January has come and gone and I am well on my way towards my goal of reading 52 books in the year 2013. I have just begun my last year of study towards an English Literature degree at Arizona State University, so schoolwork has slowed down my pleasure reading quite a bit, but I am reading some very interesting novels for class that I will count towards my goal.
For those of you who missed my initial post on this topic, I have decided to embark on a most enjoyable challenge to read 52 books in 2013. I have chosen to participate in the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge in which I select my own goal, and a book a week is what I came up with as truly doable this year. Each month I will give you an update on where I am in the challenge and what books I was lucky enough to indulge in. I’ll also include a link to Amazon.com for each book in case you would like to pick a read up for yourself.
In the month of January I have read three books and according to the graph on Goodreads, I am at 6% of my goal, which is one book (3%) behind schedule. Going into February I am not too concerned about being one book behind since I am nearly finished with a comfort read that will put me right back on schedule. Thanks to a hefty load of novels assigned for school reading and my very healthy to-be-read pile, I am confident I will stay on track to complete 52 books this year.
Without further ado, here are my reviews of this month’s Book Challenge reads.
Getting Things Done by David Allen- Completed January 1st
It seems fitting that my first book of the new year would be one about stress-free productivity. As a college student with plenty of other life’s pursuits on my plate I am often concerned with getting everything done and had been wanting to read this book for a while. In its opening David Allen describes a productive life in which we aren’t bogged down by the minutiae, yet are highly productive in the necessary areas of life by utilizing proven tools to focus our efforts. The book is then divided into three parts.
In Part One, Allen lays out the program. After a lengthy bit of office jargon he introduces the idea of “mind like water,” where we react simply and appropriately to issues that arise before returning to our previous state of mind. It centers on the idea that overreacting or under reacting to daily interruptions and situations undermines our productivity. We want to be in the “zone.” He hints at how the program will help achieve this before moving on.
In Part Two Allen introduces the actual facets of the program and breaks down each part in detail based on his 5-part process. Including details such as collection of ideas and making plans, he stresses the importance of a weekly review in which you assess where you stand on projects and items you have collected and recorded. Beginning with how to set up and get started, he launches into the practicalities of using the program on a day-to-day basis. Among the gems in this section is the two-minute rule of doing anything that will take two minutes or less immediately.
In Part Three Allen gives practical examples of the program at work and wraps up his findings. After completing he book I have a few great ideas of how to implement better productivity strategies, but felt
like the book was filled with a lot of jargon. The concepts are helpful and easy to implement, but the delivery of information is wordy and boring. I’d like to have read a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of his ideas rather than devoting so much time reading the entire lengthy book.
Music of the Mill by Luis J. Rodriguez- Completed January 15th
Although I never would have picked up this book if it weren’t required for a class I’m taking at the university, I am deeply moved by it. It’s beautifully written and has amazing central characters. Rodriguez’s novel follows the Salcido family for six decades, beginning with Procopio and his bride Eladia who flee a life that holds no future. Procopio finds himself working for Nazareth, a steel mill that would provide a life for him. Rodriguez goes on to chronicle the life of one of Procopio’s sons, Johnny and his life with his feisty wife Aracely. Together they build a life and family while Johnny works at Nazareth like his father. The final part of the book follows Johnny’s daughter Azucena and reveals the impact of mill life on later generations.
Throughout the book I am reminded of the importance of family and community and am in awe of the resilience of these working-class people. Never do I doubt their strength of heritage and love of family. I found myself connected to these characters and got lost in their world. I would recommend this wonderful book to anyone who values a solid story.
The Disinherited by Jack Conroy- Completed January 26th
I read this novel only because it was assigned reading for class and have to admit that I had a hard time getting into it. The Disinherited is the story of Larry Donovan and his life in the 1930’s. The novel
begins with him as a child growing up with a father working in the coal mines and follows him through life jumping from job to job, always just one step ahead of starvation. I was never able to really connect with the story or the characters and had a hard time getting through the book. It reads almost text-like at times, with a lot of factual information peppered in the story. I wouldn’t recommend this book.
Moving on I hope to share with you my review of the final book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series along with some very interesting school-assigned books. I’m looking forward to sharing with you again in February!
As usual, I welcome your book recommendations and comments.