My reading hopes were set pretty high in 2017. Based on reading 13 books in 2016, I made the challenge attainable at 12 books, hoping to exceed it. I’m delighted to say that I made my goal. Twice. I read 24 books in 2017! Reading has helped me fall asleep, stay off of social media, learn about different topics, and use my imagination.
Here are my top 10 of 2017, listed in no particular order:
1. It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
This book reads a little like a diet book but is more like a science book. Knowing how food interacts with your body (endocrine and digestive systems) down to a cellular level makes it so much easier to make good choices. While reading this, I inadvertently lost about 5 pounds and a pant size. I plan to make it a routine reread.
2. Find Me by Laura van den Berg
I stumbled upon this book a few years ago. A patient of mine at the hospital had a daughter who is a writer. She wrote this book and it is fabulous! It’s a great winter read. It’s dark and dystopian with a strong female hero attempting to escape confinement and search for her memory and herself.
3. Long Story Short by Margot Leitman
A fun, enlightening guide to storytelling for anyone who appreciates the art or listens to podcasts of the ilk. I’ve used the activities in this book to create stories and develop characters in my own fiction writing.
4. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
Reading this book was like wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket, donning wool socks, and sipping a hot beverage. The feeling was so “hygge.” There is no English translation of the word, but my best choice would be a combination of “cozy,” “homey,” and “in-touch with the soul.” It feeds my desire for simplicity and mindfulness, while reassuring me in my homebodiness. I’ve grown a new appreciation for candles, thunderstorms, and socks.
5. The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky
Tobo is more than just the insufferable insurance salesman, Ned Ryerson, from Groundhog Day. He’s a great writer who happens to have lived a most interesting life. This memoir/story collection was a great summer read that made me laugh out loud. The most suspenseful, funny, serious story being one where he was held up at gunpoint in a supermarket.
6. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
I said in no particular order, but I might point out that this was my favorite read of 2017. This was an amazing work that was recommended by Paleo chef, blogger, and huge reader Mel Joulwan. The book is hard to describe. Part magical, part historical fiction, two mythical characters (one from Poland, one from Syria) find themselves and each other in turn-of-the-century New York City. This book is full of adventure, deep character development, and a story you can’t put down. This book has hugely inspired my own fiction writing.
7. Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman
Another great storyteller and writer, John Hodgman, released his first memoir-style book of true stories this year. Reaching the end of life’s summer season, Hodgman reflects on what it means to find his place in western Massachusetts, a land filled with memories of his late mother; and coastal Maine, the treacherous hellscape of his wife’s childhood, where you have to earn your keep or get swallowed by the icy ocean. Through it all he finds himself and makes peace with his life, and his beard.
As mentioned in my previous post, this was a surprising favorite of mine from last year. Strobel lays out her journey from diamond-and-shopping-obsessed to tiny house dweller. Along the way, she presents research on why we are shopping addicted and how letting go of our stuff and giving to others makes us happier. It’s given me another boost to simplify my life and continue to let go.
9. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
I’m a little obsessed with the psychology behind cults in general. Scientology is so interesting because it’s still very prevalent, despite its recent exposure, mostly by former members. I really enjoyed the HBO movie of the same name and wanted to delve deeper into the subject by reading the book. I really enjoyed the details of L. Ron Hubbard’s rise from sci-fi writer to an “immortal” leader, and David Miscavige’s commandeering of the organization following Hubbard’s death.
10. Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design by William Lidwell, Jill Butler, Kritina Holden
Looks like a textbook, but doesn’t read like one. My husband recommended this book to me and at first, it did seem a little intimidating. The 100 principles take up two pages each, the first with the design description, the second with real-world, visual examples. I’m not a designer, but just being aware of these principles made me think differently about the world we’ve made for ourselves, and how I can improve communication through design.