The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+



The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime by Suze Orman is a great book full of timely information. I borrowed it from my online library app and finished it in two days!

Having turned 50 last Christmas, I have to admit my thoughts have turned to retirement a time or two. Not that I have any intention of retiring soon, but the topic is on my radar now more than it was before. I don’t feel that I have done a super job at preparing for it up to now, so I was afraid that this book would just make me feel inadequate and hopeless. But Orman approaches the subject without being heavy-handed or berating anyone for choices they have made so far.

The book is well-organized, moving through chapters about family and working years on to ones covering your transition into retirement and beyond. In most chapters, she gives some information and then lists out her recommended action points in bullets before going into detail on each one. At the end of that discussion, she provides a recap of the main points from the chapter. I found it very easy to read and follow what she was saying.

Some of the highlights for me were:

  • How to help your kids and parents without sabotaging your retirement
  • Changes to make while you’re still working that will give you a boost
  • Discussion about housing options and costs
  • A thorough explanation of how Social Security, Medicare, and pensions work
  • Managing your money for the long-haul

Other chapters focused on investing, including a good discussion about bonds, finding a financial advisor, and getting your documents in order, of which I have only completed a will.

Overall, I enjoyed her writing style and appreciated her personal stories illustrating the points she was making. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to focus on the area of retirement planning.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life


Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White was recommended to me by Sandra Madeira recently, and I was fortunate enough to find it online at my library.

The book itself is an easy and interesting read, and I got through it quite quickly. The method she describes is very different from KonMari, so if you find that to be overwhelming, you may take better to this one.

She recommends focusing on visual clutter first, starting at the front door and moving through the spaces where you would be most likely to have guests. Armed with only a black trash bag and a donateable donation box, start first by discarding any trash in the space.

Next, put any items that you absolutely know where they go away and put any items you definitely know you are done with in the donation box. Once you have handled all the easy stuff, it’s time to tackle the rest.

Take each item and ask yourself where you would look for it first. You can also ask whether you would actually look for it or whether you wouldn’t even remember that you had it. If you would look for it someplace, take it to that place immediately and put it away. If that place is full, remove stuff from that place until it will fit and then put the stuff you removed into the donation box. If you wouldn’t even look for it, just donate it and be done with it.

The beauty of this system is that if you get interrupted or sidetracked, you won’t be left with a pile of things that are in the middle of being organized. All you will have is a bag of trash and a box to take to the donation center.

The next time you declutter, start again at the front door and attack any visible clutter. Hopefully even if an area has become re-cluttered, it won’t take as long to deal with it this time and you will be able to move on to other areas.

There is a lot more detail to the method in the book, and she walks you through the process in several different areas of your home, repeating and refining the steps each time.

I highly recommend this book. Although I have already KonMari’d my house, I like this method as a way to keep things picked up. I also plan to use it with a friend who wants my help with her house as it makes the most sense for her personality and lifestyle.

What method do you like for decluttering?

Books on Decluttering

I started out my decluttering journey by reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I can’t recommend it enough. Her KonMari method of decluttering and organizing really made the difference for me. I finally feel like my house is under control.  There are aspects of the book that were a bit too out there for me, but overall it made a lot of sense.

I have since read Kondo’s second book, Spark Joy, and wasn’t as impressed with it as with her first book. But it was an easy read and since I checked it out of the library I could just return it when I was done.  It does contain a lot of illustrations, which are especially helpful for understanding her method of folding clothes.

Two other books I have read as well are Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki and The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson.

Goodbye, Things is a fascinating book that both details Sasaki’s journey towards minimalism and gives advice to would-be minimalists.  Although he has gone much farther down the minimalist road than I ever would, I found it inspiring to read his thoughts on the process and how it made a difference for him.  It contains a good mix of philosophy and practical ideas.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning was also a quick read, although I don’t feel that it added much to what I have already read and watched via YouTube on the topics of decluttering and minimalism.  Magnusson’s main idea is that we should clear out our excess stuff before we die so that those we leave behind aren’t forced to deal with it all.  While I definitely agree with her premise, I didn’t get much else out of this book.

I know I haven’t gone into a lot of detail about these books, but hopefully this short review has given you some ideas of what you might like to read on this topic.  If you have other books to recommend, please leave me a comment and I will check them out.

Thanks and happy reading!

Asperger’s and Girls


Asperger’s and Girls is a book with nine chapters from different autism experts, some of whom are autistic themselves, about various aspects of Asperger’s as it relates to females.  It was published in 2006 and I’m sure was groundbreaking at the time, as we are still seeing the need for education about the incidence and experience of females with Asperger’s today.

The first few chapters deal with the issue of under-diagnosis of Asperger’s in females and discuss the need for programming and services designed specifically for this population.  Tony Attwood, a clinical psychologist from Australia and prominent author and speaker about autism, starts off the book by talking about the ways that females can present differently from males.  I appreciate him speaking out about this so much; in fact, it was at a conference where he spoke about autism in females that I first suspected I was autistic.  He is followed by Catherine Faherty talking about starting a women’s group in her area and by Sheila Wagner talking about the needs of girls in the educational system.

Chapter Four is about fitting in and having friends, as well as bullying, primarily during the teenage years.  While there is a lot of good information about typical peer structures, the focus is exclusively on how a girl can adapt to fit in with typical peers, rather than accepting herself as she is and finding friends who can accept her as well.

There is a chapter on puberty that has some good information and advice to parents and educators on how to help girls prepare for that time in their life, as well as a chapter about the transition from high school to adulthood which stresses the needs for parents to guide without being overprotective.

By far my favorite chapter is the one on dating, relationships, and marriage.  Written by Jennifer McIlwee Myers, who has Asperger’s, it promotes being comfortable with yourself and looking for a partner who will accept you for who you are.  As she puts it,

You don’t find your one true love by being fake; you find him by living your life and being the best version of you that you can achieve.  A girl or woman with AS isn’t going to find her best life by trying to be neurotypical, but rather by striving to the the best darn Aspie she is able to be.

This is one of the longer chapters in the book and is full of great advice and encouragement.

Chapter Eight is the story of an autistic woman detailing her experiences with motherhood.  She has a total of four children, two of whom are autistic.  Her story is one of gradual discovery and understanding as she learns to support and advocate for her children.

The book ends somewhat abruptly with a short chapter by Temple Grandin talking about her choice to focus on her career and not pursue any sort of dating or romantic relationships.  She explains that this is because of the way she is wired and that other people may wish for different things in their lives, but says she is happy and fulfilled by her solitary life.

All in all, this was a good read with some valuable information about Asperger’s in girls and women.  I would definitely recommend it.

Top Reads This Spring

My reading life goes through cycles where I read a lot and where I rarely pick up a book. Lately I have been reading quite a bit, even going to the library regularly to get more books. Here are a few that I have really enjoyed over the last couple of months.

A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe – I was mesmerized when I read her first novel, The Color of Tea, and have eagerly read her other books as well. This novel centers on Juliette, a chef who has recently lost her restaurant in Paris and returned to her hometown to be a personal chef to Max. Max is a washed-up rock star who decides to host his group of college friends for his birthday weekend. As the friends navigate their various relationship issues, Juliette is drawn out of her shell and into their circle. This was a well-paced, enjoyable read.

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg – Berg is one of my favorite authors, and this book does not disappoint! On one of his daily outings to the cemetery where his wife is buried, Arthur meets Maddy, a high school girl avoiding school by hiding out there. Their relationship with each other as well as Arthur’s neighbor Lucille forms the basis for the story. I enjoyed the characters and plot equally and highly recommend it.

Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt – This is an engaging novel about two sisters, Lucy and Juliet, and how their relationship evolves when Lucy comes to stay with Juliet after her life in Boston comes apart at the seams. Set in a small town in England’s Lake District, this charming novel offers hope that even strained relationships can be mended. I loved both the setting and the characters. A side note of interest, I found out after posting that I had read the book on Goodreads that the author is my friend’s husband’s sister – talk about a small world!

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn – I didn’t realize before I started this book that it was a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but it became very obvious even within the first chapter. I was delighted because that is my favorite novel of all time! In this adaptation, Anne Corey is an English professor at a small college in California who finds her ex-fiance Adam Martinez has just become the president of her school. It was a charming take on the story and a fun read.

Top Reads from August

In my previous book review post, I talked about my favorite reads from July.  So here now are my top fiction titles from August:

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber – This is a new novel from the author of the popular Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series.  Cassie Carter is back in the state of Washington, with her daughter, after leaving an abusive marriage.  Her parents are both gone now, but it looks like she might have a chance to reconnect with her two sisters, Karen and Nichole.  Engaging novel about starting over and second chances.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – A well done remake of Pride and Prejudice by the author of Prep and American Wife, this novel is part of a series of Jane Austen tributes by various contemporary authors.  In this incarnation of the beloved classic, the Bennets are a (at least up til now) well-off family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and both Bingley and Darcy are doctors currently working and living there.  It has gotten mixed reviews on Amazon, but I enjoyed it.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – A debut novel by a Swedish author, this was given to me by a friend when I was in the hospital back in March. I had started reading it then but gotten distracted and didn’t come back to it for a few months.  Once I did get back into it, I was hooked.  It’s the story of Sara Lindqvist, who has come from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to visit a pen pal and fellow book lover.  When she arrives, the older woman has passed away, but Sara is invited to stay in her house for a while anyway.  To pass the time, she decides to use her late friend’s massive book collection to start a bookstore in the small town.  I really came to appreciate this lovely book about books and the people who love them.

To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner – Turner is one of my absolute favorite writers; even when I pare down my book collection, I never get rid of hers because I know I will want to read them again.  There is just something about the way she writes that mesmerizes me, although I find it hard to explain.  This novel is the story of Julia and Carmen, an aunt and her niece, and how they connect when Carmen comes to visit and stays for a few months.  The characters are richly drawn and their stories are complex and wonderful.  I highly recommend this and all of her books.





Top Reads from July

I have posted recently about some young adult titles as well as some detective novels that I have read, but by far my largest genre of books read is regular fiction.  I am not going to try to cover all the books I have read in the last couple of months; instead, I am just going to mention the top books from each month.

Here are my top reads from July:

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – Genova is a neuroscientist as well as an author and has written novels centering on Alzheimer’s, autism, and traumatic brain injury.  This story features main character Joe O’Brien, who is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease.  It follows him and his family as he progresses through the illness, especially focusing on the decision his four kids must make as to whether to get tested for the gene.  I have enjoyed all of her books, including this one, and would definitely recommend it.

Year of the Snake by Melissa Luznicky Garrett – This is a light romantic read from an author I have followed from her first book until now.  She writes both adult and young adult books and is a great storyteller.  In this novel, Amelia Harkins is a writer at a turning point in her career and, as it turns out, in her love life as well.  A great read from a solid writer!

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon – I had thought the Mitford series was over, so was pleasantly surprised to come across this installment.  It covers the time leading up to Dooley and Lace’s wedding, as Dooley is also establishing his veterinary practice.  The story had a lot of the familiar characters from the series, along with a couple of new additions, and reading it felt like coming home.

The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig – This is the final book in the Pink Carnation series and provided a very satisfying ending to both the contemporary and historical stories.  This series focuses on graduate student Eloise Kelly, who has come from America to England to research the English spies of the Napoleonic era.  Each book flips back and forth between Eloise in the present day and the story her research is uncovering at that time.  Throughout the series, we have met a number of different spies, all with flower-related code names, and, in this final book, we see the pairing of the Moonflower (Jack Reid) and the Pink Carnation (Jane Wooliston).  This was a lot of fun, as all of the books have been, and I highly recommend the entire series.

In my next book review, I will share my top reads from August.  In the meantime, leave me a comment with your top suggestion(s) for me.

Thanks for stopping by!