Essentialism (and Other April Reads)

April Reads

I finished reading five books in April: Greg Mckeown’s Essentialism plus four others. Read on for my impression of each, given in the order I completed them.

5 Books I read last month

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer BoyWe finished listening to Little House in the Big Woods last month and immediately launched into Farmer Boy. At the time, we were on our way to see Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s historic home in Mansfield, Missouri. And listening to these two audiobooks helped put us in the proper frame of mind for our visit.

Farmer Boy has always been my favorite of Laura’s books. Maybe it’s because I had so many boys who could relate to Almanzo’s voracious appetite and his love for adventure. Maybe it’s because I appreciated all the wonderful lessons the author wove into every story, like the value of honesty, hard work, frugality, and resourcefulness.

Whatever the reason, I enjoyed this reading of Farmer Boy every bit as much as the first time I ever read the book, nearly half a century ago!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

EssentialismGreg McKeown’s transformative classic, Essentialism, is all about editing our lives of non-essential stuff so as to give our time, energy, and attention to things that matter most.

My favorite portion of McKeown’s book was the chapter on play. If your idea of focusing on essentials includes eliminating time for play, think again.

McKeown argues convincingly that preserving enough margin for play — much like getting sufficient sleep — will render us far more productive in our waking, non-leisure hours than if we try to soldier on while skimping on either of those often under appreciated pursuits.

McKeown addresses several other helpful topics, as well, including the invincible power of choice, the importance of learning to say no graciously, increasing productivity and effectiveness by removing obstacles, and how and when you should cut your losses.

Wacky Sudoku by Djape

Wacky SudokuEver since I hit on these sudoku puzzle collections by Djape, regular sudoku has lost its appeal.

The five-grid variations in Wacky Sudoku are so challenging that I feel accomplished every time I complete one.

It took me close to a year to work my way through this entire book, cover to cover. I love all the mathematical variations included in this volume: consecutive numbers, non-consecutive numbers, arranged by inequalities, grids within grids, odds and evens, etc.

No matter how you slice it, cognitive exercise is good for your brain. And I’m hoping Wacky Sudoku will help keep my mind as sharp as a tack as I age.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Never Split the DifferenceMy husband read Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss recently and gave it such a glowing recommendation that several of our adult children and I all read it as well.

What a fascinating book! The author takes the principles he has learned as the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator and applies them to ordinary, everyday exchanges such as negotiating a raise at work or haggling for a better price on a new car.

He offers proven and effective tips for almost any kind of bargaining you might need or want to do while giving readers an incredibly interesting inside look at what goes on during international hostage negotiations.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas CarolMy daughter and I listened to A Christmas Carol during an emergency trip to Dallas last month to renew her passport, which we didn’t realize had expired until just 7 days before she was supposed to fly into London with family friends who’d hired her to come along to help corral toddlers and count heads on their 45-day tour of Europe.

We traditionally read A Christmas Carol as a family every December, but somehow missed it last year. The audio version, read by our immensely talented friend Miriam Margolyes, is only 3 hours 15 minutes, so it was the perfect length for keeping us awake on the road for this last-minute errand.

And of course, Dickens is especially brilliant in this understandably much-loved tale. His Christmas classic moves me to tears every single time, no matter what time of year I read it!

Make Time for Reading

Do you love to read as much as we do? I’ve gathered all my best resources for bibliophiles into this post, or you can read more of my book reviews by following this link

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