My 2015 Reading List

I managed to read 24 books in 2015. I’m currently reading Emily Giffin’s The One and Only and I’m going to try and finish it before January 1st, but for now my number is 24. I’d aimed to read 30 books this year so I missed by… let’s say 5. 

Which books did I love? The Happiness of Pursuit (Chris Guillebeau). Waking Up (Sam Harris). Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert). The Art of Asking (Amanda Palmer). Daring Greatly (Brene Brown). 

The only book on this list that could be described as bad would be, you guessed it, Grey. I had fun reading it but it was horribly cheesy and as poorly written as the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. 

What books do I plan to read in 2016? I’m going to finish The One and Only (if I don’t finish it before Friday), followed by possibly finishing A Town Called Alice (a book that my dad recommended that I had a really hard time getting in to).

In the spirit of de-cluttering (thanks, Marie Kondo), I didn’t ask for many books for the holidays this year. Besides The One and Only, I received Griftopia (Matt Taibbi), Revenge Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger), and Columbine (Dave Cullen). 

My attempt to not gather and hoard books anymore I believe will be proven futile after walking through Strand Books tonight. I saw so many books that I wanted to buy and read. Books like St. Mark’s is Dead, One of Us, Just Kids, The Opposite of Loneliness, and 10:04. I also have a ton more nonfiction novels on my floating book case in my apartment.

So many choices. So many books. So little time. I’m setting a goal of reading 25 books in 2016. I should be able to easily.

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

I read this book in a little under two weeks. It’s really a quick, easy, and joyful read. This is a totally different book from Eat Pray Love or Committed. I think she was trying to inspire people to create cool shit not, even if it never makes you any money. And I think that’s awesome.

The Voice

Lately I’ve been telling myself that I’m not a very good writer. That I haven’t found my voice yet. Who knows if I should even bother still blogging. Blah, blah, blah. What I’m really doing is comparing myself to other people who I consider better writers. They’re really just different writers than I am.

I’m happy to have found Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic, right around this time.  (I actually didn’t find it, I just picked it up off my shelf where the advanced copy has been sitting for a few months.) Gilbert talked about how she took a vow as a teenager to spend her life writing, whether or not she ever made a dime at it, and she spent her 20′s finding her voice by writing all the time. 

So I thought, that sounds good. It’s inspired me to stop my bitching and just write. That I should just write more. I’m going to make a habit of writing anything for at least 30 minutes a day if I want to get better. Not blogging once a day necessarily, just writing, like on actual paper.

I think that’s the only way to find your voice. Just keep writing. Otherwise you’re just imitating or even worse, comparing. 

(Relevant: Jordan, one of my personal favorite bloggers, just posted this link on her blog today, how timely!: (How To) Get Over Comparing Yourself to Other Creatives)

Back on December 4th, I joined a march for Eric Garner and against police brutality. While we were stopped on the West Side Highway, I asked a dude what was being said or happening further away then I could see (he was tall). We continued chit chatting for a little while and then in the midst of a confrontation between police and protestors, we lost each other.

The following Saturday I decided to post on “Missed Connections,” fully expecting nothing. I wrote every piece of information that I could remember about him. A few days later, after I’d forgotten about the post, I got an email. It was him. His friend (who, he said, was the kind of person who spent free time reading Craigslist ads) had found it and forwarded it to him.

We met up a few days later after we both marched (separately) in the Millions March. It turns out that he was a fan of Buddhism and regular meditator. We also both loved John Lennon. And reading, among other things. It was really nice. It was easy. We meditated together. He met one of my best friends. He was completely honest with me about how he felt (and it was good) and I was with him too. I was pretty sure he was one of my soulmates.

Then he found out that he’d gotten accepted to a great school to go to their post-bac pre-med program and everything changed (understandably). He wasn’t a science person and he was trying to make himself one so he needed to study. And study, and study more. We decided last week when he came downtown to have lunch with me that it was for the best not to date anymore. He just didn’t have the time that he wished he had.

It was hard and it sucks. But it was also the logical decision. I still believe he was one of my soulmates, but as Elizabeth Gilbert points out above, it doesn’t always mean that’s the person you’re meant to be with.

I’m still trying to sort out what the lesson was that I was supposed to learn from these past two months. I’m sure it’ll come to me when I least expect it. Just like he did. 

I remember an old catholic joke about a man who spent his whole life going to a church every day and prayed to the statue of a great saint begging “please, please, please, let me win the lottery.” Finally the exasperated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man and says “my son, please, please, please, buy a ticket.”

My office manager sent out an email to the office last night asking if we wanted to pool our money to buy our chances at winning tonight’s megalotto (I think it’s $550 million?). I’ve never played the lottery (except if you count when I was 7 and used to convince the guys at 7-11 to sell me those scratch-off BINGO cards) and I think it’s usually a waste (and by usually, I mean always) and I hate wasting my money.

But how stupid would I feel if one of our (now) 108 chances won and I hadn’t put in my $10? Yeah, I’d feel like a jackass. So, as long as I’m one of 18 people who can feel either really, really, really happy, or like a wasteful dope, I’m mostly OK with putting my money down.

So, for this night, I feel the above quote from Eat, Pray, Love is highly relevant. You have to play to win. That being said: I’m expecting to wake up tomorrow and still be mostly-broke. 

Lastly: May the odds be ever in your favor.

It took me longer than usual to read Committed.  My aunt had sent me the book for my birthday (in April) and I was excited because, and yes I will admit it, I loved Eat, Pray, Love (and I’m excited for the movie). I was a bit saddened to find out that Gilbert had once again gotten married but once I delved deeper into her second memoir, I realized that her (and her now-husband, Felipe) were as equally saddened by the fact that they had to once again be married.  For some reason, that made me feel better.

Committed was more-or-less a study of marriage in western culture intertwined with her dealing with her personal struggles regarding marriage and all that happened while her and Felipe were traveling around Asia when they he wasn’t allowed back into the country.  They even asked the US Department of Immigration if Gilbert could hire him, to which the immigration official asked Felipe, “You would rather be employed by her than marry her?”

  • She discovered that people who married for (economic) necessity and less for love usually had a better chance of not getting divorce (depressing!).  
  • The younger you get married, the more likely it is you’ll get divorced (duh).  
  • Another fun fact: the church DISCOURAGED marriage when it was first introduced into society.  Having a private life with your significant other was grounds for subversive action against the church (why do you think priests aren’t allowed to marry?) as far as they were concerned.  Finally the church took action when they realized they couldn’t prevent marriage from happening, and well, we know what a fine job the church does with everything that they dabble in.  
  • In many parts of Scandinavia, marriage is passe (when is that mindset going to make its way here?) and unnecessary.
  • Pre-nuptial agreements are kind of necessary.  It’s hard to think about the separation of assets when you love someone so much, but just think about how much harder it is to discuss that kind of thing when/if you’ve grown to hate that person.

There were so many interesting facts in this book that I could go on for days.  None of it made me want to run to the alter, obviously.  Gilbert made peace with the fact that they just had to get married and then the US Government didn’t matter one bit.  They could shape their marriage however they wanted.  THe US Government could, for lack of better phrasing, go to hell.  

I’m excited to read her next book, which I’m hoping she’s already writing.  I think this is a must-read for anyone who is getting married or aspires to.  

(photo via)