Book #21: The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama & Howard C. Cutler

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I really took my time reading this book in order to digest the juxtaposition of the Western and Eastern Buddhist outlook on topics. I was sort of disappointed that there wasn’t more from the Dalai Lama in this since he is the first author listed but I thought that Cutler did ask some questions that I haven’t heard asked of the Dalai Lama before and really translate things in a different way than most of the Dalai Lama’s books. I do wish the book had gone deeper into topics and perhaps gave some more specific examples of how the two philosophies could work together for better mental and emotional health and I do wish that he would have delved deeper into Buddhism itself and its principles since I do think that the author glossed over quit but all in all a good read. It certainly will leave you with plenty to chew on and unlike most books I would recommend limiting yourself to a chapter or two a day in order to give yourself time to really contemplate each subject.

Book: #21 of 100

Number of Pages: 348

Total Number of Pages: 6,275

Days Remaining: 291

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Book #20: Don’t Worry It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent

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Nugent’s book is funny and written in a format that lends itself well to millennials. It feels more like a collection of long blog entries than anything else and she speaks in a way that feels very natural and more like the spoken word than most of the nonfiction I’ve experienced. There are tons of little references to things that people of our generation experienced growing up and while at the book borders on the ridiculous at times there are certainly parts that ring a chord with me. The author’s experiences certainly reflect in parts many different people I’ve known. Her humor is cynical, sharp, and more than a little jaded. A good read for millennials but not a book I would recommend to people from an older generation since I think much of her humor would be lost on them. I enjoyed it for the most part but I felt like there was more than a little filler in it and she did repeat herself a bit but most comedians do so I won’t hold it against her.

Book: #20 of 100

Number of Pages: 188

Total Number of Pages: 5,927

Days Remaining: 300

Book #19: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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I really wanted to like this book since I love the concept but ultimately I just couldn’t get into it. I found the relationship between Lord Henry and Dorian confusing. I thought it was clearly a homosexual relationship at first but then the author was careful to never state this or even heavily imply that anything aside from a strangely close friendship between the two, being clear to outline that both had pursued many woman sometimes sleeping with them more than once at a time. I found most of what Lord Henry stated quite offensive and the racist descriptions of some of the characters made my skin crawl. I understand it was just the times but ultimately that in combination with the slow writing style just killed it for me.

Book: #19 of 100

Number of Pages: 176

Total Number of Pages: 5,627

Days Remaining: 303

Book #18: Men Are from Mars Women are from Venus by John Gray, Ph.D.

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I have heard a lot about this book over the years and I didn’t expect it to live up to the lofty claims that many people have made about it but I’m surprised to say that there was a lot of helpful information in it. The book was well written and provided clear cut examples and while I do think he went a little far in claiming that all men areĀ  and all women are a certain way I do think that he hit the nail on the head for a good chunk of the population and it did help clarify a lot of things for me. If you are on the fence about whether or not to pick this classic up I would say take the jump. It is a relatively short read and is just as relevant today as it was when it was originally written.

Book: #18 of 100

Number of Pages: 368

Total Number of Pages: 5,451

Days Remaining: 309

Book #17: The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, Ph.D.

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I really wanted to like this book but ultimately I felt like it focused too much on self confidence and not enough on how to build that confidence or use it effectively. Yes it did provide plenty of examples of how thinking big has lead to major changes in peoples lives but that is no secret in of itself. Alas like many of the books in the self help genre it seemed to do a better job of telling people what they would like to hear than anything else and while this may sell lots of books I do not think that it gives you the tools necessary to achieve any major success. I think I will look for something more practical the next time I delve into this genre and not use the number of copies sold as a major factor in making my decision.

Book: #17 of 100

Number of Pages: 238

Total Number of Pages: 5,083

Days Remaining: 311

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Book #16: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

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This book has a way of making you think. Almost philosophical in nature it shows how time and circumstance can change aspects of ourselves and the relationships we have in our lives even if the core of who we are remains the same. It was interesting to see how the author had certain peoples lives intersect in every world while in others there seemed to become a part of the Gretas lives only through conscious effort or the circumstances of one world alone. The book seamlessly dealt with issues of identity, fate vs. freewill, the self destructive nature of human vs. it’s ability to create, and so much more. The only downfall I think this book has is that because we are constantly shifting through time we never did get full and complete characters. The protagonist seem to lack some of the depth and the emotional ambiguity that someone in her situation would be likely to feel. All in all a great read though and I would recommend it.

Book: #16 of 100

Number of Pages: 289

Total Number of Pages: 4,845

Days Remaining: 316

Book #15: Scored by Lauren McLaughlin

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While I loved the concept of this book I felt that there is so much that could have been explored. The novel never showed what the nation wide affects were of the ScoreCorp’s program nor did it show the full impact that growing up under the system would have on the individual in the long term in terms of ethics and relationships. It also failed to show in any way that the scoring system was corrupt or even begin to imply what companies could do with the data they collected from all that information the system continuously collected. The book seemed more focused on whether the concept was sound and spent much of the book debating whether or not it helped or hurt society despite the fact that it ultimately did not show any of the effects it was having in the macro view of the world. Ultimately, I think that the book was trying to say something profound with its ending but it came up short. It’s an intriguing enough concept to read the book but frustratingly lacking depth.

Book: #15 of 100

Number of Pages: 225

Total Number of Pages: 4,556

Days Remaining: 322

Book 14: An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

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Nonfiction that reads like fiction the author spoke with an honesty was quite refreshing. A book that is as much about her as it is about Maurice. It showed how some individuals can rise above neglect and abuse and break the cycle of addiction and through friendship, hard work, and a faith in themselves can built a happy life for themselves. The book is both hopeful and realistic which is rare in of itself. All and all a good read.

Book: #14 of 100

Number of Pages: 225

Total Number of Pages: 4331

Days Remaining: 323

Book #13: i’d know you anywhere by Laura Lippman

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I’m not usually one to read suspense but this one had an interesting premise. I think the author did a good job of giving and withholding information from the reader and the book moved at a good pace. The protagonist felt like a real person wrapped up in her own thoughts and prone to distractions. I liked the way that Eliza grew as person. It was subtle and yet still concrete. The author also did a great job of portraying the antagonists Walter’s twisted logic and his complete lack of empathy and feelings of justifications for his actions. I also appreciated that the author re-framed from needless plot twists and showed that even having undergone great tragedy one was able to move on and still create a relatively happy life and have faith in the world. I will certainly keep an eye out for more from this author but as I have 10 books waiting in Que it might be sometime before I get around to reading another one of her works.

Book: #13 of 100

Number of Pages: 370

Total Number of Pages: 4106

Days Remaining: 329

Book #12: 30 Lessons for Living Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.

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I do not know what exactly I was expected from this book. Some life altering piece of advice? A good idea of what lay before me when I reach the age of the people interviewed for this book? The author certainly feels that he discovered something magical in his interviews with senior citizens but for the most part their advice was common sense and things I’ve heard a million times before. I did meditate on many of the lessons and it was a good reminder of the importance of some of them but ultimately I feel like I didn’t feel like I learned any new information from this one. Perhaps it would be better for someone a little older or a little younger than myself.

Book: #12 of 100

Number of Pages: 268

Total Number of Pages: 3736

Days Remaining: 330