Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

I love me some Tudor history.  I liked Wolf Hall because it was a completely different spin on Henry VIII than what I usually read.  Thomas Cromwell, a nobody who becomes a lawyer, survives the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey and eventually emerges as Henry's most trusted advisor.  Cromwell helps secure the annulment from Catherine of Aragon and paves the way for Anne Boleyn to become queen.  The book was a little long, and sometimes the characters got confusing, but I'm glad I read it.  I would probably only recommend it if you love British history like I do!

Summary (from Amazon):
No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. The opening cast of characters and family trees may give initial pause to some readers, but persevere: the witty, whip-smart lines volleying the action forward may convince you a short stay in the Tower of London might not be so bad... provided you could bring a copy of Wolf Hall along.

Read: May-July 2014 via Kindle

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Loved this!  Rubin launches a year-long project to focus on making her life happier.  The writing draws you in and makes you think more about your own life.  Definitely want to re-read this one because Rubin has some great ideas for  how to make your life a little happier!

Summary (from Amazon):
Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could-and, arguably, should-be happier. Thus, her methodical (and bizarre) happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and "acting more energetic"). By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good, not perfect (in accordance with one of her "Secrets of Adulthood": "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good"), but Rubin's funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research (including all those other recent books on happiness) to qualify as self-help. Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. Rubin's project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy. 

Read: Spring 2013 via gift from my sister