A running list of the books I’ve read in 2019…
1. The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown)
I could not have picked a better book for kicking off 2019. I loved the story of the lead up to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. My husband had read this book several months ago and recommended it. But I didn’t know it was going to be THIS good. It made me want to run out and start rowing a boat. The entire book was amazing, and then I got to about the last third (when the team arrives in Berlin) and “good” escalated to insanely good. If you need a story about developing your physical and mental strength as an individual and as part of a team, read this book.
2. The Future of Happiness (Amy Blankson)
The Future of Happiness was a lighthearted book about using technology less. If I had read this book when it first came out, then I might’ve gotten more out of it. But I’ve already heard or read about most of the suggestions in this book… Use an app to track your phone usage. Set an intention for how you want to use your phone. No new information for me. But if you do need ideas for unplugging, then there are lots in this book.
3. Can’t Hurt Me (David Goggins)
David Goggins is a badass. If you need a jumpstart to behavior change, Goggins and his no-nonsense approach might be what you need. His story will get your attention. His physical feats will keep it. (Oh, and I’ve heard the audiobook is worth all the extra insights Goggins shares off the page.)
4. This Will Only Hurt a Little (Busy Philipps)
I loved Dawson’s Creek, so this book intrigued me. She shares some tough stuff about her life. But overall, it was a fun memoir.
5. Atomic Habits (James Clear)
LOVED this book. I’m glad I went with the audiobook because I have the tendency to read too fast and not absorb everything. James Clear shares a lot that is worth absorbing. I didn’t gloss over anything in this book; everything had meaning. He writes with purpose; there is no fluff. And he’s taken habit change and presented information in a new way; it doesn’t sound like everything else I’ve read or heard on a podcast. The material was so good that I went back and listened to certain sections multiple times.
6. Garlic and Sapphires (Ruth Reichl)
A memoir from a food critic for the New York Times. She was so well-known that her picture was posted up in the back of New York restaurants so that the staff would recognize her when she came in. She didn’t want special treatment. So to write an authentic review, she came up with elaborate disguises to wear to each restaurant. Each disguise winds up mirroring a part of the critic’s personality (but in a subtle way). Over time, she figures out which of these characters she wants to hold onto and which she should leave behind.
7. Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan)
In a word: entertaining. When I first added this book to my library hold list, I was #189 in line. I waited patiently and had no expectations for this book. And then I tore through almost the entire thing in one night. I loved the writing and the over-the-topness. It was nice to get lost in something that is so far from my reality. But at the same time, it made me appreciate the simple life I have.
8. Inheritance (Dani Shapiro)
This memoir made me think about who I am. And added some fuel to the idea that who we are isn’t determined by what we do. There are much greater forces that influence who we are. In this case, Dani Shapiro figures out that her relationship with her father is not what she’s known for 50+ years. Because of a 23andme DNA test, she learns that her dad is not her biological father. (FYI, this is not a spoiler – she shares this right at the beginning of the memoir.) As she figures out how to move forward, she poses the questions… 1. Who am I? 2. Why am I here? 3. How am I going to live this life I have?
9. Vox (Christina Dalcher)
Vox reminded me a lot of The Handmaid’s Tale. Only in this dystopian setting, women can speak no more than 100 words each day. The main character, Jean, is married and has four kids. And her youngest is a girl who wears an electronic word counter on her wrist, just like her mom’s. I love their connection, but the toughest relationship for me to read about was between Jean and her oldest son. The rules set in place by the current government’s “Pure Movement” turn her son against her. This mother-son dynamic is just one storyline that contributes to the tension and suspense that makes this book a fast-moving read. Overall, I enjoyed Vox more than The Handmaid’s Tale. It made me think about what it takes to not only keep my voice but also make it stronger.
10. The Wisdom of the Enneagram (Don Richard Riso)
Content aside, this book was well written. I admit that I cherrypicked through most of this book to focus on the general descriptions of the Enneagram and to also read more about nines. I’ve always been interested in personality typing as a way to understand myself and others better, and this book offered some great explanations to do just that.
11. Furiously Happy (Jenny Lawson)
What does it mean to be “furiously happy”? To be and do such things that swing from the polar opposite of incredibly depressed. To not just be happy, but furiously happy. Furiously Happy is organized into short essays by author and blogger, Jenny Lawson. (My favorite essay was “We’re better than Galileo, because he’s dead.”) And if there were one lesson I took from this book, it would be, “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” The author has suffered from severe depression for most of her life, but she has found a way to bring mental illness out of the shadows and into some funny situations. She never pokes fun at the seriousness of mental illnesses, but she made me laugh out loud so many times. And that’s not easy to do.
12. Hourglass (Dani Shapiro)
Dani Shapiro is an elegant writer, and Hourglass is just as full of beautiful paragraphs as Inheritance. But this book felt heavy (not literally, it’s quite short and sweet). But maybe it felt heavy because I’d just finished Furiously Happy, and Hourglass was a completely different vibe. In Hourglass, Dani Shapiro writes a graceful memoir about her marriage and past relationships. She weaves in memories that she takes from old journals. She flashes back in time to her honeymoon, and then fast forwards to the present. I almost put this book on the “gave up on shelf” several times, and I’m not sure her writing is for me. But this book did make me think about how marriage challenges you to change, grow and become a different person. A better person.
13. The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
The Resistance is what kept me from reading this book until now. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art has been on my TBR list for a few years. I’d heard good things about it, and how it can be a kick in the pants for ending procrastination. I think that’s why I held off on reading it. (ha…haha) The book is broken into three sections: Resistance, Combating Resistance, and Beyond Resistance. The message isn’t anything new, but the way he’s composed the message is. If self-doubt or fear is holding you back from moving forward with “that thing” (writing your book, starting your business, launching your product, …), then read this book.