When I was 9 or 10, I read Judy Blume’s Fudge and became a reader. Oh, I could read, but this was the book where I found the joy of reading, of getting lost in a story, of the delicious lie that is “just one more page.”
As I flirt with 40, I think it’s safe to say that I am a lifelong bookworm. Like most bookworms, I love to share the books I devour. In other posts, I’ve sung the praises for Cyndi’s Motherhood, Apple Pie, and All That Happy Horseshit: whether you’re contemplating a career change, entrepreneurship, or want to improve your existing business, this book should definitely be on your reading or listening list.
Once you finish Motherhood, here are two books for your reading list. I recently read both of these books, and they affected me deeply, casting light on how I see both my past and my future.
Julia’s Nonfiction Pick
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman
Society is obsessed with doing more in less time so that we can do it all. Whether it’s meal prep hacks or finding the perfect planner app, we are fed the idea that there’s a magic efficiency formula that will give us all the time we need to accomplish all the things.
Oliver Burkeman calls bull sh*t on this entire idea in Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. For reference, 4000 weeks is roughly an average life span. Burkeman explores our efficiency obsession and encourages the reader to embrace the finite nature of life, both in what we do and don’t do. (Cyndi also addresses viewing your life in weeks in Motherhood, and she has developed a fantastic tool to help you visualize your own life in weeks.)
This book has helped me make peace with so many of my choices and has empowered me to dial in on what’s really important to me in my very finite life.
“[...] ‘missing out’ is what makes our choices meaningful in the first place. Every decision to use a portion of time on anything represents the sacrifice of all the other ways in which you could have spent that time, but didn’t—and to willingly make that sacrifice is to take a stand, without reservation, on what matters most to you.”
You can’t do it all. Instead, you need to give yourself permission to dial in on what is truly important to you and let go of expectations and the allure of middling priorities.
Julia’s Fiction Pick
When Women Were Dragons, Kelly Barnhill
I am a big believer in reading fiction. How-to, self-help, biographies, and the rest of the nonfiction section are great, but there is something about fiction that allows your mind to expand in different and new ways and to view yourself and society through a new lens.
Kelly Barnhill’s When Women Were Dragons offers all of that. This bittersweet novel is filled with family, love, perseverance, loss, trauma, coming of age, the power of truth, and one very tenacious librarian. Set in the 1950s, this story centers around the “Mass Dragoning of 1955”, when over half a million women spontaneously turned into dragons and left their lives behind. In the aftermath of this event, society adopted a collective attitude of denial and shame. The main characters are left to sort through the realities of the event and their future.
“The beautiful thing about science is that we do not know what we cannot know and we will not know until we know. It requires an incredible amount of humility to be willing to be wrong nearly all the time. But we have to be willing to be wrong, and proven wrong, in order to increase knowledge overall.”
“We can’t solve our problems unless we all work together. All of us. And heavens. Do we ever have problems.”
Life is a messy business. When we try to hide our messy bits—from others and ourselves—we all end up hurting and limited. Embrace your messy bits, work through your traumas, and accept and embrace life’s imperfections with an open mind.