May 14, 2012

One of the things I was actually looking forward to about my surgery was the amount of time I’d get to spend reading while I recovered. I’d planned to finish my two new books but in reality, I just got sucked into about 500 articles about the new TIME Magazine cover and the attachment parenting debate. All I can say is Holy hell, I’m glad I’m not a parent. Between raising your kids and arguing with people about the best way to raise your kids, I just don’t have that kind of time.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to share some of the reading material that’s been keeping me entertained this year! Here’s my list so far:


Bright Side Up: 100 Ways to Be Happier Right Now. I loved this book — here are my thoughts on it.

Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment. This was a pretty funny read; I liked it but I didn’t love it.

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. I read this book on a flight to New York on Valentine’s Day. I wept the entire time. It was very romantic but…consider yourself warned.

Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy. I absolutely loved this book…I just couldn’t stop thinking/talking about it for a couple weeks. From how companies market differently to men and women to the idea of “inauthentic authenticity” to the study on how our friends influence our buying choices, it was absolutely fascinating.

Emotionally Engaged: A Bride’s Guide to Surviving the “Happiest” Time of Her Life. Another book I absolutely loved. I actually wish I had read this a lot sooner; I think a lot of the discussions are relevant to people who aren’t engaged but who are living together and moving in the marriage direction.

Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, and What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings. Really liked it, didn’t love it.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. This was another book that I couldn’t stop thinking about…again, it was just so fascinating! I particularly liked the chapter on how our word choices reflect power dynamics (there are major differences in the way you use “I” and “we” when you are e-mailing bosses, equals, and subordinates) and the chapter about how our word choices can reveal when we’re lying.

Sarah’s Key. This was a book club read; none of us liked it very much. The actual historical event that it was about was extremely tragic, and I appreciated learning about that, but the narrative just didn’t do it for me.

The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage. I liked this book but I didn’t LOVE it. It’s definitely worth reading, but it’s several years old now, and I felt like many of the topics it covered are topics I’d already read about elsewhere on blogs. I think I’d have enjoyed it more if it was the first discussion of this kind I’d read, but since it wasn’t, I just didn’t get as into it.

Current reading list:

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

Never Let Me Go (June book club book)


I read a lot of personal blogs that cover food, health and fitness, beauty, paper, design, and style, but the ones below are the ones I think of as more magazine-style blogs (multiple contributors, more mindcasting than lifecasting). I check in on some of them several times a day and read every post; others I skim and simply read the posts that catch my eye. All of these blogs and their communities of commenters get me thinking, talking, and writing more.


GoGirl Finance


A Practical Wedding

Offbeat Bride (I really love the Features section of the site — definitely worth going back through those!)

I Write About Feminism



The Hairpin



Native Appropriations

Social Justice League

Ta-Nehisi Coates



Nelle Engoron’s Mad Men recaps on Salon

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I love the ‘zite app on my iPad/iPhone for discovering new content. You can subscribe to channels (politics, social media, relationships, etc.) and then it curates articles for you based on your interests and your social networks (so it looks at what’s in my Google Reader and Twitter feed, for example, and then recommends articles for me). I also love the Evernote app for making it so easy to save good articles to read later. And I’ve started using my Tumblr more to share links to interesting articles as I come across them.

What have you been reading lately? Do you have any other books or blogs to recommend?


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bess May 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

This post comes at the right time… I’m headed to Sedona today to recharge and plan on doing a LOT of reading. Already 25% done with the new John Irving (and would recommend it at this point), and also have these 2 books queued onto my e-reader (and want to add the pronoun book too).




2 Alli May 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

If you want good Mad Men recaps, you HAVE to check out TomandLorenzo.com – their Mad Style posts are to die for!


3 Jasmine May 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

As a fellow word nerd, I think The Secret Life of Pronouns sounds right up my alley. I have always credited my professional success to my ability with words, both spoken and written. Words are power!


4 Dori May 14, 2012 at 11:14 am

The pronouns book sounds SO fascinating! I’m about to order it, I love stuff like this.

I really like Blisstree (http://blisstree.com) and Gawker (http://gawker.com). I also like Jezebel, although I don’t read it as much as I used to. I guess it’s because I actually have work to do all day these days and I am so much more into books than websites when I have free time.

I recently read two really great books: The Midwife’s Confession (page-turning novel) and Unorthodox (memoir of a girl who escaped from her Brooklyn Hasidic community – really fascinating and terrifying).


5 [SMASH] May 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I’m currently reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess). Her book is as amazing and hilarious as her blog!


6 Mel May 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Ah this is just the post I needed. I have been book/brain-hungry like crazy these days and will definitely have to look up these books.

I had similar thoughts about Sarah’s Key. I had no idea about the event that occurred and was intrigued by it but the story let me down. This weekend I spent some time browsing through some of these articles on Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mating — some are fluff I immediately exited out of but other’s have some neat analysis.


7 Rachel May 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

You know I love stuff like this! Thanks for sharing!


8 Chelsea May 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Have any of you discovered Goodreads.com? It’s a great website for tracking the books you have read, would like to read, loved, hated, recommended to friends, etc. You can see what your friends have read and leave reviews and ratings to share with others. Many of the books you listed sound like some that I would enjoy so I’m going to search for them on Goodreads and add them to my To-Read, list.


9 Rachel May 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I am a member of Goodreads but I haven’t been very good about updating it! I just always forget to add books to it. I should start using it more…I love the idea behind it!


10 Breck May 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bookmarking this post now. I’m finishing up a 50 Shades binge (don’t judge me) and need a little substance in my next read, so thanks!


11 Lorilea May 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I read Never Let Me Go in college and really liked it (but I still like Brave New World better!). However, I do prefer Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, so if you like Never Let Me Go you might want to look into it! :)


12 Megan C. May 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I just ordered Bright Side Up from Barnes and Noble recently. After reading your review I can’t wait to read it. A book I’m in love with right now is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In an effort to be happier she goes on a year long journey explore her happiness. It is a great book!



13 Madeline May 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Confederates in the Attic is one of my very favorite books!


14 Dallas May 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Me TOO! I read it in high school and now recommend it to everyone who is trying to understand why the Civil War still matters in the South. Which Northerners seem to ask me a LOT.


15 Erin May 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

If you loved Emotionally Engaged, you should also try A Conscious Bride. I read them both and loved them both. They helped make getting married a much less stressful time.


16 Rachel May 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Ah, thanks for the reminder/recommendation! I’m adding that to my Amazon wish list now!


17 Aj May 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Over my luxurious week-long vacation I read “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” which was excellent, but if you’re not into medical ethics around multi-culturalism, it could be a little bland. I love that sort of stuff (Atul Gwande and the like). I also devoured the new John Irving (In One Body). He’s my favorite all-time author and if you like him, this book is excellent, but I think as an author his style can be divisive. Finally, earlier this year I read “Cutting For Stone” based on another blogger friend’s rec and R’s reading it now…it is AMAZING and difficult to put down. Beautiful writing and an excellent story.

For blogs, I have heard amazing things about Green Wedding Shoes from a number of friends who have recently planned/are planning off-beat weddings. From what I’ve seen, I love the sorts of weddings they feature and, of course, love that they featured my besties engagement photo shoot http://greenweddingshoes.com/engagement-photos-at-home-tori-kate/


18 Rachel May 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm

…I don’t know if I’m into medical ethics or not!! I guess I need to check this book out and find out!

Also excited to check out Cutting for Stone and Green Wedding Shoes — thanks for the recs!


19 andrea. May 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Yay, so many new things to check out!

A blog I think you’d really like is http://www.justinemusk.com So many good posts about creativity, writing, feminism, ambition, etc.

Another writer I love is Cheryl Strayed, who recently ‘came out’ as the writer of the Dear Sugar column on therumpus.net I ADORE that column, so I picked up her new memoir, Wild. It’s fantastic. If you haven’t ever read her, I highly recommend it, as well as the Dear Sugar archives.


20 Erin May 15, 2012 at 8:07 am

I read Never Let Me Go last summer. A piece of advice: don’t read the “back” or anything about it (so much easier to resist on a Kindle) if you haven’t already. I went into it knowing absolutely nothing about the story line and I really think that made the book for me. Had I known what it was about, I think I still would have enjoyed it- but finding out the secrets along with the characters was the best part for me. Enjoy! I’d love to hear your thoughts after you’re done.
Also- have you ready Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert? It’s the “sequal” to Eat, Pray, Love, but it’s not much of a sequal, more of a really interesting, funny, charming study of marriage and what it has meant throughout history, from a more cycnical POV. Personally, I think it should be mandatory reading for everyone that is consdering marriage.


21 Rachel May 15, 2012 at 9:28 am

Ah, I haven’t read Committed but I have heard a lot of good things and I liked Eat, Pray, Love a lot, so I will add it to my to-read list!

Also, I know nothing about Never Let Me Go so I’ll be sure to keep it that way!


22 Jana May 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

I’m really enjoying John Ratey’s Spark right now, a book looking at the effects of exercise on the brain. It makes the purely scientific case for why staying consistent with some sort of exercise regimen is good for emotional and mental health, not just physical health. I highly recommend it! It’s not a fast read, though, so I’d suggest having something a tidge bit lighter on the side, for a breather. :-)


23 Meagan May 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

I think you would like the blog http://www.mochamomma.com – the author was my English teacher in middle school, and she writes really interesting and thought-provoking material.


24 Rachel May 21, 2012 at 8:23 am

Cool, I’m checking her out — thanks!


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