Reading. Learning. Living.
To support black authors & artists, I’m reading ‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett. This is a story of twins who choose two very different lives & is a “brilliant exploration of race gender and identity and the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s desires and expectations” #BlackLivesMatter.
‘Big Friendship: How we Keep Each Other Close’ by the hosts of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. In the last month I have made it a mission and priority to get better at fostering and nurturing the important friendships in my life. This book may just be the answer for help that I’ve been looking for. Want to read it with me? Have a book you want to recommend, shoot me an email!
My Book List
My reading list includes books that I have personally read and hold dear. From an expansive offering of self-improvement reads to my favorite historical fiction novels and spiritual texts, this collection has had a lasting impact on my life. So much so that I couldn’t not share them with you. Whether you’re searching for profound truth, want to broaden your mind or just feel like a good, juicy thriller, I’ve totally got you!
by Jennifer Weiner, Fiction
This is a fun read! To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that into it until somebody died and then it got A LOT more interesting. This book centers around a celebrity wedding, an old friendship and an odd favor. Oh, and a murder, obviously. It also did something else – it helped me start evaluating my own relationship with my body image.
There are a lot of times where I struggle with body positivity and this novel really encouraged me to explore new and meaningful ways to appreciate my body. As is. No fad diets, no “when I lose 15lbs or get toned thighs” goals. It was refreshing and assuring to see such a body positive character in the lead and taking charge.
Home Before Dark
by Riley Sager, Thriller
I will be the first to admit that I am a chicken. I don’t do horror movies at all. I tried once to impress a guy I was dating and ended up slumped as low as humanly possible in my seat watching the movie through slits in my fingers. This book, however, I found to be exhilarating. I did make the mistake of reading it before bed and had to sleep with my lights on, but so totally worth it. It’s an old story about a girl who returns to a haunted house her family owned after inheriting it, but the ending is something I genuinely and truly did not see coming and that is not something I say very often.
The Guest List
by Lucy Foley, Thriller/ Whodunnit
The events of this book take place at a wedding ceremony happening on an island off the coast of Ireland. This book honestly made me fall back in love with mysteries again. I read it in two days because I just couldn’t put it down – I had to find out what was going to happen in the next chapter. Lots of twists, turns and a little bit of steamy sex to seal the deal. P.S. – if anyone knows how to properly pronounce the wedding planner’s name, please let me know.
All Adults Here
by Emma Straub, Fiction
This is a story that demonstrates you are never too old and it is never too late to claim who you really are and live your most authentic life. This books is LGBTQ friendly and discussed quite a bit of family dynamics, so if you’re an only child like me, some of that may get lost on you, but it is still a funny and relatable read.
by Edgar Cantero – Fiction –
This is a super fun read for anyone who was like me and obsessed with Scooby Doo mysteries. In this book, the kids are all grown up, all flawed or traumatized in some way from the seriously crazy stuff they saw back in the good old days of Mystery Inc. and are reuniting for one final and tremendous adventure. I read this over a vacation and had a blast.
The Paris Hours
by Alex George, Historical Fiction
I accidentally selected this thinking it to be a dreamy collection of Parisian artists and romantic vignettes. It was not. It’s dark and horribly haunting in its frank undressing of trauma and pain. From tales of a war refugee to the story of a woman with a big secret, the flaws and unpredictable fatal and fragile moments of human lives are put on display. There is, however, one artist in this book, though his tale is just as tragic as the rest.
I consider this a good level-setting novel. It makes you appreciate your own less complex existence.
The Book of Longings
by Sue Monk Kidd, Historical Fiction
This might possibly be my favorite book of the year. It is a fictional tale about what the life of the wife of Jesus may have been like. Reading this book as a woman made my insides vibrate with a deep knowing and understanding. Our struggles, our paths, our personal wars are not so different from each other. There is a theme that is as relevant now as it was then of people doing really bad things and not being held accountable for them. By recording the real events in writing, we forever preserve the truth for all time. “Let me be a voice,” is her constant cry throughout this book and it awakened the battle cry within me.
The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain, Historical Fiction
This novel is the story of Hadley, one of Ernest Hemingway’s wives. It takes place in Paris in the 1920s and is in short, dazzling. It has everything – an extravagant and earnest new romance, deep-rooted love and betrayal and a riveting portrayal of what it may have been like to be married to such a complex man. My mom and I are constantly suggesting this book to everyone we know. It is both lovely and heartbreaking.
Self Help and Spiritual Books
The Great Work of Your Life
by Stephen Cope – Self-Improvement –
This book was recommended to me by a very wise man when I first announced I was leaving my job of 10 years and seeking a new purpose. It closely explores the concept of dharma and the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita by examining the lives and work of great creators like Jane Goodall, Robert Frost, Harriet Tubman and Gandhi as well as several normal folks like you and me. This book set the tone for my entire journey into self-discovery.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert – Self-Improvement –
This book is the kind of read that sets you on fire and makes you want to take action and start creating. Gilbert proposes that ideas are real, manifest beings that want to survive and be born so they don’t just arrive on your doorstep, they sprinkle their magic everywhere hoping someone will pick them up and run with them. “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.” This is how to open yourself up to that energy and it is presented in both a pragmatic and soulful approach.
In the Flo
by Aliza Vitti – Health –
I got this book when I was having issues with my energy and thought I may be experiencing some hormonal imbalance. It is essentially a step-by-step guide about how to tune in with your female body and sync your life to your cycle in a holistic way including diet, exercise, scheduling and more. Some of it made absolute sense to me and I felt like it was the first time someone truly understood how my body functioned in all its complicated glory, but some of it also felt too extreme. So I did it buffet style and only implemented what worked for me. I definitely recommend this book if you have any issues at all with your period or your hormones, as it will help you understand what is actually going on inside your body and that you have the power to change it.
I read an English translation of the Gita after finishing ‘The Great Work of Your Life.’ It is a seven-hundred-verse scripture from the sixth book of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Technically, the author remains a mystery, but it is typically attributed to the Hindu sage Veda Vyasa. It is about dharma and the yoga. In plain speak, there’s a warrior who is about to go to war against people he loves and he starts to question what he should do. Lucky for him, the ultimate being Krisha is his charioteer and gives him instruction, guidance and reveals his true eternal form. The Gita carries many lessons and I will be reading it for the rest of my life.
You are a Badass and You are a Badass at Making Money
by Jen Sincero – Self-Improvement –
Sincero has a no bullsh** way of cutting through nonsense and challenging you to dispose of mindsets that don’t serve you. She also leads you through reflection activities that help you get a better grasp on what you really believe about power, money and yourself which invites you to evaluate if those beliefs are moving you in the right direction. These are fairly quick, easy reads and I found the exercises particularly enlightening. I still have not tripled my income though. Yet…
Why Buddhism is True
by Robert Wright – Spiritual –
This book lays down a foundation for people who do not wish to simply just trust or have faith that a religion is true. Wright applies the methodical and very practical approach of the scientific method to test out the core elements and claims of Buddihsm. He finds that everything he can test has merit. By arriving at this conclusion, he recommends that through the practice of Buddhism, we can not only improve our personal lives, but there is hope for the salvation of humanity as a whole.
The Diary of a Bookseller
by Shaun Bythell – Nonfiction –
This is a charming read written in journal format by the owner of one of the largest bookstores in Scotland. Shaun can get a little crotchety sometimes, but usually his crustiness results from poignant truths. The characters are all delightfully whimsical, the town oozes enough charm to match the book and it will make you want to dash out to your favorite local bookstore and curl up with a good book in front of a toasty fire.
by Roxanne Gay – Memoir –
I don’t always see eye to eye with Roxanne Gay, however, if I am completely honest, most of the time my uncomfort with her rises from the fact that she is saying or acknowledging things that are difficult for me to come to terms with. This is why I find her work so valuable – she challenges me to think differently and step out of my default zone of rationalizations. In this book, Gay gets excrutiatingly honest about a rape early on her life and how she viewed eating as a way to protect herself from letting that ever happen again. The bigger she is, the harder it will be for her to be victimized. It is a very real look into how our lives shape not only our minds and hearts, but our bodies as well.
by Michelle Obama Memoir/Nonfiction
In one of our podcast episodes Pat and I talk about how it is inherently human nature to be curious about the real lives of the people who inspire us. This is proof of that. I loved reading stories of a young Michelle and Barack first dating and evolving, I loved the stories about her childhood home and I loved her honesty about her time as the First Lady. This was a case where getting a glimpse at the very real people you may idolize didn’t diminish my impression of them, instead it gave me a new appreciation for them.
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