Part of my minimalism journey has been getting back to my priorities and values. Why am I spending 10 hours a day reading status lines on social media about “middle school Shelly’s ingrown toenail and should she go to the doctor” instead of putting that time towards something that matters. So, once most of my stuff was cleared away, and the time I spent taking care of that stuff or replacing that stuff or avoiding that stuff by looking at other people’s stuff on FB was also cleared away, I was forced to look into the gaping void of my priorities and values.
A couple of big things happened to me in 2017 that prompted the following post. First, I got jealous. Mama of Light and Love, Glennon Doyle, tells me that when I’m feeling jealous, it is often because someone is already doing what I was made to do. Jealousy is the big green arrow pointing me forward. Alright, Mama LL, I get it. So, when I saw that I was constantly jealous of one of my FB friends who posted via her Goodreads all the great books she was reading, I suddenly remembered that I too can, in fact, read. *head exploding with this epiphany*
Then, I read an article posted by another friend on FB. The article made the OUTRAGEOUS claim that a person could easily read 200 books a year. You’re so cute, random internet article, with your outrageous claims. You don’t know my life though. Except it kinda did. I spent enough time on social media and watching tv to actually read 1,000 books a year. So, I turned away from the screens and towards books.
To keep in line with my newfound minimalism, I dusted off the library card and committed to going there weekly. I checked out actual paper books, as well as books on cds. I put a book on my bedside table, a book in my car (cd), and a book in my purse. Anytime I went to reach for my phone or the tv remote, I reached for a book instead. Making these simple changes has led to my biggest reading year yet! 53 books for 2017.
You will notice a couple things about my 2017 reading list. There are a lot of authors who are women (noted by the + sign), and there are a lot of authors who are people of color (POC) (noted by the * sign). This was intentional as I set a goal to learn more and read more from voices that have traditionally been marginalized or quieted. We decide every day who we allow to influence our thoughts, emotions, viewpoints, perspectives, values, and priorities whether it be a childhood friend, a news commentator, an advertiser, a boss, our own mamas, or an author. I decided that I wanted women and POC to have a greater influence on how I see and interact with the world, so I passed them the microphone to my head.
These books are kind of in an order, but let’s not get too technical here. The books are from different genres and the authors have very different purposes in writing, so it is virtually impossible to compare some of them. If you told me that your daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD or you are interested in feminist issues in healthcare, I’m recommending #12. If you need something completely mindless and just funny, then #36 is where it is at.
But, y’all, my top 10 are for everyone! #1 and #2 are just the most beautiful books I have ever read in my life!
And, what better year to read #9 then this year, “Praise Be!”
And #7 has influenced the way that I want to raise my children in relation to their school and grades and awards.
I included one children’s picture book on my list, #11. I’m a mom of two small people who insist on AT LEAST four books every night, so we have literally read hundreds (thousands?) of picture books this year. I’ve selected this one book to represent all of them. It is an important book, for my kids will never need to doubt my love for them.
I would recommend all of the books to you in different contexts except the last four. The last four were “just blah.” I really wanted to make this blogpost about reading feel scholarly, so reviews like “just blah” seem appropriate.
I had the fortune of meeting author of #1, Jacqueline Woodson, this year. She is amazing and beautiful and funny and caring and all of the things. And, you will see her name often on this list. I’m determined to read all of her works because they shine light in dark places.
Here is my 2017 reading list:
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson *+
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi *+
- A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas *+
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls +
- Flying Lessons and Other Stories by Ellen Oh *+
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood +
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson *
- Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
- Understanding Girls with AD/HD by Kathleen Nadeau +
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *+
- Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande *
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates *
- Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Why Rigorous, Reasonable, and Real Religious Community Still Matters by Lillian Daniel +
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis *+
- Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson *+
- Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson *+
- Wonder by RJ Palacio +
- Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley
- Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *+
- The Year Without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting by Scott Dannemiller
- Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh *
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini *
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay *+
- For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker +
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown +
- Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the ‘Rules’ by Jacqueline Bussie +
- Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place by bell hooks *+
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult +
- Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson *+
- Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson *+
- Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon *+
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman +
- Fasting: The Ancient Practices by Scot McKnight
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
- The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner +
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo +
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead *
- Same Kind of Different As Me: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together by Ron Hall
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson +
- My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor *+
- The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande *
- The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang *+
- Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel +
- Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick +
- Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry +
- How Should A Person Be? By Sheila Heti +