I’ve been reading a lot of really great books lately but not all of them warrant a full review. Some are short reads, under 50 pages or so, while others were great brain-breaks. Below are a few books that don’t require a lot of discussion but are still worth picking up.
Grunge, Nerds, and Gastropubs: A Mass Culture Odyssey by Kevin Craft
If you grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, then you’ll enjoy this short book of essays. It was spot on – from the author’s insights into Weezer and their popularity to the amazingness of Smashing Pumpkins – and it will take you on a trip down memory lane. As a policy wonk, I was intrigued by the parallels between the end of the Cold War and the cultural phenomenons of the early 90’s and it’s a topic I’m still thinking about. If you like books that make you say hmmmm, then pick this one up. You won’t agree with everything he says, but you’ll at least be able to understand his point of view.
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
At the age of 5, Cora lost both of her parents and found respite in science. Surrounded by the certainty of numbers and facts, Cora was able to amble through life with a single-minded focus that allowed her to suppress her emotions. Unfortunately (or fortunately), her grandmother owns a magical dress shop where her dresses make women’s dreams come true and, after years of holding back, sets her eyes on Cora. By stitching a simple red star into her clothing, Etta sets in motion a mixture of heartache, love, mystery, and more.
If you’re thinking that this book is outside of my normal reading habits, you’d be right. Every once in a while, though, I need something that isn’t overly complicated and is just a pleasant read. Menna van Praag fit the bill with her first book, The House at the End of Hope Street, and The Dress Shop of Dreams was no different. It’s a quick and pleasant read with characters that are developed just enough to be interested in their well-being without being overwhelmed by them. I was a bit turned off by the fact that men and women were portrayed so stereotypically, but with such a quick read it was hard to get too worked up about it. If you’re looking for a feel-good book, this is a good one.
Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It: 99 Ways to Win the Respect You Deserve, the Success You’ve Earned, and the Life You Want by Dr. Lois Frankel
I love Dr. Frankel and think that her advice is absolutely on-point. I previously read Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office and it changed my approach to the workplace in more ways than one. This handy step-by-step guide about how to succeed in your career (and in life) overlaps with the other book a lot, so while I don’t know that it was necessary to read both, it was a nice reminder. I particularly enjoyed the practical if this, then that scenarios. If you haven’t read any of her books and are just starting out in your career, I recommend starting with this one – it’s a much broader overview of Frankel’s philosophy. If you’re already in the middle of your career but need to make some changes, then pick up Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office, instead.