Book Review: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity

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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Synopsis: “In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to:

* Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule to get your in-box to empty
* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
* Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
* Feel fine about what you’re not doing

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.” – from Goodreads.

First Impression: I was browsing through Tattered Cover and stumbled on this book. I felt like I heard a podcast recommend it but it seemed to be the perfect book for me at the time.

Review: The GTD methodology is fairly straight forward; a lot of our stress comes from ideas and action items that haven’t been written down or taken care of. His approach is to write everything down, whether it be things to do, calendar items, projects, or just thoughts, and figure out ways to organize them so that they can be accessible. He also stresses the importance of documenting all projects in your life, as small as getting a bike fixed to as large as paying off a mortgage, and set next action items for each project that can move it further along. This will take the stress and anxiety out of your head and give you something productive to do.

I suffered from letting a lot stew in my head and went to work to immediately resolve that. If there was an event, even one I wasn’t sure about, it went on the calendar. If I needed to buy something, it went on a grocery or general shopping list. Things to do went in my To Do List section of my planner for the week it was pertinent and I made a projects section in the back of my planner to start charting projects and next steps.

As I discovered easy projects that wouldn’t take a ton of time, like filing the 800 personal emails I had in my inbox, I began to feel lighter and less anxious about the disorder around me. I could see why writing everything down and getting it out of her head could be helpful and I made sure to highlight and makes notes of suggestions that would work specifically for my job. Overall, I finished the book feeling satisfied and more knowledgeable on how I could organize and take care of things in my life.

Rating: 5 stars on Goodreads

Recommend? I recommend this to everybody, even if it doesn’t sound like something you need. If you get one or two good things out of this books, it’s an improvement.

*Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me and I was not paid or gifted to review.

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Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Synopsis: “On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.” – from Goodreads.

First Impression: I loved The Woman in Cabin 10 which was an earlier work so when I heard she was coming to Denver to tour her new book, I wanted to meet her and read it.

Review: I don’t read a lot of thrillers or mysteries and always forget how much I enjoy them when I read one I really like. Ruth Ware is definitely becoming one of my favorite mystery writers because she has a great way of creating characters and landscapes and bringing the reader along for the ride.

This book features a down-on-her-luck lead character that has gotten herself into financial problems that threaten to ruin her life. She then gets a mysterious letter saying her grandmother has died and left her some inheritance, but she knows her grandmother died a long time ago. Now she is grappling with lying to make her financial situation better or dealing with the consequences.

What follows is a dark and twisty ride that involves tarot cards, bad men, magpies, and secrets that sooner or later have to be revealed. You don’t expect what happens or the ending so I feel like it makes it a success. I wasn’t as entranced with this character and story as I was in Cabin 10 but she still kept me guessing.

Rating: 4 stars on Goodreads

Recommend? Yes, especially anyone who is looking for a modern mystery writer.

*Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me and I was not paid or gifted to review.

Book Haul – June 22nd

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In my quest to learn more about finances and get tips on my own financial situation, I ordered Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin from my usual indie, Tattered Cover. This was a book recommended to me by my friend and financial advisor as a great read to get some tips and info on being more knowledgeable about your money and where it goes. I am adding this to my self-help pile and will hopefully start it soon!

Book Review: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

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Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

Synopsis: “From the author of the New York Times best seller Swamplandia!—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.

In the collection’s marvelous title story, two aging vampires in a sun-drenched Italian lemon grove find their hundred-year marriage tested when one of them develops a fear of flying. In “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979,” a dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left in a seagull’s nest.

“Proving Up” and “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis” – stories of children left to fend for themselves in dire predicaments – find Russell veering into more sinister territory, and ultimately crossing the line into full-scale horror. In “The New Veterans,” a massage therapist working with a tattooed war veteran discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the images on his body.

In all, these wondrous new pieces display a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.” – from Goodreads.

First Impression: I am new to Karen Russell and also own, but haven’t read, her most popular book Swamplandia. I heard this collection was good and have had it for some time.

Review: I was in a short story mood and knew this was a collection on my bookshelf that I should give a shot. I’ve heard Karen Russell is a great writer so I figured that getting a sense of her writing through short stories would be a great start.

There were some stories in the collection that I really enjoyed; Vampires in the Lemon Grove was fun and interesting and Reeling for the Empire was creepy and intriguing as it talked about Asian women who produce silk thread and worked in factories to collect it. Another light, enjoyable story was Dougbert Shackleton’s rules for Antarctic tailgating, which focused on people traveling to the Antarctic and joining teams of animals and tailgates in a quest to see who prevails.

A lot of the stories fell rather flat to me; either they were not interesting or they didn’t make much sense. When it comes to short story collections, I enjoy variety and originality, which this collection had, but I couldn’t get into quite a few. I still want to read her other book but this one leaves me unsatisfied.

Rating: 3 stars on Goodreads

Recommend? No; there are other short stories I believe work a lot better, such as Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee and Dear Life by Alice Munro.

*Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me and I was not paid or gifted to review.

Book Signing: Ruth Ware

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I had the pleasure of seeing Ruth Ware at Tattered Cover last night as she talked about her new book The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

I was first introduced to Ruth when I read The Woman in Cabin 10, which I absolutely loved, and was happy to have found a modern crime and suspense novelist who’s writing I enjoyed. Living in Tampa, we didn’t get a lot of authors coming our way so when I saw she was going to be in Denver, I had to see her and hear more about her new book.

I learned quite a few fun things about Ruth that I didn’t know:

  • She’s British and has a lovely accent
  • She’s funny as hell
  • She has been a success from the beginning, which is very rare, and now writes full time

Here’s a synopsis of her new book from Goodreads: “On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it”. 

I am so glad I got to meet her (she even gave me another book recommendation since I love science, Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott) and hear about this book. As she was signing, she asked people to grab a tarot card from a stack she had since tarot is a part of the book. I decided to get The Lovers card hoping it will help me with my love life :). I enjoyed what she signed in my book and look forward to reading it soon.

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Book Haul – June 9th

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I went to Tattered Cover yesterday for the Ruth Ware book signing of her new book The Death of Mrs. Westaway (post forthcoming) and decided to pick up some additional books when I was there (shocking).

One subject I’ve wanted to learn more about it managing personal finances and finding ways to be smarter with money. Even though I have a meeting coming up with a financial advisor soon, I always like looking to books and authors that have experience with certain subjects for guidance. When I saw Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms by Amanda Steinberg, it sounded intriguing because it was specifically catered to women.

Another thing that I have wanted to work on is happiness; there are plenty of things I do on a weekly basis that makes me happy but it’s easy to get caught in the grind of work and responsibilities so when I saw The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, it sounded like a fun memoir with tips that I can hopefully use in my own life.

Anyone else pick up some books this weekend?

May Wrap Up

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A little late in posting but May was another busy month. I made a new personal record for my half marathon time (2 hours 24 minutes), which was a surprise given I didn’t think I was acclimated to the Denver altitude yet. I also had a friend from Tampa come visit and saw my first concert at Red Rocks, which was awesome. I’ve also been hiking whenever I have time and continuously meeting new people. Here are my stats for this month:

  • Books Read: 2
  • Books Purchased: 2 (1 graphic novel and a book)
  • Books Obtained for Free: 4 (4 free comics from Comic Book Day)
  • Current Goodreads Reading Challenge Status: 26 books out of 60

May 5th was Free Comic Book Day, so it was a chance for me to discover my local comic book store and get some free comics that I might potentially read more of. I also purchased the final volume of Faster Than Light and am sad the series ended so quickly.

For June, I am going to start reading more books to help me personally as well as picking books of my TBR that look good. Right now I am reading Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell and am enjoying a nice short story break.

How was everyone else’s May?