February 2021 reads

Hi hey hello! Happy Monday! How was the weekend? Ours was great. We had a little dinner date with Liv while P was at a friend’s house, and also went to the desert museum. I hope you had a fun and relaxing weekend, too.

For today’s post, I’m sharing my February books recap! One of my big goals for New Years was to read at least three books per month: one fun/fiction, one personal development or nonfiction, and one that has to do with health or fitness. (Here’s what I read in January!)

Quite a few friends out there have asked me how the heck I make time to read (especially with the kids home from school all the time and a husband who travels frequently), so here are some of my hacks:

– Make it non-negotiable. I set aside at least 30 minutes per day to read, and it’s usually right before bed. It cuts into my limited late-night TV time, but I find that it’s the perfect way to wind down from the day. I also sit with each girl for 15 minutes or so after we read books together, so I sit at the base of their bed with my book and a tiny flashlight during those 15 minutes.

– Read when you’re around the kids. Like many of you, things are nonstop around here from the moment the kids wake up until they go to bed. While they’re playing together or watching a show, I’ll pick up my book and read for a bit. I think it’s good for them to see me reading, and while it’s a bit stressful when I’m surrounded by clutter and could be doing chores, I’ve been trying to let it go. No one sees our house right now, anyway.

– Embrace the one headphone life. While I’m doing chores or if we’re out on a walk, I have one headphone in playing an audiobook. (One headphone out so I can still hear what’s going on in the world around me and if the kiddos need me for anything.) I’ve preferred the audio format for the personal development and nonfiction books because it’s so enjoyable to hear the author speak. I think I get more out of it this way, and it’s become my favorite way to multitask.

Here’s what I read and listened to in February!

This was a book I started months ago that I would pick up and put down in spurts. I didn’t find it as compelling as The Alice Network (by the same author), but in the end, I really enjoyed it. It’s the type of book where you know what’s going to happen pretty much from the beginning, but the climax unfolds in a surprising way. While it was a bit slow, I loved the movement between eras and characters to comprise the entire story. If you’re a sucker for historical fiction, I’d recommend checking it out.

Here’s a synopsis from Amazon:

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, 17-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes home with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past – only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family…secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

2. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

I had a feeling I was going to love this one, and it blew me away. I listened to it via Audible and highly, highly recommend the audio version. His voice is just a treat. (Let’s be real. Everything about Matthew McConaughey is a treat.)

This book is part memoir and autobiography, part personal development and motivation. The premise is based on the idea of greenlights: when we’re coasting through life and everything feels effortless and easy. Even when things are difficult, opportunities are slashed, or we’re hit with trauma or grief, it’s a red light, but we live with the hope and confidence in the fact that eventually it will turn green. He shares some of his green light and red light moments, including an insane yearlong trip to Australia, that one time his dad put his pet cockatiel in his mouth to revive him, how he became famous, glimpses into his marriage, poems and prescriptions for life, and so much more. I snickered to myself and giggled, swooned, and cried a little. SO many emotions in this book.

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights”. So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops. Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears. It’s a love letter. To life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too. Good luck.

Shawn Stevenson is my #1 favorite podcast host, so I was obviously excited to read this one. It also far surpassed my expectations. As you can probably guess, I’ve read a lot of “diet” and health books in my life. Some have been cringeworthy to the max, while others have inspired me to make positive changes in my personal routine and share new knowledge with clients. This is one of those books! I love that he goes into the science and the WHY behind his recommendations, and shares tips and strategies for fueling for longevity and optimal health. I also appreciate the fact that many times he mentions that diets shouldn’t be one size fits all. It’s up to you to experiment with different strategies and find the methods that resonate best with your unique body.

With his funny one-liners and conversational way of explaining some intense science-y stuff, Shawn shares optimal foods and how they impact our sleep, hormones, longevity, and fat loss. The book also includes a 30-day sample meal plan and recipes. I only wish that the book had more recipes!

Here’s a bit more about Eat Smarter:

Food is complicated. It’s a key controller of our state of health or disease. It’s a social centerpiece for the most important moments of our lives. It’s the building block that creates our brain, enabling us to have thought, feeling, and emotion. It’s the very stuff that makes up our bodies and what we see looking back at us in the mirror. Food isn’t just food. It’s the thing that makes us who we are. So why does figuring out what to eat feel so overwhelming?

In Eat Smarter, nutritionist, bestselling author, and #1-ranked podcast host Shawn Stevenson breaks down the science of food with a 30-day program to help you lose weight, reboot your metabolism and hormones, and improve your brain function. Most importantly, he explains how changing what you eat can transform your life by affecting your ability to make money, sleep better, maintain relationships, and be happier. Eat Smarter will empower you and make you feel inspired about your food choices, not just because of the impact they have on your weight, but because the right foods can help make you the best version of yourself.

So, tell me, friends: what did you read in February? Anything you loved?? Do you tend to prefer physical books, audio, or digital (like Kindle)? I like audio and Kindle the most because I can take them anywhere on my phone, but really prefer the feel (and smell!) of a real, paper book.

Have a happy Monday and thanks for stopping by the blog today!



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