July 29, 2016

What I've Been Reading... July, 2016

This month has been a whirlwind. We got married at the beginning of the month, had a really fun mini-moon in Washington DC, and went right into packing and moving. We move this weekend, and I can't wait to get to Pittsburgh and relax!

I have had surprisingly a lot of time to read. I've been reading more at night, so that is something that really helps. Nothing gets me more relaxed and ready for sleeping than reading a book in bed.

Today I'm linking up with Puppies and Pretties for Reading Lately.

Pay it Down! by Jean Chatzky ★★★
Jean Chatzky has been working with viewers of NBC’s Today show for a series on how to get out of debt once and for all. Her method, both on TV and in this book, is simple yet powerful: the key is saving just $10 a day that you currently waste. It doesn’t sound like much—a movie ticket or lunch for two at McDonald’s— but $10 really can take you from debt to wealth in just a few years. And because it doesn’t feel like an impossible goal, people are more likely to stick with Chatzky’s plan than an extreme regimen of spending cutbacks. Chatzky is focusing on debt because it’s the single biggest threat to our financial health. The average American family has sixteen credit cards and high-rate debt of more than $8000, not even counting car loans and mortgages. They pay more than $1000 a year in interest alone. Debt makes people feel depressed and overwhelmed, leaving them without enough money for the truly important things in life—education, retirement, owning a home, feeling secure. Chatzky, one of America’s most popular personal finance experts, writes in down- to- earth, woman-next-door language about how to get started right away, without giving up the things that truly give you pleasure. She offers practical, accessible strategies to help readers find the money to pay off their bills, lower their interest rates, and improve their credit scores. Featuring real-life examples of people featured on her Today show series, Pay It Down can transform debtors into future millionaires.
I found this while I was cleaning out our stuff, and was intrigued. Like most millenials, I have a butt ton of student loan debt. While I know I am going to have to be a little bit more thrifty than usual with Dave starting full-time school, I think a lot of the advice in this book is really common sense. Oh, you want to save money, stop buying food out.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick ★★★
In 1820, the 240-ton Essex set sail from Nantucket on a routine voyage for whales. Fifteen months later, in the farthest reaches of the South Pacific, it was repeatedly rammed and sunk by an eighty-ton bull sperm whale. Its twenty-man crew, fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, made for the 3,000-mile-distant coast of South America in three tiny boats. During ninety days at sea under horrendous conditions, the survivors clung to life as one by one, they succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and fear.In the Heart of the Sea tells perhaps the greatest sea story ever. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of whale lore and with a brilliantly detailed portrait of the lost, unique community of Nantucket whalers. Impeccably researched and beautifully told, the book delivers the ultimate portrait of man against nature, drawing on a remarkable range of archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship's cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a page-turner that speaks to the same issues of class, race, and man's relationship to nature that permeate the works of Melville, In the Heart of the Sea will endure as a vital work of American history.
Really depressing. This book is super sad, and a bit graphic. I knew the plot, just from watching the movie, but the book is so descriptive. Supposedly this is the same story that Moby Dick is based on (which I've never read), but I imagine it is quite different as well. 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ★★★
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air. Welcome to Le Cirque des RĂªves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. 
I talked a little bit about how hard it was to get into this book, but I trucked along anyway. I still didn't love it, even though the plot did get better as I read. It was way too much world building, and I didn't feel that the plot finished very well. It is really cool that Morgenstern wrote this for NaNoWriMo!

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn ★★★
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it. 
I read this in one sitting during the week before the wedding. It was cute and quirky, and very cool to see a short story from Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, etc). The characters were also really interesting. I highly recommend this for someone looking for a short read!

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