Review | How to Get Sh*t Done

How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need to Stop Trying to Do Everything So They Can Achieve Anything by Erin Falconer

Genre: Nonfiction (Personal Growth) | Pub Date: 2018 | My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.🌙

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

img_0315Erin Falconer, editor in chief and co-owner of the highly respected self-improvement site Pick the Brain (with over 1.8 million monthly page views), shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more.

In the first productivity book by a woman in a decade, Erin Falconer will show you how to do less—a lot less. In fact, How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

Packed with real-life advice, honest stories from Erin’s successful career, and dozens of actionable resources, How to Get Sh*t Done will forever reframe productivity so that you can stop doing everything for everyone and start doing what matters to you.

My Thoughts

Somewhere around October, I finally admitted what has been a long time coming: I’m a sucker for self-help books. To be fair, I suppose this started around age 10, when I became obsessed with every single Chicken Soup for the Soul book I could get my hands on. Sure, self-help (or, as it’s now being re-branded, “personal growth”) is cheesy. Sure, a lot of what these authors typically have to offer is advice you could just as easily give yourself, if you just had the balls. But I have to admit, sometimes it’s easier to take advice from folks who at least have a book deal.

How to Get Sh*t Done does follow the typical layout of the genre. Each chapter begins with a story from Falconer’s life as a writer and internet entrepreneur. She details how she’s failed hugely in life, and what she learned from each failure. Falconer proposes a unique method called POP for Personality, Opportunity, and Productivity. She argues that before you can be truly productive, you have to get clear about who you are and where your opportunities lie. Each chapter concludes with a checklist of introspective activities designed to guide you toward a more focused understanding of yourself. Each set of ideas builds on itself, ending with her final breakdown of how to design a schedule that works for you and helps you achieve what you want without burning out.

What’s different about this, and why I rated it so highly, is Falconer’s woman-focused perspective. This truly is the first self-help style book that prioritizes women’s specific issues. Falconer discusses how women feel the need to do everything—excel in our careers, be the perfect spouses, take care of our families, and also somehow be magically fit and focused. What this means is that we constantly feel like we have no time to actually do what we want, and we’re left feeling selfish if we take even half an hour to ourselves once in a while. We run ourselves ragged so that we can’t actually achieve what we truly want. On top of that, we’re not really encouraged to even focus on what we want, because we’re so busy doing what everyone else wants us to do. We say “yes” to things we really want to say “no” to in order to avoid being perceived as a bitch. We over-commit because we’re trained to always be busy, as if busyness is some sort of cult we all aspire to join. In How to Get Sh*t Done, Erin Falconer encourages us to let all that sh*t go and focus on what we truly value.

This would have been an instant 5-star read for me if it hadn’t been for the chapter on outsourcing. Falconer argues that women need to become more comfortable with outsourcing tasks that don’t serve their main goals in life. While I agree that we should all be more comfortable with asking for help from family/roommates when it comes to household maintenance and childcare, I couldn’t relate to the idea of being able to pay someone else to do things I don’t want to do. Sure, it would be nice to have someone come clean my house, but I honestly can’t afford it. Even if I could, I don’t think I would feel comfortable paying another woman to do something I don’t want to do. The fact is, as a person living on less money than pretty much anyone else I know, there’s just no way I could afford to outsource. The reality of my life is doing things that I often don’t want to do. All I can do is try to focus my spare hours toward what I want to achieve.

That being said, this is a great read for anyone who’s ever felt frustrated by being pulled in a thousand different directions. How to Get Sh*t Done will help you focus your energy on what truly matters to you and give you some tools to help you get there.

—find this book—

Goodreads | B&N | Book Outlet

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What’s your favorite self-help book? What genre do you feel guilty for enjoying? What are your top 3 goals for 2019? Let’s talk in the comments!

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My Top Books Read in 2018

top reads of 2018

Since I wasn’t around the blogosphere last year, I figured I’d talk a little bit about some of my favorite books I read in 2018. These are listed in the order I read them. If you want more, check out my Goodreads Year In Books!

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Fiction Top 10

luuk+c7vtceg6psyw0vakgAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

This was one from my backlist that I was able to check out from the library now that the hype has somewhat died down. I determined that the hype was NO LIE. The beautiful writing and the unlikely storyline—a Nigerian immigrant to American who winds up moving back to Nigeria—make this one of my favorite books of 2018.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I know John Green gets a lot of hype and/or hatred in the book community, but in this book I feel he truly earned it. The protagonist, Aza, struggles with OCD in a way that’s incredibly real—Green wrote from his own experiences, and it comes through in a heartbreaking, yet beautiful way. Plus, the story has a mystery and a small touch of (realistic) romance. All in all, it beat out Looking For Alaska as my favorite Green novel.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

I picked this up for the bisexual Latinx rep and I was not disappointed. The story follows Savannah as she realizes her bisexuality, but it’s also about her dealing with millennial confusion as she wonders what to do with life after high school. It was incredibly refreshing to read.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

This is one of those rare YA books that tackles tough topics in a complex, realistic way. It isn’t one I’d recommend to just anyone, as it comes with several content warnings, but I really appreciated the complexity McGinnis brings to the issues of rape and violence in particular.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie

This was by far the quirkiest thing I read in 2018, if not the quirkiest thing I’ve ever read. It follows engaged couple Veblen (a squirrel-obsessed temp worker) and Paul, a brilliant neurologist whose pet project gets scooped up by money-grubbing corporate assholes. For a “literary” read, this had a lot of funny moments as well as thoughtful ones.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Pretty much my entire family has been telling me to read Louise Penny’s mystery series for months. I finally started them this fall and I wasn’t disappointed. While I’m not usually drawn to mystery or crime-related narratives, these aren’t your typical murder mysteries. Louise Penny focuses on her characters, giving them complex thoughts and feelings, and the mysteries themselves are complex and unusual. To top it off, each of the three I’ve read so far are incredibly atmospheric, set in this tiny town in Quebec. I want to move there so badly!

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

This book broke my heart in the best possible way. In case you haven’t heard, the YA Book Communities two fave authors teamed up to write this gay meet cute set in New York City. It’s not your typical romance either, and I loved the realism of the ending.

Home and Away by Candice Montgomery

I was lucky enough to score an ARC of this highly under-hyped debut, and I’ve been trying to push it on people ever since its release in October. Tasia is a black girl who plays football and finds out that her biological father is actually white. The story follows the identity crisis that follows, with a sprinkle of love and a lot of sass. I freaking loved Tasia so damn much.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I stumbled upon this intellectual/literary vampire trilogy by accident and it was worth the investment. Sure, it’s heavy on the romantic and occasionally cheesy, but I loved the lore behind the vampires, witches, and daemons and how they avoid detection by humans. Plus, Deborah Harkness has a PhD in history or something, so it’s more intellectually stimulating than, say, re-watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix for the fifth time. Not that I would do that or anything…

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

I spotted this one on a list of books set in New York City, which I’m researching for my WIP. The story follows 85-year-old Lillian as she takes a long, meandering walk through New York City on the eave of 1985, and alternately reflects on her past, as the highest paid female advertiser in the 1930s, to her present. If you like spunky ladies defying the odds, add this to your TBR.

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Nonfiction Top 5

img_0245Lost Connections by Johann Hari

This is a book about depression, and about how its causes and solutions aren’t necessarily what we think they are. Hari argues that people are more depressed because of the way we live today. As he deconstructs our modern problems with meaningful connections, he also offers solutions that, admittedly, are more difficult to achieve than simply taking a pill. This is a really thought-provoking read for anyone who cares about mental health.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

This one took me months of effort to get through, but it was well worth it. Zinn takes us on a journey through American history, but rather than basing the story around the rich, famous, and white, he talks about what life was like for the poor, working-class, women, and people of color. If you’re interested in reading diversely, this is a great look at the kind of diverse history that’s often erased in the American classroom.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

This book was the orange-covered kick in the pants I needed to get myself onto a new track toward a future that I choose. Manson light-heartedly deconstructs a lot of the messages of the self-help industry and points out that the key to life is choosing the one thing that you’re okay with struggling toward, the one thing that’s worth it. This really helped me narrow my focus and let go of ideas that weren’t really serving me anymore. I recommend this to anyone, even if you think you’re not into self-help books.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Another ambitious read, this book takes us back to the beginning of humanity and talks about how we came to be where we are today. I loved learning about the different theories about how spoken language developed, about why we went from hunter-gathering societies to agricultural ones, about what the future might look like if we keep on the way we are now. My sociology brain loved this one!

The Gentrification of the American Mind by Sarah Schulman

This is the book I finished right at the end of the year, and really left me on a good note. I won’t say much, since I recently posted my review, but this is a must-read for anyone who cares about LGBTQ+ issues.

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What are some of your favorite reads in 2018? Got a recommendation for me? Drop a comment below!

Review | The Gentrification of the American Mind

The Gentrification of the American Mind: Witness to a Lost Generation

Author: Sarah Schulman (2012) | Genre: Queer Memoir | My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

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In this gripping memoir of the AIDS years (1981–1996), Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the rebellious queer culture, cheap rents, and a vibrant downtown arts movement vanished almost overnight to be replaced by gay conservative spokespeople and mainstream consumerism. Schulman takes us back to her Lower East Side and brings it to life, filling these pages with vivid memories of her avant-garde queer friends and dramatically recreating the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a political insider. Interweaving personal reminiscence with cogent analysis, Schulman details her experience as a witness to the loss of a generation’s imagination and the consequences of that loss.

My Thoughts

Part memoir, part socio-cultural analysis, The Gentrification of the American Mind is a thought-provoking book that’s a worthy read for anyone who cares about queer issues. Schulman compares the gentrification of New York City from the 1970s-90s with the erasure of queer history of the AIDS crisis. Rather than sticking to a strict academic need to prove her arguments, however, Schulman takes the reader on a meandering journey of her experiences at the time, as well as the conclusions she draws from it.

Gentrification, as Schulman defines it, is the concrete replacement process that homogenizes at the expense of the existing culture. She talks a lot about a spiritual gentrification, where people without representation are alienated from the process of social change. In this way, she explores the diminished consciousness, particularly of young queer people, when it comes to how political and artistic change happens. 

Despite being such a short book, at only 180 pages, there’s a lot to unpack. Schulman connects the loss of political activism of the AIDS years with the ways that gay culture itself has become gentrified. Rather than seeing a queer identity as inherently political, she argues that many young queer people fight to assimilate into heterosexual cultural norms. In fact, she’s quite critical of the fight for gay marriage and adoption rights, since she argues that’s not what being queer is all about. While I don’t necessarily fully agree with her, she brings up important points that I feel like nobody really talks about anymore.

The most powerful chapter, for me, talks about the erasure of gay literature—especially lesbian literature. While I’ve made a point to seek out queer writing in recent years, the fact remains that it’s something one must seek out. There are no out lesbian writers on the bestseller list in this country. Queer writers often publish through smaller presses or must resort to self-publishing; it’s incredibly hard for a queer writer to actually support themselves financially through their writing. As Schulman states, “our literature is disappearing at the same time that we are being told we are winning our rights. How can we be equal citizens if our stories are not allowed to be part of our nation’s story?”

Every young queer person needs to read this book.

Even if I disagree with certain aspects of Schulman’s argument, this book promotes a way of thinking that’s disturbingly absent in visible gay culture today. We need to understand our history if we’re ever going to move forward in a more radical way. The personal is inherently political—if we can remember it.