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Books I've Gotten Lately
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Hey y’all!

It’s the Sunday after the first week of school, and I’m getting into my routines. (I am a creature of habit: more on that later this week when I review some of my favorite books this summer about scheduling, rituals, and identity.) I already wrote this post, but it deleted when I hit “publish” — c’est la vie — so we’re back for round two.

I’ve been using library holds all this summer and love the convenience. I highly recommend it to any student especially trying to read more. It’s so efficient for me because I have the books I read, and the order in which I read them, decided for me in advance. Having a set time frame in which I need to finish a read is the perfect push for the school year, when I find myself so bogged down in distraction.

Without further ado, here are some of my reads from the week.


Novel: Deep Work by Cal Newport | Goodreads
Release Date:
January 5, 2016
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing

One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you'll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.

In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Worktakes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been reading a bunch on the attention economy and my role in it. I’ve taken so much pleasure from reading Newport’s take on “focus in a distracted world,” and effective strategies we can use to cultivate it. The book is two-pronged in that it also discusses decreasing our necessity to be distracted when we’re bored. He also references many of my favorite writers and academics. I finished Deep Work this afternoon and fully plan on using a lot of the information in it to structure my habits going forward. It feels like a great foundation to recapture focus.

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Novel: Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy, Fifth Edition by Cynthia M. Kuhn, Scott Swartzwelder, Wilkie Wilson
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: W.W. Norton Company

Neither a just say no treatise nor a how-to manual, this easy-to-read handbook is based on the conviction that the well-informed make better decisions. It provides information on how drugs enter the body, how they manipulate the brain, their short- & long-term effects, the high they produce & the circumstances in which they can be deadly. psychological & pharmacological research on drugs. Whether the reader is a student confronted by drugs for the first time, an accountant reaching for another cup of coffee, or a health educator, this book aims to provide a clear understanding of how drugs work & the consequences of their use.

I love this book and I think it’s a valuable read for most my age. In a college town, particularly a small one, plenty of misinformation — and cheesy orientation information — floats around, so I liked reading a source that gives it to you straight. The synopsis is accurate in that Buzzed is a thorough, but nonjudgmental, look at many of the substances we put into our bodies. It details histories, effects, personal impacts, and more. Even learning about the ways in which caffeine can be manipulated felt valuable to the way I conduct myself, and the book can be used either as a reference with pros and cons, or as a chronological read. It keeps me from having to gauge the accuracy and timing of various online sources, which I appreciate.

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Novel: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell | Goodreads
Release Date:
April 9, 2019
Publisher:
Melville House

This thrilling critique of the forces vying for our attention re-defines what we think of as productivity, shows us a new way to connect with our environment and reveals all that we’ve been too distracted to see about our selves and our world.

When the technologies we use every day collapse our experiences into 24/7 availability, platforms for personal branding, and products to be monetized, nothing can be quite so radical as… doing nothing. Here, Jenny Odell sends up a flare from the heart of Silicon Valley, delivering an action plan to resist capitalist narratives of productivity and techno-determinism, and to become more meaningfully connected in the process.

How to Do Nothing tackles similar issues to Deep Work, with a different focus, especially since it released in 2019. While I haven’t started it — problematic because my hold expires in a few hours! — I’m excited to read about how the pressure to have an online presence, to have a curated personal brand, to be constantly available, impacts our ability to engage with the world around us. I’m definitely a person guilty of equating “busyness” with “success.” Supposedly, this synopsis is a bit misleading though — according to reviews, it’s more philosophical than instructional, and can get pretty inaccessible at times. Still, having read many of the reads I tackled this summer, I could appreciate a cultural critique rather than an easier discussion. Also, straight up, I just love the cover.

What are y’all reading this week?

In My Mailbox -- November 25, 2018

Hey y'all!Happy Thanksgiving! If you're like me and headed back to school for the end of the semester, safe travels (and good luck with all that work.) Today, I only have one book to spotlight that I received. I may not have gotten it in November, but it's new to me because it's the first time I've been home since August.When I was in Athens visiting my boyfriend over the summer, I had to swing by Avid Bookshop and say hi. I met a few of the booksellers at BEA a few years back, and I also just love independent bookstores. For one, I loved the cozy, crammed vibe of Avid. I love when a place nails my taste with their curatorial decisions -- and that's the personal touch that means I will always advocate for the little guys.I knew Will Walton worked there, and so I had to buy a copy of his book! Also, I love David Levithan as an editor. Unfortunately, he'd just sold out of his last copy, so he sent me a signed one to my house. I'm glad I finally got it. Without further ado, here's Anything Could Happen.

The Book

Novel: Anything Could Happen by Will Walton | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 26, 2015Publisher: ScholasticFormat: PaperbackSource: Avid!

When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN is a poignant, hard-hitting exploration of love and friendship, a provocative debut that shows that sometimes we have to let things fall apart before we can make them whole again.

For one, I remember hearing a lot of buzz about this one when it came out. Also, David Levithan tends to champion quieter (but lovable) coming-of-age narratives. I'm always a sucker for stories that feel authentic, even if they don't subscribe to a norm of contemporary fiction. Hoping for some good one-liners and a satisfying character development arc. Every once in a while, I need a book I can just sink into.

What did y'all get this week?

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In My Mailbox -- November 18, 2018

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, on the Sunday kicking off Thanksgiving break (thankful for that, at the very least!) It's been a while since I've had a book haul, mainly because I avoid requesting review copies from publishing houses if I know I have a busy semester, but I got an absolute GEM in the mail this week that I've already torn through. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I've been looking forward to this one for a while. Thank you, Macmillan!I spent my Saturday curled up with a cappuccino and Famous in a Small Town in a Lexington cafe. Once I was done with my coffee time, I moved to the daybed on my porch to soak up some sun before the winter. I could not have spent my time reading this any better!This semester, I've been messing around with the idea of incorporating my lettering more into my book blogging. (It normally lives on the art blog.) So excuse the wobbliness, but I'm trying it out this week with some of my headers!Novel: Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills | GoodreadsRelease Date: January 15, 2019Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan)Format: ARCSource: Publisher

For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm's length. Sophie in particular.Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.

I already read it and loved it, so this is cheating, but I was originally hyped to find it in my mailbox because Emma Mills is a genuine writer. Her characters are kind, and generous (usually to a fault.) While her stories tend to be on the quieter side, the witty dialogue sparkles. I love wholesome books that still feel full-bodied, that still show flaws. She's on my auto-buy list as the ultimate feel-good writer.For those of you who equally love Emma Mills, Famous in a Small Town will be out this January, and I'll be hyping it up until then!

What did y'all get this week?

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In My Mailbox -- August 19, 2018

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, packing and getting ready to head to school tomorrow -- aahh. Although I'm dying to be back in Lexington around friends and routine, I never feel ready by the time I leave; or, at least, I always feel like I'm forgetting everything. Inevitably, today, I will have not have slept well at all, have clothes exploding around the house, and have stacks of boxes and knickknacks overflowing on my stairs that I haven't decided whether or not will stay or leave.And, of course, I have my books.Before Hannah left last week, we had a family trip to the bookstore, which we hadn't done in ages. We used to do it all the time as kids! I got to pick up two reads (thanks Dad) that I can't wait to dig into.

Bought

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Goodreads

I've been hit-or-miss with Schwab's books in the past, but I know this series is supposed to fill the void that The Night Circus left, and I've had my eye on it for awhile.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé | Goodreads

Eerie possession book. Yessss.

What did y'all get this week?

 

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In My Mailbox: August 12, 2018

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, soaking in the two or so weeks I have at home before heading back to school. I've been writing like a fiend hoping to get ready for the fall. Although I know I should enjoy the Floridian sunshine so far, I've really only ventured out to run. I love being home and getting a lot of alone time right now, so I'm going to use it to my advantage to get a lot of the action items done that I want so that I can spend some quality time with people up at school.I haven't bought too many books, mostly because I have very little money at the moment, but I'm still tearing through my ARCs from the summer. I did however replace my Kindle, which fills me with an enormous amount of guilt, so I've made up for it by purchasing from independent retailers.

Calamities by Renee Gladman | GoodreadsAnything Could Happen by Will Walton | Goodreads

I visited Avid Bookshop in Athens while I was visiting in early August and loved it. They do the notecard thing where they have hand-scrawled recommendations under certain shelves, decorated and curated by members of the staff. Immediately, they're ready to talk books with you, to ask you what you've been reading lately and what you're looking for. (I could have stayed and talked to them for ages, but I was with someone, so I opted against it.) Still, I've mutually followed Will Walton, an author I met briefly a few years ago, who works there so I felt like I should buy his book. Plus, it's edited by David Levithan and features a coming-of-age story. He didn't have it in stock because it had sold out (yay Will!) but is shipping me a personalized copy.Our book taste was insanely similar, so I knew I was in good hands. I ended up restricting myself to only buying one additional book, but I'll realistically order books online from them in the future when I'm at school -- or if I'm lucky enough to be in Athens again.

What did y'all get this week?

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