Today, I’m talking about two of my recent reads: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan and Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve mentioned both of these books on the blog before, but I haven’t officially “reviewed” them, so… Here you go:
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (SCORE = 7/10)
I first heard about The Royal We when its authors, Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, were interviewed on The Lively Show podcast back in early July. Jess raved about it, and I was immediately interested because Cocks and Morgon co-wrote it (which also intrigued me) based loosely on the love story of Prince William and Kate Middleton who they’d been stalking for years for their fashion/comedy blog Go Fug Yourself (which is hilarious btw). Like most of the world, I think Kate is absolutely darling and I grew up crushing on “Wills” on the pages of TeenBop magazine (anyone else?), so I bought the Kindle version and the Audible companion (because… British accents!) right away as a fun summer read.
In the end, I really liked it. As I’d hoped, it was a great, light, “beachy” book. However, it is NOT at all the slightly fictionalized biography of Will and Kate I’d expected… Though the plot – ordinary American girl (Bex) meets future Prince of England (Nick) while studying abroad at Oxford, gets suddenly thrown into a world she never signed up for, and must decide what sacrifices are worth it for true love #inanutshell – sucked me in right away, it took me a while to connect with “Bex and Nick” instead of “Kate and Wills.” More specifically, I liked Bex, but she wasn’t at all the young college girl I imagined Kate Middleton to have been. Bex was a jock/tomboy, a party-girl, and – frankly – a little crude. Likewise, Nick & Bex’s relationship was based equally on love and romance and sex and drama. In short, it wasn’t the tidy little fairytale of two “perfect” people I guess I was, unknowingly, expecting.
That said, once I was finally able (probably about halfway through) to let go of the idea that this was “based on” Kate & Will, I was able to enjoy the story for what it is – a novel. This isn’t an amazing work of literature and the plot felt a little slow at times; but, it was charming and funny, the characters were well-developed and believable, and it even made me think about the nature of relationships, love, and being in the “public eye.” I definitely recommend to someone looking for a quick, easy, and light read – especially if you’re interested in British high society and/or royalty, just make sure you know what you are really getting when you pick it up!
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin (SCORE = 6/10)
These two books really couldn’t be more different but, ironically, I also heard about this for the first time on The Lively Show. I’ve been on a kick of nonfiction/research-based books about time management, schedules, etc. for a while now, and ever since I read The Power of Habits a few years ago (which I loved), I’ve been interested in habits specifically. Gretchen Rubin is a big name in the field of happiness and self-help, and I knew from her own podcast (Happier) that I liked her “style,” so I was excited to start this one… While it wasn’t particularly life changing for me (read: I’m not all the sudden exercising, meditating, eating healthy, or writing regularly), it definitely did give me some insight into my specific personality and the ways in which I create and stick with habits.
In Better Than Before, Rubin identified the Four Tendencies framework for understanding how individuals approach building and keeping habits differently. They are: Upholder (internally motivated), Obliger (externally motivated), Questioner (logically motivated), and Rebel. (In case you care, I’m definitely an Obliger, and Jeff is a Questioner. You can take a quick quiz here to determine your tendency too if you’re curious.)
Then, from there, Rubin discusses 21 strategies to help people with their own habits based on their tendency and other individual characteristics. (For example, I also learned that I’m an “Abstainer” not really a “Moderator.”) The book follows Rubin’s own experience testing different methods for habit formation, as well as the experience of her sister, friends, and blog readers. Her writing style is personable and funny, and I was never really bored despite the fact that the content could feel a little repetitive at times.
Again, this wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it did have an effect on me. It’s made me pay attention to the unique ways that I do thinks, and recognize why some things work for me and others don’t when it comes to routines and habits (like the fact that I can’t have “just one square of chocolate,” and I hate the “clean a little bit every day” mentality for housework). I recommend the book, but I think you can get a lot of the same content in smaller dosages on the blog and podcast too if you’re short on time and/or attention span.
And there you have it! As you know, I just started reading Jen Hatmaker’s latest book For the Love, and I’m undecided about what fiction I want to do next. Any recommendations? What have you read lately?
Happy Friday! I’ve got a new Links & Likes post set to go up tomorrow morning, so check back with your coffee!
Missy G. says
I loved The Royal We! I think my expectations were different from yours because I wasn’t expected the characters to be anything like the royals, just the overarching love story and getting married. I was hooked from page 1.
Other good fiction books that I’ve read recently are The Other Typist (the ending may drive you bonkers, but I loved it), At the Water’s Edge (recommend the audiobook for this one), Bel Canto (again, the audiobook), and anything by Katherine Reay. I’m looking forward to The Bronte Plot coming out this fall!
Emily Wilson says
I actually just finished the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and loved it. It gave me so much to think about and I think you’d enjoy it. She’s such an honest writer and I was fascinated by the idea that we’re living good lives with things to be thankful for, but we still snap at our husbands and get frustrated by small things. Try it!