Book Review: Emotional Agility – Susan David

Title: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life
Author: Susan David
ISBN: 9781592409495
Pages: 288
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Avery
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Source: Publisher

Summary

Sometimes, not confronting your emotions and taking into account how they affect your behavior can make it difficult to react to change in a productive way. Susan David, PhD, introduces her theory of Emotional Agility, a four-step process to help you confront change in a positive way and recognize when you’re locked in damaging cycles of emotional behavior.

Review

I used to smirk at self-help books. “I read a little of everything…except self-help,” I would smugly tell people. I had no time for self-help, because after all, I didn’t need help.

Yeah, right.

It was like a switch flipped when I approached my 30s. I realized it’s not a bad thing to admit you’re trying to improve yourself. I’m not perfect; why should I pretend like I am? I started reading self-help books and never looked back.

I don’t talk about it a lot publicly, but this year has been difficult. There has been a lot of upheaval in my life (family health issues, a new house in a new city, shake-ups in my job and career), so I thought that Emotional Agility, which centers on how to deal with change in a mindful and productive way, would be a great read for me. I was right.

David focuses on self-acceptance as the key to her theory: your feelings do not necessarily reflect fact, but it’s important to acknowledge them. But at the same time, don’t let your emotions drive your decision making: This creates what David calls a “hook,” an unproductive pattern of behavior that can be very damaging. Instead, take a step back and let your head (and emotions) clear.

It sounds easier said than done, but if you read Emotional Agility, David includes great ways to put her four-step theory into practice. She provides examples and anecdotes to help readers practice Emotional Agility in their own lives. The thing I especially appreciated about this book is that it doesn’t feel hokey: a lot of David’s conclusions are common sense. But she puts them into a fresh context that helps readers see how different parts of behavior and reaction are connected, and how we can break damaging cycles of emotions. If you’re interested in behaving more mindfully, I highly recommend picking up this book.

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Book Review and Giveaway: Spaceman by Mike Massimino

spaceman

Title: Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
Author: 
Mike Massimino
ISBN: 
9781101903544
Pages: 
336
Release Date: 
October 4, 2016
Publisher: 
Crown Archetype
Genre: 
Memoir, Space/NASA
Source: Publisher

If you follow this website regularly, then you know how much of a fan I am of space and space-related books. That’s why I was so thrilled to have the chance to read an early copy of Mike Massimino’s memoir Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe. Massimino is a celebrated astronaut from the shuttle-era, participating in two crucial missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope. If you aren’t that much into space, then you might better know Massimino from when he played himself on multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Either way, if you know who he is, you probably have figured out that he’s a smart, funny, and personable guy.

That’s why Spaceman is such a great read. Massimino’s personality comes bursting through every page; you feel as if you’re sitting down with a friend, rather than reading someone’s life story. We see astronauts as these heroes, these brave men and women who do incredible things every day, and it’s easy to forget that they are human. That they have the same doubts and frustrations as any of us. That’s what I appreciated most about this book—Massimino is honest about his issues and doubts. He doesn’t pretend like he’s perfect or he always knows the answers. Instead, he gives the reader a frank look back at his life. He’s not afraid to be vulnerable or admit he made a mistake, and it makes this book that much more appealing.

There are some astronaut memoirs that appeal primarily to those with a real passion for space. And then there are some memoirs, like Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth that will appeal to any reader, and Mike Massimino’s Spaceman is one of those. It’s sharp, engaging, and insightful, and will inspire you to reflect on your own life.

Thanks to Crown Publishing, and in conjunction with my space newsletter Give Me Space (did you know I have a space newsletter? I write every week or two letting you know about the interesting thing happening in space and science news) I’m thrilled to have three gorgeous hardcover copies of Spaceman to give away to three different U.S. based readers. To enter: Fill out the form at the bottom of this page in its entirety; incomplete entries will not be counted. U.S.-based mailing addresses only, please. You have until Wednesday, October 12, at 11:59 PM ET to enter; I’ll email the winners privately.

Good luck! I hope you love this book as much as I did. To purchase Spaceman, please visit one of the links below.

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Book Review: Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl – Issa Rae

misadventures-of-awkward-black-girlTitle: Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
Author: Issa Rae
ISBN: 9781476749051
Pages: 224
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Atria / 37 INK
Genre: Nonfiction, Essays
Source: Personal Copy

Summary

Based on Issa Rae’s hit YouTube series, Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a collection of humorous essays on multiple identities: What it is to be American, black, a geek, a woman, and all the way these intersect and interact with one another.

Review

Haven’t heard of Issa Rae? Trust me, it doesn’t matter. If you were at all awkward in your childhood, and if you identify as a nerd in any way, then this book will speak to you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a similar background as Rae’s or whether or not you share her personal issues. She’s open and accessible in this essay collection; her humor and warmth makes this an excellent read.

Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl isn’t a memoir exactly; it’s a serious of essays about Rae’s history and personal life. You get to see different areas of Rae’s life, and this is the rare collection where every single essay is equally enlightening and engaging. I loved reading my way through this collection; whether you want to read it straight through or savor each essay individually, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself while reading this.

This is a quick, funny read; it’s very contemplative on Rae’s part, and while it might not inspire your own deep self-reflection, it doesn’t need to. It works very well for what it is: an honest, candid, and humorous collection of essays examining different identities and how they interact with one another.

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Book Review: The King’s Revenge – Don Jordan and Michael Walsh

Title: The King’s Revenge: Charles II and the Greatest Manhunt in British History
Author: Don Jordan and Michael Walsh
ISBN: 9781681771687
Pages: 400
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Source: Publisher

Summary

In January 1649, Charles I, the King of England, was tried and executed by England’s new government. The republic (headed by Oliver Cromwell) failed, and in 1660, the former Prince of Wales was invited to return and retake the throne, becoming Charles II in the Restoration. Charles II was intent on punishing every member of the court that had voted to murder his father and was at the head of the greatest manhunt in history to track and execute each and every person involved.

Review

When I first heard about The King’s Revenge: Charles II and the Greatest Manhunt in British History, I was absolutely intrigued. I don’t know much about the Restoration period of British history (I read my fair share about the period, but it’s earlier monarchs that I’m more familiar with), so I was eager to learn about this manhunt that I hadn’t previously heard of. Just one thing gave me pause: Because I’m not overly familiar with the subject, I was worried that this book would go into too much depth about the individual people involved. I was interested in reading a book about history, rather than biographies of the hunted, but I’m glad to say this wasn’t an issue. Early on, the authors explain that they sacrifice detail and depth about the people involved in order to tell a coherent narrative. As someone who was interested in a gripping story, with the knowledge I could read about individual people later if I so chose, I was happy with this decision.

You might think that history can’t really be gripping, especially if we know the outcome, but I’d challenge you with The King’s Revenge. It starts with the trial and execution of Charles I, setting the stage for exactly how the revolution happened. There are no “good guys” or “bad guys” here; both sides make mistakes and errors in judgment, and they pay dearly for them. The fact that men were trying to create a republic for Britain doesn’t excuse the fact that they began said republic in blood, with the execution of a king.

The authors take us through the history, and it’s when Charles II takes the throne a decade later that the tension in the narrative really ramps up. The prince who had been begging European monarchs for what little they could spare him, exiled from his own country, all of a sudden had power and means, and he wasn’t afraid to use them to hunt down every single man and woman involved with his father’s murder. It’s a thirty-year journey of bloodlust and revenge, and the most insane thing about it is that it actually happened.

If you enjoy reading about history, or you want to read more but have found it dry, you should absolutely give The King’s Revenge a try. After reading this, I’m definitely interested in learning more about this period in history, and am so glad to have had such a great jumping off point.

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Book Review: The Gene – Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Book Review: The Fifty-Year Mission – Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman

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Book Review: The Fever – Sonia Shah

Title: The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years Author: Sonia Shah ISBN: 9780312573010 Pages: 320 Release Date: June 21, 2011 Publisher: Picador Genre: Nonfiction, Science Source: Personal Copy Summary Why is malaria such a modern-day scourge? Why haven’t we been able to eradicate it? And why is it mostly nonexistent in Europe […]

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