Book Reviews Books for Adults Non-fiction Tell Me What to Read

Loving My Actual Life: An experiment in relishing what’s right in front of me by Alexandra Kuykendall

I may have picked Loving My Actual Life partially because of that gorgeous cover when I was researching all the books recommended on this round of Tell Me What to Read.

Fortunately, the inside matched up to the outside.

It was the perfect read for the end of summer as I was getting ready for a new school year and a new season of our family’s life.

I listened to the audio version and although it wasn’t necessarily a gripper, it was really enjoyable and I was never looking for excuses NOT to listen (which I’ve done with many other books over the years – my podcast listening goes WAY up when I’m not enjoying my audiobook).

This book reminded me quite a lot of Gretchen Rubin but a little more warm-fuzzy.

The basic idea is similar to The Happiness Project, where the author focuses on making the most of her life and enjoying her circumstances with specific goals for each month.

Alexandra’s choices for goals aren’t super lofty – more like the kinds of things we all know we should be doing better about (getting enough sleep, having a reasonable morning routine, exercising, prioritizing your relationships with your spouse or children) which makes it a pretty useful book.

Also, like Gretchen Rubin, it’s focused on improving within the framework of your regular life, which usually involves a lot of things you can’t control (namely, other people, your water heater exploding at the worst possible moment, etc), and so she’s not out to create a life that doesn’t take those sorts of things into account.

She just has a really likable voice and, as a mother of four children living in the suburbs doing the carpool drive, planning birthday parties, trying to squeeze in some exercise and wondering what the heck to make for dinner, she was extremely relatable to me.

Although I really liked listening to this one, I think it would have been more useful as a paper book so I could refer back to sections and see the notes at the end of each month as she reflected on what had worked, what she’d continue doing and which ones didn’t work as well.

Plus, without the visual part of the book, it was harder for me to keep track of what her monthly challenges were.

Was it life-changing? No.

Was it a nice reminder of some of the things I could improve in my own life to be happier, more engaged, and a better wife and mother? Absolutely.

Anyone else read this one?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Anna August 10, 2017 at 4:08 am

    I bought the kindle version this summer when it was on sale. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m glad to hear you liked it! I always enjoy your recommendations.

  • Reply Kayla August 10, 2017 at 11:07 am

    That cover really is SO pretty. I think I’d like to read this one.

  • Reply Heather August 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I listened to this one last year and really enjoyed it–about the same thought as you had.

  • Reply Diana August 10, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I really enjoyed this one! Felt the same as you – not life changing but had a lot of good reminders and small ways to improve my life! But some of those small ways could definitely end up being life changing! (My mornings need SO MUCH help, especially when my son starts school next year!).

  • Reply Alison Walker August 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I read this one last year, and I’m still thinking about much of what I learned (or was reminded of). I’m eager, too, to read Kuykendall’s new book ‘Loving Your Actual Christmas’ when it comes out in a month or so.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw August 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Whoa! I hadn’t heard of that one, but it sounds amazing! I’m definitely going to check it out too.

  • Reply Third Quarter Reading - 2017 - Everyday Reading May 15, 2018 at 1:21 am

    […] Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me by Alexandra Kuykendall I really enjoyed this book as a quick, uplifting read, and I’m looking forward to read her newest book Loving My Actual Christmas. (Full review here). […]

  • Leave a Reply