Reading List: 2017

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to read more! I am aiming for at least 30 books. I read fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, fitness, health, psychological, true crime books, and more. Ever since I was a child, my parents encouraged reading. Going camping? Take a book. Headed to the beach? Take a book… and maybe some magazines. On the way to soccer practice? What a perfect time to catch up on your school reading list! To this day, I still love to read. This post will be updated throughout the year with what I’ve read as part of the resolution! Here’s is my reading list for 2017, chronologically by when I read them:

1. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

This is a story about a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and a German boy, Werner, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

It’s a great story that is told beautifully. The pace is quick – short chapters that bounce back and forth between time and between characters.

You feel Marie’s confusion, but also her strength, as she navigates unknown territories in her life away from Paris, away from her father, and in the middle of war. You empathize with Werner’s struggle of understanding what is right and wrong when the only sources he has available tell him what is right and wrong.

It’s a wonderful read that keeps you interested from start to finish. I have to admit that when I was done reading, I wished there was still more. (That’s when you know it’s good.)

Quick note: I tried to begin this book on audio last year, and the audio did not hold my attention.

2. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel by Bryn Greenwood

reading list 2017 book 2Sweet, funny, and slightly horrific. It’s ugly and wonderful. This is a story of a relationship between an adult man and young girl that spans fifteen years.

You may be thinking that it lends itself to a cringe-worthy storyline, but the motives of neither the man nor the girl are purely sexual. There’s a loneliness there that connects these two wallflowers who have experienced ugly hardships. They find something wonderful in one another.

You are left to draw your own conclusions – and I guarantee you your idea of their relationship will change throughout the story – but no matter what those conclusions are, you’re going to feel something at the end.

3. The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance by George Mumford

reading list 2017Early in the book we are introduced to Mumford’s ideas of The Five Superpowers: mindfulness, concentration, insight, right effort, and trust. He talks about how they work together and are interconnected. I got excited… I shouldn’t have.

There are quotes dropped in odd places, like a Yogi Berra quote in the middle of a Bill Russell story. It took about 50-60% of the way into the book for me to feel engaged with what I was reading. Even still, I struggled to finish this.

Mumford spent SO much time quoting others that his own authentic voice was lost. It would come in waves and then go out with the tidings of others’ words. Citing 3-4 different quotes, movies, etc. per page is a lot. I left feeling more interested in what those other people have to say than what the author did.

Would not recommend.

4. Life of Pi: A Novel by Yann Martel

This fantasy adventure novel contains the story of Pi Patel, the son of a zookeeper. He loves stories and knows A LOT about animals and their behavior. When Pi’s family emigrates from India to Canada, they ride aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Surprise! The ship sinks.

The story that follows is of Pi’s survival for nearly a year in a lifeboat. He talks of fishing, surviving with wild animals, and his relationship with religion.

TBH, it took me a while to get into it – I was nearly 50% in before I felt like I could connect to Pi and this journey. However, the last 60 pages or so make it all worth it. There’s an interesting twist that leaves the reader able to draw their own conclusions. As I have not yet seen the movie, I’m interested to see the story from that perspective and wonder if it will impact the conclusions I made as a reader. I think it ended at the right time and in the best way. It’s worth the read.

5. The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor

To be completely honest, this book was great. However, it was a bit of a struggle to get through. I did start and stop the novel a few times. The whole plot line was a bit predictable – not in the sense of what happens to the Titanic itself, but in the storylines of the main characters.

The author had the ability to add some serious and significant storylines that could have added a unique twist, but the one “twist” that did seem to take place was predictable.

If you are interested in books that combine history and nonfiction, this may be a good choice for you. However, if you’re interested in more mental stimulation and historical fiction that adds a new element to a known story, I would recommend you look for something else to read.

6. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I’ve just finished reading Yes Please from Amy Poehler and it’s about 6:45 am where I am. Because of Amy’s unique writing style, it’s easy to start and stop reading this book as she starts and stops new chapters and lines of thought.

While the book itself didn’t leave me with any major takeaways or new insights into my own life, it left me with quite a bit of insight into Amy’s life and the hard work, determination, and self-deprecation it took for her to land where she has.

I also learned Parks & Rec was not as steady as I believed it to be while watching (which makes me sad because I love the show from start to finish).

If you’re a fan of Amy, Tina Fey, and/or Seth Meyers, this book is definitely worth a read. It’s quick, mostly fun, and an endearing account of someone small who has made it big.

7. Dietland by Sarai Walker

dietland book cover reading list 2017I did not do my research before reading this. A friend of mine who also happens to be in the health and fitness industry recommended this to me. This is not a book about which diet is best or the latest fad. But, it was featured in The Oprah Magazine and it was recommended by a friend, so off I read.

This book is the story of Plum/Alicia Kettle and her struggles with being overweight. Plum is constantly chasing her ideal thinner self, “Alicia” (her given name). We see Plum go through some reckoning of her own as she learns about a conspiracy close to home.

It’s an interesting read that will hold your attention. However, I don’t necessarily agree with all that the author seems to be conveying in terms of the media and body image. She also brings in the conspiracy, which I think the book could do with out. Simply focusing on Plum, her reckoning, and her self-reconciliation could have been a great story alone.

Of the books I’ve read so far this year, it was not one of my favorites. If the above description intrigues you, however, pick it up and give it a read.

8. American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton

I recently finished this book and it was just OK. A lot of the information within it can be found online or through a bit of online searching, so there is nothing I was too surprised reading. I think the biggest eye opener for me was seeing how different departments of government work (or not) together. There seems to be some territorial warfare going on, even when the pursuit is the same.

This book also combines traditional storytelling with real-life events, which is not what I anticipated when I picked it up. At times, it read a bit too much like a fictional thriller and less like a true account of events, which had me rolling my eyes at some points.

The author did an interview the guys over at The Art of Charm for their podcast (which is great, but there are a LOT of episodes and I struggle to keep up) as well, which I am looking forward to listening to.

All of that being said, it is an interesting book and may be worth a read, especially if you don’t already know too much about the Silk Road and the story.

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