During our vacation, I was able to finally get some reading done. I still have many more books waiting on my bookshelf to read, but here are a few good reads.
1. The Best Advice I Ever Got Lessons from Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric. Couric has compiled pieces of inspiration and wisdom from various people, leaders, and visionaries such as Maya Angelou, Jimmy Carter, Michael J. Fox, and Ken Burns, who offer advice about life, success, and happiness — how to take changes, follow one’s passions, overcome adversity and inertia, commit to something greater than ourselves, and more. Each story, which ranges from just a short paragraph in length to a few pages, has a unique and uplifting message. Couric also weaves her own personal stories throughout the book.
2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Rubin is a former lawyer who abandoned her career to follow her bliss: She decided to become a writer. She started her blog as a part of a year-long experiment to find new ways to be happy. She has now turned that experience into a best-selling book. You can find The Happiness Project blog here. Rubin defined happiness (“To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth”), designed a chart to monitor her progress and assigned a goal to each month. Rubin took each month to focus on one part of her life to improve her overall happiness, Rubin examined different aspects like marriage, parenting, money and friendship and tried to find ways to add more fun and happiness to each. What really drives the narrative though is her ability to take this research, apply it to her life and come up with useful lessons for her readers. Rubin sums up the reason for her happiness quest best by saying “the days are long, but the years are short”.
3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. For all of you dog lovers, this novel is a really good read. This book is narrated by a dog, Enzo, who (of course) cannot communicate as he would like to, by talking with his family. Instead, Enzo pours his considerable heart and spirit into this book, sharing his experiences and reflections with readers. Although Enzo is frustrated with his limitations as a canine, he comforts himself with the fact that, according to a documentary he watched about Mongolia (Enzo is a dedicated television viewer), he will be reincarnated as a human. And he knows a lot about being a human after watching his master Denny Swift, who is a hero to him. This was the first novel that I read with a furry friend as the narrator.
4. The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely. This book provides a fascinating perspective about lying, truth-telling, and why it is much easier to slide into cheating than we realize or admit to ourselves. Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, sets out to ask why and when cheating occurs, whether it is useful and how it can be discouraged. He also defines the paradoxical nature of dishonesty. Specifically, Ariely explores the question — Why do we do what we do? Why do we often behave irrationally or in a way that is inconsistent with our values?