Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Live Lagom by Anna Brones

An inviting exploration of “the new hygge“: the Swedish concept of lagom–finding balance in moderation–featuring inspiration and practical advice on how to find a happy medium in life, home, work, and health.

Following the cultural phenomena of fika and hygge, the allure of Scandinavian culture and tradition continues in the Swedish concept of lagom. From home design and work-life balance, to personal well-being and environmental sustainability, author Anna Brones presents valuable Swedish-inspired tips and actionable ways to create a more intentional, healthy lifestyle. Instead of thinking about how we can work less, lagom teaches us to think about how we can work better. Lagom at home is about finding balance between aesthetics and function, focusing on simplicity, light, and open spaces. Health and wellness in lagom is a holistic approach for the body and mind–including connecting more in person, caring for self, managing stress, keeping active, and embacing enjoyment in daily routine. Live Lagom inspires us to slow down and find happiness in everyday balance. – Goodreads

The concept of hygge is huge right now; it’s pronounced hoo-gah, and it’s Danish. Why am I talking about hygge if this book is about lagom? Wtf is the difference? Why are so many fika, hygge and lagom books scattered throughout bookshelves of bookstores? And don’t get me started on Pinterest. It’s essentially (and this is boiling it down super simple) Nordic zen. It’s finding joy in the simple things; a cup of coffee while wrapped in a blanket, a simple cake, minimal decorations, connecting with friends and family.

This book follows the same concept. Lagom is balance in moderation. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (thanks, Blogging for Books!)

I’ve done some research on hygge via the internet. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t really present any new material; in fact, much of the material in this book could have been condensed into a much smaller, easier to read volume.

The book covers all aspects of life — fashion, health, home, work, the environment — but my favorite part of the entire book was the last chapter, The Lessons of Lagom. This chapter succinctly (in two pages) boils down the concept of lagom and sustainability, and how it connects to our daily lives. Essentially, slow down and find balance.

Throughout the book are recipes and tips on how to find balance and simplicity in everyday life. I found the book difficult to sift through. I appreciated the simple and modern page design (it obviously fit well with the theme of the book), but again, repetitive information that could have been condensed down.

Overall, a good read on the concept of lagom. However, I wouldn’t recommend shelling out $16 for it. I rated it a 3/5 on Goodreads.

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Love Her Wild by Atticus

The first collection of poetry by Instagram sensation Atticus.

Love Her Wild is a collection of new and beloved poems from Atticus, the young writer who has captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of avid followers on his Instagram account @atticuspoetry, including superstars like Karlie Kloss and Shay Mitchell. He was dubbed the “#1 poet to follow” by Teen Vogue and “the world’s most tattoo-able” poet by Galore magazine, in Love Her Wild, Atticus captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love in Paris; skinny dipping on a summer’s night; the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit; or drinking whiskey in the desert watching the rising sun. With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flair, Atticus distills the most exhilarating highs and the heartbreaking lows of life and love into a few perfectly evocative lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind—and will awaken your sense of adventure. – Goodreads

AHHHHH. This one hit me right. In. The. Feels.

I began following Atticus on Instagram several months ago and instantly fell in love with the simplicity of his poetry. In the simplicity I found connection and was able to relate to the prose. Some people like the simplicity, some people hate it. I happen to like it and found the read to be quick, light and enjoyable. Poetry is subjective — that’s what makes it enjoyable. Disclaimer over. I saw his book at Target and picked it up.

The collection is divided into three sections: love, her, and wild. The first section is about love and was my favorite. The second one was about “her”, presumably a girl the author was/is seeing. The final section was about youth and life. The book also features black and white photography with some of the poems. I liked most of the imagery, but occasionally found it distracting.

My favorite poem from the book?

I want to be with someone who dreams of doing everything in life and nothing on rainy Sunday afternoons.

I bought a print from Etsy and hung it in my house.

Overall, I enjoyed relaxing and reading this book. Is it as complex and abstract as Edgar Allen Poe or Henry David Thoreau? No, absolutely not. But if you’re into the modern aesthetic, give this one a shot (or at the very least, check out his Instagram — much of the material on his page was in the book).

 

 

 

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Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques

From one of the most exciting young chefs in America today, a cookbook with more than 80 recipes that celebrate impeccable technique and bridge her Korean heritage, Michigan upbringing, Boston cooking years, and more.

Kish won legions of fans, first by helming two of Barbara Lynch’s esteemed Boston restaurants, and then by battling her way back from elimination to win season ten of Top Chef. Her path from Korean orphan to American adoptee, sometime model to distinguished chef, shines a light on her determination and love of food. Her recipes are surprising yet refined, taking the expected–an ingredient or a technique, for example–and using it in a new way to make dishes that are unique and irresistible. She sears avocado and pairs it with brined shrimp flavored with coriander and ginger. A broth laced with pancetta and parmesan is boosted with roasted mushrooms and farro for an earthy, soulful dish. Caramelized honey, which is sweet, smoky, and slightly bitter, is spiked with chiles and lemon and served with fried chicken thighs. The results are delicious, inspiring, and definitely worth trying at home.  – Goodreads

I’m torn on this one. I love cookbooks, and I love experimenting with new recipes and expanding my skillset. I’m not an expert in the kitchen, but I like to think I’m a little more than a beginner.

I was unfamiliar with Kristen Kish prior to receiving this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I don’t watch Top Chef, and I’m not up to date on the contestants. However, a close friend came over and saw this on my coffee table and became very excited. So — if you know who Kristen is, you might appreciate it more than me 🙂

The recipes in this book are ballsy and modern. There were some simpler recipes I will be trying, such as Braised Baby Potatoes. However, much of the book featured odd ingredients and things that simply aren’t available to me. I probably won’t be making Bay Scallop Crudo or squab in little ol’ Boise, Idaho (I also raised pigeons and can’t stomach baking an entire baby pigeon for dinner).

The book is beautiful. It’s thick, the pages are fantastic, and the photography is gorgeous. The instructions and ingredients are laid out very well.

Personally, this was not my favorite book and I will rarely use it. I think the book will be a bigger hit for others, especially fans of Kristen and those who enjoy cooking more gourmet meals. I rated it a 3/5 on Goodreads.

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A Well-Crafted Home: Inspiration and 60 Projects for Personalizing Your Space by Janet Crowther

A beautiful, practical book for both aspiring makers and seasoned crafters. Here are 60 projects for high-quality furniture, textiles, and accessories to enjoy all through the house–plus all the techniques you need for dyeing or sewing fabric, cutting leather, antiquing mirrors, working with wood, and much more.

A Well-Crafted Home
 includes simple, creative details that will tailor a space to your taste. More than just -DIY- crafts, these carefully designed projects call for good materials–like linen, leather, and wood–so the finished product will last you a lifetime. Ranging from beginner to more advanced, each item elevates a room in a way you’d never expect: a large-scale painting with an effortless -dot- design looks like a modern piece of art, flax linen bedding sewn with a few easy seams is gorgeous way to set off the bed (and is more affordable than you would think), and a copper pipe rack for hanging clothes is so pretty, you’ll want to keep it on display.
There’s something for every room in this book:

The Entryway: 
Dowel Wall Hooks, Reclaimed Wood Bench, Woven Leather Basket, Soft Planter Cover, Block-Print Pillow, Looped-Tassel Wall Hanging

The Living Room: Dyed Fabric Ottoman, Tassel Wall Banner, Bleach-Dot Lumbar Pillow, Flange-Edge Throw Pillow, Tied Shibori Throw Pillow, Gemstone Box, Air-Dry Clay Bowl, Rolling Trunk Storage, Glass-Cover Pendant Lamp

The Kitchen: Wooden Herb Planter, Rustic Footed Cutting Board, Quilted Cushions, Leather-Loop Tea Towels, Ombre Ceramic Vase

The Dining Room: 
Heirloom Linen Tablecloth, Indigo-Stripe Napkins, Leather Napkin Rings, Clay Candlesticks, Boro Stitched Trivet, Beaded Light Fixture,

The Bedroom: 
Framed Cane Headboard; Linen Bedding with Duvet, Shams, and Pillowcases; Simple Stitch Throw Pillow; Sewn Leather Pillow; Trimmed Waffle-Weave Blanket; Modern Latch-Hook Stool; Dyed Fabric Art in Round Mat; Natural Jute Rug; Painted Ceramic Tray; Acrylic Side Table; Refurbished Table Lamp; Boro Stitched Memory Quilt

The Closet: Copper Garment Rack, Leaning Floor Mirror, Wall Shoe Display, Thread-Wrapped Pendant Light, Liberty Print Hamper, Antiqued Mirror Table

The Bathroom: 
Natural Wood Stump, Oak Tub Tray, Knotted Rope Ladder, Terry-cloth Towels, Leather Wastebasket

The Outdoor Oasis: Simple Sewn Hammock, Painted Wood Stump, Restored-Frame Tray, Ice-Dyed Blanket, Colorwash Sheepskin

With beautiful photographs of rooms styled with all of the projects, A Well-Crafted Home proves that even the smallest touch of handmade can make a house a home.  – Goodreads

I. Love. This. Book.

I was so incredibly excited when I saw this as an option for a review on Blogging For Books (I received a copy in exchange for an honest review). I recently bought a new house and am having a fun time updating rooms and decorating — pretty much everything in this book is my “style”.

The instructions are easy to follow, the photos are gorgeous, and the projects are completely doable for someone who isn’t the handiest or craftiest person on the planet. Each project has the skill level labeled, from beginner to advanced.

If you enjoy DIY projects or things that resemble what is sold at Anthropologie, pick this book up — you won’t regret it. I’m looking forward to working on some projects for my new home.

 

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Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”  Read the rest of the summary on Goodreads.

Ready for one of those embarrassing, obsessive reviews? Good, because that’s how this one is going to be.

Let me start by explaining how I got my mitts on this book. I had some extra Audible credits and needed to paint my kitchen, so I downloaded this simply because I thought it was Aziz Ansari’s autobiography and I love Aziz, so I figured his narration would be awesome.

Much to my surprise, it was not an autobiography, but a well-researched book on modern dating. I spent eight hours painting my kitchen and didn’t even realize it because I was so sucked into this damn audiobook…even though Aziz kept telling me how damn lazy I was for LISTENING to the book instead of READING it. I was painting, okay?!

The findings and research in the book is lightened up with Aziz’s comedic relief. What I’m trying to say is….it’s hilarious. I enjoyed the humorous touch.

The book goes into texting, online dating, and how different cultures date in modern society. The book also looks at the history of dating (IE, back in the day, most people would meet someone in their ‘hood and get married to escape their parents).

One interesting concept covered in the book had to do with online dating and how it opens up our options. “The world is available to us, but that may be the problem,” said Ansari. Meaning, we have a difficult time settling with one individual because we KNOW how easy it is to shop for the next one or to see what is available at our fingertips.

Another concept addressed in the book is expectations we place on our significant others, which is different now than it was back in the day. We expect our SOs to be our soulmate, our confidant, our best friend, our travel buddy, our therapist, our sexual partner…basically everything. We expect them to give us happiness and give us joy. We rely wholeheartedly on our SO to provide these functions that, in the past, an SO wasn’t expected to provide. Personally, I think this is fascinating — how can you possibly expect one person to provide all of these services? Is it really up to another human to make you happy? I don’t think so. I think we place a lot of expectations on our relationships, which leads to unmet expectations, which often leads to failure. I believe an SO is someone who should complement your life, encourage you to be better and be your teammate. However, I don’t think an SO is your “other half”…I’d prefer to have another “whole” person to spend my life with — with our own respective hobbies, etc. — than a half.

If you’re expecting a humorous book detailing Aziz Ansari/Tom Haverford’s dating escapades, this book is not for you. This book is a sociological study of the evolution of dating…which, by the way, I rate a 5/5 and will be rereading soon.

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.  – Goodreads

Get ready for a bunch of “self-help” book reviews, people. I’m doing house projects and these type of books are the easiest to listen on audiotape to while doing other activities — I have a tendency to get distracted if I’m listening to fiction.

I’m adding a read more link due to the excessive use of the F-word in the following review. Read more at your discretion.  Continue reading

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Everything You Need You Have by Gerad Kite

29807307Gerad Kite was a therapist for years before realizing all the talk and analysis weren’t making a lasting difference in the lives of his patients. So he quit his practice and looked for a new way to help people feel better. What he discovered is a different approach to finding a secret, peaceful, and permanent place inside yourself that you can access at all times, a path to getting out of your head, to surrender to what is. You’ll see that you already have what you need to be happy and well.
Kite draws on the principles of ancient Chinese philosophy and his extensive experience helping people from all walks of life as a relaxation and acupuncture expert. His ten steps will show you how to tune in to your natural rhythms, view your emotions from a different perspective, and finally experience a state of bliss that you can return to again and again.
The secret to feeling at home in yourself isn’t therapy, meditation, silencing your phone, throwing out your possessions or traveling the world. The answer is already inside you. – Goodreads

It was an interesting read, but I wasn’t completely in love with this read. It was…average at best.

If it’s your first time reading a book on meditation and enlightenment, then it’s a great choice. If you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s nothing new. I do think that Kite does a great job at taking complex ideas of Taoism and ancient Chinese concepts and breaks them down into everyday language, but it was a mess of ideas at times, too.

I do like the overall idea of looking inward for fulfillment and validation — so often we look externally for those feelings and are usually let down.

Overall, it was a quick little read, but it just didn’t resonate with me. I rated it a 3/5. I was given a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Meals for the Whole family by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

16240550A whole foods cookbook and guide to raising healthy children including over 300 nourishing gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free recipes. – Goodreads

This one is tough. On one hand, it’s definitely chock-full of allergy-friendly recipes; the recipes I tried were delicious, easy to make, and the ingredients were easy to find (IE, no special trips to any specialty stores). It’s organized well and there are plenty of recipes to choose from.

However, the book is simply overwhelming. I have no doubt that there are more than 300 recipes; I haven’t counted, but the sheer size of the book is intense and took me several times to go through and bookmark.

The other downside is the lack of photography; I like to be able to see what I’m going to be making, and the sparse few pages of photos in this volume do not do it justice.

I rated it a 3/5; the recipes are great and there are plenty to choose from, but the overwhelming amount of recipes and lack of photos lost it two points.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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The Comprehensive INFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe

32319547Despite their agreeable demeanor, INFPs represent one of the most passionate and complex personality types within the Myers-Briggs Inventory. Employing a wholly unique stack of cognitive functions, this type sees the world around them not just as it is but also as it could be—making them a deeply imaginative and highly idealistic personality.

In this detailed, type-based survival guide, seasoned MBTI author Heidi Priebe explains the strengths and struggles INFPs face as they navigate the world around them as one of the most creative and emotionally intense personality types. – Goodreads

I know, I know. Another MBTI book, Lauren, really? Weren’t you an ENFP? Literally, didn’t you just read Priebe’s ENFP book?

Okay, okay. Yes. Yes, I did. However, after reading this, I’m 99% I mistyped myself, as INFPs are prone to do. Afterall, I’ve been testing as an INFP for YEARS. What, suddenly I like to surround myself with people and I’m an extrovert? Yeah, so I retook the test and answered all questions with an extrovert angle. Thus, ENFP. I’m dumb. Apparently we’re also guilty of mistyping often.

This type lives in a world of identity possibilities and they are constantly shifting their perspective and redefining exactly what it means to be themselves.

Anyway, this book made me realize I’m just not operating on a healthy level as an INFP, which is really messing with me.

One thing that I have a difficult time coming to terms with — especially pursuing the career path that I am — is that I am a very emotional person, in the sense that I feel deeply and am constantly processing everything around me on an emotional level.

emotional intensity of the INFP is this type’s greatest blessing as well as their greatest curse.

But enough about me. The book was good — though I did enjoy the ENFP guide better. This one was VERY heavy on the cognitive functions and I found myself flipping back and forth to make sure I was getting it all. I had to stop often to make sure I was absorbing the information; it was a lot of heavy stuff to take in, whereas the ENFP guide was a lot more fun-centric. This one was very deep and definitely hit the darker points of my type, which was needed. If you’re looking for a funny read on what your type does at a party, though, THIS IS NOT IT.

One of my favorite parts of the book was how INFPs work with other types — though it was phrased in the context of relationships, it was pretty easy to ignore that language and relate it to how I interact with other types in a day-to-day sense. It was also helpful from a romantic angle, though, as my boyfriend is an ENTP and we often see the world very differently. All of our challenges were spot on and provided helpful tips on how to understand where the other type is coming from.

The ENTP may feel smothered by the INFP’s need for reassurance and commitment, whereas the INFP may feel neglected by the ENTP’s need for independence and freedom.

#needyAF

Overall, the book was exactly what I needed to identify my funk and figure out a plan of action on how to get out of it. I’ve definitely been rolling in a tertiary loop and need to work on strengthening my functions.

If you’re an INFP, I recommend this. If you are close with an INFP, I recommend this. I rated it a 4/5 on Goodreads.

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The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

29405093In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over. – Goodreads

I. Can’t. Even.

It has happened. Someone has dethroned Mindy Kaling in my book of comedic royalty, and that someone is Amy Schumer. From the first chapter, I was sucked in and couldn’t stop. Which was good, because I read the first three-quarters on our journey to Mexico and the last quarter in the first day.

Seriously, I couldn’t stop laughing. Snickering. Inhaling sharply. “Is Amy writing about penises again?” the boyfriend would ask. This book is not safe for children and if profanity and vulgarity offends you, don’t pick it up.

Despite the naughty humor — which you should expect if you’ve ever watched Amy’s show or standup — the book tackles some pretty serious topics, too, such as gun control, sexual assault and multiple sclerosis (her father suffers from it). There is some sass and humor mixed in, but she does a very good job and shedding some light on these serious issues. It definitely showed me another side of Schumer and made me appreciate her so much more.

If you enjoy self-deprecating humor, stories about sex and being blackout drunk, feminism and some serious stuff, check this out. I had a ton of laughs and really enjoyed it. I rated it a 4/5.

 

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