Friday, January 16, 2015

Why I Joined a Book Club


I'm a voracious reader (as evident by my book posts), often borrowing more books from the library than I can read in a 3 week time. I get most of my reading done either in bed or on the stationary bike at the gym during my lunch break (gotta do something since I bring my lunch to work and it's too cold to go outside).

I had always enjoyed Oprah's book club selections back in the day when she would select a new book for her viewers to read and discuss each month. I have a friend in a book club who says that it's in name only because no one actually reads the book when they show up and the books selected are cheesey. But I've been part of lifegroups at church where we discuss a personal development book for a semester such as The 12 Traits of the Greats, so I thought I should explore some local book clubs to see if it might be a good fit for me.

I joined 3 book clubs, not that I plan to read their monthly selection, but just so I have a rotation to pick from. These book clubs have exposed me to books I wouldn't have normally read and made me aware of popular books. Being in a book club has encouraged me to read more regularly (because of the deadlines), and if you think about it reading is an inexpensive hobby that also increases your vocabulary. I've also benefited in spending time with interesting people that I might develop friendships with. Plus some books need to be discussed so it's fun to chat which in turn sharpens my public speaking and communication skills. 

I went to my first two book clubs in the past week where we met in restaurants and these were the selections:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

Brown is  a leading expert and researcher on shame, authenticity, and belonging, and shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

My key takeaways from this book are that:
Perfection is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. We adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish. Perfectionism is other people focused – what will they think?

The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites. ie. I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds. Overcoming self-doubt is all about believing we’re enough and letting go of what the world says we’re supposed to be and supposed to call ourselves.

 Brown said that "every person she interviewed who described living a joyful life actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice. Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude."

She also said that "we spend most of the hours and the days of our lives complaining or worrying about what we don't have enough of:  exercise, work, profit, power, weekends, of course we don’t have enough money ever. We're a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude." Brown explains that the things we were working toward (more money, bigger house, acquisitions) do nothing in terms of making our life fuller.  Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be happy, and nothing you can buy can bring you that.


"Comparison is the thief of happiness." – Laura Williams
"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are" – Marianne Williamson

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
It was only $3 for the kindle version on amazon, reason why, it's a New York Times bestseller and will be released as a movie in August. I have to say the cover does not do the book justice, I would have passed on it by how boring the cover is but the book is a beautiful story. I truly got invested in the characters and learned some touching, heartbreaking lessons. I finished it in 3 days because I couldn't put it down. This was one of those books that I wish could wipe from mind so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time. 

The book takes place in the British countryside with Lou, a small town girl caught between dead-end jobs and Will, a high-profile, successful man who becomes wheelchair bound following an accident. Will has decided his life is not worth living until Lou is hired for six months to be his new caretaker. They are two people who wouldn't have met and who didn't like each other at first. But Lou was determined to prove to Will that life is worth living as they embark on a series of adventures together while Will shows Lou that her life is too boring and encourages her to chase her ambitions and not settle. Neither of them realize how much they are going to change the other. The writing was amazing, the characters are real and the emotions the book makes you go through are incredibly moving. Here's my favorite quote from the book:





Yes Please by Amy Poehler 
This is the next selection for one of my book clubs and I just got the book from the library which has lots of color photos. The book was just published 2 months ago by the SNL alum with a  collection of interesting stories, jokes, and advice from the funny girl. On Amazon's top 100 books its #6.  Number 7 is a book I recommended that's now a movie - Wild.



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