6 Self-Help Books to Read in 2015

Self-Help Books 2015Whenever I go to the bookstore – any bookstore – I invariably gravitate to the self-help section. Those shelves hold so many promises for a better life, a wonderful life, and indeed, I have found some books that I love. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin come to mind.

More often, though, I am seduced by the promises made on the book covers and often lose interest a chapter or two in. Fiction is my true love, an escape from my daily troubles, while self-help too often feels like a chore.

Changing your life does take work though, doesn’t it?

I don’t expect that reading a single book will lead me to overhaul my life, whereby I create an amazing existence overnight. I have far too much mental baggage for that. My thoughts are a roadblock to living a happier life and it is a process to shift them. It’s like the say with “baby weight:” it took nine months to put on, it’ll take as long to take off. In this case, my thought patterns have been shaped over 39 years. I’m hoping it won’t take 39 years to change them, but it won’t be a weekend project, either.

A the beginning of the year, my life coach had me go through a workbook that helped me set intentions for 2015. As part of this process, I made a list of six books I will start and finish this year. Fiction seemed too easy. I can crank through your average novel in a day. Self-help, though, is more challenging, and potentially more beneficial. Not that you can’t learn things by reading fiction, but I tend to find that if something is hard, I get more out of it.

My list of six books covers several areas that I want to experience growth in this year: my parenting style and skills, my personal approach to life, my ability to manage my staff and be a leader, and my business in general. They are all books that I already own but have yet to read.

  1. If I Have to Tell You One More Time by Amy McCready (parenting)
  2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (personal approach to life)
  3. The Talent Management Handbook by Lance Berger and Dorothy Bergy (managing my staff)
  4. Good to Great by Jim Collins (growing my business)
  5. Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman
  6. Everything is Marketing: The Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth by Fred Joyal

Are there any self-help books that you love?

Reverb 12: Day 8

Kat at Tenaciously Yours has posted information about “a prompt-a-day series for the month of December that is meant to give us all the chance to reflect on 2012 and the opportunity to write down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.” Her post and the details are here.

Art: What was the most moving piece of art that you saw/experienced this year?  This could mean a painting or a sculpture, or a performance you took in, or even a book that you read – tell us about the kind of art you encountered, and the way that it moved you.

I am not a particularly sophisticated person. I like pop music, action movies, and teen fiction. I enjoy museums when they deal with history, but don’t know enough about “art” to go out of my way to appreciate it.

I really do enjoy reading, but didn’t do a lot of it this past year, what with school and all, and when I did read, I leaned toward non-fiction or novels that aren’t really considered “literature” (e.g., books from the Stephanie Plum and Game of Thrones series), but were enjoyable nonetheless.

Perhaps my definition of “art” is too narrow, though. In my typical nerdy fashion, I decided to Google “What is art?” as I struggled to come up with a good answer for this post. I liked the explanations I found here.  To quote from the post: “The expression of the thoughts of the artist are successful when it engages both the maker and the viewer and creates dialogs of wonder. It is subjective and stimulating and seeks to enlighten and entertain.”

Unfortunately, even after my “scientific” research, I couldn’t come up with a good answer. While the books I read certainly fell under “entertaining,” I’m not sure that any were particularly “enlightening.” The closest I got was with Gone Girl, which was certainly a popular book in 2012 and made me examine the relationship I have with my husband, as well as my own personality. It was a quick and easy read and I flew through it, because the story was engrossing and I wanted to see how it ended.

As the year closes out, I’ve put together a list of books to read here. I feel like a lot of these will be what I would consider “art,” just as I would consider Room by Emma Donoghue and Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest – books I read in 2011 – “art.”

Are you an art lover? What do you consider to be “art?”

Note: I wrote this post on the 8th and somehow forgot to hit the “Publish” button. Oops!

Closing Out 2012: Reading Inspiration

This is the 5th year that I will be spending time in Arizona for the holidays. I am so looking forward to it and fully intending NOT to think about work at all. I plan to enjoy that it’s much warmer than here and get out for some walks, take the kids on some excursions (zoo, not sure where else), and, of course, read.

I’ve got unread/partly read books on my Kindle right now, including Anna Karenina; Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World; Travellin’ Mama: A Parent’s Guide to Ditching the Routine, Seeing the World and Taking the Kids Along for the Ride; and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.

I imagine I will get through some of these books over the holidays, but I’m looking for a few more books, including some reads that are a little easier to get into than a few of the books I’ve listed above.

I’ve perused a few “Best of 2012” lists (here, here, and here) and gone back to one of my favourite sources for book recommendations, Laineygossip.com here, and come up with the following list of books to read (well, maybe not all of them):

  • The Devil in Silver by Victor Lavalle
  • Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  • Whiplash River by Lou Berley
  • Mother and Child: A Novel by Carole Maso
  • The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This list is not final and I’m definitely open to recommendations if you’ve got ’em!

What was your favourite read this past year? I really enjoyed The Game of ThronesYour Voice in My Head, and Gone Girl.

Calorie-Free Chocolate Bliss

Had a bit of a chocolate binge today.  It’s not what you think…

I spent 4 marvelous hours at Spa Ahava today, enjoying what they call their Chocolate Spa Binge Package.  It involved a scrub and wrap, neither of which I had experienced before; a soak in their jet tub; relaxation massage; and a mani/pedi.  All were chocolate scented.  A big thanks goes out to my husband and kids, who bought me a gift card for the spa for Mother’s Day.  It was definitely an indulgence, which, come to think of it, is a recurring theme around here since the end of the school year.

No working out today, as it was a rest day.  Tomorrow I’m planning to run and then I’ve got a session with my trainer.

Lots of stuff on the go around here!  I got word today that I can officially proceed in getting my temporary license for the summer, which will allow me to practice dentistry under the supervision of a licensed dentist.  As I’ve alluded to in earlier posts, I’ve had issues with a prof this year, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen in that class.  Needless to say, it was a gigantic relief to find out that I made it through 3rd year without having to redo anything. It’s like I can finally take deep breaths again.  I bet you my blood pressure and resting heart rate have even dropped now that I’m not as stressed.

On the running front, I’m working on putting together a training plan that sort of combines Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon, Run Less, Run Faster, and Jeff Galloway’s plan for the Disney Half Marathon.  Whew!  Normally I’d just ask my trainer to help me out with putting together a plan, but she’s moving away in a couple of weeks, so I’m trying to be independent and put a plan together on my own.  We’ll see how that works out…


A Weekend Review: Holding Babies and Running (but not at the same time, of course)

It’s been an eventful weekend, as long as you consider holding a newborn an event.🙂  I’m sure I’m not biased at all, but my sister’s baby boy is SO cute.  And so small.  I had forgotten just how tiny newborns are.  Almost makes me want another one…and then I remember the lack of sleep, constantly changing diapers, lack of sleep, dealing with thrush, crying (not always the baby), lack of sleep…

I did not get a workout in yesterday, but I did get a 2 hour nap in.  It’s all about priorities, right?  Haha.

However, I did get my run in today, which was 4 x 800m intervals at slightly faster than race pace.  My legs were mostly recovered from Thursday’s workout and I thought the run went well today.  My legs felt good, I was able to maintain the pace that I wanted, and my knee and hip felt good – a little tight, but not painful.  Here’s what my heart rate looked like:

I also finished Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon: How to be Your Own Best Coach by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald this weekend.  I thought the information was pretty useful, though it’s very running specific and I’d like to do a little more cross-training than what they include in their basic plans.  Luckily, there is a lot of discussion of key workouts and adapting the plan to your needs, so I think I’ll be able to use a lot of the information in the book regardless.  I didn’t really know a lot about different running workouts, so this book was good because it explained not only what the types are (fartleks, hills, tempo, etc.), but also what you’re trying to accomplish with every run you do.

Next up: Run Faster, Run Less by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Ross.  Basically, they advocate 3 key running workouts per week plus 2 cross-training sessions, which is more in line with what I had in mind.  However, their plans start out assuming you have fairly high mileage going on already, and they recommend that beginning runners get lots of 5k’s and 10k’s under their belts before tackling longer distance races.  And since I’m signed up to do a half marathon in the fall, this isn’t exactly going to work for me.  But, I’m hoping I can get some useful info from this book, too, that I can incorporate into my training this summer.  I like to think that more knowledge never hurts…

On the agenda this week are: getting summer plans organized, lining up babysitters and child care, finding a place to rent in Regina (where I’ll be working for the summer), and starting decluttering around the house.  Should be a productive week.  I’m sure I’ll fit in some workouts, relaxation, and reading in there, too.

How do you come up with your training plans?  Any books on running/triathlon/fitness that you love?

Taking a Break

No workout tonight – busy doing other things.  Just thought I’d take a quick break and let you know I probably won’t be posting for the next week or so.  Around here, it’s February Break, so I’m taking a break from school AND blogging – but not from working out.  Along with some strength and cardio sessions, I also have a stack of books I want to get through, including:

  • One Fine Day
  • Little Bee
  • The Historian
  • Thank You for Smoking
  • Day by Day Armageddon

Looking forward to relaxing, catching up on my sleep, playing with my kids, and hanging out with my husband (who’s back tomorrow – yay!).  I’ll also be visiting with my parents, brother, and some other family members – when I’m not feeling too anti-social.  As an introvert, I often find it hard to chat with people who aren’t close family members.  My immediate family is okay with my sitting there like a lump, not making conversation.  Since most of them (except my brother) are pretty introverted, they get it.  I’m not the type to get energy from spending time with people; I’d much rather spend time in a low-key way.  I guess that’s the definition of an introvert.

What’s on your reading list these days?  Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?