the 2016 best of: book edition

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...


 

Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton

This recommendation is a no-brainer, love. I read it back in October, and it has featured prominently in the wholehearted creative expansion that has occurred over the past few months. True, real, heart-wrenching, and hopeful, I wish that each and every loved one in my world had a copy of this book.

 
 

milk and honey, rupi kaur

I’ve long been a fan of rupi’s poetry via her Instagram profile, and I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of her book, milk and honey, this past summer on a trip to Portland’s Powell’s Books. Feminist, fierce, and, ugh, oh-so-good. She’ll crack you open and put you back together again through her poetry. And you’ll be better for the journey.

 
 

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The truth is that - with business and writing and work - I don’t get much fiction in. I mean, over the past 12 months, I’ve mayyyybe read 3 novels? Thank goodness this was one of them. Adichie, the bestselling author of Americanah, flawlessly weaves the story of Biafra’s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the late 1960’s. Beautiful. Evocative. Vivid.

 
 

You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero

When my dear friend told me that this book had become her bible, I took note. This book is part mindset practices, part spirituality, and entirely wonderful. I’ve passed it along to my husband, my dad, and, now that it’s back at home, it’s on my list for a re-read. 

 
 

Upstream, Mary Oliver

Ok, confession. As we speak, I’m only about halfway through Upstream, but it’s shaping up to be one of my absolute favorites. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Mary Oliver’s poetry, but her selected essays in this book are something else, y’all. For a girl whose heart lives amongst the tall pine trees, this book takes me home.

 

Honorable Mentions

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)!

New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver
A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
The Book of Joy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness, Bari Tessler

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!