Going to call 2014 The Year I Fell Back in Love with Reading. I read so many more books when I was in school, for business and for pleasure. It took a little de-rust-ification (and some really, really great book discoveries) to get me back into it this year.
I never stopped loving books, you see, or at least the idea of them, but I did finish fewer books in 2012 & 2013. Not coincidentally, I’m sure, 2012 was the year I finally caved and got an iPhone. I didn’t even keep a blog log of books I read in 2013. Don’t worry; there were…some.
But here we are. I read 14 books in ’14. How poetic. (I should say FINISHED 14 books. If one were inclined to juke the stats, as our friends on The Wire say, and count all the books that started or dipped in and out of, the number would be much higher.)
To celebrate a year well read, and give you an easy-to-digest rundown of the results, I’m picking up an old whatsarahisreading tradish, with the annual list of Tweet-length Book Reviews. (A couple of these are longer than 140-characters. I MAKE THE RULES!) Enjoy.
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
LOLs and more insightful moments than you might expect from comically bad MS paint drawings. Origin of ubiquitous “ALL THE THINGS!” things.
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Everything you loved from her TED Talk in 160-pages. Practical advice + empathy + sense of humor. A true life saver for me last winter.
- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams & Danny Penman
Worth it for the included mp3 guided meditations alone. Written by real brain doctors, so it’s light on the foofoo and heavy on the helpful.
- Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual by Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser
The improv B.I.B.L.E., yes that’s the book for me! It feels (almost) like taking an improv class in the privacy of your own home. Game on.
- The Tools of Screenwriting by David Howard and Edward Mabley
Screenwriting class was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. (Howard’s ‘How to Build a Great Screenplay’ is more narrative, also great.)
- 10% Happier: How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works by Dan Harris
A meditation skeptic-turned-believer, this irreverent journalist tries mindfulness to ease anxiety. ‘Make the present moment your friend.’
- The Little Book of Sitcom by John Vorhaus
Just a little amazon ebook, but helpful. Not a lot of books on the subject. “You often have to pass through the bad idea to get to the good one.”
- This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped, but imagining Jason Bateman, Ben Schwartz, Adam Driver & Tina Fey was enough to keep me going.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (Second time)
Stand-alone meditations (I’m into it!) on writing/creating in spite of all the tempting, persuasive, habitual reasons not to. “Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
- We Learn Nothing: Essays by Tim Krieder
This book fills me with grateful reverence, like having discovered a new dear friend. A more-relatable David Sedaris. First love: this essay about his cat. (Yes, really. It’ll win you over.)
- Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Speaking of winning-over: Lena Dunham. Saw her book tour in Iowa City (love!) this fall, the week after getting my heart broken (for the best!). She was just what the doctor ordered.
- Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
1960s Italy + present-day Hollywood. Romance, mystery + movies. One of the best first chapters ever? My go-to “What should I read next?” recommendation.
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
Handy, well-designed little creativity field guide full of illustrations and quotes. Plus, no small thing, its unusual square shape is fun to hold.
- Tenth of December by George Saunders
Unusual, think-about-them-tomorrow short stories. Each their own little futuristic/sci-fi/dystopian-ish world. Difficult and enjoyable at the same time.