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What I’ve Been Reading: 5 Stars to -5 Stars

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the best of what I’ve been reading, focusing solely on the books that I would recommend.

This time, I decided to focus on the last five books I’ve read, regardless of whether or not I actually liked them.

Out of the five, I gave:

  • two five-star ratings
  • one four-star rating
  • one two-star rating
  • one one-star rating (although if I wasn’t restricted by the Goodreads one-to-five star rating system, I’d have given it minus five stars).
What I've Been Reading: 5 Stars to -5 Stars (thepatchworkfox.com)

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I’ve been reading…

#1. Sabotage: How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Get Out of Your Own Way (Emma Gannon)

My rating: ★★★★★

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s only short, but the content is relatable; funny, but still offering useful advice on overcoming self-sabotage.

Initially, I was concerned that the book would be a bit wishy-washy due to how short it is, but I was pleased with how much the author actually managed to include in a concise way. There was no fluff or filler, just good content.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who struggles with self-sabotage and wants to break the cycle.


#2. The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket

My rating: ★★★★★

This book is an adorable little story that is technically a children’s book, but I think many adults would benefit from reading it!

The illustrations are beautiful and offer interactivity for younger readers.

It’s a simple yet clever depiction of how bad moods can be passed on from person to person, and how to stop them from spreading. There’s also a wildly cute twist to the story towards the end. I won’t spoil it, but I was grinning at the page in delight.

This book is a feel-good read, suitable for all ages.


#3. Bad Feminist: Essays (Roxane Gay)

My rating: ★★★★☆

This collection of essays is insightful and thought-provoking. Raw, honest, and definitely not an easy read, this book is a must-read for feminists and non-feminists alike.

These essays cover sensitive yet essential topics, so please exercise caution. Content/trigger warnings include: rape, sexual assault, emotional abuse, sexism, misogyny, racism, discrimination, bullying, eating disorders, fat-shaming/fatmisia… and I’m sure I’ve missed out more.

The author is firm and direct without coming off as preachy or condescending. Her writing style strikes the perfect balance between formality for the seriousness of the topics, and the informality of having a chat with a knowledgeable friend.

The few things that kept me from giving this book a five-star rating were somewhat nitpicky. For example, Gay refers to disabled people as differently-abled, which irked me. She also keeps referring to liking the colour pink as an example of being a “bad feminist”, which I thought was a bit unnecessary.

But again, these were nitpicky things, and if the Goodreads rating system was a bit more flexible, I would have given this book a 4.5-star rating.


#4. I Can Do It: How To Use Affirmations To Change Your Life (Louise L. Hay)

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

I suspected from the length of this audiobook that there wasn’t going to be particularly in-depth, but it was worse than I thought. Unlike “Sabotage”, this book was fluff-central.

There are a few nice ideas in this book that might be beneficial in terms of improving self-confidence and focusing on positive thinking. Unfortunately, the book is repetitive and has very little substance, in my opinion.

In all honesty, I would say the useful ideas that Hay presents here could have been summed up in a blog post rather than trying to stretch it into a book.


#5. Unfu*k Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life (Gary John Bishop)

My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

This is the one I would have given minus five stars if Goodreads allowed it as a rating. It was terrible. I’m so glad I borrowed it because if I’d spent money on it, I’d be annoyed right now.

The author writes with incredible arrogance. Of course, I knew from the title that this was going to be a more blunt than other self-help books, but the author seems to revel in having zero tolerance for anyone who he perceives as ‘not trying hard enough’. There is not a shred of empathy. His over-generalised view of the world lacks nuance and he seems to have little-to-no understanding that ‘pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps’ is a reductive, unhelpful, and outdated concept.

I’m not saying that there isn’t a place in the self-help genre for encouraging us to take responsibility for our own actions and making (sometimes difficult) choices that will improve our own lives. I’m all for self-empowerment.

What I am saying is that this book reads less as a no-nonsense, no-fluff, straight-to-the-point manual for getting out of a rut, and more like the author’s opportunity to show what a ‘big, strong person’ he is and to belittle anyone who has legitimate barriers that can’t be eliminated by simply ‘powering through’.

Many people rave about this book, but it just wasn’t for me. Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I’m a ‘snowflake’, but honestly I’d rather claim those terms than take advice from this book.


So, it’s been a mixed bunch!

I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them.

Perhaps you DNF’d one of my five-star choices or absolutely loved the ones I rated low?

Or maybe, based on my ratings here, you have some suggestions for my TBR list?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

What I've Been Reading: 5 Stars to -5 Stars (thepatchworkfox.com)

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