Book Review: Don’t Overthink It

Don't Overthink It

Title: Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life

Author: Anne Bogel

Genre: Nonfiction

Release Date: March 3, 2020

“You can’t control what happens in life, but you can control how you choose to interpret things.” – Anne Bogel, Don’t Overthink It

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I love Anne Bogel. She is one of my idols. I listened to her book podcast What Should I Read Next? before ever entering into my own book journey. I read her blog, Modern Mrs Darcy, consistently, and I’m a member of its online book club (which I pay $10 for, and it’s worth every penny).

When I saw the opportunity to become a part of Bogel’s launch team for her upcoming book, Don’t Overthink It, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve read and enjoyed Bogel’s previous books, Reading People and I’d Rather Be Reading, so I had high hopes for this one, and it didn’t disappoint.

If you find yourself overthinking over every little thing you do, from what to make for dinner for the week, rethinking that big purchase you just made, to going back and correcting every little minute detail in a project you’ve been working on, this book is for you. And as I am guilty of all of the above, this book was tailor-made for me.

Bogel mixes research on overthinking topics such as decision-making, how we choose to spend our money, and how our actions affect those around us, with her own personal experiences. I like reading nonfiction books like this, because you get to learn while also being entertained by stories.

Bogel’s tips and tricks on how to curb your overthinking habits are useful, as well. I would oftentimes think to myself “Huh. I never thought of it that way.” or “Huh. That seems like such a simple solution, why has no one brought it up before?

For example: in Chapter 8 titled “Why It’s Important to Limit Your Options,” Bogel mentions eating the same meal every day or making dinners that your family is guaranteed to like instead of worrying about making something new.

I’m constantly looking for new recipes to try and psyching myself up when making it and worrying that it’s not going to taste good or that no one will like it. Why do I put myself through that instead of just making something I’m already familiar with that I know will get eaten by everyone in my family?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making new recipes, but I came to the realization that I don’t have to put myself through the overthinking and worry as often as I’ve been doing. If I limit my choices, I can take some of that mental strain off myself and be happier for it.

“Some situations in life are never going to be 100 percent resolved, so why not strive to preserve your mental energy by resolving the things you can?” – Anne Bogel, Don’t Overthink It

Bogel’s main point in this book is to reframe your thinking and spend less time worrying so you can enjoy the experience of what is happening in your life. It’s a sentiment that we all need to be reminded of, and reading this book will give you the tools you need to do just that.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

https://amzn.to/320DhcJ

 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*

Backlist vs New Release: Peter Heller

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Welcome to Backlist vs New Release, a new feature on The Shelf.ish Life blog where I will be deep diving into one author’s most recent work and one of their backlist titles.

Today I will be taking a look at two releases by Peter Heller. I heard of Peter Heller through Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next? when she recommended The River. She praised the book and called it her favorite book she read in 2019.

I also read Heller’s previous release, Celine, because of Anne, as it was the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club pick for November 2019. Released in 2017, Celine is Peter Heller’s most recent backlist title.

I have very differing opinions about these two novels. One is significantly better than the other, in my opinion. Read on to learn more.


New Release

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The River

Published: 2019

Thoughts: Peter Heller is a beautiful writer, there’s no question about that.

But, wow, was I bored by this book.

Now look, if you like camping and canoeing, and any of that outdoorsy-woodsy stuff, and you like to read about it, then this book is for you.

Let’s start with the positives of this book. Heller writes of nature so beautifully, that it makes you feel like you are actually in Northern Canada, where the story takes place, and canoeing the river with Jack and Wynn, our two main characters. The atmosphere seems to be the main focal point in this story, which would be all fine and good if the characters were just as developed as the place they are visting. Sadly, this is not the case.

Jack and Wynn are not likable. Heller dives a little into their pasts while moving the story forward, but these storylines feel stilted and thrown in. I didn’t care about these characters at all. And when they come across a couple other people on their journey, I liked those characters even less.

Seeing how these characters cope with their natural environment, especially when a wildfire threatens their trip, is something that should seem exciting, and there was a sense of urgency during these moments, but there’s just so much exposition and words that I couldn’t get ramped up for what was happening.

A big thing I realized after reading this book is that I prefer stories with a good amount of dialogue. This story did not have that. And while it is a short book at just 253 pages, it feels like it is twice that long because of all the words.

I was utterly disappointed after reading this book and didn’t anticipate reading another Peter Heller any time soon.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️


Backlist

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Celine 

Published: 2017

Thoughts: A couple months after reading The River, I picked up Celine as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. I was not excited about, because I was determined that I wasn’t going to like anything else of Heller’s.

I’m so glad I read this book, because where I was bored by The River, I was completely captivated with Celine.

This book still has the environmental description elements to it, but Heller also focuses more on character development.

By the time you’re done reading, you really feel like you know Celine and can empathize with the choices she’s made in her life. It was refreshing to read a story with a mature character, and by mature I mean someone who has lived a longer life than the majority of the narrators I’ve been reading (Celine is in her late sixties).

Celine is a private detective on a mission to solve one last missing person case. We weave in and out of Celine’s life from present day to her past in an attempt to understand how she got to where she is at this point in her life. Sometimes when I read dual storylines like this, I find myself liking one better than the other, but I was equally intrigued between Celine’s past and present day. It was a hard book to put down.

Celine’s just a kick-ass woman, and I loved reading about her.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Winner:

Celine

The characters in Celine are better developed, the story is more interesting, and you won’t be bored reading it.

Peter Heller VS


Let me know how you like this new feature and if there are any authors you would like to see covered!

 

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases*

January 2020 Books Read

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January was a loooong month.

Circumstances being what they were this month, I didn’t get to finish as many books as I was hoping to read (as Goodreads so eloquently reminds me – I’m one book behind pace to my yearly goal). But the ones I did read were fantastic.

I’m adding a new feature to my reviews, and that is the format in which I read the book. I feel that format can make or break whether or not I will like a book. I started The Nickel Boys on audio and was not captivated by it. I happened to see it at the library and decided I would try to read it in print, and I enjoyed it so much better in this format.

I’m also going to briefly mention the books I DNF’d (did not finish) this month. I’m trying to read at a higher quality, so if I’m not enjoying a book, I will not force myself to finish. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t go back to a DNF book, it just wasn’t right for me at this point in time.

Focusing on quality is really working for me, and I implore everyone to do the same. Life is too short to not be reading something you enjoy!


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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Genre: YA

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What a powerful way to start off the new year. I know this book has been around for awhile, and I’m kind of late to the game, but wow. Now I know why this book was so popular when it came out in 2017. It tells the tale of Starr who sees her friend get shot to death by a cop in a traffic stop gone wrong. This book is extremely poignant for the time we’re living in. The audiobook is excellent, one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Bahni Turpin is an awesome narrator. This truly is a YA novel, however, as it pauses here and there to remind us of that when Starr is hanging out with her friends from school. But overall, this is an important novel that everyone should read.


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Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was the first book I received after joining the Once Upon a Book Club subscription service. You get to open gifts related to the corresponding page numbers along the way, which makes it feel like you are a part of the story. I loved the experience, and the book was great too. Told in two timelines between an Iraq veteran and a soldier in the Civil War, both of whom are women, was a delightful surprise. I haven’t read a historical fiction novel set during the Civil War, and it was a refreshing break from reading a WWII-set novel. And learning that women posing as men to fight in the war was a common occurrence made the story that much more interesting. The present day storyline wasn’t as strong, in my opinion, but it was overall an enjoyable read.


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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This was my first foray into Colson Whitehead’s work, and I wasn’t disappointed. Based on a true story of a reformatory boys school in 1950s Florida, this novel tackles some heavy topics such as abuse and race, yet it’s told in a way that is readable. The writing is beautiful, but I had to switch from audio to hardcover to truly comprehend the story. The novel interweaves quotes and aspirations from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as it was set during the Civil Rights movement, which really opened my eyes to that era and how it still resonants today. This is a great “makes you think” book.


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Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Genre: Classic / Adventure

Format: Ebook (Serial App)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I did it. I finished my first classic of the year. Yes, it was a children’s novel, and yes, it’s a story that everyone has heard of, but I’m proud that I actually stuck with it and didn’t give up 20 pages in and never return back to it like I do with most classics. That’s a win, in my book. I had decided to read Peter Pan because my daughter had recently been in our community theater’s production of it. I was surprised at how the story of the play followed so closely with the story of the book, that is to say, it’s nothing like the Disney version. I enjoyed reading it overall, but, man, Peter annoyed the ever living crap out of me. Whiny. Arrogant. Narcissistic. I now know why they had to make him more likable for the Disney movie, because he is not likable here. But it’s a fun adventure novel that can be read with your kiddos.


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Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Genre: Historical Fiction / Literary

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I picked this up on a whim from the library. I had heard about it through bookish word of mouth, and I saw that it was short (only 196 pages), so I thought I’d give it a try. The jacket cover proclaimed it as very poetic, which scared me as I am not a poetry fan, but as soon as I dug in I couldn’t put it down. It’s not told in a conventional way; it goes back in forth in time from the early 2000s to the 1970s and is told from multiple characters’ perspectives. It might be confusing to some, but I thought it helped elevate the story. I love a good book about relationships, and that’s ultimately what this story is. It’s a great, super-quick read.


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Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark

Genre: Memoir

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t listen to Kilgariff and Hardstark’s popular My Favorite Murder podcast, but I had heard that you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this book. While the authors mention the show and the topic of true crime occasionally, this was more like a book of essays about the women’s lives growing up. They are both gifted writers, and funny to boot. I’m still not planning on listening to their podcast, but I’m very glad I read their book. If you need a good laugh, this book is for you.


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The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I did not mean to read so many historical fiction novels this month, but every single one I read was excellent. The Stationery Shop was no different. Another Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club pick, this novel tells the story of Roya from the time she was a lovestruck teenager in 1950s Tehran to how she got to where she is in present day Boston. I loved learning about the history of the political turmoil surrounding Iran while reading a fictional account of characters during that time. While it’s a love story at its core, it also tackles topical issues such as undiagnosed mental illness, abortion, social class status, and death. That may sound like a downer, but it was beautifully written and didn’t drag at all. It was a great book to round out my month of reading.


Books I DNF’d this month:

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory – I love Jasmine Guillory as a person, but I’ve come to realize I’m not a fan of her subpar writing.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal – I could not stand the audio narrator’s voice on this one. I might pick it up in paper or digital format in the future.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo – I was so excited to pick this one up, but sadly could not get into it. Maybe it will capture my interest at a later time.


What were some of your favorite books you read this month? Let me know in the comments!

January 2020 Reads

 

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases*

Bookish Goals for 2020

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A new year calls for new reading goals!

My reading life really took a turn for the better in 2019. I learned so much about the bookish world, from #Bookstagram to book podcasts to Facebook group book clubs and so much more. All these resources really helped guide who I am as a reader, and I’m excited to start the year off fresh and with new goals.

Here is what I’d like to accomplish in my reading life for 2020:

Read 100 Books

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I read 82 books last year. That number probably would have been even higher had I discovered I liked listening to audiobooks before May. Though this is a monetary goal, I’m also going to focus on quality and not be afraid to DNF a book I’m not enjoying (still a hard concept for me, but I will persevere). This number correlates with my reading goal on Goodreads, my favorite social media app for tracking books. Before 2019, my Goodreads yearly goals ranged from 12 to 24 books in a year. I’m planning to read over 4x that number, and have no doubt I will be able to make it. I’m always reading at least one physical book, one audiobook, and one ebook at any given time. I like being able to read in different formats, and this will help me reach my 100 book goal by the end of the year.

 

Read More Classics

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Oh, have I struggled with classics in the past. It’s the old-school language that always gets me. If the characters aren’t speaking in modern tongue, then I’m completely lost. But I want to read them! I think to rectify this problem I will try to listen to classics, such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, on audio to see if I fare better that way. I’ve also signed up for the free Serial app, which lets you read classics in small chunks on a daily basis. I’ve started Peter Pan, and I’m enjoying reading it this way. The app makes the old-fashioned language easier to read by modernizing words when needed. And it connects right to Goodreads, which is a nice extra. I’m hoping to read at least one classic novel a month this year.

 

Devote More Time to the Blog and #Bookstagram

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And by that, I mean stop spending so many mindless hours on my phone and laptop and actually use my devices to do something productive! I love writing and posting about what I’ve been reading, but I’m so bad about actually devoting time to it. I would also like to be more interactive on Instagram and not be afraid to converse with people. We’re all on #bookstagram for a reason – we love books! It’ll be nice to actually discuss books with people since no one I know in my personal life is as passionate about the topic as I am while sharing pictures of what I’m reading. So, stay tuned for more content from The Shelf.ish Life in the coming year!

 

Read What I Own

SH6XaD9wR3+RSeKBlar2nwI bought so many books last year. Some used, some new, but way more than I care to admit. I don’t mind borrowing audiobooks and ebooks from the library (although I do have a ton of owned ebooks I need to read, as well), but when it comes to physical copies of books,  I have more than enough to last me the year, and probably the next couple years, if I’m honest. I do subscribe to a couple book boxes, so I know I’ll be adding to my pile throughout the year, but no more buying 10 books at every book sale I come across… unless it’s a book I really want… or the price is right… or I see a book cover that’s calling my name… On second thought, collecting books is like making new friends.

I may have a problem.

 

Share your 2020 book goals in the comments!