At the end of every year I like to look back on the books I read and think about which I most enjoyed and which made the biggest difference in my life. It was a slow year for me and books. I only read 16 but I had a lot going on that caused me to be distracted. I also came up with a couple reading rules that I am adhering to, which made my overall tally a bit lower than usual. Rule #1: People will recommend books but that doesn’t mean I should read them. Rule #2: If I don’t enjoy a book I don’t have to finish it.
I have been jotting down (more like typing or photographing but you get my point) bits and pieces from the books I read that made me think twice or Tweet or share with a friend via text. Without further ado, here are my favorite books and passages from 2015.
I always think the first book I read each January sets the tone for the rest of the year. Thankfully, I chose #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso. A favorite bit from the book: “Focus on positive things in your life and you’ll be shocked by how many more positive things start happening.”
Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please was really enjoyable. I paged through the parts about Parks and Recreation pretty quickly because I have never seen the show and was kind of bored (an abridged version of Rule #2). This was by far the best takeaway from the book: “Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would for a friend is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.”
Or maybe this was the best takeaway: “Emotions are like passing storms and you have to remind yourself that it won’t rain forever.” This is something I remind myself of often when I’m feeling down and it’s been raining a lot in Des Moines.
Dear Mr. You from my friend Nancy Botwin, I mean Mary Louise Parker, has been one of my favorite actresses (and girl crush!) since Fried Green Tomatoes and Boys on the Side came out when I was a kid. In mid-November she came to Iowa City to read from her book at the Englert. A double bonus was that I went with my friends Molly and Megan! This is a good book to pick up and read every now and then or right before bed. My favorite passage was from Dear Popeye: “Time should weep for having spent me without you.”
Sometimes your brain needs junk food so I read Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison. If #GirlBoss were the equivalent of kale this book would be Skittles but sometimes Skittles are necessary to get you through tough times. I’m putting this on my list because guilty pleasures need not be guilty afterall.
I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho twice because it was such a neat story and I was really distracted the first time I read it and knew I would get more out of it the second time. I think of this quote often: “When each day is the same as the next it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
The last book I read in 2015 was Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller. I had read one of her books prior and this was a memoir of her life growing up in Africa and then moving to America after she got married. It’s a really good book but I love memoirs and enjoy her writing style so I’m a bit biased I suppose. Two passages stood out to me from this book: “But the truth is, most of the things that change the course of our lives happen in fleeting, unguarded moments” and “ It’s rarely the thing you prepare for that undoes you.”
P.S. I’m not saying you should read these, because that would contradict Rule #1.