Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sunday Sampling: The Buffet is Good, but the Party is Better

 As the semester wraps up, I'm finding it challenging to keep up with my posting schedule, particularly in weeks such as this one where my routine is thrown off-kilter by schedule changes. When I missed my Friday post, I got the idea to turn it into a Sunday post and share my Sunday sampling. 

But a funny thing happened. When I sat down in my sunroom with my Kindle late Sunday afternoon in the fading light, brightened by the (not-yet-decorated) Christmas tree beside my chair, I discovered that I didn't want to sample. I'm in the enviable position of being engrossed in two books that I can't wait to get back to, with at least one other (previously sampled) on the horizon. I skimmed a few pages of a couple of e-books, but it was like taking a break to sample the buffet when I wasn't hungry and all I  really wanted to do was get back to the party.

So, back to the party it is.

The "real book" I'm reading is Cassie Holmes' Happier Hour. I sampled it on my Kindle a few weeks ago  and immediately ordered a hardcover copy. It has not disappointed, either as a book selection for my positive psych class next semester, or as the read its subtitle promised: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most.

Okay, I'm not sure it's done all of those things, but I'm enjoy it immensely. Non-fiction books grounded in research that don't ramble on about it incessantly are one of my favorite kinds of book to read, and this book does just that. The tone is conversational, the topics interesting, and the layout conducive to using the content of the book both as I read and after I finish.

What does that last part mean? Simply this. Holmes includes both activities and summaries in each chapter. The activities afford an opportunity to engage more fully with the content and concepts, and the summaries pull it all together (imagine that!), capturing the key points of each chapter in a neat, bullet-pointed list, which means that even when I have just a few minutes at a time to read the book, I don't lose the thread. And, after I've finished reading, it's easy to pick it up and find the key point I want to look up.

Smart formatting, perfectly geared to her reader. Bonus points :-)

The second book, which I'm listening to on Audible, is Matthew Perry's Friends, Lovers, and the Big, Terrible Thing. I was excited when I saw that the Friends star (who played my favorite character) had written a memoir and that he was narrating the audiobook. I got less excited when I watched the pre-publication interviews and learned that its subject matter was quite a bit darker than I'd come to expect from Chandler. Nevertheless, I bought the audiobook and, after a slight delay, I pushed play.

While all of the above is quite true, Perry proves an engaging narrator (no big surprise there), with a self-effacing dry humor that pulls the reader in. Good audiobooks have me pressing play on the way to and from work without getting distracted by NPR or Christmas music. Great audiobooks have me listening to extra chapters even after I've gotten home and have lots of other options. 

This one is in the second category. Honest, heartbreaking, a bit raw, and more than a bit humorous, it has me hooked every bit as much as Friends did. And I haven't even gotten to those chapters yet.

As an inveterate book sampler, it's rare for me to find two books so engrossing at the same time. I'm so happy that this wonderful event has dovetailed so perfectly with the end of the semester, when I will actually have time to savor both of them.

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