At the beginning of 2017, I did what a lot of people do at the start of a new year: made resolutions for the year ahead. But rather than make vague promises to myself like “I’m going to get in shape in 2017!” and “I’m going to learn something new!” I made my goals specific, something to strive for. I knew I wanted to read more this year, so I made a goal to read 50 books in 12 months. I’ve decided to recap what I read each month, reflect on the material and rate each book’s recommend-ability (which I just made up).
In April, I read…
The Whole30, by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig
This one’s a little obvious, as I’ve blogged before about my Whole30 experience. I actually didn’t start reading the book until a few days after I started the Whole30 (I had the basic rules, but couldn’t get my hands on the library copy until I’d already planned to start). It’s a quick read, despite its page length, and obviously informative on the topic. That said, it’s not essential reading, even if you plan on doing a Whole30. All the information you need is online somewhere, but if you’re focused on doing it right, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the book that started it all. It’s full of all the reasoning behind their rules, so if you want a deep understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing, give it a read. 3/5 recommend-ability points
When In French, by Lauren Collins
I read this book almost by accident. I had finished the Whole30 and was looking for a new book to read (my other picks not yet available from the library) and I found this book on the library’s recommendation list and saw I was able to download it immediately. It sounded interesting enough, so I dove in and was pleasantly surprised by its depth. When In French is a memoir recounting Collins’ journey to learn French after marrying a Frenchman, but it goes beyond her personal experience. She dives into the history and psychology around languages and it is fascinating stuff. I never realized how much our experiences are shaped by the languages we use, but Collins explores all that, recounting the frustration she felt as an outsider to the French language and the slow transition to French-speaker. I don’t do the explanation justice, but if you’re at all interested in language, then go, read. 4/5 recommend-ability points
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
This was the Big One. The book I’ve been trying to read all year. I’d been on the library waitlist for over a month before I could snag a copy, and when it finally came available I was ready. This has been the year I’ve begun re-discovering my creative side, something I had tamped down for years as I tried to fit into the working world. I know I was afraid of trying to live creatively, mostly because I hadn’t done it for so long. So when I first heard about the book (I know it’s been out forever) I knew I had to read it. Maybe I’ll never make money from my creativity, but Gilbert is more interested in our potential as makers than as money-makers. The value is in putting beauty into the world and reaching a part of your soul that needs nurturing.
“Never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing… in order to make your own creative work.”
So, I’m done living in fear. I have all of this creative energy inside of me, and it’s about time I let it out. It’s been a slow process ramping back up to the levels of my childhood and teen years, but I have to say, this commitment to living creatively has already had a lightening affect in many areas of my life. I’m excited to see where it goes from here. 5/5 recommend-ability points
I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was a national treasure and funny as hell. This book of essays, mostly about growing older but also about life, are insightful, sweet, scathing and hilarious. This makes two Ephron books I’ve read this year and neither disappointed. 4/5 recommend-ability points.
I was surprised to see that my reads this month were all of the non-fiction variety. Very unusual for me. I began a fifth book at the end of April, a novel, but I’m going to count it as a May read because I have not finished it yet. Not counting my current book, I have read 17 of 50 books so far. Keeping a pretty good pace, and I’m about to ramp it up now that summer is right around the corner.
The Fiery Cross, by Diana Galbadon
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon
I Am That Girl, Alexis Jones