Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Report on a Friday

I would recommend The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin to anybody, whether or not you feel you are happy. I'm a pretty darn happy woman and I found things in that book that I never even thought about, simple things. One of Rubin's is reading children's books. One of my simple things is knitting (and especially yarn-shopping on the web). In the Project, which she spent a year starting (it's a never-ending pursuit; what could be better?) she chose several things each month to see if they made her happier or not. Mostly the things she did did improve her outlook but a few she left by the wayside.

One of her objectives was to start a blog and add to it every day. She always has something interesting on the blog. This is not about being a Pollyanna; it's about finding the things that truly make you happy and assimilating those things into your everyday life.

If you're happy in yourself, then you will make other people happy too. The opposite of that works as well: make other people happy and you will also be happy. That's my observation. I also think that happiness is a choice, but it's not that simple. Other people do not make you happy but you can avoid letting them make you unhappy by your approach to them. I'm probably confusing the hell out of everybody, so just read the book. You, too, can be happier.

Crazy Aunt Purl's Home is Where the Wine Is by Laurie Perry is her second book. In both books, some of the chapters are taken from her blog (Crazy Aunt Purl), with a little tweaking here and there, and some stuff is new. In the current book, her last chapter is very thoughtful and insightful. Perry writes well, with humor and compassion. She has also worked at understanding what makes her happy and then implementing those things in her life. She's not as systematic as Gretchen Rubin, but it's interesting and empowering reading.

He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum is one of those Scandinavian mysteries that I love. This one takes place in Norway. Our sleuth is Inspector Sejer. Our suspect is a schizophrenic named Erkki who has escaped from a mental hospital. The victim is an elderly widow who is killed with her own garden hoe. It's a complicated story and throughout you find yourself sympathizing with all the characters, even Erkki. I want to tell you how I felt when the story ended but I'm afraid I might give away some of the plot twists. Fossum really sweeps you away with her excellent storytelling.

In Fire and Ice, J.A. Jance brings together two of her series. Part of the story is told from J.P. Beaumont's point of view (from Seattle) and the other is told from Joanna Brady's POV (Bisbee, Arizona). This one involves a Mexican drug cartel and a series of murders in Washington State. The story starts out by relating the grisly murder of a young woman by a man who is afraid of what will happen to his wife and two little boys if he does not kill the woman. He kills her in the mountains in November and her remains are not found until the next spring. The investigators only have a few clues, but it gets them started. While Beaumont is dealing with the serial killings, Joanna Brady is having her own problems down in Arizona. You have to read for many chapters before you find out how the two situations are related. By then you are so engrossed in the book it's impossible to put it down. I like the way Jance switched from one POV to the other. It made the story more compelling. J.A. Jance is one of my favorite storytellers and reading just one of her books will tell you why.

I hope some of you are inspired to read any of these books. Every one of them was well worth my time.


Bridget said...

What a nice, interesting combination of reads! I will definitely have to give them a look-see.

It seems that everyone I know is reading Scandinavian mysteries these days ...

Theresa said...

Love the reviews, but who the hell has time to read? I say pop your headphones on and listen to a good book, while you knit, walk or cuddle a cat. My eyes have better things to do. ha! Now I have to go buy The Happiness Project.


Harriette Some of my writer friends and I are about to lose a wonderful friend.  Harriette Austin is now in hospice care in At...