Books

May Book Reviews | 6 books I’ve read

“Take a good book to bed with you—books do not snore.”

May was a great month, I read many amazing books and I reconnected with a friend who is an avid book reader. Having someone to discuss book takeaways with really encourages you to read. In fact he was the who recommended me the book of the month!

Also! I made a brand new Goodreads account to track my reads for this year so you can follow me on : jojo_baaa92 if you want to keep up with my reads in real time. (The ratings are slightly different because Goodreads doesn’t account for .5 scores lol).

May Book Count:

Book Count: 6

Why We Sleep : Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lo and Behold, I found another 5 star book! A one stop reference on the WHY and HOW of the wonders of sleep – A must read in this day and age where we wear of busyness and lack of sleep like a badge of honour. We may know sleeping is good for us, but we don’t understand why it is. Thats’ why chances are you’ve neglected your sleep plenty of times before. I sure have. Be it because work obligations, a fun night out with friends or just catching up on our favourite shows, we have long held the erroneous belief that we can catch up on sleep later. Oh boy were we wrong. I had a lot of aha moments while reading this book.

This book is more than just about sleep, it’s about how our brain actually works, and how sleep plays a more vital role than we think. Our body is an interconnected system, and you’d be surprised how wide ranging the effects of sleep can be. From addressing why we feel jet lagged, why sometimes working out in the evening makes us stay awake at night, why we dream and how is that important and so so much moreee.

I think one of my favourite takeaways from the book was knowing that the REM stage of sleep (ie. the stage we usually dream in) is when our logical, reasoning side of the brain is shut off but the emotional and motor side is awake, roaming freely; it’s how our brain processes all the emotions and things that has happened for the day. REM Sleep is responsible for processing and creating interconnectedness in patterns and ideas. Hence the birth of the term ‘Sleep on it’ – why we miraculously can connect the dots the next day. Well you have REM sleep and dreams to thank!

I truly enjoyed this book and it was reshaped the way I think about my own sleep hygiene routines. Best of all, Walker manages to write in a way that is factful but engaging, with research stories and statistics to support his point. This book was such an enlightening and delightful read that I encourage everyone to read it !

PS: If you don’t believe me, at least believe Bill Gates. I found out it’s in his 2019’s book recommendations. He even left a review on Goodreads LOL.

Other books for the month:

Non-Fiction

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I think all of us know that distractions are bad for us and that our attention span is just getting shorter. But why that is so – that’s elaborated in this book by Cal Newport. Distraction is the primary enemy preventing us from performing Deep Work which is a state of distraction free concentration that pushes our cognitive capabilities to their limit.

This book is split into two parts – First, the case for Deep work and why it’s important for us to excel and Two, on tips and habits we can implement to create more opportunities for Deep work. The book reminds me of Atomic Habits – in the way that it’s so structured and in fact has some similar habits shared in James Clear’s book as well. I liked that it’s a very practical book, and also very relatable especially as a working adult. Two quotes in particular stood out to me:

  • ‘Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work’.
  • ‘Willpower is finite, the more you use it, the more it depletes’ (on why setting up good habits is important)

Overall I think it’s a good book but the concepts didn’t feel particularly groundbreaking. Maybe because I have read some of it in other books so it lacks that novelty so that’s unfair of me. But I do think it’s great to reinforce the beliefs we have, helps us understand how some of this habits may affect our performance and serves as a good reminder to continuously prioritise deep work.

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

This book is a pretty random collection of stories by Jenny Lawson as she shares her experiences through life and her journey through her depression.

I find that I preferred the more serious parts of the book which gave an insight into someone struggling with mental health, especially her open letter to her Insurance Company and how she was denied the mental meds that she needed – it was truly moving. Or when she shared about how she felt on a daily basis, on how people often think depression is something ‘controllable’.

But for the more light hearted parts, I found them too random, too chaotic, and too ‘rambly’ for my taste, oversharing perhaps. I opted to listen to the audiobook instead because I found myself glancing over often when she was rambling on. But hearing it out loud, especially one chapters she went on and on d*cks stuck in a carhole, I realised it’s just not for me, maybe we have different types of humour.

Fiction

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A heartwarming and inspiring read about Jade, an ambitious African American student in a mostly white and wealthy school. I really enjoyed Watson’s writing style; it’s grounded, unpretentious, honest and really reels you in. It’s lighthearted but so poignantly addresses heavier themes such as everyday racial microaggressions in Jade’s life, inter-racial friendships, police brutality and wealth divide amongst the same race.

These themes are interwoven so well that it doesn’t feel forced. It’s just all an honest account of a teenage girl – trying to be more comfortable in her own skin and working hard to make a mark for herself. I binged through this book in a day – would definitely recommend!

On Love by Alain De Botton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is for all you romantics and philosophical fiction lovers. ‘On Love’ follows the journey of a young couple, narrated through the perspective of the boyfriend as he explores the philosophical meaning of love. It’s quite an emotional ride I must say, from the excitement of a new relationship to the end of it – it’s sure to evoke romantic nostalgia for anyone who have loved and lost.

Despite being a philosophical fiction novel, the focus is more on philosophy rather than the development of the couple’s relationship. At first, I didn’t quite like the conversations at the start of the book especially when De Botton is trying to establish the initial attraction – it felt all kinda superficial and rushed but things do pick up from there. De Botton aptly captures the mood of being a stable relationship and the slow decline to its demise – exploring multiple themes on love vs longing, the ideals we impose in our relationships, the transient nature of the feeling of love, the romantic terrorism we might impose in desperate attempts to save a dying relationship ..and many more.

I’ll leave you with one of the many quotes that stood out to me:

“In the Oasis complex, the thirsty man imagines he sees water not because he has evidence for the belief but because he has a need for it. Desperate needs brings about a hallucination of their solution – thirst hallucinates water, the need for love hallucinates a prince or a princess”

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A book about a bookseller and avid Mystery book reader – Malcolm Kershaw who wrote a list of Eight Perfect Murders which he chose from the best mystery books of all time. To his surprise, one day an FBI agent turned up and highlighted that his list has inspired a series of unsolved copy cat murders. We follow the journey of uncovering who the murderer actually is while we learn more about Malcolm’s dark past.

I have been familiar with Peter Swanson’s work before – I particularly loved the Kind Worth Killing (that was my favourite) and I truly enjoyed the plot of this book. The start of the book is really slow but as the plot unravels, we learn more about Malcolm. Swanson did a good job in giving him a lot of depth which I really enjoyed. The reason why it’s not a 4 stars and above for me is because I didn’t really enjoy the pacing of the book – with some more boring parts where there was a fair share of waffling in the book. I think the final twist was also rather underwhelming for me. But overall, it was an easy breezy mystery read and do generally enjoy his writing and will continue to explore more of his books!

Year-To-Date Book Count : 23

Book reviews from other months:

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