Reviews for February

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Hi friends!

Didn’t think I would actually have this problem, but I’m apparently reading so much I forgot about the reviews and have plowed through a few other books for the month of February. I still want to talk about them, so here’s some quick mini reviews on the books I reach for February! If it’s any wonder, I really really enjoyed all of these books.


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The Brain that Changes Itself; Norman Doidge, M.D.

This book you guys. Every person needs to read this book. It’s so good. This book follows the history and stories of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire itself so that humans are able to do new things physically and mentally.

I really believe in the power of our minds, of intuition and positive thinking. I also believe in science, and try to use both as much as possible when forming my beliefs. So you could say I had almost a spiritual experience reading this book, seeing all the science and studies that backed up things I felt to be true myself. Granted, the ability to actually change your brain is a lot of hard work, a lot of reinforcement and constantly working towards whatever change you want to make. There is a period of plateauing, and periods of supposedly no growth, but after continuing to promote whatever it is you want to change (I’m talking about months and months of training yourself), you can physically change your brain. I highly encourage everyone to read it, especially if you want to change something about yourself and your habits. I’ve already seen a difference myself.

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A Manual For Cleaning Women; Lucia Berlin

This is a compilation of short stories of American Life, of mining camps, of living in Chile. Most of the stories are very autobiographical and those ones I found to be the most interesting. It was almost like reading little vignettes of the much larger story of her life. If you like Raymond Carver, I think you will like Lucia Berlin as well (although Carver will always hold a very particular special place in my heart that I don’t think anyone else can replace). My only real critique is that while the stories that were not from her perspective were still good (there were a couple from a male character’s pov), they felt a little out of place in the context of the book itself. I wish they had been left out or replaced with a couple other stories from her life.

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Wildwood; Colin Meloy, illustrated by Carson Ellis

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. It’s a children’s fantasy book, along the same vein of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (without as much allegory), and it is rich and beautiful. It’s not the most literary text by any means, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really fun to read a story based in Portland as well, and now I feel like the magic that’s in the story has seeped into the magic that is Portland and the woods that we live in. Highly recommend this one!

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A Year Off; Alexandra and David Brown

I read through this book in two days. I laughed, I cried, and I probably dreamed way too much. This book was about the journey of Alexandra and David, who decided to spend a year traveling the world. Ugh talk about ultimate goals! The book was so easy to read, and yet it was full of some really good advice and beautiful stories (and photographs!) from their trip. They even broke down how much the trip cost, how much they spent in each location, and gave some awesome instructions, tips, and lessons that they learned. (Spoiler, they spent $37,000 for the year. I’ll happily accept venmo or paypal! ;)) The only thing I was bummed about was that they didn’t really mention how they saved that money (other than David already having most of it saved up, and them both selling a couple of their larger items, like their cars, to pay for the trip). And being someone who has zero money all the time, I almost wish they had mentioned more of that portion of their planning, but I suppose there are other books out there on how to save money. Reading the book did come at a perfect time though—Matt and I are taking our first international trip together in about two months, and learned some important travel information that I wouldn’t have known otherwise (ie. International Drivers Permit and Travelers Visa—some info I would have needed to have prior to stepping foot in the country, haha). Okay but anyways, needless to say I adored this book. And I probably shouldn’t have read it because now I’m constantly dreaming of traveling the world (then again, it’s not like I wasn’t doing that constantly beforehand anyways!).

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And that’s it! That’s the books I read for February!

I’m quite pleased with myself because I didn’t want to set too high of a goal for this year (my resolution is to read 24 books), and I’m moving through it pretty quickly. Maybe other people feel this way, but after university I pretty much stopped reading. I guess after reading for 16 years of my life (English major problems, hah), I needed a break. But over the past couple years I’ve been slowly trying to get back into it (aka get less addicted to my phone and more addicted to reading again), and I think I’m just about to tip the scales.

Anyways, rambling on again. I hope you consider picking up these books, I highly recommend them all!
If you are reading anything good, I’d love to hear about it!