The Books I Picked (a.k.a. My Currently Reading List)

The Books I Picked (a.k.a. My Currently Reading List)

It’s a new year, and I have an ambitious reading list. In the interest of holding myself accountable and giving you the opportunity to read along with me, here is my “currently reading” list. I’ll share my TBR list soon!

“Calm the F*ck Down: how to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can’t so You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get on With Your Life” by Sarah Knight

New year new you, right? I’ve been binge reading self-improvement and writing books since before the beginning of the year, so when Little, Brown and Company asked me to review Sarah Knight’s latest book, “Calm the F*ck Down,” I was eager to receive my copy in the mail. I’m total No F*cks Given Guide devotee, and so far, “Calm the F*ck Down” is the best one. “Calm the F*ck Down” is for anxiety suffers of all types and is a tongue-in-cheek guide to accepting the things you cannot change, finding the courage to change the things you can, and using straight up logic to tell the difference.

“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov

“The Master and Margarita” is literature with a capital “L.” Better (or worse) yet, it’s Russian literature, but at 448 Pages, it’s hardly a tome like “The Brothers Karamazov.” In another deviation from stereotypical Russian literature, it’s pretty funny (though Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky would argue that even Dostoyevsky has jokes). 

“The Master and Margarita,” is a satire in which the Devil wreaks havoc on Soviet Moscow. “The Master and Margarita” also pans back to ancient Jerusalem to tell the story of Jesus’ crucifixion from Pontius Pilate’s point of view.  I’m interested to see how the two plot lines are sewn together.

I won’t be reviewing this one on Picking Books unless I get a sudden rush of confidence. So, if I drink too much whiskey one night and think, “I’m awesome! I’m totally going share my barely infrormed analysis of ‘The Master and Margarita’ right now,” watch out. Drunk Russian Literature with a dash of Soviet history anyone?

“How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness” by Andrea Owen

I told you I have been binge reading self-improvement books! I’m almost done listening to this one, but so far, I’m not a huge fan. “How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t” is not a terrible book, but it’s not for me.

In “How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t,” Owen brings up some valid points about perfectionism and control, but she also pigeonholes women. She makes us all out to be fraught with emotion and explains that the only way to overcome our emotions is to gush about them with our gal pals or cry about it and destroy a phone book with a rubber mallet? This is ironic since she criticizes the way society has lead us to believe that any display of female emotion is hysterical. To Owen, any display of female emotion that isn’t hysterical is disingenuous.

There is validity to some of what Owen says, and it might work for a lot of people. I, however, know me, and I know that if I don’t accept my emotions and move on, I. Will. Wallow. This is why, so far, I’m a bigger fan of “Calm the F*ck Down” than “How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t.”

“The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing” by Alice LaPlante 

I’ve got high-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes of someday becoming a novelist myself, but until recently, I wasn’t sure how to start exploring creative writing. (My writing background is in nonfiction and technical writing.) A few months ago, however, I was speaking with a woman who works for W. W. Norton & Company here in Pittsburgh. She told me that one of the reasons she wanted to work for Norton was because of the Norton Anthologies. Her high school education left her woefully unprepared for college and the only way she was able to catch up was by using Norton Anthologies to fill in the gaps.

Though my college experience was far from inadequate, I only took one introductory class in creative writing. So, following this woman’s example, I purchased and am SLOWLY working through this Norton guide. I don’t know if I’ll ever find the inspiration or courage to write a novel, but this book will also help me with the creative non-fiction projects I’m currently working on, so I’m excited to work through it. 

Is four books a lot of books to read at once? How many do you having going at one time? Also, stay-tuned for my TBR list for February, I’m actually keeping up with books as they get released this year! Woo-hoo!

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