This year I had made my mission to start reading all the books I could.
I made it a priority to read for at least ten minutes a day, regardless of the day or what else was happening. It was not always easy, nor was it a habit that did not take some practice getting used to.
If I was going away for work and knew that I would not have the time for leisurely reading, I would schedule my reading time before I left, so that I was ahead of my self-made schedule. If I missed a day because of some unforeseen circumstance, I would wake up the following day and grab my book and read for ten minutes at the beginning of my day, before doing something else.
Sure, there were some days that it was irritating and a bit frustrating, but I was very much focused on the long term goal.
I wanted to see how many books I could finish this year and I am really proud to say I have already hit twenty-five books. I am sure I have read many more books during other phases of my life, but it has been a long time since I have read this many books in a year, for sure.
Below, is the list of books I read and some snippets of what I thought about them:
Is Everyone Haning Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling
This book had been on my reading list for quite some time and I am not sure why it took me so long to read such a fun, light-hearted and enjoyable book. This book is a perfect book to lift the spirits, make you smile and is simply pleasant. I have nothing negative to say this about this book and it is short enough that there is really no excuse not to read it.
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
I loved this book. I love a good memoir; it is my favourite type of book to read. I love a well-written memoir about a difficult childhood and how the author overcame, conquered and succeeded, despite their obstacles. Frank McCourt’s writing and tone in this book is brilliant as well.
There is also a movie based on this book, I have not watched it yet, but I adore nothing more than reading a wonderful book and then watching the movie adaptation.
The Testament by Margaret Atwood
I never thought I would read a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, so this book was very exciting for me to read. I have probably read The Handmaid’s Tale four or five times, and I also watched the television adaptation of the book.
This book was really enjoyable to read, but it was not the best book I have ever read, nor do I foresee myself reading this book again. I have nothing negative to say and I love that a book I read for the first time over fifteen years ago, was written a year after I was born, received a revival thirty years after its creation; I cannot do anything but emphatically supports its sequel as well.
Find Her by Lisa Gardner
I do not have a lot to say about this book. It is about a kidnapping victim who makes it her life mission to protect and stop others from getting kidnapped, but there is a lot more to this story. It was interesting to read, but I have never verbally recommended it to another person to read. It was not my typical reading material and I am not really sure how I stumbled upon this book, but it was a decent read. Unfortunately, I doubt it will hold a longterm place in my memory.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
I read this book because I heard that Alderman was mentored by Atwood for this book and that this book had been purchased for a television series. I really enjoyed reading this book; I do not think this is giving it away, but it is a book based around the premise of a world where women have developed a skill which makes them physically dominant over men and the ramifications of this. This summary is a bit of simplification of what the book is about, but I do recommend this read, it is a very interesting book and I have never read a book like this before.
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
This book is very depressing to read, but still a beautiful read. I could completely empathize with certain things the author said, but this book was very difficult to get through. I stumbled upon this book title in an article in The Cut I read about; it discussed a writer who was very much obsessed with this book, Caroline Calloway, who apparently had multiple copies of this book strewn about her apartment. That sentence in an article was enough to intrigue me to read it.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
This is a young adult book, and I devoured it in one Sunday. I cannot remember the last time I spent the whole day lounging around devouring a book…it has been years, if not at least a decade. This was a simple, easy and really enjoyable and I hope you read it. This book was a great example of how sometimes the best of intentions lead to the worst outcomes.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I honestly have no idea where and how this book fell into my lap, but it was a fascinating read. It was released in the 1930s and it is about a dystopian society, which is being questioned by the lead character in the text. It was a dense read, but I do love a futuristic based book about a dystopian world and being able to see the world via the eyes of someone who lived in the world during a much earlier time than us, but managed to still imagine the very real struggles we deal with.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I found this book such a fascinating, interesting read and would recommend it to anyone. It is a book about a man who undergoes surgery to increase his mental capabilities. It is a fascinating read about society, happiness and relationships.
This book also hurt my heart at times. The way people interact with the protagonist could sometimes be really hard to read, but I do feel that it shows an honest depiction of reality and how individuals treat those whom they deem less than themselves.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
This book was written in 1971, is about a young teenage girl who gets addicted to drugs and the negative impacts drugs have on her life and relationships. Perhaps because it is a bit dated or it simply did not resonate with me, but I was not profoundly shaken by this book. I am sure for its time it was an impactful, shocking tale, but for me, it did not feel this way. I also felt that it was meant to instill the fear of drugs into young people, rather than having an honest conversation with them about drug use.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This book just makes you feel good. It is about a grumpy old man, who has lost his wife and how his neighbours breathe some life into his world. It was simply a feel-good read, but something that makes you smile as you read the pages. Sometimes you need an uplifting piece of writing, not something that is dark and difficult to digest, if so, this is a great feel-good book.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this book because it was receiving so much hype on social media that I really could not ignore it. I had also just recently finished Eat, Pray, Love by Gilbert and was curious to see her writing style in a new book.
It was a good read and an interesting storyline. I am not sure why it did not resonate with me so much, but it really did not have the strongest impact on me. I did enjoy following the protagonist’s journey, but for some reason, reflecting back on it now and trying to remember how it made me feel, I am realizing that it did not make that strong of an impact on me.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
This book is simply amazing and I would recommend it to everyone to read. It made me fall down the Elizabeth Holmes rabbit trail, wanting to devour every article and excerpt about this eccentric woman that I could find. I also found that Carreyrou wrote about a very complicated, scientific situation with the respect and insight, so that anyone could follow along and still enjoy the work.
It was also simply fascinating to see what someone with privilege can get away with. I kept thinking about if Elizabeth Holmes was not a well connected, well-bred white woman, what would have happened to her then? There are so many things you could discuss about this book, I would strongly recommend this for people who are part of a book club to divulge into. A fascinating read that I think everyone should take the time to read.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
I love a good success story and this is the story of how Phil Knight created the Nike empire. It is a really interesting story about business development, luck and hard work. This might be a personal thing, but I love hearing about how successful people created and became who they are, I find it very much inspiring.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
I do not think that this book needs much of an introduction, with the movie and all the hype, I think we all know about Kwan’s creation. I did enjoy reading the book, but I found it infuriating hearing characters judge people based on their wealth, background and upbringing. Being born and raised in an Indian family, I find it grating to hear people being judged based on their social status. I no longer have room for these types of conversations in my life and I struggle to find the humour in the situation, so for me, at times, the book was a bit difficult to digest.
This sounds like a bleak review of movie and book people love, but for me, maybe some of the conversations, culturally, were difficult for me to digest.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I have watched the movie with Julia Robers many times, but it always bothered me that I never got around to reading the book. This year, I finally made the time for the book and I am really glad that I did. You never get the full intricacies of the characters and relationships from a movie, or at least I feel that way, so I was so happy to read this book.
Obviously, nothing was a surprise for me, but it felt like getting to know a friend better. If you have never watched the movie, I would strongly recommend reading the book first, it is worth the read.
Sapiens by Yuval Harari
This book was fascinating and that is the only way I can describe it. I thought it was so well written, intelligent and thought-provoking. The book is about the creation of human culture, from the beginning of time, which I did not think was up my alley, but it was.
I think this is a book that anyone could find value in and should take the time to read, but I do not think that everyone will take the time to give it the attention it deserves.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This book was similar to Eat, Pray Love in the sense that I had been meaning to read it for ages, except I had not watched the movie yet. It was a good read and it was nice reading a book and following it up with watching the movie for comparison right afterwards. I did not feel that the movie did the book nearly as much justice as I thought it should have and I felt that it missed pivotal pieces
The book was well written and I am glad that I took the time to read it. Obviously, the content of the story was difficult to read, but it was still an amazing read. It is one of those books that was so hyped during its time, something that everyone was talking about, that it is hard to not compare it to its hype, but the climax of this story did deliver, for me.
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
I am not going to say much about the Brene Brown books on this list, other than you should read Brown’s books. They are all insightful, empowering, and uplifting. Clearly, I was on a bit of Brown kick at this phase, but it is a kick I hope I have again soon because all of her work makes me better day-to-day in my life. Her ability to put complicated feelings, emotions and expectations into perspective makes me work through the difficulties of my own life in a more manageable way.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
This book was so hard for me to read because I could hear Bourdain’s voice in my head with each word that I read. I want to read all of the work he has written, but after reading this, I knew I had to take a bit of break because it made so sad.
Asides from the loss of Bourdain, the book is a wonderful read. It introduced me into a world I had no idea about and found, at times, utterly exhausting. The work hours, excessive drug use and lack of nutritional food made me want to give Bourdain a smoothie at times in the book. However, his wit, charm and intelligence are right there along with all the crude jokes, making the book balance out perfectly.
Educated by Tara Westover
This book was amazing; it reminded me of my favourite book The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It showed me so much about human perseverance and that we can do absolutely anything at any time in our lives. It is really amazing what Tara accomplished, considering her upcoming, lack of familial support and severe emotional and physical abuse. This is a must-read for everyone, no more, no less, simply take the time to read this book.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I read this book before seeing Michelle Obama speak at an event in Edmonton and I am so glad I did. Obama’s book is simply inspiring. This woman has done it all and with so much grace and hard work that it is almost impossible not to look up to her and be enthralled by everything she does.
Her humble beginnings and how her effort and hard work landed her where she is now is simply amazing. It is the true example of the American dream: that anyone can be successful, as long as they put in the effort and have the grit required for it.
The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
I will echo again what I said above, all of Brown’s books are worthy of your time and attention. Read them, and if you are reading them during a personally difficult time, they will probably resonate even more strongly with you. Her honesty, integrity and vulnerability make you feel like you very much know her personally and made me more connected to the work.
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
Same as the above two discussions about Brown, so I do not want to beat a dead horse. Read Brene Brown’s books, end of discussion.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
This book is a true crime book about the Golden State killer and it is a very interesting read, if you enjoy true crime. I really enjoyed the author’s zest and attention to detail in this piece, which made it an enthralling read. I went into this book knowing nothing about the Golden State Killer, but found the book and the author’s obsession very much addictive. A good read if you are a true crime fan.
I am sure that there are many people who have read a lot more than I have, but for me, this list is very long.
I am proud to have already finished twenty-five books this year and am curious to see how many more books I finish this year.
Personally, I believe I was very much obsessed with reading more because when I was doing my Master’s program I did not have the time for personal reading. I now wonder if that self-limiting belief was actually true because I no longer think that it was. I thought I was ‘too busy’ for reading and I am sick of being ‘too busy’ for things which are so good for me. I was too busy for reading back then, but still managed to stay on top of the shows I wanted to watch, so clearly I was lying to myself.
I hope to read many more books next year; I would be over the moon if I hit some amazing number like fifty books, but I can confidently say that the bar is now set at twenty-five books, at the very least.