I want to think I am the kind of person that could commit to a seasonal or monthly reading post, but I am more self-aware than that. The truth is I love to read, and I consume books regularly, but the habit comes in waves. Lately I have been on a massive reading kick, and so I have lots to report from my literary adventures. But mark my words, the tide is likely to turn. Hence, the forgiving title “What I’ve Read Lately.” No promises for future regularity. Just, lately.
This blog post will be particularly full because I sharing what I have read in January and February, plus my favorite titles from what I read in 2022. So many good books to share!
THIS WILL ONLY HURT A LITTLE, by Busy Phillips
I have no idea why I chose this title. I didn’t even know who Busy Phillips was before this book, but I love a good life story, and I found this book entertaining and interesting. If you ever watched the show Freaks and Geeks, or if you watched Dawson’s Creek, you might know Busy. Her life is a crazy adventure full of unexpected twists and turns. Her writing style is casual and funny, a bit irreverent at times, and you can tell she knows how to tell a story. Trigger warning for sexual trauma. She also cusses like a sailor.
THE DUTCH HOUSE, by Ann Patchett
One of the most beautiful books I have ever read, the characters from The Dutch House seeped into my bones in a way that made me miss them when the book was over. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The plot summary is not sexy (the story of a family and a house and how their lives unfold), but the book is so well-executed, you are drawn in and hooked from the beginning. Also, worth noting, there are no trigger warnings with this book. I would let my high schooler read it, and while not geared to a young audience, it is relatively clean.
BROKEN HORSES, by Brandi Carlisle
You may quickly notice my affinity for personal memoir, and in particular, I love stories of people who have overcome obstacles and blossomed into the fullness of their talent and potential. Broken Horses is Brandi Carlisle’s memoir, and I enjoyed it immensely. I did not know much about Brandi apart from loving her music and hearing her as a guest on Brene Brown’s podcast. She is warm, funny, and honest, and her book is endearing and generous. If you are into audiobooks, she narrates it and performs songs in the context of her life story which tied the two together beautifully.
FALLING UPWARD, by Richard Rohr
This book is heavy and requires stamina, but it resonated deeply with me. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan monk, who I also heard of from Brene Brown’s podcast. Falling Upward is a book about the second half of life and how to live well. If you choose to read this book, prepared to be challenged in ways you might not anticipate. I also would encourage you to not get discouraged by the length and relative dryness of the introduction. It’s bulky. But persevere, and you will be rewarded with a rich book that is best consumed in small bites. I am fully planning on reading this again, as I think it requires multiple passes to fully comprehend and absorb the truths it presents.
SPARE, by Prince Harry
Don’t come for me, but I am all in on Harry and Meghan. The adoration I felt for Diana when I was a little girl has spilled over to them both, and after reading Spare, I want to give Meghan and Harry a standing ovation. It is rare to hear of public figures swimming upstream against systemic injustices, and whether or not you agree with their choices, Harry and Meghan have pushed back against multiple broken systems for the sake of their children and their marriage. I respect them both for doing the hard thing. This book is so tender, so well-done, so intimate, and I loved hearing Harry’s perspective on events I had only seen in the media. His life has been a series of losses and tragedies, and he has found inner strength and resolve to take his brokenness and turn it into beauty.
TRUTH AND BEAUTY, by Ann Patchett
I have been on a bit of an Ann Patchett kick, and she is worth the time. Truth and Beauty is a true story of her twenty-year friendship with Lucy Grealy. Sometimes non-fiction is better than any story you can make up, and the relationship between these two women was mesmerizing, strange at times, but filled with honesty and the kind of closeness that comes once in a lifetime. To hear a writer describe her life in the context of her closest friend is a gift.
Finally, here are my favorite titles from 2022 with a brief review of each:
OUR MISSING HEARTS, by Celeste Ng
Mesmerizing, interesting, compelling, timely.
FINDING ME, by Viola Davis
The best memoir I have ever read. I insist you listen to Viola read the book to you. I am still not over this book.
REDEEMING HEARTACHE, by Dan Allender
The basic idea from this book is that each person has been wounded in a way that leaves them in the role of orphan, widow, or stranger. The good news? Our story can be redeemed, transforming us into a priest, prophet, or queen. Highly recommend.
NORA GOES OFF SCRIPT, by Annabel Monaghan
I rarely read fiction, but this one was a delight. Easy, but not dumb. A cute story, a perfect beach read, buy a copy for your best friend.
EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth wrote Big Magic, which is the best work on creativity I have ever read. Given my love for Big Magic, I felt the pull to read the book that put Elizabeth Gilbert on the map. I know a lot of people have a lot of feelings about this book, but I liked it. Part memoir, part reflective narrative, Elizabeth’s adventure is fun to follow.
JULIE AND JULIA, by Julie Powell
Julie Powell died last year, which prompted me to finally read her account of cooking all of Julia Child’s recipes in one year. Yes, I have seen the movie (which I only sort of loved), and yes, I know the similarities between what Julie did and what I did (www.inainayear.com), but this book shed a new light on her process and her motivation in a way that I found funny and memorable.
MY LIFE IN FRANCE, by Julia Child
I decided to go ahead and learn about Julia Child after learning about Julie Powell, and I love love loved this book. Julia Child was revolutionary, a creative, a workhorse, and while most of know her for her cooking show, this book dives into her life with her husband Paul. If you’re a fan of Julia Child, this book is for you.
DAISY JONES AND THE SIX, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Don’t laugh, but for some reason I thought this was a true story. All I knew about this book before I read it was that the audiobook was narrated by an all-star cast, and it was supposed to be amazing. So I listened to it. I was more than half-way through the book before I realized it was fiction…so, that’s fun. The story of a band is told from the perspective of multiple characters, and is so realistic it is possible to think it’s true!
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, by Delia Owens
My daughter told me to read this, so I did. And it lived up to the hype. I never know if I am going to like fiction, so I rely heavily on personal recommendations. I loved the ending! No, I have not seen the movie yet.
A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, by Amor Towles
I never wanted this book to end. Exceptional writing, expansive story telling, beautiful characters and relationships. I cried near the end, not because the book is sad, but because my heart was invested in the lives of each character and what they were experiencing.
ATOMIC HABITS, by James Clear
Super smart, practical, with great respect for the reader’s intelligence, this book has shifted the way I think about habits and the power of consistency over time.
BITTERSWEET, by Susan Cain
Susan Cain wrote another book I loved called Quiet which explores the inner lives of introverts. Bittersweet explores the bittersweet personality, and how sorrow and longing make us whole. I wanted to underline every word.