The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 7. A non-fiction bestseller

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 30. Audiobook is narrated by the author, 40. A book with photographs inside

I recently got a job as a professional organizer and decided to pick up The Home Edit (though that’s not the company I’m working for – just happens to be the easiest-to-access literature at the moment!). At the same time, I started watching the show, which kind of felt like a mistake because I ended up letting their TV personalities bleed into my reading experience. But I digress.

The Home Edit is set up as a how-to game plan to tackle the chaos of your home, and rein it in with baskets and labels. It establishes some principles and ground rules for organizing, and then takes you room by room with tips and tricks and inspiration photos. The book itself is laid out in Clea & Joanna’s preferred order based on project size and emotional weight.

If you need a sense of zen, just perusing the photos of this book ought to do it for you for a little while, at least. I really liked a lot of these spaces, and they look straight out of a magazine. Looking a little closer, though, I don’t know if I would choose to do things the same way they do in many instances. I’ve felt that way sometimes on the job myself. Not everyone is going to organize the same space the same way, which I think might be part of the problem! We can use principles that apply to most everyone to guide us (keep your utensils toward the front of the drawer, alphabetize or rainbow order whenever possible to assist your brain to stay naturally organized…) but your use of items and preferred systems could be totally different than Joanna & Clea’s, or mine, or anyone else’s.

But again, I guess that’s not book criticism!

As for the book, anyways, I liked it overall but was not generally wowed by it. It didn’t feel revolutionary or life changing. Maybe when it came out, it was, but I feel like these might be pretty basic steps for organization by now. Especially in a post-COVID world, where we all became pretty organized anyways… or at least tried.

Further, there’s not enough of the ~process~ in this book. I want to read about how you went from nine boxes of expired cereal to decanted and labeled jars of Cheerios. I think I like the decision making process, the part that comes in between, more than I like the Instagram-able after, which I think is what Joanna and Clea focus on.

That said, much of the advice and principles for organizing are GREAT. The “no guilt” and “do I really need it” guidelines are things I use ALL. The. TIME with friends and family when I help them purge and clean. It doesn’t work on everyone, admittedly, but reading it in this book was like preaching to the choir. A lot of their rules were much the same, and definitely steer the ship so-to-speak for your organizing projects.

I liked this book, but I originally intended on reading the rest of the “series”, if it can be called that, and now I’m not sure. We’ll see where the breeze takes us.

Have a great week friends!

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 19. A book that has an alternate title (ie. The Duchess)

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 7. A non-fiction bestseller, 10. A book based on a real person, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 25. A wealthy character, 33. A bilingual character, 40. A book with photographs inside, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 46. A job title in the title

This book is just rich with possible prompts!! Ultimately I’m going with the alternate title because I think that’ll be a hard one for me to fill. Like I’m sure many did, I picked up Georgiana because years ago, I saw the movie The Duchess and absolutely fell in love with her.

This traditional biography tells the story of Georgiana Spencer, who becomes the Duchess of Devonshire after her marriage to the Duke at the mere age of seventeen. Despite many setbacks and a life filled with tragedy and problems, the Duchess becomes one of the most influential figures of her time, launching herself into the political world and becoming a statement of the era (makes much more sense knowing she is of relation to the late Princess Diana!). Wrought by a loveless marriage, a life of gambling, miscarriages and the pressure to produce an heir, Georgiana was still much loved and gave love freely to those who surrounded her, captivating eighteenth century society and landing her name in the press on the daily. Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire paints a near complete picture of her personal and political life through letters, news articles, and more.

When I first watched The Duchess, I spent much of the latter half of the movie inconsolably in tears. Georgiana is painted to have lived this horribly depressing life, she loses much of what she loves and spends much of her time anxious. It was one of the few movies that I immediately restarted and watched a second time as soon as the credits rolled. I couldn’t help myself: both in literature and on film, Georgiana is a captivating figure.

I think what I learned through reading this, however, is that the movie took quite a few liberties to assume certain parts of her life that we cannot confirm nor deny (though I will have to rewatch!). Instead, as I read the book, I felt like her story is a sad and grating one at times, but she found true happiness and purpose in eighteenth century life and politics, and she should be remembered more for her contributions than her tragedies.

I was in awe of the drama of the book. Affairs, debts, exile, scandal… the story of British aristocracy and the rise and fall of the Whig party has it all. But Georgiana dominates this tale. Whereas she starts behind the scenes politically, she’s soon at the forefront and as Foreman explains, made real political change during her time. She was a primary “influencer” of her day. Even still, I found the hypocrisy of her situation hard to swallow at times. Obviously I think her character superior than that of those around her, but she wasn’t without faults…her continuous line of gambling debts chief among them. But while they constantly gave Georgiana trouble for this, her husband, her sister, and her mother had the same problems. And SHE took on those debts for them, at times, but was herself ridiculed for the amounts she owed. Similarly, after she bears an illegitimate child, the Duke casts her out for two years and does not allow her to see her own children – but he himself had multiple illegitimate children, including his eldest, and no one batted an eye. Stuff like that really bugged me, but it makes the story all the more intriguing.

And for that part, the biography element, I have few complaints. I was amazed by the sources of Foreman’s information, the depth of her knowledge and research, and the incredible picture she’s able to paint of such an interesting figure in history. As biographies go, this is a very good one. Additionally, I felt that the political aspect of things was very well done – Foreman clearly outlines how the British system worked and how Georgiana asserted influence over it in her own way, which I thought wildly interesting to read about.

My two biggest complaints, and the reasons it gets three stars from me, is the way it sometimes drones in its narrative, as well as the confusing aspect of time. While most of the information is important, I sometimes found it hard to follow because of the way it’s presented. It comes off droning when the story branches off, but eventually comes to a point I may have been more apt to pay attention to if given proper reason from the start. Additionally, I found time did not move quite as linearly as I thought; seasons would come and go but we would be covering the same year, or now we are moving backward to a different period to reflect on previous events that are only important now…I’m not a person who frequently reads biographies, so it may just be me, but I did find this extremely difficult to follow at times. When I began a new chapter and it recounted the year, I could’ve been sure I’d already read about such a time. But anyways.

I plan now to rewatch The Duchess which I so loved to begin with, to see how to the two compare! I consider the book the utmost authority on her character, of course, but I’m curious if watching it will bring back my feelings of pain for Georgiana rather than of her triumph. I don’t know how to feel about that…she’s so enthralling as a figure because of her political prowess; I’d hate to see the film reduce her to one who only experienced such trials and tragedy.

Have a wonderful week, my friends!

She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 9. A book that sparks joy

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 8. Involving the art world, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 40. A book with photographs inside

I LOVE a she shed. I have wanted one since I was sixteen. In my wildest dreams, it has its own sitting area, built in bookshelves that harbor my entire collection, and a desk by a window overlooking gorgeous gardens from which I work. When I saw She Sheds Style at Gibson’s a few months back, I instantly added it to my list!

She Sheds Style focuses more on the nitty gritty than the whimsical idea of a she shed. It’s more of a how-to manual for the trend than a lookbook, though it is filled with others’ gorgeous ideas and projects. It blends a combination of practical building considerations, color theory, and design concepts with a smattering of do it yourself projects to make the she shed your own. I quite enjoyed its organization and its thoughts.

This book did exactly what it was supposed to: inspired me to design my own shed, and give me the tools to get started. I’m in no position to have a she shed at the moment, being a renter who will likely move in the next few years, but a girl can dream! Considering its purpose, what finer details I’ll need, even down to the colors…that can bring you a lot of joy, too. It filled my Sunday.

My reasoning for not giving this five stars is that I do think some of this is a bit, hmmm…flowery, I guess? It’s language designed to fill out the page rather than provide practical advice. Kotite seems completely taken with the she shed idea and it spills onto her pages, but she needn’t sell me on the idea – like I said, I’ve wanted one for five years now!

What I was really here for were the design ideas, and unexpectedly, the solid building advice. Kotite brings up awesome considerations I hadn’t even thought of, like where in your yard you place the shed mattering. Not only is it affected by drainage, levelness, etc…but you want it to blend into your yard, become one with the landscape, and look like it belongs there. I loved her practical tips on this and many other things I never would have come up with on my own.

In addition, that design advice was really great. There are several projects in here that I plan to give a try, even before I get a she shed. They were original and sweet, and helped highlight some of the more important features of the shed. Really, this was a well organized and thoughtful manual on a topic I love.

However, another thing I didn’t like: throughout the book, Kotite touches on five distinct styles that the shed can fall into, and she runs with them for everything from paint colors to type of door. And I didn’t dislike any of them, but I do feel like my own personal style, and what I’ve always envisioned for a shed of my own, falls somewhere between many of them and maybe even a bit outside of them. The five themes were eclectic, modern, rustic, green, and romantic. I feel my own style felt like a blend of green and romantic, with a touch of rustic. It’s all going to depend on my home, and my surroundings, but they’re all styles I identify with.

If you’ve ever considered a she shed, or if you’re crafty and you’d like to know more about the idea, check this one out! I loved the advice and the projects, and I’ll definitely return to this book in the future. I can’t wait for spring to be here so I can get out in the sunshine and flowers that this book really highlights!

Have a great week!

Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo

Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello again! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend soaking up fall and doing autumn things! My review this week is a long time in the making: I think I’ve been reading Mind Your Business since I started college…and I graduated last December. And that’s not to say it’s bad, as evidenced by my four star review! More on that later.

Griffo’s workbook is an awesome start-to-finish, crawl walk run of a book for small business owners in creative fields. She takes you from the brainstorming stage, through understanding work life balance, all the way to resources and tools to help you grow and stay profitable. I loved her mix of personal accounts and advice combined with solid resources and plans to help you get from point A to point B. The workbook style makes it easy to stop and reflect.

Like I was saying, I’ve legitimately been reading this book for years, and I think I might be reading it for several more years. I can now officially say that I have successfully read the book cover to cover, but this is definitely an awesome resource I’m going to keep coming back to. From the time I picked it up to the time I finally finished it, I had no fewer than three completely different business ideas. Every time I had a new one I wanted to flesh out I would grab my eraser and work my way back to page one to start from the top. Mind Your Business functions like the step before a business plan, which works well when you consider many small business owners might start with something just like this instead of skipping right to a thirty page plan.

I picked up Mind Your Business for the third and probably-not-final time recently because I was considering a graphic design business, and I think now that I’ve made it to the end, I might just go out and buy another copy to fill in. I’ve got far too many eraser marks in mine now to start again, but there’s just some really sound and valuable advice in this book that I think provides a great starting point and an excellent resource when you struggle.

My only complaint is that it sometimes feels preachy. I think there’s a self-help element to this book that I didn’t necessarily dislike but that occasionally became more boring and repetitive, and less constructive and helpful. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with providing that sort of “are you cut out to run a business?” sort of advice, though. I went to business school, I’ve been pretty sure for a couple years now that this is the kind of thing I eventually want to do. But if you work in a creative career, and you’re thinking about striking it out on your own? It’s actually really important to be asking yourself some of these questions. A workbook is certainly cheaper than a failed business. In that respect, I think the flow of this book is awesome.

I do highly recommend Mind Your Business. Like I said, I think I’ll be picking up another copy…and if you’d like one too, you can order it here. I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was my very first Jenny Lawson novel, and I was not disappointed. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I ended up with was the literary equivalent of hearing my ADD friends talk (and it was absolutely glorious).

In Broken, Jenny Lawson discusses her mental health and autoimmune disorders with humor and heart. Through hilarious stories and heartfelt reflections, Jenny will have you laughing out loud and struggling to hold back tears, sometimes all at the same time. From the six ways she lost a shoe right off her foot in public to the 33 things she said to strangers that now gets her out of parties, I could hardly contain my giggles. Her poignant reflections on even the most random things make this book worth the read.

This is one of those books I’m so glad I listened to on audio. I looked like a maniac cackling in my car on my way to work, or sitting in the office doing menial tasks listening to Jenny tell me about her lawn rats and live catching a skunk barely able to contain myself. She delivers her stories in a complete deadpan, and while it sounds absolutely bizarre to readers and listeners, it’s her truth and you can tell this is really how she thinks. I can’t help but feel Jenny would make an excellent friend. The only downside to listening instead of reading right off the page is that I couldn’t make notes on some of my favorite quotes, both hilarious and inspiring.

My favorite parts of the book came from the humor, because that was more or less what I was expecting from her. Even having never read a book by her, I’m familiar with Jenny and all her antics, especially because so many of my friends are already big fans. And like I said, her voice and the things she says remind me exactly of them. The unexpected parts of this book, and admittedly not so much my favorite, was her deeper reflections on mental health and that journey for her. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely relatable: there’s something truly validating about listening to someone as successful as Lawson tell you about a deep, internal tired preventing her from living life, or an absolutely crippling anxiety that keeps her from enjoying the world, even when she’s been afforded every opportunity. Because there’s a guilt that comes with that, with not experiencing things even when those you love most don’t understand it, and I’m so glad she says, you shouldn’t feel guilty about the things you can’t do right now; put yourself first.

I did love hearing her experiences and following her “of course you have Hashimoto’s disease” narrative; Lawson’s been through a lot, but she has a good humor about it even when the days are hard. She’s real, raw, and honest. As a narrative, this is great and relatable, but once she becomes more abstract is when she loses me. The way she looks at the world is beautiful and imaginative, but sometimes I’m just too much of a realist to take that perspective. It’s extremely well written, and like I said, full of heart, but at times feels more like an inspirational self-help than the memoir portion that I enjoyed most.

100%, hands down, read this book. Even better, listen to it. It’s just too damn funny to pass up on. Especially if you or a friend has anxiety, ADD, or depression…you’ll find yourself in these pages, or you’ll better understand the ones you love.

Have a wonderful week, pals. ❤