How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana White

51PVod7DwzL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Book – A girl doesn’t become a librarian without some fairly solid organizational skills.  When it comes to home management, however, I have always sworn that I won’t turn into my mother–a woman I deeply admire, but who very nearly cannot leave the house if the vacuum cleaner is not in the closet and who has a hard time falling asleep if there are dishes in the sink.  Not, I insisted to myself, that I would ever allow my house to be actually dirty, but was it really the end of the world if a basket of clean laundry took a day (or two, or five) to get folded?  That I even had clean laundry was an accomplishment, surely.  And my room was, after all, already much neater than so-and-so’s.  And besides, it had been a busy week.  And over the weekend, I’d have one massive cleaning session, and then the entire house would be beautiful and shiny at the same time.  And [insert today’s excuse for not cleaning here].

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind is for those of us who do genuinely want to live a tidier life, but whose home-keeping has not yet graduated into the land of Martha Stewart and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  A non-traditional, chatty and readable handbook from a self-professed recovering slob and blogger, White’s book is effective for non-neat-freaks because it’s by a non-neat-freak.  It’s full of simple strategies to set and keep small but meaningful habits that add up, slowly but surely, to a cleaner and happier place to live.  She does a particularly good job of analyzing and codifying mental blocks like “slob vision” (not noticing out-of-place items until untidiness reaches critical mass) and proposing practical solutions which, unlike the admirable but overly ambitious goals of many advanced housekeeping manuals, are actually sustainable for everyone.

The verdict?  On the busiest week in recent memory, my laundry is all folded and my sink is empty of dishes.  And as far as I’m concerned, that counts as a definite win.

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth Church

25810606Book – Seventeen-year-old Meridian Wallace is a bright, energetic woman and the only child of doting parents. Her parents encourage her curiosity and academic pursuits. She starts college at the University of Chicago in 1941 to pursue her degree in ornithology, the study of birds. She falls in love with a brilliant physics professor, Alden Whetstone. He’s more than twenty years her senior, and she is attracted to his intelligence and their stimulating scientific conversations. When he is tapped to work at Los Alamos on a top secret project, Meridian follows him and postpones her acceptance to grad school for a year. She marries Alden and begins an independent study of crows. As the years go by, Meridian continues to submerge her own desires and dreams to accommodate Alden’s career. She finds companionship in some of the other women and then, in the 1970’s meets Clay, who introduces her to new experiences and encourages her independence. This book fascinated me with its depictions of the changing times and society’s expectations, particularly toward women. I sometimes hoped that Meridian would make different choices, but thought that her struggles and decisions were realistic. This book is an engaging, thought-provoking read.