I’m more of a goals person and less of a resolutions setting type. I set goals that are attainable not those that are so hard to reach that you’re almost set up for failure. Last year I promised myself I would read more. I’m an incredibly slow reader, so while for many a book a week is doable, it isn’t for me. Also, when I read at the end of the day, at bedtime, I inevitably fall asleep after a sentence of two. Determined to make it through more books I decided to listen to some in addition to reading. I have an audible subscription and I am hooked! I love to listen to books at the end of the day. I’ll set the time for 15 or 30 minutes, depending on how tired I am. I also love to listen to books when I drive. The following titles were read or listened to on Audible, or in some cases, a little of both. Below is my list of suggestions in no particular order other than these round up my 10 favorites from last year.
(Click each title linked to view books)
I picked up Kitchen Confidential a few years ago at my local library’s book sale. After the great chef’s passing last year I was inspired to pick it up again. I couldn’t find it anywhere and I must have donated it back to the library to be resold. Perusing Amazon I noticed that the title was not only available on Audible, but was narrated by Tony himself. As with the book, I was hooked from the get-go. Bourdain, in addition to being superbly talented in the kitchen is also a beautiful, prolific writer and master storyteller. For those of you who’ve watched his series on television, you are well aware.
In this deeply personal memoir, Bourdain not only exposes the underbelly, the nitty and gritty of the New York City restaurant scene, but shares with us many of his own obstacles and personal demons. His battle to the top after many non successes in various kitchens; his battles with drugs and his rocky personal relationships. When Bourdain finally makes it we cannot help but cheer. Rude, crude, abrasive and yet tender, Kitchen Confidential is perfect for those who love memoirs and food. This is one of those reads you don’t ever want to end. Lucky for us Bourdain has penned other books.
My daughter read Beautiful Boy in high school and urged me to get it. I promised myself I would finish the book before seeing the movie. Well, I finished the book a while ago and have yet to see the movie!
This haunting memoir gives us insight and understanding to what it’s like to parent a child with an addiction. We are offered a real-time chronicle of the shocking descent into substance abuse and the gradual emergence into hope. One needn’t to be in a similar situation to get something out of this story. There are many aspects we all as parents can take away.
Sheff's son, Nic, was a varsity athlete, honor student, and award-winning journalist until he discovered meth. He quickly became a trembling wraith, stealing money from his family, and living on the streets. With haunting candor, Sheff traces the first warning signs, the attempts at rehabilitation, and, at last, the way past addiction. He shows us that, whatever an addict's fate, the rest of the family must care for one another, too, lest they become addicted to addiction.
I think, for me, 2018 was the year of the memoir. Almost as soon as Small Fry was released I downloaded the audible version. Born on a farm and named in a field by her teenage parents―artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs―Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood was anything but typical growing up in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. As a young girl her father, a mythical figure, revered by many, was absent from her life, at first denying paternity until tests proved him to be her father. We see contrasting lives and lifestyles as Lisa and her mother are barely able to scrape by financially while her father rapidly becomes one of the wealthiest men in the country. As she grew older, her father eventually took an interest in her, introducing her to a world of mansions, vacations, and private schools and designer labels. His attention, while thrilling, was wildly unpredictable. He was often cold, critical and selfish in his reasons for giving her attention. A brilliant yet bizarre man lived in a barely furnished home, followed a strict vegan diet and refused to pay her tuition to Harvard. (And when your father is Steve Jobs you certainly cannot qualify for financial assistance.) During her teenage years, her relationship with her mother grew strained and she moved in with her father and his new family, always seeking his approval, always hoping he’d become the father she’d wanted him to be, Small Fry is a poignant coming-of-age story of growing up in the 1970s and 80s to one of the most powerful and influential men in the world. Beautifully told, her words weave together a story so colorful, continually shifting our opinions of the late founder of Apple. We have nothing without hope.
I first picked up this thin memoir when I was in my twenties. I was not yet married (I hadn’t even met my husband at that point) nor did I have children. Even still there was something about this beloved classic that drew me in. Graceful, lucid and lyrical, in Gift from the Sea Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. I’ve read this several times since, and I am sure I will read it several times more. Each time I sit down with this slim memoir I am pulled in, like shells to the shore by the tide.
Drawing inspiration from these shells on the shore, Lindbergh's musings on the shape of a woman's life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives. With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership.
Originally published in 1955, it never fails to surprise me is just how similar our lives are today. Even though so much has changed, so much stays the same, all these years later.
At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed", as he wrote, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life" into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. "I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything," he wrote. "Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: 'I can't go on. I'll go on.'" When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
My 20 year old daughter introduced me to the writings by this young poet, half Canadian, half Indian, who identifies more with the Gen Y-ers than the Millenials, never mind my over-the-hill Gen X generation. She’s been touted as an Instragram poet. Her poetry is uncomplicated honest and raw has often been touted as too simplistic. But I think that’s what I like about it especially. Quick notes and thoughts on life, love and the human emotion, are easily identifiable across all cultures and generations alike. Much as with Gift From the Sea, I’m quite certain there’s something to be taken with each reading, something different perceived at each stage of life. Rupi’s effortless prose is often accompanied by her beautiful line drawings. Such words of wisdom by such a young talent, it will be fun and interesting to see what her future holds for her. Pick up both Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers together.
"If you are feeling stuck, lost, or you just need a pick-me-up, this is the book for you. Shriver's wisdom will fill you up." Hoda Kotb, co-anchor of The Today Show writes.
Although Shriver turns to religion for guidance and inspiration (I am not a religious person) I still took her book of reflections to heart. She shares her stories for those seeking wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and inspiration on the road to a meaningful life. In this moving book, she shares inspiring quotes, prayers, and reflections designed to get readers thinking, get them feeling, get them laughing, and help them in their journey to what she calls The Open Field - a place of acceptance, purpose, and passion - a place of joy. It’s always nice to know that whatever we’re experiencing, we aren’t alone.
I've Been Thinking... is ideal for anyone at any point in her life. Whether you feel like you've got it all together or like it's all falling apart--whether you're taking stock of your life or simply looking to recharge, this is the book you will turn to again and again.
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, proper healthcare or intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became incredibly violent. This dysfunctional family helmed by a father who suffered from numerous psychological disorders, will remind readers of The Glass Castle. Yet if a family could be more bizarre, the Westovers were. It was not until another brother got himself into college, that Tara decided she might like to as well. Her quest for knowledge not only transformed her, but possibly saved her life. Through her studies she traveled over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Educated is heartbreaking and heartwarming - a coming of age novel about determination and perseverance that knows no boundaries, reminding us that it’s often ourselves who get in our own way.
I’m a huge fan of Moleskin notebooks and calendars. They’re super portable, well-made and come in a terrific array of colors. I have mine with me at all times. I’m a paper gal and prefer taking notes with a paper and pen over typing something into my phone. If I want to doodle, take notes, or have something important to jot down my Moleskin Notebook never lets me down. I picked up an extra this year and I’m using it for something altogether different. I’ll be using it as a diary of sorts. Not in a Dear Abby secret keeper kind of way. Instead of keeping lists of things to do, I will be keeping lists of everything I’ve accomplished. I find that I look back and often see failures and disappointments of tasks not accomplished instead of focusing on all that I have accomplished. And maybe, just maybe it’ll give me the motivation and encouragement needed to accomplish some of those grander goals.