As you can probably tell from my previous post, I love to read. I have loved reading for a long time. I was a “late reader” because my perfectionist streak got in the way, I did not want to do it if it wasn’t perfect. My family got me a tutor and my people pleasing streak overtook my perfectionist streak and I was reading. Since then (late second grade), I have been reading. Some seasons I read more and some seasons I read less. Usually when I am reading not at all it is a sign that something is out of whack, but I typically have been too busy to notice… This recent season has been one of me hunkering down and reading, a lot. I think I have probably read more this year than ever before. I have as of my writing this post read 109 books in 2018, the final tally won’t be in until later in the new year, because I am writing this still in 2017, so I am probably sharing with you from the past (oOoOoOo).
This year I have actually started choosing my books with an active part of me rather than just allowing the Goodreads lottery to decide, no there is no lottery just a wacky system I created to avoid decisions. I have learned that since I am reading more books I like and also abandoning books, I still feel bad about this and in the year of 2017 have only abandoned 2-3 books so far (I cannot remember if the third one was this year or last). I have noticed though since I am reading #onlygoodbooks I have been reading quicker and I have been reading more. My husband looked at me like DUH when I shared this with him, and he said it is that way with most things in life; you do more of what you love. So I have been doing what I love and I have been reading. This year has also been one of big shifts for me and so many of the books I read would be considered in the self-improvement vein. I have enjoyed them and although I feel like I should apologize for that I am not going to. I just like what I like, and that is what I am reading now. Some of these books are fiction and some are nonfiction, they are also listed in order from earliest I read in the year to most recent, not in order of greatness. All of these books I rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads.
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I loved this book. This was the first novel I read this year (2017) that hooked me. I did not want to put it down and may have stayed up late to finish it. This book tells the story of an elderly man who takes a journey across England. As he walks, the book delves into his life and backstory as well as those of other characters. I found the characters to be well developed and likable. I also found even though the plot seems predictable it was completely engaging and I did not want to put it down.
2. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
This book is a book of nonfiction, I would call it memoir. Caitlin Moran describes her journey to grow up and being a woman in the modern age. I think she writes in a very humorous, honest and engaging way. I found her story to be fascinating and connect with me even though we have lived very different lives. I also found her persuasive in her ideas relating to feminism, they just made sense.
3. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
I have been watching the Daily Show with some regularity and I still was not sure what to expect from this book. My husband listened to it first and said I should read it. I listened to it on audiobook as read by the author, which was important. I am sure he read words that I would not have been able to pronounce. This book is a memoir style book, written filled with short stories of Trevor’s life with a few overarching plot points woven in. I found this book to be funny and engaging. He completely immerses you in his life. You feel like you can relate and connect even if your experience is completely different.
4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I had not read this book prior to this year. This feels surprising, but although I saw the movie when it came out I had not read the book. This was the first book I chose to read in a more active way this year. Every other book on this list I also actively chose, so there is something to be said for me trusting my intuition and reading what I like. I wanted to read this book because I feel like the end of this year has been a journey for me and I wanted to read books about other people going on journeys. This is a nonfiction book that describes Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to find herself that she spent a year traveling and exploring to figure out who she really was. I loved this book and found many passages from it felt true and honest to me. I know some people dislike this book, but for me it was the right book at the right time.
5. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Tayler
I loved this book. This is the second and last fiction book on my favorites list. I have read everything Laini Taylor has ever written in the past two years and they are not short books. I love how she is able to build worlds and lay out plots that move along quickly but also develop the characters. This book tells the story of an orphan boy who grows up to be a junior librarian. He becomes obsessed with the fabled city of Weep, and through his own resourcefulness and intrigue he begins a wild adventure. This book would be classified as young adult fantasy.
6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
This is a nonfiction memoir type book. I would classify it as an experiment book. Gretchen Rubin decides that for a year she is going to work to be happier by making concrete practical goals that she can track in an attempt to be happier. Each month she chooses a specific focus. I love how well researched this book. I feel like in that way Gretchen Rubin is my sort of person, whenever I struggle or am presented with a challenge, I start by reading/researching everything. Hence all my current self-improvement books. I also am inspired by this book to be doing a happiness project this year. More on that in other posts.
7. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenrider
I heard about Tsh through my mom a few years ago. This past year I have read a few of her books, this one and At Home in the World. I have also caught up on all of her podcasts with The Simple Show. I knew a lot about her going into this book. I still found myself surprised by how much I loved it. I read it in about a day and a half. In this book Tsh describes her life as a parent and ex-pat returning and the bumps and struggles along the way. This book flips back and forth between times and locations, but is organized in a way that I did not find it confusing. I feel like in this format I found Tsh to be authentic and honest in a way that made me like her more. She admits her faults and her joys. Her overall message of living with intention is one that resonates with me.
8. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
I love Shauna Niequist. I find her voice in her writing to be engaging and honest. I feel very strongly connected with her because of her love of food and struggle with perfectionism and the idea of always wanting more. In this book, Shauna describes how she realized her goal of perfection was ruining her life and how she is working to focus more on the simple pleasures rather than making every moment perfect. This book was a good reminder to me that slow and simple can be better than elaborate and complicated.
9. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
I have been meaning to read Brené Brown for a long time. I watched her TED talk years ago and it wasn’t until a few years ago I realized she had written books. This book talks about being authentic and vulnerable. She describes ways to live wholeheartedly that she discovered through her research into shame and vulnerability. This book was hard to read, not because it was too complicated, it wasn’t, but because I saw myself so clearly in her stories. I saw all my defenses and coping strategies unmasked and as what they are. It felt like a hard look in the mirror. I think though in a way that is necessary for us to truly see ourselves if we hope to change. I found this book to be really interesting and am looking forward to reading more Brené Brown books in the new year.
10. Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman
I had not read anything by Emily Freeman before I read this book. I heard her on an old episode of The Simple Show and I heard her talk about the idea of living a small life rather than a big life, about questioning the should’s and the ego. I heard this and I thought wow and this is for me. I then decided I was going to read her book and I started with this one. I loved this book so much. Emily Freeman describes how she is being intentional about living a slower life and being present. She writes about this from a religious perspective and through vignettes of her own life. I read this book quickly and have since read everything she has written in book form. I think this book is a good reminder to slow down and really live, not to live to be showy or to gain accolades but to live in the way we were created to live to do what we are called to do rather than trying to do it all or be someone we are not.
What were your top ten books of the year? Any suggestions for me in the coming year?