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What I’ve read this year

by Carly-Ann

Books and plants. Two things that are necessary to making my bedroom my sanctuary.

A tall stack of books is a mainstay on my bedside table

As a kid, I did a lot of reading. As a kid, I had a lot more free time. Over the last few years, my reading has slowed. I blame it on some poor reading choices that I forced myself to work through, but I also blame it on a lack of time which is really just a lack of prioritization. (I’ve found time for plenty of things that I could have easily sacrificed for reading, but didn’t.)

Late last year, I made a conscious effort to get back into the routine of reading and to do that, I had to set clear intentions and set aside time to spend with a book. (I wrote about a few more of my techniques for remaking myself as a reader back in April.) I took a 2017 Goodreads Challenge to read eighteen books. So far, I’ve finished off ten, but I’ve started so many more.

Here are the books I’ve finished in the first (almost) half of the year.

Born for This by Chris Guillebeau

By the time I finished, I’d been reading this book for about a year. I’d been rereading parts of this book all throughout that time. Sometimes I’d read and reread a section in the same sitting. Chris’s mandate is and always has been unconventional living, working, traveling – he’s out there and he wants his readers to be, too. I find his ideas and his stories just so compelling. I wrote about the Vancouver stop on Chris’s book tour last May and his latest book certainly lived up to my expectations. Tackling the topic of doing what you were – you guessed it – born to do, he looks at plenty of options for finding the recipe for adding meaning, substance and happiness to our careers and work experiences. This book gives a reader a lot to chew on and, for someone like me who tends to enjoy doing many things without having already identified one true passion, it provides plenty of coaching and exercises to help narrow down the options and get to know yourself better. It’s a great tool for better understanding and for expanding the world you’re currently living in.

Make sure you visit the website to take Chris’s Born For This quiz, check out plenty of free tools and subscribe to Chris’s Side Hustle School podcast for daily inspiration.

If I can't be running, I might aw well be reading about it

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

I know, I know. I just used this photo just the other day, but what can I say? I like being reminded of our trip to Orlando last November (when I actually started reading this book…)

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Murakami’s works of fiction. They are out of this world. Totally mind-blowing. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is different. It’s a memoir. Of life and of running. Murakami writes about his experiences running all over the world – in Cambridge, Kauai, Tokyo and other cities. He writes about how it feels to run and how it feels to write and how he sees that the two acts have so much crossover. There are parts that I still think about when I’m in the midst of a particularly challenging run and parts I laugh about when I’m not.

Finally, I dedicate this book to all the runners I’ve encountered on the road – those I’ve passed and those who’ve passed me. Without all of you, I never would have kept on running.

Find an excerpt on the What I Talk About When I Talk About Running site.

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
by Gary Chapman

I remember a friend reading this book decades ago. As she gave me her synopsis, I was inwardly dismissive – not into it. Back then, I didn’t believe in formulas for making love last and, frankly, I still don’t. The only thing that convinced me to read it was Episode 80 of the Happier podcast when Gretchen and Liz talked about it. (And truth be told, I got much more out of that and the discussion that ensued in later episodes than I did from the book.)

The principle behind the book is that there exist five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and receiving gifts. If you know a loved one’s language, then you can better understand how they feel loved and tailor your behaviour to deepen your relationship. Kevin and I took the quiz and both came back with the same result: quality time. Not a big shocker to either of us.

Considering all the relationships that we encounter in our lives – at work, at play, with friends, immediate and extended family, children, in-laws, etc. I think it’s a fascinating and potentially helpful concept. The thing that I didn’t love is that the book was geared towards romantic relationships in a way that I just don’t relate to.

Interesting, yes. But if you want to really apply it in your life, you’re going to have to do the legwork. Visit the website and take the quiz to find out what your love language is. (If you do it, let me know your results!)

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I love that quote up there. Mostly because it sounds so whimsical, but also because this book made that very true for me. I have a serious craving to always be learning so fiction often falls by the wayside. This was the first time I’d felt really engaged in a story in a really long time.

Like everyone, I read Big Little Lies because I wanted to watch the TV show. After finishing the book and then finishing the series, I’m so glad I devoured them in that order. Both were fantastic, but there was an edge of suspense to the book that the series never captured. But while the star-studded television version twisted a few of the details, it still did an impeccable job of bringing the story to life.

Stick around to the end of both because, though different for each, it changes everything for both.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

This book is an absolute delight. It immediately went onto my top ten favourite books list and when I think back to reading it, it puts a big old stupid grin on my face.

If it wasn’t for Liz Craft, I might never have heard about this book. We were at the Happier Live event in Seattle last October and Gretchen and Liz were talking about the Happiness Hack of reading a book set in the place where you were going on vacation to prolong the enjoyment of your trip. Liz announced that she was reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette during her time in Seattle and the local crowd cheered. Later on, I picked up a copy and I am so glad I did.

This book is bittersweet and adorable and sad and happy and, as you can probably surmise, a deeply emotional story. I don’t insist on keeping many books anymore, but this is one I will never give up.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Okay this is a deeply out of character read for me, but I was on a fiction high after knocking off two books in a matter for days and a friend offered to lend it to me. I See You is a story true to its thriller category. I went through three distinct stages with this book: hooked, bored and hooked again. There was a lull in the middle, but I think it was more me than it because the book didn’t contain extra or unnecessary details. The concept is SUPER creepy in the fact that it could very easily be real and it actually haunts me sometimes when I think about how as people we are two of the main ingredients that make the story possible: routine and exposed.

White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping It Real on Your
Spiritual Path from One Seeker to Another
by Danielle LaPorte

I’m a big fan of Danielle LaPorte so when I got the chance to be a part of the launch team for her latest book, I was ALL OVER IT. White Hot Truth tackles the topics of spirituality and keeping it real, balancing real life boundaries with the touchy-feely new age community and ditching crystals for some concrete truths instead. This book is honest, it’s real and it’s such a relief. White Hot Truth lets spiritual perfectionists off the hook with radical acceptance of their own beliefs. That is a huge gift.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

This is the fourth Harry Potter book that I’ve read in about nine months. It all started when I found out that we’d be going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter last November. Now I feel like I can’t quit, though sometimes I want to. That’s not to say that I don’t like this Harry Potter series, but I will say that I don’t love it. I’ve been alternating between reading the book and watching the movie, reading the book and watching the movie… What I’ve found is that the further I get into the series, I tend to like the movies more and the books less. By the end of The Goblet of Fire, I didn’t even really understand what had taken 617 pages to say. I don’t mind a big book, but there just seemed so many long sequences that didn’t really contribute. But I don’t want this to sound like I didn’t like it because I did. It was a good story. It’s just that the long-windedness of the telling is starting to get on my nerves and I need a bit of a break. Sorry.

Light is the New Black: A Guide to Answering Your Soul’s
Callings and Working Your Light

by Rebecca Campbell

I’m not going to lie. Early on, I was tempted to write this book off as spirituality lite if you know what I mean. (Is that a real thing or just something I made up? Who knows.) I’m put off by any best selling book that talks about meditation and “working your light.” In reality, I really enjoyed this read. It’s written in small blurbs that are easily digested and can be read in any particular order. I, of course, read it cover to cover, but it could easily be the kind of book you’d just open up and absorb random page after random page. Light is the New Black covers a vast array of plans, projects and possibilities. I loved a lot of the content and have a lot to go back to in the future.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’m basically obsessed with The Happiness Project and anything that Gretchen Rubin works on. I listen to her podcast religiously, I think about The Four Tendencies all the time and this is the second time I have read this book. I have a whole Happiness Project plan going on in my mind and I’m going to save the details for a post of its own. Stay tuned.


Let’s be friends on Goodreads! And if you have any wonderful, amazing, can’t miss recommendations, please leave them in the comments. I’m in need of a little inspiration these days.

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