What I Read January 2019

What I Read January 2019

What I read in January 2019I finished off 10 books in January, some of them great, some of them meh-okay-ish. I also did not finish 3 books that I got a good bit into before deciding to give up because I just wasn’t that into them. I’m a big believer in not wasting time reading books that you’re not enjoying, to me it ruins the experience and puts me in an anti-reading rut, when reading is meant to be a pleasure! Here are the books I most enjoyed in January.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This was by far the best book I read in January, and one of the most moving books I’ve read in awhile. Kalanithi was a young neurosurgeon when he was given a terminal cancer diagnosis, he decided to spend the time he had left reflecting on his ambitious life and the experience of dying, writing this beautiful memoir. (Non Fiction)

There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment. – Paul Kalanithi

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

Maddy is a devoted wife and loving mother, who seems to have everything she could want, when she suddenly kills herself, jumping off the roof of a nearby library. Her husband Brady and daughter Eve are devastated and struggle to understand; even Maddy chimes in from the afterlife trying to help them make sense of her suicide and its aftermath. This is a beautiful book on being a wife and mother, as well as mother-daughter relationships, I couldn’t put it down, trying to find out where it all went wrong and how Brady and Eve survived their very painful loss. (Fiction)

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The title says it all: this book is all about two sisters, Koreda the narrator, and Ayoola, a beautiful young woman who just cannot stop murdering the men she dates. Koreda is trapped between protecting her sister and trying to prevent more men from meeting their end at the tip of Ayoola’s sharp blade. Darkly humorous, this book is very complex and was a fairly quick read, I couldn’t wait to find out who came up okay in the end!

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

After all of my raving last year over Center’s How to Walk Away, the moment I was able to get my hands on an ARC of Things You Save in a Fire (to be published August 2019) I finished it in just over 24 hours. This book is just my style of sappy, heartwarming, and fun: firefighter Cassie is tough as leather after experiencing a lifetime of disappointments and abandonment, but is suddenly forced to move across the country to care for her sick, estranged mother. She is only able to find a job in a station where she is the first female firefighter among a group of mostly misogynistic males, and must constantly prove herself. Center’s books tend to have a life-lesson (you know I love life-lessons!), this one’s being: “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need.” (Fiction)

Happy Fancy Friday! I’m onto my February 2019 reads!

Four books that helped me grow in 2018

Four books that helped me grow in 2018

the book of joyThe Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

This is an absolutely beautiful book by two of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time, and, so charming: they are close, loving friends! The book is a conversation that took place over several days between the two on how Christianity and Buddhism handle the stress and strain of daily living. Many of the principles of the two beliefs are essentially the same, and it helped me to realign religion with the spiritual tenants that I hold to be personally to be true for me. Also, these men, who have endured and seen more than many could imagine, have retained a strong sense of faith and joy, it is impossible to not be inspired by them:

“Discovering more joy does not, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreaks without being broken.” -Desmond Tutu

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

As I wrote in my post on Bird by Bird, I haven’t always been an Anne Lamott fan, however this book converted me. I believe that Grace is the core of spirituality, that we are forgiven and loved regardless of who we are or what we have done, and that we owe that same forgiveness to each other, is the bedrock of everything else. So when I spotted this title available on my Libby App, I decided to give Lamott’s writing another try, which I can only say was a moment of pure serendipity. Her chapters detail some of the hardest moments of her life: the death of her best friend, her strained relationship with her parents, extreme highs and lows of her spiritual journey, and above all, seeing the humor in it all. Anne Lamott writes with nothing to hide, and this book made me want to be braver, more resilient, and more at peace with the beautiful and heartbreaking experience that it is to be human.

 

Duckworth, Angela 05.2018
Cover image shown with permission by Scribner from Simon & Schuster

Grit by Angela Duckworth

I read (and wrote) about this book last spring and found it really encouraging as it gave examples on the values of hard work over natural talent. Duckworth’s argument is that not only is hard, consistent work vastly more important than being talented, but also that the experience of overcoming hardship is one of the greatest determinants of potential success. It also reminded me that if I really want something, I need to work at it, and making mistakes along the way is part of the process of becoming great.

“Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another. Angela Duckworth

 

Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright

Mindfulness is an essential principle of Buddhist philosophy, and this book is an excellent discourse on the science and psychology of mindfulness and how it helps the human mind fight issues such as depression, anger and greed. Robert Wright is not a Buddhist and the book doesn’t focus on the more spiritual tenants of Buddhism such as Nirvana or reincarnation, but really on the values of meditation practice and examining ones thoughts, emotions and actions without judgement. This book encouraged me to focus more on my meditation practice, which has helped me to maintain better control over my emotions, the words I choose, and how I react in stressful moments. It’s always a work in progress, but I believe I have grown, maybe just a little, through meditation and mindfulness. At the very least it’s been an extremely refreshing and empowering journey.

These books were all so special to me, what are some books that have really impacted your life recently?

Have a Fancy Friday and a wonderful weekend!