Consider this a “state of the union” of sorts. At the beginning of the year, I resolved to read at least 50 books. My definition of what a “book” is is loose. I was previously writing little reports on what I liked or disliked about the book and key quotes. That hasn’t happened in a long time! I have not stopped reading, but I certainly have stopped writing about what I’ve been reading. So here is the comprehensive list (so far) with comments:
- Finding Ultra by Rich Roll: This is a delightful read if you’re into ultra racing or a vegan lifestyle.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: So so good and insightful and moving. Loved it.
- What do we know? by Mary Oliver: Lovely poems with a soft touch that only Mary can give.
- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: Funny and informative. A must-read if you have hiked any part of the Appalachian Trail.
- Three Stories by Gustave Flaubert: Short and sweet with some intricate characters.
- Namaslay by Candace Moore: To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed about how much I enjoyed this book. It explains basic yoga asanas with a memoir-esque narrative sprinkled in.
- Poetry Magazine “March Issue”: This issue was full of lyric poems and a selections from Max Ritvo-a poet who died before the issue was published.
- What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami: This book was a slow, meditative journey through Murakami’s experience with running.
- One More Thing by BJ Novak: Such a good book to bring to work! It contains funny and engaging short stories ranging from 1-12 pages long.
- Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: This book is truly transformative. I loved it and plan to revisit often.
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: A collections of essays and thoughts on writing and living a creative life. Totally motivating and encouraging and I now want to be friends with Ms. Gilbert.
- The Feather Room by Anis Mojgani: It’s no secret-I love this poet. This is a magical collection that will take you through mystical scenes and real feelings. Sigh.
- Maron by Marc Maron: Though funny, this book definitely made me feel uncomfortable at points. I’m still iffy on about liking this curmudgeon.
- Botanical Color at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos: A beautiful how-to on natural dyeing and harvesting materials.
- – 20. The first six books of The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: David and I have been reading these aloud to each other on trips and such. This is my favorite children’s book series (sorry Harry Potter people) and I forgot how fun and suspenseful it is!
So there it is! I have 23 weeks to read 30 books. I am back on track and beyond excited. Now let’s get reading.
I have no good excuse for not posting in a week, so I’m just going to jump right into last week’s book (which I actually finished):
Week #4) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
I have repeatedly heard from various outdoorsy buddies (including David) that Bryson’s book is a great read. I kept unconsciously avoiding reading it after the movie came out and while I was working at an outdoor retailer. Last week, while moving things out of our flooded guest room, David’s copy of the book caught my eye.
A Walk in the Woods was not what I expected. The book is definitely the fairly humorous account of two middle-aged guys hiking the Appalachian Trail that one might think it is after reading the back cover. However, Bryson also gives the history of the trail’s formation, delves into the politics of conservancy, explains extinction of animals, relays stories of black bear attacks, etc. I learned so much about the trail from this book and would recommend it to anyone who is curious about hiking the AT. Bryson’s narrative is not glamorous (*spoiler*: in the end he and his buddy don’t even complete the trail) but it’s honest and relatable. Reading A Walk in the Woods sparked my interest in Bryson’s many other books (especially A Short History of Nearly Everything) and fueled my fire to get out on Oregon’s many trails to walk, not just run.
p.s. I have NO idea why a grizzly bear is on the front of the book. There aren’t any grizzlies in the Appalachian mountains.
I am feeling a little off today. I think it is because I slept in, or maybe because I skipped church (I am a creature of habit), or maybe because I had diet coke and pizza for breakfast. Regardless, I am here at Either/Or (one of my favorite coffee shops) and I’m trying to get my juju back.
I tried to read two books over the last two weeks. I am sad to say that I didn’t finished either title. One book I didn’t finish on purpose, the other I am reading a lot slower than I thought I would. Because they are unfinished, I will not number them among my 50 books. But since I like to write about everything and coffee is finally in my system, I figured I would tell you about them anyway.
Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
This book is a treat and I am planning on finishing it this coming week. I first listened to Richard Rohr speak the beginning of this year. He was on one of my favorite podcasts (Comedian Pete Holmes’s You Made it Weird) and I knew we were kindred spirits. It’s a good episode and worth the two hour listen. Anyway, I picked this book up at the library last Monday and am only on the 39th page. Rohr dives into the notion that humans have a two-part spiritual journey with some sort of “falling” in the middle. The book is relevant and inclusive to people of all faiths. Here are a couple of my favorite moments thus far:
People who have never allowed themselves to fall are actually off balance, while not realizing it at all. That is why they are so hard to live with. Please think about that for a while. (p 28)
Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well. Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions. We are better at rushing to judgement and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us…This is not the way of wisdom. (p 36)
I can tell that Rohr and I will be fast friends at the end of all of this.
Scary Close by Donald Miller
So this is the book that I have no plans of finishing. I am usually a Miller fan (I even mentioned him in my previous post), but this book fell a little flat for me. Miller’s tone seemed to not be as warm or inclusive as his previous titles. Part of my jaded attitude might be the fact that he spends much of the time talking about being real and open with your partner. I know I have so much more to learn in marriage, but David and I started our relationship off as two broken human beings making clumsy mistakes. Even at my most guarded, I am awful at hiding my flaws or faking confidence. So I guess Miller lost me a little bit. I think when I’m a famous author with some large businesses and a public presence to maintain, I will feel the same as he does.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to challenges and resolutions, so thanks for bearing with me and forgiving me and sending me love and maybe some chocolates and a new pair of shoes.