I’m sure for everyone else this is a low bar, but four books in a summer is a really solid accomplishment for me. I’m very proud of myself. Here’s what I read by the pool every weekend. In case you don’t notice, I stick to non-fiction, because that’s how I roll.
1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. I’ve had this book on my nightstand for over a year, and I finally committed to reading it. It was pretty interesting. It was a little slow going at the beginning because he describes a lot of biological dynamics that relate to human feelings. It got a little clinical, but it got better. My main takeaway was that trust is essential for successful leadership.
2. Superficial by Andy Cohen. I’m a big Bravo fan (he’s an executive at Bravo). I watch almost all of the shows, so this book caught my eye. It’s his daily diary, and primarily documents his work and crazy busy social life. He rolls with celebrities around the clock, so it’s interesting to get a “behind the scenes” perspective. There’s some self reflection but it’s definitely not the most profound look I’ve ever read. It was perfect for the beach because it’s full of great gossip!
3. I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster. I needed a back up book for vacation and I looked up Jen Lancaster because I’ve read several of her books in the past. She writes really hilarious memoirs about her life. This is her latest, and it’s great, just like the rest of them. She addresses a little mid-life crisis by creating a bucket list and working through the items one by one. It’s funny and subconsciously inspirational as you go through her journey of stepping outside of her comfort zone.
4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I knew I needed one more book to get through my weekend mornings by the pool and I read an article about the author of Glass Castle from the promotional tour for the movie. The story sounded unique so I thought I would give it a shot. It was a quick read, which is saying a lot because I’m a very slow reader. The story was pretty interesting but, at the same time, none of the characters are very likable. It was an interesting view of a family that is the polar opposite of my own family or really anyone I know.
What books have you read lately?
I read another book! I’m on a roll! That’s two summer! (I realize that I am the only person my age who considers this a legitimate accomplishment, I would provide an excuse to avoid judgment but I am fresh out of excuses for this one)
Anyway, this book had my name all over it for two reasons: A) I live for Martha Stewart, she is the ultimate, and B) I read something by Jen Lancaster
and loved it. Lancaster has a series a memoires about various portions of her life that revolve around certain themes or challenges. In this book she is in the process of rebounding from a particularly challenging year and makes a new year’s resolution to follow the “tao of martha” to both build some skills and restore some self purpose. I’m all about this.
The style of writing is so relatable to me because I feel like she’s talking to me like we’re best friends. I think if we met each other we would have plenty to talk about because we watch all the same shows, have similar personal priorities, and we are both firmly in Camp Martha (not to be confused with Camp Oprah). I love that she divides women in Camp Martha and Camp Oprah. Oprah’s people are about living your best life and having pajama parties with your best friends. Martha’s people, on the other hand, are more goal oriented. They focus on accomplishments. She points out that Martha doesn’t have a bathrobe. When she wakes up in the morning, she immediately gets dressed for the day. I love it! I’m the same way! (full disclosure, I have a bathrobe, but I never wear it in the morning, I either immediately shower and get dressed for work, or get right into my workout clothes)
So Lancaster spends the whole year working through various areas of Martha’s domestic empire from broadening her cooking repitoire, to working in her garden, to planning the perfect party, to re-organizing her kitchen cabinets, to re-decorating her guest room. Not only does the experience broaden her own set of capabilities, she learns a lot of lessons of efficiency and perserverance in the process. She doesn’t keep a strict schedule and her projects kind of eb and flow based on her moods throughout the year, but she ends up finding a lot of value in the exercise overall. She stuck to her resolution for the full year and ended up with a much cleaner, more efficient household and life when all was said and done. Another reason to bow down to the all knowing Ms. Martha Stewart.
In the process of unpacking and setting up my new apartment, I have had a few occasions to consult Martha myself. Here are some of the fruits of that consultation: my picture hanging. It’s not quite perfect, but I think its damn close.
Guess what. I am a Thomas Jefferson fanatic. Do you think it’s a coincidence that I go to business school at his alma mater? I think not. I actually love US presidents in general. I know a lot of useless trivia about them, but TJ is my favorite by far.
Last year I had the pleasure of visiting his house, Monticello, outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. I was in Charlottesville by myself for a completely different reason, but you better believe I booked a tour at Monticello before I left. I’ve done a lot of mansion tours in my day: up in Newport, RI, The Biltmore in NC, Versailles in Paris, the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT, and several chateaus in the Loire Valley just to name a few. This tour was different because I knew TJ was there. I loved learning about all of the choices he made in the design, and about his daily habits in the house. I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!
But I digress, this post is actually about a new book about TJ that I recently bought on tape (well CD actually). I bought the audio version of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, because I’m doing a lot of long drives this month, so I thought it would be good for that. I haven’t even finished the book yet, but I’ve decided to give it a good review. Often times, these types of books are rather dry, and difficult to get through at times. I find this one continually interesting. I am filled with little tidbits about TJ and his family that I never knew before and I’m only up to 1784. Here are a few I’ve learned so far:
- Martha Jefferson (TJ’s wife) actually went by Patty
- Patty made TJ swear on her death bed that he would never re-marry and he abided by her request
- TJ’s relationship with his mother is largely unknown because all of their correspondence was destroyed when her house burnt down, there is question as to how well they actually got along
- Sally Hemmings (TJ’s slave and mistress) was actually his wife’s half sister because her father was Patty’s father (the Hemmings served Patty’s family until Patty’s father died)
- Though TJ held numerous leadership roles, perhaps his most disappointing was his stint as governor of Virginia, to his embarrassment, his tenure was largely criticized in an official capacity by the Virginia House of Burgesses
The fact that I live in Virginia is an added bonus as I listen to this book. I am constantly hearing the names of streets and schools in the area, and now I can identify the significance of their namesake. Who knew there were so many important Virginians!
Have you read or listened to any good books lately?