It’s no secret: I love, love, love books.
That new-book smell. The feel of crisp pages between my fingers. Unwrapping books from their boxes. All of them lined up in a row on my bookshelf. Bookmarks and highlighters and notes scribbled in margins.
Sometimes, when I walk through the doors of The Elliott Bay Book Company, my favorite local bookstore, I imagine the millions upon millions of years and moments and bits of personal experience that are stored on the shelves. Literal blood, sweat, and tears have gone into their pages, hundreds of thousands of lifetimes stored in their bindings. It's awesome in the truest sense of the word.
When I graduated from college, I told myself that I would never stop reading. After my last class ended, I remember being terrified that my life would be like one long summer break. While one long summer break doesn’t sound so bad - all bike rides and sunshine and long stretches of freedom, for me, it also meant the inevitable atrophying of my mental muscle. Remember sitting down at your desk after a long summer break only to realize that you forgot how to do the work? Forgot how to write, pen to paper? Forgot how to think critically and gather knowledge?
That. That’s what I was afraid of.
So, when graduation approached, I made the commitment: I would never stop reading.
And I haven’t.
As a writer, a creative, and a human dedicated to knowing more, learning more, growing more, reading is my creative nourishment. It’s how I introvert in and rejuvenate my spirit. It’s how I expand and learn to express and remember how to feel and behave and reflect. Fiction. Non-fiction. Memoir. Poetry. Short stories. It doesn’t matter. It’s fuel. Food. Self-care. Life.
And when my husband became a reader (4 years into our relationship!), I swear I fell in love with him all over again. There’s nothing more attractive than a man with a book. Other than a man with a puppy. Because… puppies, y'all.
Anyhow… Each year, I collect and recollect the best books that I’ve read over the past 365 days. And, love, there have been so. many. good. books.*
Without further ado...
Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown
If you've been around here for long, you know that Brene is my girl. Vulnerability. Storytelling. Authenticity. I'm all about it. But, y'all, this book surprised me. Brene writes about belonging and courage and uncomfortable conversations in a way that made me feel understood on a soul-level and challenged to be better... and braver.
Profit First, Mike Michalowicz
Back in January, I read Mike Michalowicz's The Pumpkin Plan, and it shifted the foundation of how my team and I strategized for growth over the past twelve months. Just a few months later, I began hearing the buzz around Michalowicz's most recent release, Profit First. For each and every creative entrepreneurs, cash flow means the difference between a healthy bank account and burnout. Michalowicz provides a step-by-step plan to make your business profitable - starting with your next sale.
Lexicon, Max Barry
Do you ever pick up a book at random and, from the very first page, inhale it in a matter of hours? That's what happened when I picked up Lexicon, an NPR Best Book of the Year, at the San Francisco International Airport. I literally sucked it down before we touched down in Seattle. Thrilling and daring, this is one of my favorite non-fiction reads of the year. Plus, words as a superpower? Sign me up.
The Book of Joy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
This book single-handedly inspired one of my favorite business ventures this year: the #CultivateJoy Conversations (and our retreat, the #CultivateJoy Retreat!). The Book of Joy weaves between vivid observation and deep conversation, leaving the reader more joyful just by reading it. But more than the surface-level happiness that we so often seek, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu share how to seek deeper joy, one that persists through suffering, discomfort, and change.
Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
Why did I wait until just this year to dig into this book? Y'all. Yes. All the yes-es. With a couple of Audible credits just sitting in my queue, I finally downloaded this book - with Shonda Rhimes' narration to boot. Sweet, fierce, and honest, the Year of Yes reaffirms so much of what I believe about the life of a creative - and pushes me to discover and articulate new truths, for my business and my life.
From books that didn’t make the Top 5 to novels that have been recommended by, well, everyone, these are a few that should find their way into your Amazon cart (or to the counter at your favorite indie bookseller)!
Dark Matter: A Novel, Blake Crouch
the sun and her flowers, rupi kaur
You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero
Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner
What are some of your favorites?! Share in the comments below.
*You’ll note that book links lead to Amazon.com, but most if not all of these titles can be found at your favorite local, indie bookstore! Please note, some links contain affiliate information.