In 2016 I set a loose goal to read a book a week - 52 books in a year. I came in a little short of that goal at 45 - likely because I closed some books a dozen or so pages in because I just could not.
In the spirit of being unfussy, I'm not going to beat myself up about it though. I wrote a boat ton of stuff in the past year and learned from many of the books. Below is a quick and dirty review of what I read this year. (There’s also a whole lotta affiliate links in here. That means if you click a link that takes you to Amazon, and you end up buying something. I get like .08 cents to go towards…more books!)
Eat Pray Love and Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage – Elizabeth Gilbert. How did I take so long to read this? Oddly I’ve read everything else from Gilbert, but not this. I promptly watched the movie on Netflix afterward. Essential life reading.
Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook – Anthony Bourdain. I’m mildly..., okay, a wildly obsessed with everything Bourdain does. I’ve watched every show he’s created, sometimes twice. Basically, I want to be him – or just tag along on all his adventures and eat all the food.
The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love – Kristin Kimball. I keep toying with the idea of starting over and figuring our farming. Our chicken and duck experiment this year was a massive failure, and I harvested exactly one cherry tomato.
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul – Howard Schultz. Interesting peek into the company that had me hooked on the caramel brulée latte like a special kind of sweet crack this season.
#Girlboss – Sophia Amoruso. Damn this chick is badass, but I couldn’t find the thread to make her story even an inch relatable to mine.
Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. I made it 20 pages zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. So this really shouldn’t be on my “read” list, more of a PSA for you to read something else.
Wildflower – Drew Barrymore. If you liked Drew before you’ll love her even more after. And you’ll also want to watch E.T. again.
When Breath Become Air – Paul Kalanithi. Breathtaking. Pun intended.
Love Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton. Some hard lessons in here, but mostly I’m tired of her.
Making yourself better
What to Do When It's Your Turn – Seth Godin. Maybe my favorite book of 2016. So many real lessons in here that will make you want to speak up, do the thing, make the stuff and stop waiting your turn – because it’s your turn right now.
The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World – Christina Crook. Another of my favorites this year. Christina spent 30 days away from being wired – for real. She’s the OG of the JOMO movement (that’s the Joy Of Missing Out for all you FOMO folks).
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday. I devoured everything Holiday wrote this year. You should too.
Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life, A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, and Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life – Katie Byron. I also devoured everything Katie wrote. Essential lessons for your life and for teaching your kids. It’s so stupidly simple.
The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life – Dave Asprey. As a former vegan, the idea of putting butter in my coffee used to make me want to gag. I went from rice and beans to butter, bacon, and eggs. My skin cleared up after 20 years of WTF, I’m finally not hungry all the time, and have never felt better. Now, you don’t need to buy into the “bulletproof” brand - just focus on organic.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life – Jen Sincero. A fun and empowering read.
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) – Hal Elrod. I’ve always been an early riser so this didn’t do much for me, I love my mornings because they set the day.
Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! - Rachel Macy Stafford. This is a version of Unfussy Mom but with a lot more Jesus talk.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives – Gretchen Rubin. I read everything from Rubin and am underwhelmed every time. This was no exception. Learning my lesson. Good stuff, she doesn’t resonate with me.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport. An important read if you’re on your third hour of Facebook scrolling for the day.
Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You – William Burnett. This book is like 200 pages longer than it needs to be.
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do – Sarah Knight. A nod to Marie Kondo’s book. If you’re going to read one book with the theme of not giving a f*ck this year, read Mark Manson’s (below) instead.
The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck – Mark Manson. This could have been the same book as the life-changing magic one, and I often found myself confused. Maybe they wrote it together and said, “oh, I’m a woman so let’s market Sarah’s to women, and Mark’s to men.” If you’re only going to read one, read Marks.
Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday. Holiday’s newest – and I devoured everything of his this year, starting with this one. It was so good, tapping into stoic philosophy, I had to read his other work – which has nothing to do with stoicism.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living – Shauna Niequist. Another book just like Unfussy Mom but with a lot more words and God talk.
The Art of Possibility - Rosamund Stone Zander. Yes, everything is possible.
Business and economics
You2 – Price Pritchett. You can 2x your results, you just need to focus.
Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst "Best" Practices of Business Today – Susan Scott. The follow up to Fierce Conversations. Basically, talk about hard things.
Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator – Ryan Holiday. This will change how you view everything you read forever and ever. I’m so glad I quit the news years ago – Ryan validated everything I assumed.
Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours - Robert C. Pozen. If you think you can get some productivity secrets from a man with a wife who looks after his kids and everything at home then go for it – I, however, had nothing to learn from him. Have a job, a side hustle, and do the bulk of the work at home and tell me how you get sh!t done. Side note – my book will be much better if you’re a working mom.
Think Like a Freak - Steven D. Levitt. The follow-up to Freakonomics. Thinking like a freak is good times – try it.
What Color is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers - Richard N. Bolles. Good, practical advice for every type of job hunter or changer.
The Greatness Guide: Powerful Secrets for Getting to World Class – Robin S. Sharma. Simple and easy to read advice that you’ll best enjoy while sitting on the toilet digesting a lesson at a time. It’s really good.
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered – Austin Kleon. If you’re a fan of Steal like an Artist, this is also a fun work. Basically, if you’re an artist, give people a peek into your why and how you create.
Embracing your artsy or writer ways
Be Something. If You Want to Make Something – Kent Youngstrom. A fun and salty read with great pics. I read it in an afternoon on the beach and flip back to it when I’m feeling uncreative.
The Writing Life – Annie Dillard. If you’re a writer, you’ll love this. Also, this is the ONLY book I read on writing this year, a big change from last year – and guess why? Because I wrote a sh!t ton more this year!
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam M. Grant. I tried to get through this book three times. Maybe it’s the tone, but I like to think of myself as a non-conformist on the inside, that’s itching to break free.
Reiki - A Comprehensive Guide – Pamela Miles. I might get it done, but doing it, not for me right now.
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere – Pico Iyer. Hard lessons for the type A in all of us.
Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation – Susan Piver. This made me feel like the 10 minutes of meditation I do every year has been totally worthless and wrong. Not the most user-friendly, first intro into meditation.
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins. The one and only fiction book of the year, and damn it was a good one. Read it! I haven’t seen the movie yet, but can’t wait!
Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur. I can’t tell you when the last time I read any poetry was. I’m pretty sure it was in high school and I had no idea what I was reading – CAN’T YOU JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN??? Milk and Honey, though – is so good. Dark, raw, and shocking.
Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape – Peggy Orenstein. This book is so so so important whether you have a son or daughter. Eye-opening stories and enough shit that made me want to cry… and maybe lock my kids up in a bubble until they’re 40.
Want more? Here's my 2015 list.
PS - are we friends on Goodreads? It's like Facebook for book nerds. I track my reading for the year in here.