Friday, August 23, 2019

Book Reviews - Self Care and Short Stories

I have some time off in between jobs this week, so I decided to take some time to read on self care. Going into round two of remote work is a chance for me to re-assess how I'm doing in this regard, and I wanted some resources to help that process. I also read two collections of short stories. You should know that short stories aren't really my jam, and I promise to stop requesting advanced copies of them because it's not them, it's me. So, anyway, here's what I read:

How To Not Always Be Working: A Toolkit for Creativity and Radical Self Care by Marlee Grace was outstanding. This is a book I immediately wanted to read when I saw the title, and the content inside totally delivers. The power of this toolkit is its simplicity. The book itself is only 100ish pages, but there is so much included. The book focuses on the essential need for self care, the realities of work, and how to find a balance that works for wherever you're at with your own life. The book is a combination of tips, reflections, and journaling prompts, and throughout, there is a tone of empathy which is really needed when covering this topic. The author acknowledges the importance of finding your own "fit" when it comes to self care, but also continues to stress that you have to find something that fits. I read this one quickly initially, but already have plans to re-read and really sit with the ideas that are presented. I also checked this out from the library, but anticipate I'll get my own copy as I want to deep dive and take on the prompts. If you need a quick shot of self care, I would recommend this book as one of the first places to look to find that!

Read this book if - You're looking for a simple, yet impactful look at self care. You want a realistic guide to implementing self care strategies.

Make Yourself Cozy: A Guide for Practicing Self Care by Katie Vaz is a fun, illustrated guide to self care. I love that this is a guide that focuses on choice. It doesn't prescribe one brand or type of self-care, rather it presents options and asks you to reflect on where you land on each topic. The illustrations in this one are spectacular, and they contribute to the "mood" that the book is seeking to cultivate. Reading and working through this one is really building an action plan for self care as it comes at the topic from a variety of angles. Some of that is looking at barriers, others are looking at what gives you energy, and some of it is looking at where you need to build capacity in your habits. In addition, I found this one to just be full of ideas and reminders of what self care could entail. This is something that I want to go back through and reference again, and I could see it being of particular benefit when I'm having an "off" day and need a little pick me up.

Read this book if - You want a guided reflection on self care. You're looking for a self care read focused on choice.

It's A Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes and Other Jewish Stories was a YA collection of short stories centered on Jewish teens. Each is at a different place with their faith, and the story somehow connects with that faith journey. I'll own that I have a base knowledge of the Jewish faith, but this exposed me to so much more. I loved the focus of religious identity in these stories, and how this was used in so many different aspects of each main character's relationships and life. With each story, I found I wanted to know so much more about each of the characters - in a good way! Each story was unique, and they each did a great job of building character connection with the reader (me) in a short time. I assume (and given my own identities, I name this as specifically an assumption) this is a going to be a collection where many see themselves in one or more of these stories which is something that is so important. I am excited for others to check out this collection. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this mid-September release!

Read this book if - You want an identity-focused short story collection. You'd like a fiction/YA read that centers the Jewish faith.

She Was Like That: New and Selected Stories by Kate Walbert was not for me. The actual technical writing was good, but from a connection end, I wasn't there. I can appreciate the sentences that were written, but I didn't ever feel anything as it relates to what was shared. I am someone who likes a story with depth of character as the driver of a story, and these short stories just aren't that. It's hard for me to even review this one because there wasn't ever anything that "stuck" with me from the stories. The summary of this book (and actually why I requested it) was that these were stories about women yearning for connection. The reality is that's what I felt as the reader throughout. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look in exchange for my honest review.

Read this book if - I'm honestly not sure, and I cannot offer anything here without being sarcastic and negative.