Monday, May 31, 2010

Father Brown

Welcome to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction blog tour hosted by the Classics Circuit. For today's stop, I'm reviewing
Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton. Before I start my review, I want to say that Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday is my husband's favorite book, and it's definitely up there on my list too. It's a great mind-tripping well-written mystery. I just want to preface my review with that so I don't steer you away from Chesterton entirely. You should read The Man Who Was Thursday; it's just around 150 pages and it's great.
But Father Brown is not. Too be far, I do see how other people could enjoy this collection of short stories. I know my husband does. But when I read a mystery, I want suspense. I want clues so that I can at least try to find the solution. And I want fun. I didn't get any of that out of Father Brown.
Father Brown is very literary. Even thought it's all short stories, half of each story has nothing to do with the mystery and is just more about life in general. I felt like the stories focused more on philosophy and things like how you never know when you're sitting right next to a murderer. The stories are all clever, but I just didn't find them interesting.
I had exactly the same feeling when I read Sherlock Holmes though. I only made it through two Holmes stories before deciding not to force myself to suffer through anymore, so I'm clearly not an expert, but the stories seem fairly similar on some level, and I think that if you enjoy the Holmes stories you would enjoy Father Brown. So I don't want to discourage everyone from reading them, I just want to explain why I didn't really care for them. I want my mysteries to keep me on the edge of my seat. Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown don't do that for me. They may actually be a lot more intelligent and literary reads than the mysteries I prefer, but when I read a mystery it's because I'm in the mood for an escape and I don't want something overly literary. (Now, I didn't really find Sir Conan Doyle's writing to be that great, but he's considered literary and his stories do have a more intelligent focus.) Maybe if I was better prepared going in and not expecting something lighter I would have enjoyed this more. I do want to point out that the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown are quite different though. Holmes is so egotistical, moody, and he overpowers the stories, while Father Brown hovers in the background, quiet, calm, supremely rational.
I did really enjoy this quote though: "It's part of something I've noticed more and more in the modern world...People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other...It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can't see things as they are." That theme came up quite a lot, that people often accept what others say without thinking about it, yet the question what is right in front of them. If you don't believe in God, you still search for something to feel that void and don't have the moral compass to prevent you from doing things like killing people or stealing or other things for your own benefit. Clearly not everyone who doesn't believe in God does those things, but it's a lot easier to do those things if you don't think there's some sort of eternal punishment awaiting you for doing them. Father Brown also talks a lot about being both a man of faith and a man of science, like Chesterton himself was. He believed that the two worked together, and that common sense makes you belief in God and that if you abandon him you abandon common sense. Although he's not very popular anymore, Wikipedia lists numerous authors who cited him as an influence on them, including C.S. Lewis and Neil Gaiman. Wikipedia also had this quote I found quite entertaining: "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." So, while I didn't enjoy Father Brown as much as I had hoped, I'm still fond of Chesterton in general and hope you give The Man Who Was Thursday a try!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gulliver's Travels and Cranford Read-a-longs

A Literary Odyssey is hosting a read-a-long in June of one of my favorite books, Gulliver's Travels! It's about time I reread this, so I'm joining in on the fun, and I suggest you do too! You can sign up here. I hope to see you during the read-a-long!

A Literary Odyssey is also hosting a read-a-long on Cranford, and I decided to go ahead and sign up for that one as well. The sign up for that one is here if you're interested.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I usually prefer to review each book individually, but I'm so, so far behind I decided to do one post with a bunch of mini-reviews to catch up quickly. So, here's an overview of some of the books I've been reading recently. Enjoy!

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley is the sequel to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I highly recommend both books. I loved this book for exactly the same reasons I loved The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which was one of the best books I read last year.

Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky is about a group of high school girls who make a pact to get pregnant. When that actually happened a few years ago, I was horrified and shocked. I absolutely cannot comprehend that. At all. There are plenty of things I don't agree with or wouldn't do, but can still at least entertain the idea of how someone could do it. Even a lot of horrible things, like killing someone, you can comprehend on some level. But why on earth would a high school student get pregnant on purpose? The only reason I could come up with is to escape a molestation situation, believing that by getting pregnant the abuse would stop. But that's not what happens here. I hoped this book would bring me some perspective, but it didn't. I did enjoy the book for the most part, as you unravel exactly what happened with the pact and seeing how the main character, the mother of one of the girls and the high school principal, handles the situation. However, the way she reacts annoys me most of the time. Now, I'm not a mother, so I can't say with certainty how I would react. But, I'm pretty positive I would beat the crap out of the girl and take away any freedom and joy she had. I know that's what my mother would have done, which is one of the many reasons I would never have gotten pregnant in high school. I would react like Naomi on Private Practice. I loved the story with her daughter getting pregnant because I felt like she reacted like I would react. She just can't handle talking to her, or even seeing her, and she doesn't want to endanger her grandchild but wants to kill her daughter anyway. I felt like the parents in this book were for the most part too understanding, which probably helped lead to the bad behavior.

I never expected to read
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I thought it sounded tacky and used car salesman-y. But, we might be doing something with the Dale Carnegie institute with work next year so I thought I should read it. I was surprised to learn it was written in the 30s. It was actually pretty good. It's mainly common sense, but there were still some good lessons about being nice to people, how to listen to people, and how to show people that you value their thoughts.

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano is about a girl in the witness protection program. Cristofano is a great writer and I identified with the main character, even though I clearly haven't been in her situation. She's basically doomed for a life of mediocrity because she can't draw attention to herself, and she hardly knows who she really is. I felt like there was something more literary to this book than the packaging implies, so it was a nice surprise.

Alexander McCall Smith is one of my new favorite authors.44 Scotland Street is well written, funny, and insightful. McCall Smith creates wonderful characters, who you love despite their faults. There's just something really real about them. I also found myself laughing out loud several times. This book was very different from the other McCall Smith book I read, La's Orchestra Saves the World, but I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

American Nerd by Ben Nugent was not as good as I expected. I thought it would be more about things nerds enjoy, but it was more about why people become nerds, which I still didn't feel like he explained very well. He rambled a lot, and talked in circles. I didn't feel like it was very well written, and I didn't really get anything out of it. I nearly stopped reading at several points, but old habits die hard and I still haven't quite broken myself of not finishing every book I start, although I improving.

And on to something better. Anna Quidlen is one of my favorite modern writers, and she definitely delivers with Every Last One. Like McCall Smith, she creates wonderful, real characters. That makes this book all the more heart wrenching. I can't really say much about this book without giving too much away, so I'll just say that you should read it!

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman has gotten a lot of buzz, and the last few books that were getting similar press just didn't do it for me (i.e. Let the Great World Spin, which I didn't finish), so I was a little skeptical, but the story about the old newspaper in Rome sounded intriguing. I'm glad I gave it a shot. It's sort of like Olive Kitteridge in that it is a novel, but is really a bunch of interconnected short stories about people connected with the paper. Rachman excels at drawing the different characters and making you want to know more. I was sad to come to the end of each section because I wanted to know what happens to them next. Sometimes they would show up briefly in another section, but you didn't get the full story. It's more like glimpses into parts of their lives. It's great when a book leaves you wanting to what happens next because you care about the people though, so I recommend this book as long as you're okay with not getting to know everything.

I did not enjoy The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon. Maybe it was because the overview I read made it sound wonderful: a man visits his parent's graves for the first time and finds his own tombstone, saying he died when he was three. Intriguing, yes? Well, it was a good idea for a story, but Dixon is not a strong writer. I should have paid more attention to the blurb by Sue Grafton on the back than the one by Kristin Hannah on the front. I like Hannah, but think Grafton is one of the worst writers I've had the misfortune to encounter. Dixon is much closer to Grafton than Hannah on my scale. The story was interesting enough for me to keep reading, although there's a rather stupid "twist" at the end that's just thrown in to be shocking but by that point you really just want the thing to be over and all of the characters to die a slow painful death anyway. Yep, in addition to the bad writing, I hated all of the characters. Not a pleasant one in the bunch. I especially wanted to strangle the main character's wife. She was completely obsessed with making her horrible father happy, even at the expense of her husband. And when she finally stands up to him, she expects some huge reward for how awesome she is for deciding not to treat her husband like crap. Anyway, clearly I would recommend skipping this one.

I've loved all of Emily Giffin's books, and Heart of Matter is no exception. Giffin is a masterful storyteller and character creator. Her characters always have strong faults and don't always do the right thing all the time, but she makes them real and lovable even when you don't approve of what they're doing. And in this book, one of the main characters is the sister to Dex, the main male character in Something Borrowed and Something Blue, and Rachel from those books is also present. I love when authors do that. It was fun getting to see them again.

Finally, I read Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland, Scott Weiland's ex-wife (or soon to be ex, I'm not sure if the divorce if final yet). I have had a major crush on Scott since I was 13. And it's still going quite strong. It was sad to read about their epic drug use, even though I clearly knew about that. It was interesting that they met before he became famous, when he was her driver and she was starting as a model. It made me like her more, that she wasn't some model who just hooked up with him because he was famous. It also made me feel quite sorry for her because being with him couldn't have been easy (although she has her own demons as well). She became close friends with Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and roomed with Charlize Theron, so that was interesting to read about as well. I felt like the book was very well written, and offered what appears to be an honest glimpse into her life. She addresses her mental health issues as well, her struggles with being bi-polar and misdiagnosed for a long time. My mother-in-law is bi-polar, and reading about someone else's struggles with that helped me to understand her better. Overall, I thought this was a great read!

Whew! That was a lot of books to update you all on! I hope you enjoyed the mini-reviews!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Reading Changed My Life

How Reading Changed My Life is a collection of essays by Anna Quindlen, one of my favorite contemporary writers. I love reading about other people reading, so I jumped at the chance to read this book. I enjoyed all of the essays and seeing similarities between myself and someone I admire. If you enjoy reading about other readers and fell in love with Francie Nolan because she loves the library and makes plans to read through the whole thing alphabetically, this book’s for you. (Quindlen wrote an introduction to a recent edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the wonderful book featuring Francie, which is one of my all-time favorite books and made me like Quindlen all the more.)

This book made me think about my own experience with reading. My first memories are of learning to read (although my very first memory is of me jumping of the counter and splitting my chin on a metal Carebears trash can). I remember realizing that the black marks on the pages meant something, that they were telling my mom what to say. And so since I wanted to be independent even at three, I begged my mom to teach me how to understand them. She thought it would be fun to teach me a little bit of the alphabet, expecting to get to about D and give up for the day, but I learned the entire alphabet that day. And then immediately began putting the new information into practice with Dr. Suess and a few other simple picture books. And I’ve never looked back! (And if you’re a mom reading this and you’re a bit jealous of my mom, don’t worry, she got major payback from my brother. And he still turned out just fine despite learning to read much later and never learning to enjoy it.)

I, on the other hand, can’t really remember not loving to read. In first grade when we had a reading contest, I won by hundreds of books. We got Easter eggs to put on the wall for every book we read, and the poor teacher could barely keep up with me. I read twice as many books as the rest of the class combined. Fortunately for me and my social standing for the rest of my schooling, when teased about my nerdiness I was rather quick with my fist and good at insulting people. This saved me from really getting slapped with the nerd label. Ironically, it was that mouth and stubborn streak that caused a huge a fight with a friend later on in elementary school that left me turning to books for comfort, befriending all of the girls in the Baby-Sitters Club series. And they stuck with me much longer the friend who I eventually made up with.

The first really literary book I read that wasn’t some sort of abridged kid’s version of Huck Finn was Wuthering Heights. Their moodiness struck a chord with me in junior high and introduced me to a whole new world of books: classics and books that don’t end with happily ever after. And I still love to read books that my mom always deems depressing. But they allow me to feel something I may not otherwise (hopefully never in some cases) feel. They teach us how different people react to things, guiding us in how we react when faced with something similar. They allow us to travel the world, experience other cultures, and try new things from the comfort of our arm chairs. Quindlen makes a similar comment in the book, and notes that actually traveling this way is many times preferable to actual travel. I think that’s one of the reasons why I wasn’t too disappointed when we decided to postpone our trip to London that we were supposed to take at the end of last year. With the crazy economy and uncertainty and layoffs happening at work, we decided it would be better to get a refund and have that cash on hand in case something happened on go later. A part of me was actually relieved because I’m afraid that the real London can’t possibly hold a candle to the one in my head. Especially since the one in my head is fairly Victorian only with a better sewage and trash system and air conditioning. Modern London, with teenagers in jeans with iPhones and business people hurrying to their next meeting, isn’t what I’m envisioning. I’ll still go someday, probably sooner than later, but until then I’ll always have my books.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Intimations of Jane Austen

Intimations of Austen is a collection of short stories related to the works of Jane Austen. I received a copy to review from the author, fellow book blogger Jane Greensmith, whose blog you can enjoy here.

Since Jane tends to read literary books and writes a literary, intelligent blog, I’m not sure why the literariness of the stories surprised me. Perhaps because most of the Austen-related fiction I’ve read is, well, not. Don’t get me wrong, I usually enjoy it, but most of it just isn’t what you would call literary. But Intimations of Austen is different.

Greensmith’s writing is truly exquisite. I’m always amazed when authors can write in such a poetic manner. Her words were like a dancer gliding over a smooth lake. I realize that’s not exactly possible, but for some reason that’s the image that comes to mind. That’s why I don’t usually write in metaphors and similes. I’m definitely more Hemingway than Tolstoy. But reading Greensmith’s work felt like reading poetry.

I also enjoyed that these stories were quite different from other Austen fan fiction I’ve read. Most of those tell exactly the same story from say, Darcy’s point of view, or are about what happens when Austen’s original books end. And there is a little bit of that here, but most of the stories offer something a little different. What if Darcy and Elizabeth don’t get married? What would happen when they meet 20 years later? What if Darcy reads words as colors, and connects those colors to the person’s soul? What if Jane Bennet loved someone before she met Charles Bingley? What is Mrs. Bennet really thinking?

Although I enjoyed all of the stories, even the one where Elizabeth and Darcy are not married (although at first I thought I was misreading something and had to start that story three times before it made sense, because I kept assuming that couldn’t be right!), I did have a few favorites. I really liked The Color of Love because it was so different. It mixed a little bit of science fiction with Mr. Darcy! In this story, Darcy reads in color based on the person writing. He can therefore judge people based solely on seeing their handwriting, causing him to make quick impressions of people. I enjoyed how Greensmith wove that into the existing story, giving us a fresh perspective on Darcy’s actions without simply telling the story from his point of view and having him tell us why he does what he does, she shows us why.

I also really liked the story told from Mrs. Bennet’s perspective, simply because she’s such a picked on character (well-deservedly for the most part), The Last Baby. She’s quite easy to tease, but here we get a quick glimpse into her mind and begin to understand her a bit more. You feel a little sorry for her because you learn she did want to learn new things, but after she started having babies Mr. Bennet wasn’t interested in teaching her anymore and her job became producing a boy so they wouldn’t lose their home.

There are seven other stories in this collection, and no, not all of them related to Pride and Prejudice, so make sure you check it out for yourself so that you can enjoy all of these enchanting stories!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Judy Blume, Margaret, and Me

Every girl who grew up reading Judy Blume needs to read Everything I Thing I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O'Connell. It features essays from female writers such as Meg Cabot talking about what they learned from Judy Blume. I actually didn't recognize most of the authors, but loved most of the essays and will be going through the author list to fine new books to read!

The essays themselves reminded me about my own childhood growing up reading Judy Blume. My mom got me hooked on her books for younger kids first, starting with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. She probably thought I would identify with Peter, having a demon child of a little brother myself. He was only two when he learned how to climb on top of the kitchen cabinets. She likes to say now that until he started school he probably thought his name was "Dammit Dustin." I completely identified with Peter. Except Peter was actually better behaved than me. I usually responded to my brother's antics with violence. And of course then I got in trouble too. Fortunately both of my parents were older siblings as well and knew that he had probably done something to deserve it. But at the same time, I thought that surely they could control him a bit better. But after reading the rest of the Fudge books, I became quite thankful that my brother wasn't nearly as bad as Fudge and my parents weren't as complacent.

And then I moved on to the pinnacle of pre-teen required reading for girls: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. It's just one of those books that you never forget. I honestly didn't even identify with many of Margaret's desires and the book still meant a lot to me. Looking back, I think it taught me how to talk to other girls. It gave me the info I needed to fake it a bit. It also taught me what to do once my body started changing. I knew what to expect. I was a bit odd in that while I wanted to grow up, and I had crushes on boys starting from kindergarten and never stopping, there were other girly things I just didn't quite get. Like why boobs were so important. They seemed kind of uncomfortable to me, like they would get in the way. That opinion changed eventually, although they never did really concern me. One day I got them, and that was fine, and I still don't understand women who have breast implants. The thing that really got me with this book though, of course, is the other big womanly change. If any guys happen to be reading, look away now. :) This book taught me that most girls really, really want to get their periods. Me? It just completely grossed me out. Why on earth would you want that? And since we don't marry and start families at 13 anymore, why doesn't God help our bodies evolve so we don't start until we're 20? That would solve a lot of problems, although I guess it would take away the biggest consequence for teens having sex so maybe He knows what He's doing. Unlike Margaret, I pleaded with God to delay the whole thing. No such luck. Although I started a year later than Margaret, I was still one of the first of my friends. Boo. And then later on I started getting two a month. Lucky me. But I remember being 11, when I first read this book, and being terrified of the whole thing and really wishing their was a way to stop it, especially because I didn't want to have kids anyway. It seems a bit pointless for me to have to deal with this, but that's just life. But while Margaret didn't make me want to become a woman in that way, she did teach me that most of my friends did, and helped me to understand them better, and not to hold that against them. And she prepared me for the big event happening, although when it came I was confused about the lack of the belt Margaret used. I'm still not sure how that worked exactly. It seems like a lot changed in that area between 1970 and 1993. After reading the collection of essays, I re-read my very battered copy of Margaret and was surprised at how much of it focuses on religion this time around. Despite the title, I didn't really remember all of that part, with Margaret being raised to not be anything, her exploring Christianity and Judaism. It's interesting how many layers are in Blume's books.

After Margaret, I moved on to Deenie (shocking!), Iggie's House, Tiger Eyes, and finally, Forever.... Was this really Judy Blume? I had no idea this was The Sex Book before I picked it up at the library. I was shocked from the very first sentence, and continued that shock until the end. I probably missed a lot since I was 11 at the time and even though I had had the sex talk in general terms, there was a lot I didn't understand. Which is probably good since I was 11! I haven't read the book since then, so I stopped at Half-Price Books to grab a copy. I picked up a few other similar young adult books, since I'm trying to write a book for young adults that would fall into that same sort of grouping. Hopefully the books I picked up will inspire me to finish it, and help me with the dialogue becuase that's the hardest part for me.

I realized I haven't actually talked about the actual book I'm reviewing! I honestly enjoyed every essay. There were maybe three that I would say are just okay, probably because I didn't identify with them as much, but all of the others showed me a reflection of myself. It was wonderful to picture all of these different women growing with Judy, that we all shared part of the coming of age experience. So, for every girl who grew up with Judy, I highly recommend this book. And, make sure to share your favorite Judy Blume book in the comments!

Monday, May 17, 2010

NYC Reading

My huge work event and trip to Scranton, PA, and NYC is now over! We hosted the big work-related event in Scranton (our office there won a contest, and we connected the event to The Office and had one of the actors from the show be the emcee), and then I attended a conference in NYC. Thus I'm a bit behind in my reading and blogging. And less important things like laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. I did do some reading while I was away and decided to do a summary post. I also need to write posts of a few books I finished before I left, but I decided to start with the summary to hopefully help get back in thr groove, and to feel like I'm less behind.

That's my husband Ryan and me in Central Park. He flew up and joined me over the weekend. Since we were traveling to NYC, I did some NYC-related reading. I started off by re-reading Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella. I figured it would have some good shopping suggestions. I should have remembered that it is written by a Londoner, not a New Yorker though, and so the NYC descriptions were actually very negligible. Oh well. It did get me prepared for walking down Fifth Avenue and it was a nice read while I was still in Scranton and was exhausted from work. I do find the whole Shopaholic series fun, light, and enjoyable though.

Next it was on to re-reading The Cricket in Times Square, hence the photo of Times Square. The Crowne Plaza you can see on the front right of the photo is where we stayed. Pretty nice! I enjoyed this re-read, although I have to say I don't love this book for itself. The reason I read it the first time was because it was Charlotte Johanssen's favorite book, and she was the favorite charge of my favorite baby-sitter in the Baby-Sitters Club books. And Stacey McGill was my main reason for wanting to see NYC at all. That should probably be really sad for a 28-year-old, but I'm actually a bit proud of my still all-encompassing love for the BSC. I made a point to go to Bloomie's and eat at the Hard Rock for Stacey.

Next comes a triumvirate of NYC travel guides: Lonely Planet - NYC Guide, National Geographic New York, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to NYC. If you know surprising very little about NYC, The Complete Idiot's Guide to NYC is a great place to start. It always confused me how there's NYC, but then the buroughs, and this explained simple things like that for me. It also had a good overview on how the streets run and highlights of NYC. Then it talked more about planning a trip rather than what to do when you get there. This is more of a read before you go, check it out from the library kind of book.

Next up was Lonely Planet - NYC Guide, which I think was the best of the three overall. It expects you to already of a bit of a basic understanding of NYC, which I know did from the other book. It had great maps, and I was able to basically memorize the map of Manhattan and didn't need to carry this around with me and look like a tourist, which was nice (although I'm sure I looked like a tourist in other ways, my lack of skinny jeans, which seemed to be part of some dress code, being the first clue). It has a TON of stuff packed into this book, with lots of info about the boroughs outside of Manhattan, which tended to get overlooked a bit in the other two. But, the informatio on each item was very short, just 1-2 sentences, so you had to look elsewhere if you saw something you weren't sure about.

Finally, the National Geographic New York book had a lot more details. It would have 1-2 pages about an entry, and had a lot of glossy photos. But, it doesn't cover as much as the Lonely Planet since it goes into more depth on each item. But, the sight-seeing portion of my trip was rather short, so this hit most of what I wanted to see anyway, and worked well for me. It would probably be a good book if you're thinking about a trip to NYC but aren't sure yet, and the Lonely Planet book is a better guide for planning out iternaries.

And finally, while I was in NYC I couldn't resist a trip to The Strand, home of 18 miles of books, a pretty impressive feat in Manhattan. I picked up The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar. The cover looked fun and the story, about a group of Scottish fairies who come to NYC, sounded intriguing. However, I should have paid more attention to the fact that the introduction was by Neil Gaiman, whose The Graveyard Book just disappointed me. And this book followed suit. It was a bit vulgar in unnecessary ways, like a brother and sister fairy having sex because that doesn't matter to fairies, and a phone sex infomercial constantly playing in the background. Those elements were distracting. I also felt like the writing was very strong, and I got a bit bored with the story. I'm glad a picked up two NYC-themed books there so I can keep the other one as a souvenier and sell this one to Half Price Books. However, since I clearly missed the appeal of Gaiman (although I could at least recognize his lyrical writing style), if you're a fan of his you might enjoy this book.

What about you? Do you have any travel guides you prefer? What book related stories do you like about NYC?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Unclutter Your Life in One Week

I’m reading/skimming several books on organization and time management for a project at work. One that I read all the way through and loved was Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Rooney Doland. The subtitle is “ A 7-Day Plan to Organize Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life!” And it does just that!

I really liked how this book mixed organizing your work and your home in one book. Usually you have to read one book on organizing at work and then one on organizing your home, so it was nice to have an all-in-one type of book. She also cuts through the clutter in her writing and gets straight to the action items. She provides simple, easy to follow steps to uncluttering your life. And she makes it seem like it won’t take too long and gets you motivated to get started, although I haven’t had time to do as much from the book as I would like due to various things going on at work and home and getting ready for a business trip.

I did get my kitchen completely clean and organized, although that was partly due to the fact that we had an ant infestation this week. We’re re-landscaping our front yard and our lawn guy took out all of the flower beds in the front. Even though we have a pest control company come every two months to spray, we had ants make a break for it and head inside. After they came and sprayed again, I took everything out of the kitchen, scrubbed everything down (even the walls!) and then put everything back up. Yuck. To make matters worse, our lawn guy found signs of termites when he was cleaning out the flower beds, and so the pest control company investigated and determined we do have termites and will have to treat that as well. Apparently 70% of homes in Oklahoma and most of the surrounding states get them at some point and there’s not much you can do to prevent it, but it makes me feel like my whole house is gross. I will definitely be implementing the rest of the at home suggestions from the book as soon as I get back from my upcoming trip.

Sorry to get off topic a bit there. Some of the topics covered in the book are things like organizing your files and e-mail, cleaning closets, creating a chore schedule (and I loved that she made that Monday through Friday, no cleaning on the weekends!), tracking productivity, running meetings, cleaning your kitchen and bathrooms, and she included spring and fall cleaning tips. I checked this book out from the library, but it’s one I wish I owned so I could keep referring to it. There are about 50 little yellow sticky tabs throughout the book where I marked things I liked or want to do.

So, if you’re looking for a good book on getting more organized, this is a great choice! She also has a website, Do you have any getting organized books or resources you enjoy?