Over the course of my life I’ve had pretty bipolar relationship with reading books. There are times I’ll go through periods of manic, relentless reading (like right now). I’ll always have one in hand and a book or two in my lap, a stack on my bedside table, and a queue lined up on Audible for my commute. Other times, though, I’ll be completely uninterested in the sheer thought of reading. It becomes too overwhelming. There’s so much going on; the world is dark and hiding in books isn’t doing it or me any favors. But when I do read, boy do I feel it. It’s like I can feel my brain rewiring itself. And those dark times when I’m not reading? They inspire my next episode. I’ll tally up the next round that will change me, that will challenge my thinking and my biases, and help me grow.
There have been many books I’ve loved and some that were just tough to get through. But today I want to tell you about five of the books that have really stuck with me. I know going into this that some of what I’m about to recommend could be the furthest thing of interest for you. But I urge you to give them a chance.
- Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
I first read this book last year when I was trying to sort through the overwhelm of my own personal life. I had rolled off of the AIGA Nebraska board and suddenly had a ton of free time on my hands. What better to fill it with than finding something else to do? No. Cacy always gave me grief that I couldn’t sit down and enjoy the moment. This book appeared on a blogger’s feed and its promise hit a nerve. When I received it, I couldn’t put it down. It’s written in such a way that made me let go of the guilt I felt. You know the feeling. The one where your brain tells you to do one thing but your heart feels like you should do something else. It gave me the perspective I needed to focus on what is really important.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written entirely in the form of a letter to his son, this book speaks of the Black racism in America from a parent’s perspective. It had been on so many lists to gain personal perspective and awareness of the world that I’d lost count. Finally a friend read it and praised how well it’s written, how raw the emotion is. When I read it, I too felt the need to share it, there are so many talking points. It’s worth reiterating just how much work there is left to do. With injustice left in this world and the racism that lives in plain sight. If you really want some perspective on this subject, read this book.
- An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler
I have Amanda, author of Homesong Blog, to thank for this book. She read this book as part of her book club in July and it was transformative. There are so many no-brainer practical tips that are easy to pick up and knead into your life. There are great recipes too and recommendations on how to make meals out of just about anything. It’s given me the power to be more liquid in my own meal making.
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
I’m a woman. Men try to explain things to me a lot. I’ve experienced men who prefer to talk over me, talk down to me, or believe that my professional opinion isn’t that at all. These short stories happened first-hand to the author and it’s disturbing just how normal they are as a woman. Want to know what it’s like to be a woman? This will shed some light.
- Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell
In my slew of adding books to my To Read list in 2017, this book appeared as a recommendation. It’s easy to read and gives laugh out loud moments, plays into my own love for four-legged pups, and explains just how deep and pure a true friendship can go. This one will leave you thinking about your own friendships and relationships.
- Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle
I’ve been following minimalism in some form or fashion over the last few years. I always feel like I have too much stuff, and of course that’s exacerbated by the on-going den renovation. (Note: the roof finally finished on my birthday! Happy birthday to me.) I blazed through this book so fast it’s amazing I didn’t set its pages on fire. Nearly every page as an underline with a tip or a relatable sentence I could have written myself. I feel this in my core as something I want to expand further in my life. Intention is my word for the year, after all. Erin does a wonderful job asking you to consider the items brought into your home and what use you have for them.
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
I’m still coming down from this book after just finishing it last week. It is eye-opening and ties directly into the chaos we are experiencing today. With the recent events in Charlottesville, I urge you to consider reading this book. Learn more about the dormant insides of America. Those living along the Rust Belt with a birthmark of social and economic class imprinted forever. Living in Nebraska there were paragraphs and paragraphs that felt like they are written about my hometown.
I’ve just finished bing reading but soon enough I’ll be pining for more. If you have any recommendations, of any type, please leave them in the comments. Have you read any of the above? What were your thoughts?Leave a Comment