My Year (In Books)


A lot of people believe that exercise pertains only to the body but I believe exercising the mind is just as important. Whether you’re reading books, magazines, the newspaper, or online journals or blogs, you’re keeping your mind sharp and enhancing your intellectual well-being! As the year winds down and I reflect on the books I’ve read, I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you!

Favorite Funny: It’s a toss up between Tina Fey’s Bossypants and A.J. Jacobs’ Drop Dead Healthy but if I had to pick, I’d go with Jacobs. I suppose it’s because as a wellness professional I found  his quest to be the healthiest person in the world both amusing and informative. Anything Jacobs writes is laugh out loud funny in my opinion.

Favorite Travel Adventure: As some of you know, I went to Croatia this summer. While there were a few different reasons why I selected Croatia as my summer vacation, Jennifer Wilson’s Running Away to Home certainly helped. Jen is actually a neighbor of mine so that made reading about her family’s move to Croatia to trace her heritage that much more interesting. I highly recommend this book and highly recommend Croatia as your next destination. Here’s a favorite photo from the National Park, Plitvice Lakes.

Favorite Historical: I know you’re going to be surprised that I classify this as historical, but Breasts, a Natural and Unnatural History (see, it even says so in the title) by Florence Williams was one book I couldn’t put down. Williams talks about the history of everything from implants to breast feeding to breast cancer and I found it both fascinating and disturbing. Since I have a mother, grandmother, and aunt who have survived breast cancer, I especially listened closely to the parts about our environment as a possible contributor to breast cancer. This book inspired me to start reducing the amount of plastic I have in my home which you’ll learn more about at a later time.

Favorite Memoir: I read a few different memoirs, including Keith Richard’s Life, but nothing came close to The Girl in the Green Sweater, Krystyna Chiger’s story about hiding in the sewers of Lvov, Poland during World War II with her family and other Polish Jews. As a child, Chiger lived underground for 14 months and is the last surviving member of this group. The film, In Darkness (2011) was based on this story. While both the film and book are excellent, I recommend the book.

Favorite Author and Overall Favorite Book: This is the year I stumbled upon Emmanuel Carrère, a French author and screenwriter whose writings I’ve completely fallen for. I was reading an excerpt of his book. Lives Other Than My Own in a magazine last year and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book. I’ve read all of his books (at least all that have been translated), except for one that is en route to my house on a UPS truck. Carrère’s early writings are primarily fiction but most recently he writes non-fiction, which I favor most. His memoir, My Life as Russian Novel, was released in 2010 and is my favorite Carrère book and my favorite read of 2012. Like he does in Lives Other Than My Own, he takes multiple narratives and interweaves them into one interesting and captivating story. My Life as a Russian Novel is about his journey to find out why his grandfather disappeared in the 1940’s, his time in Russia documenting the disappearance of a Hungarian solider during World War II, and his struggles to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend who resides in France.

What was your favorite book of 2012 or that you read in 2012?

  • Erin

    Someday, I’ll take up reading the way you have! …You inspire me- in so many ways friend!:)

  • Johanna

    Thanks, Erin! You inspire me as well.

  • Heidi

    I love this post! I’m going to have to pick up your favorite memoir.

  • Johanna

    I think you’d really enjoy The Girl in the Green Sweater, Heidi! Hope to catch up and see you soon.