In 2017, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read 12 books. I was not, nor did I ever consider myself an avid reader, but one per month seemed like a reasonable goal. As 2017 came to a close, I was behind so I reset my goal to 10 books. I’m pretty sure I only made it to 9. As someone who LOVES goal-setting and who takes New Year’s Resolutions pretty seriously, I was not super impressed with myself. So, at the start of 2018 I was bound & determined to turn myself into a “reader” and reset my goal to read 10 books throughout the year.
I’m super proud to say that in 2018 I read or listened to EIGHTEEN books! What was the key? (besides not failing again at a very attainable goal)… audiobooks! Previous to this year, I always thought that I couldn’t get into audiobooks. I would listen then my attention would drift off and 10 minutes later I would realize I had no idea what was going on. I know there’s someone out there reading this and nodding to themselves thinking, “yep! that’s me.” Here was my trick: I started with short audiobooks that had readers I could visualize. The first few audiobooks I listened to all were under 10 hours and had readers I had seen speak… being a visual person, it helped me to focus if I could imagine the author speaking. Gradually I think I trained myself to become a self-proclaimed audiobook person, and that is what helped get my book count up… half the books I read this year were on audio!
In addition to getting myself an active Audible account, my friends also started a book club last year. What I love about book club is that, A) it’s really just a good excuse to get together and eat & drink with your friends. The book just gives you a focused topic of conversation really. But B) it keeps you accountable to reading, and beyond that reading books that you probably wouldn’t necessarily pick for yourself. This year we read 4 books as a group… off to a great start I would say!
Note: Audiobooks marked by (A)
MY FAVORITES OF 2018
These were my 3 absolute favorite books of the year (in no particular order). All very different, but all SO good and come highly recommended by me.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo – This was one of the few novels I read this year and it was SO good. I came across this book by way of Reese Witherspoon’s book club. This made for the perfect book to read poolside in Mexico and kept me captivated from start to finish. If you’re a sucker for a good love story, this one is for you.
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish – I picked up this book for my girls trip to Mexico and now have lost track of how many of my friends this book has been passed along to. It is SO. FREAKIN. FUNNY. Like, burst-out-into-a-hysterical-laughing-fit status. The stories that she tells are ridiculously hilarious. Any book that has you laughing is a win in my eyes.
(A) Everybody Always by Bob Goff – For years I’ve heard about Bob Goff, but had never read any of his books. Let’s just say, I’m so happy I finally have. First of all, listening to his voice on audiobook is like sitting listening to the stories of a grandparent. His storytelling voice is phenomenal. Beyond that, the content & message of this book is so uplifting. Want a refreshingly feel-good outlook on life? Pick up this book.
MY 2018 BOOKLIST
While these might not have made the top 3 favorites, I didn’t outright hate anything I read this year and started every book I started.
(A) You are a Badass by Jen Sincero – A “go get ’em, you can do anything” book. It’s super short and has a lot of great quotes.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown – If you want to dive further into the wonderful world of Brene Brown, this is a staple. However if you’ve never read her work, I think you could just stick to reading “Braving the Wilderness” and get a lot of similar themes & lessons for a shorter read.
(A) Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – This was actually my pick for book club. It’s gone a little viral and thought it would be good to read a book in the self-help genre by a male author. It made for great discussion at book club, but out of the these 3 self help books, it wasn’t my favorite.
(A) Own the Moment by Carl Lentz – I read this after attending a service at Hillsong Church in NYC and hearing Carl Lentz preach. This autobiography was a good mix of stories from his life and inspiring messages to walk away with.
(A) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – I’ve had this book in my Audible library forever and am glad I finally listened to it. Funny & entertaining, especially on audiobook. If you like an inside peek into the life of celebrities, this is a good one for you.
(A) Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – Is it just me or did Rachel Hollis go viral last year? For all sorts of reasons good & bad. I first became interested in this book after seeing one of her viral videos on Facebook. After listening to it, my take was that it was entertaining and inspiring, but honestly I think I had worn myself tired of self-help books by this point in the year so the messages all started to sound kind of the same. I thought that I probably could have just read the highlight quotes on Pinterest or Instagram and gotten pretty much the same takeaway. But then– plot twist!– I saw a friend post THIS Buzzfeed article about the book. I’m honestly not sure I’ve flushed out my opinions on the article versus the book, but nonetheless I’m thankful for different perspective and think the idea of “curated imperfection” that the article mentions is a super interesting one. For my friends who are entrepreneurs & business owners: I know this is going to seem like a crazy suggestion, but I honestly think that it’s worth it to read the book & the article just to stir your brain on the topics of social media market & self-promotion.
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach – This book pretty much just affirmed what I’m already doing on the Qapital app: put your money away before you ever even see it (read a separate post about that HERE). My goal is to read 1 personal finance book per year, but if you’re looking to up your game on how to manage your money, I’d point you to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover instead.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – Now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing this book should really be in my top books category. This is the 2nd time I’ve read it because I think it’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read in my life. I first picked up this book in 2015 and it changed the way I look at every relationship in my life, whether it be romantic, friendships, clients, family… if you’ve never read this, it’s a quick read and SO worth it.
(A) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – For the record, I listened to this last spring… well before Marie Kondo became a Netflix phenom! This was the shortest audiobook I listened to (I think like 4 hours and change). I will say that I really did change the way I fold clothes and have maintained it for about 6 months now, and it’s also helped prevent me from mindless shopping (makes you pause & think… how much joy will it bring me to spend $40 at TJ Maxx on a candle, notebook, and pair of leggings I don’t need? probably not a lot…) However, I can’t really say that my room is any cleaner as a result of this book. Oops. 2019 goals!
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – You might recognize Cheryl Strayed from her well-known book Wild. This book was recommended to me by my therapist and is a collection of letters written in to an advice column. It was interesting to read the letters from people about their personal problems and imagine what advice you would give them, compared to what she says. Because of the nature of it’s structure, it’s not exactly a page turner but it’s a good one to keep on your nightstand and read a few letters per night.
Heart Talk by Cleo Wade – This book is great to have for your coffee table. It’s a collection of poems with some cool illustration included that will leave you with your heart feeling full.
Yes of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I wanted to read this because I’m an avid Shondaland fan (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder). It was cool to read about some of the behind-the-scenes stories of how those shows came to be, but overall I did find this book a bit repetitive.
Book Club Picks
Tribe by Sebastian Junger – This is a very short book and a good read about community and the origins of why people feel the need to belong (sort of from a military & tribal perspective).
(A) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – This was nothing I would have ever picked out for myself but was happy to be reading a Pulitzer Prize winner. This is a collection of short stories, which made it confusing at times when listening because sometimes the different, unrelated stories ended or began abruptly. After I got used to the format, it wasn’t so bad and I enjoyed some of the stories from the book.
(A) Spin by Robert Charles Wilson – This was DEFINITELY not one I would have ever read on my own and I was skeptical to be reading a sci-fi novel. Plus, it was the longest audiobook I listened to all year (about 20 hours). But I will admit… I liked this book way more than I thought I was going to. It had great characters and a story that was interesting to follow along to. As a listener, there were a few confusing moments in the beginning because the book jumps from future to past tense, but once I wrapped my brain around that, this ended up being one of my favorite book club books of the year.
I typically have one book going on audio and one hard copy going at once, so here’s a look at what’s underway for the new year!
(A) Becoming by Michelle Obama – I’m almost done listening to this and guys, it’s is WORTH the hype! This might turn out to be one of my favorite books of all time. I highly recommend listening to it on audio, because you hear all of her wisdom, her sass, her heart… and honestly, what’s better than listening a bedtime story from Michelle Obama?!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – Yep, that’s right. I’m reading the Harry Potter series this year! I had the first 3 books read to me… like 20 years ago (that’s actually for real, which makes me feel so old). So I’m starting from the beginning and reading the series this year!
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain – This is the next book club pick. When the sad news of his death hit the media in 2018, I’m gonna be honest– I didn’t know much about Anthony Bourdain. So I’m excited to dive into this book and learn more about his life & adventures.