Happy new year! I hope everyone had a safe and fun New Year’s Eve. The start of a new year means a new reading challenge; I’ve gone for a conservative 52 books – one per week, which should be pretty easy to accomplish. In 2020 I had originally set my goal for 24 (two per month) and smashed it with 85 total books read. According to my Goodreads account I consumed 27,549 pages. Boom!
This week I made it through two more books on the stack:
1. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. This would have been very helpful for me a few years ago when I was experiencing burnout myself. I had a hard time finding any useful information about overcoming compassion fatigue but this book covered all the basics and explained things in a very accessible, almost verging on too casual, way. At this point in my journey none of this information was new but I did appreciate having it all in one place and backed up with some science. A great primer for those who want to read up about burnout and how to heal. Check out a podcast with the authors Right here!
Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?
Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn:
• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout
With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.Penguin Randomhouse
2. An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma. This is a retelling of The Odyssey set in Nigeria and Cyprus by the author of The Fishermen. I was pretty blown away by this book. It is told from the perspective of the protagonist’s chi, a spirit that lives in the host body and guides it through life, as if testifying to the higher powers of some event that the host was responsible for. I enjoyed the themes of this book; anxiety, pride, shame, enduring love, obsession, and the magical realism element of the spirits and the chi. It is a story about the human experience, essentially, about the processing of emotion and the transformation from innocence and naivety to rage and insanity. Obioma paints a very interesting picture of human emotion and who we can become when placed under enduring pressure.
Set on the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigeria and narrated by a chi, or guardian spirit, An Orchestra of Minorities tells the story of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer whose soul is ignited when he sees a woman attempting to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to express the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped her in her tracks.
Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family and struggles to imagine a future near a chicken coop. When her family objects to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives he discovers there is no place at the school for him, and that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements… Penniless, homeless, and furious at a world which continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further away from his dream, from Ndali and the farm he called home.
Spanning continents, traversing the earth and cosmic spaces, and told by a narrator who has lived for hundreds of years, the novel is a contemporary twist of Homer’s Odyssey. Written in the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition, Chigozie Obioma weaves a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination.Amazon.ca