Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Bookish Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers!

Hi everyone! It is the holiday season and I thought I would make a few "batch" reviews in the form of gift guides to help give you ideas for holiday gifts! It will follow the regular Padfoot's Library review format where I offer the premise, my overall review and thoughts and rating. I will also include where you can go buy each book as well. I will start this off with Stocking Stuffers! Stockings are often filled with cosmetics, magazines, toys, but why not books? I've included some "smaller" sized books which I think would make lovely stocking stuffers!

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed 

Publishing Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 160 pages

The Premise: From the NYT Best-Selling author of Wild comes a small collection of quotes picked from her previous works: Torch and Tiny Beautiful Things. Wild is also featured as well. This collection of quotes has more than 100 quotations that will inspire readers to be "brave" and to do better not only for others but for ourselves. 

My overall thoughts and review: I've only read snippets of Strayed's work in the past but when I read the premise of this book, I was instantly intrigued. I'm really into collecting motivational/self-help books, especially ones that are small and pocket-sized that I can carry with me. I find that having a small book of quotations really helps me manage my anxiety when it gets a bit too much to handle. I've always been one to turn to quotations and song lyrics to help me understand and deconstruct my feelings and emotions. This book was incredibly insightful and offered a lot in terms of love and compassion, not only for others but one self. I really enjoyed this book and I have actually been carrying it around with me a lot recently. I find that you don't have to read it from start to finish, and you can easily turn to a page daily and embrace the quote before you. This would make a lovely stocking stuffer because it is small, but it definitely packs a punch! I think it is also a good segway for those interested in Cheryl Strayed and this is easily a great place to start!

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Publishing Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 
Pages: 336 pages

The Premise: From the creator of Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder comes a lovely memoir about how saying YES for a year changed her life. Shonda Rhimes offers some insight into her life as a mother, a writer and an introvert. 

My overall thoughts and review: When I heard that Shonda Rhimes was coming out with a book, I was instantly excited! I am a big fan of Shonda's shows and I know that at times.. with character deaths, I get a teensy bit emotional and yes, I tend to blame Shonda.. I'm a big fan of hers. I love the characters she created and the worlds she's been able to build. I literally devote my Thursday nights to her shows. I was so excited to learn more about the woman behind all of these shows. I also was super intrigued by the title and grinned like an idiot when I saw it. There is a shout out to Meredith Grey, Christina Yang and Olivia Pope all in the title! First off, I need to say that the way Shonda writes this book, it really feels like you are sitting down with her having a conversation but also as if you've also crept into her mind and you can see how all her thoughts flow. She writes in a stream of consciousness style which I really enjoyed. I loved learning more about Shonda and how she manages three big shows and also is a mother as well. 

But the parts of the book that I really empathized with were the moments she talked about her being an introvert and how saying yes to things really changed her. I wouldn't consider myself a complete introvert because at times, if you met me for the first time, you wouldn't think so yourself. But when anxiety takes over, I feel "introverted" in the sense, where I would rather say no to things, in fear of the outcome and I'm beginning to learn how that often can result in missed opportunities. When Shonda says that the things she couldn't say, she got Christina Yang to say, it really helped me understand why I empathized with a character like Christina so much. Why when she left the show, I felt like a part of me left the show. (SPOILER ALERT - I'M SORRY. but if you didn't know, where have you been?!). Every Thursday night when I watched Christina battle and struggle and fight for what she wanted, I immediately felt inspired and I wanted to be Christina. Though when the show ended at 9:00pm, I would think to myself.. I couldn't do that. I'm not in the world of Seattle Grace, it isn't happening. But when Shonda explained how she was able to move beyond that world and say yes to scary things and conquer her fears, I felt so much better and my inspiration didn't simply stop when I finished the book. I don't know if this is making sense, because it seems like I'm rambling a bit. But I wanted to say that, hearing Shonda's journey truly inspired me. I say no quite too often and I end up in a cycle of self-hate and regret. I know things are scary but like Shonda, I'm going to take the risk more often and learn to be my own person. Thank you Shonda for demonstrating to your readers that you don't need a McDreamy or Fitz (though.. I really do love Fitz) to dance it out, stand in the sun and be your own person. You just have to take the plunge and do it yourself. I think this is a wonderful book and I would highly recommend it. Even if you aren't familiar with Shondaland, it is definitely worth reading if you want to step outside of your comfort zone! 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Simon and Schuster Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

Publishing Date: November 24, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 64 pages

The Premise: From the best-selling author that spoke about medical illnesses, comes a collection of four essays that he wrote during the last few months of his life. He writes about completing life and describes coming to terms with his own fate. 

My overall review and thoughts: I have been a fan of Oliver Sacks' writing for quite some time. When he passed away last year, I felt truly saddened by the news because his writing definitely inspired me and was one of the books that paved the way for my graduate school career. I remember falling in love with his text, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat in one of my undergraduate courses. His writing was poignant, but he was able to convey his ideas in such an eloquent way that stayed with the reader long after you closed the book. The last thing I read by him was On the Move, his autobiography which I really enjoyed and would recommend as well, but Gratitude, really sat with me on an entirely different level. Sacks tackles a fear that sits within us all, the fear of the end, the fear of death. He also speaks about how quickly time can pass and how sometimes, one spends their time in regret of "wasting time." I'm only twenty-five and I already feel these thoughts on a daily basis, but what Gratitude did for me was inspire me to look forward as opposed to looking back. To have Gratitude for what has been done and look forward for what's to come. I also felt significantly inspired to write more "essays" in this format in my own work because I often find that I have to have one-set narrative, but Sacks demonstrates time and time again with his writing, that multiple narratives can come from it. Having read a lot of Sacks already, I felt truly sad, but in a good way when I finished this book. It has made me look at my sadness for an author I truly admired in a different way. As opposed to lingering on how unfair it is, I will look forward to reading and re-reading Sacks writings and work to come to terms with fate and to embrace it. I think this is a lovely book for a friend or family member for the holiday season. It really illuminates what is important and what one should focus on. 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

I hope that you all enjoyed this first instalment of Bookish Gift Guides! I will have another one up shortly featuring some of my favorite books from this year! :D Please let me know in the comments what other books you'd recommend as stocking stuffers and if you plan to pick up any of these books that I've mentioned! Happy reading AND shopping :D 

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Christine! I love "Brave Enough" as well, it's such a nice little collection :)