During 2016, I am focusing on reading and reviewing a minimum of 12 books. This is encourage me to read books I can actually learn from, rather than any quick read just to meet the arbitrary goal. However, if this goes well, I’m secretly hoping to read 16!
Six books down, six to go.
As usual, my reviews are minus beta-reads, which I mention as they are book’s I’ve read, but will not be reviewing until published.
January :: Managing Anxiety with CBT for Dummies – Graham Davey, Kate Cavanagh, Fergal Jones, Lydia Turner & Adrian Whittington
I began reading this book just before I started working for a mental health project last year, mostly because I’d been out of the full-time mental health field for a few years and had never previously worked with CBT, and wanted to know a bit more about it. I chose the “for Dummies” series because I read “NLP for Dummies” as a young teen, and know that the layout works for me. It also helped that two of the authors were lecturers at my University during my first degree.
As a newbie to CBT, this was a really useful introduction to the techniques I now teach others in my job. I was surprised to find that actually reading the book made me feel anxious in parts, but then I guess I’m human, and we all have things which cause us worry sometimes. It didn’t help that I was managing family illnesses, two house moves and the new job when choosing to actively think about all my worries, but at least I feel that I’ve given the book a fair try with so many examples!
I took notes throughout, as I knew I’d need to have a full understanding of the tools for my job role, and this book covered most of the techniques I needed. On top of the The Little CBT Workbook I reviewed last year, this gave me some more of the scientific background along with practical exercises and tips.
For someone wanting a good, thorough background to anxiety-specific CBT treatments, I’d recommend it.
January :: Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
I read The Hunger Games in 2014, and essentially cried for the three solid days I was reading. I’ve used that book as a plotting focus, noticing how different aspects are setups for later pay-offs.
Catching Fire was a great sequel. Compared with how tricky I found getting into the first book, I had no such problems with this one. The book is fast-paced, even in the beginning, but does not feel rushed.
I liked how the ‘love triangle’ of sorts made sense given the personalities and situations given to each character. I thought it was given enough weight but did not take over the story, which can be a risk of romance plots.
The twists and turns were well executed; with me as a reader second-guessing each bit of clearly-important-but-how-so information and then nodding in agreement as the true reason became clear.
April :: Legion – Brandon Sanderson
As usual, a quick easy read with just the right amount of description and action for me. A fast-paced but not rushed beginning to a story I wouldn’t normally have read.
Although short, as a novella, Brandon still has time to develop the main characters and develop the story to end in a fairly neatly tied ending, despite leaving some threads open for the next instalment.
April :: The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country – Helen Russell
An interesting read. In a similar vein to ‘The Happiness Project’ and ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ this book focuses on a woman’s journey to find a better life.
Many of the concepts are not foreign – being in nature, time spent with family, self-care, a clean environment and exercise are commonly recommended for good mental health. But Helen also investigates the ‘hygge’ feeling from burning candles, the trust in others when everyone is seen as cared for by the state, eating seasonally and the importance of belonging to clubs.
She shares a lot of research from Danish scholars in various fields, all in the midst of her own journal-like reflections of how dark and lonely the country can be in the winter. I found the mix compelling, pleasing my inner statistics nerd as much as my experience of friends and family with mental health problems.
I would have liked a little more about how the principles she has researched could perhaps be applied to other cultures, although there is a top ten list at the end of the book.
April :: BETA READ (The Felled Gods) – K. R. Green
May :: 250 Things You Should Know About Writing – Chuck Wendig
As a reader of Chuck’s blog, and having read a couple of his writing books, nothing in this book was particularly new. However; the reminders are welcome. Short, written in a fun manner, and useful for someone in their 6th year of writing to have all the tips in one place.
Some favourite phrases include: “A wizard controls his magic; it doesn’t control him” about the writer versus the muse, and “misery is too easy to come by, so don’t invite it” about being hopeful in the face of rejection. Chuck does not sugar-coat how much hard work and perseverance it takes to be successful in writing, while sharing some things which will make you more likely to have a chance at such success.
From the new writer to the experiences, he normalises loving then hating your story and explains how tension comes from choices. A useful collection of essays.
What has been your favourite book so far this year?