Fresh Reads: April/May 2016

Y'all. I read so much this last month and I think this last book broke me. Thanks Holly Madison. Haha! All I've wanted to do since finishing her book last week is read the shortest articles possible and binge watch Orange is the New Black. Don't tell me what happens, I'm only four episodes in.

Here's what I've read in the past month:

It took me three tries to get all the way through Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I definitely needed to be in the right mindset to absorb all the research and knowledge bombs in it, and it when it was finally time, I blazed through it in less than a week. Brené is a champion for vulnerability as a character strength, not a weakness like we've been so conditioned by society to believe. It was especially jarring to read through male vulnerability, and how society makes it so crushingly hard for men to show it. The dangerous ways we've become reliant on our smartphones and digital media to 'save' us from the awkward - but necessary - face-to-face social interactions also left me rethinking how I use my phone in public. I've been trying hard lately not to be so distracted by it, and yet, when I try to smile or make eye contact with people, I often get either no acknowledgment or people look at me as if I'm violating their time! Nothing earth shattering here, but Daring Greatly really drives home the need to nurture our vulnerability to truly find and seek what we want in life.

I saw The Bloat Cure in Well + Good or something and am always curious about all the sensitivities that manifest in our guts. It's definitely more of a reference book, but the gist of it is, pay attention to your diet and your lifestyle when your gut is bothering you. Many of the causes for bloat are linked to too much dairy, grains, alcohol, stress and other things we are best off having in moderation.

I've been waiting for Double Cup Love for a few months now. I loved Fresh Off the Boat (the book) and have been following Eddie Huang since his short-lived Four Loko Fridays got shut down by the man. I read through some of the Amazon reviews of his new book, and I had to laugh at the misguided assumptions of Eddie from people who clearly love Fresh Off the Boat the series but missed the part about how Eddie left the series not even halfway through the first season - for sanitizing his story, so to speak. You are much better off getting a true sense of who Eddie is through his own shows (like the incredible Huang's World on VICELAND) or through his writings. His need to find identity in both his life in America and his "home" country of China is something a lot of Asian-Americans struggle with. He's one of the few who's stepped up to the plate to tell his story, and for that I respect him, even though it's not my story exactly. I loved Double Cup Love for how he weaved his passion for food, familial tensions and his first time falling in love into a story that continues his quest to define himself and his culture. While Fresh Off the Boat was his search for identity in America, Double Cup Love explores growth and acceptance while in China. 

Jen Sincero's You are a Badass might be my favorite read of the year thus far. It's a quick read and at times very Pinterest-y with its positive affirmations - but it was truly what I needed to read at that exact place in my life. I've spent a lot of the last year doubting and second-guessing myself. A job that's constantly changing, my indecision on whether or not to continue blogging, navigating a new fitness regimen and accepting changes to my body from said fitness regimen have done a number on my self-image and self-esteem. Nothing earth-shattering here either, but I really appreciated how Jen Sincero laid out the simple tenets to preserving self-confidence. Getting hyped (finding the will) to pursue my dreams is hard when I can't even speak to myself nicely. She talks about writing through our fears and insecurities and makes it all look so easy, I was left wondering why this was so hard for me to comprehend for so long. I highly recommend You are a Badass - especially if you are in need of a pick-me-up or that nudge to go get yours (and who isn't in need of that?)

I've been curious about Holly Madison's Down the Rabbit Hole since it came out last year. I love reading memoirs, and Holly was always my favorite on the Girls Next Door series. Plus, how could you not be curious about life at the Playboy Mansion, even just a little bit? I'll admit this book was hard to read (hence my current mood of not reading.) When it started off, I had a lot of sympathy towards Holly for wanting to tell her story and her experience for herself. You don't realize that what you see in the media about Playboy, Hef and life at the Mansion is so controlled by the old man himself. As the book when on, though, Holly continued to paint Hef and other girls in the worst light while never really taking responsibility for how she conducted herself during her time there. Seven years is a long time to put up with what she says went down. It's a juicy read, for sure, but written from such a bitter place, it was hard to get through after awhile.

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Read all my posts on the Year to Flourish here.