I absolutely love to read, and I love to share the books I like best with other people. Every few months here on the blog I choose my favourites from what I’ve read lately and write about them. As always, you can see everything I’m reading on my Goodreads profile. You can also check out what I’m reading at #stephlovestoread on Instagram.
According to Goodreads, I’m 11 books behind on my reading challenge for 2016. That said, I am fairly sure that if I were to look back over the past few years, I’d find the same exact pattern of realizing that I was quite behind on my reading as summer comes to a close and the seasons change. Which is to say, I’m not too concerned.
The past few months have been full of life: hard lessons, long walks, sitting quietly, working at my computer, figuring stuff out. I said to a friend the other day that I hadn’t felt like doing anything lately because I felt so drained, and she laughed because of course I haven’t. When all your mental energy is going towards answering big life questions all the time, how are you supposed to muster up the energy to make stuff and socialize? You aren’t. We’re all doing our best, even me.
And that affects what I choose to read – yes, really! When I’m stressed out, I love to re-read books – I find it so comforting. When re-reading I can almost skim, yet I find something new each time, and falling back into stories or words I love is such a nice feeling. My go-to books for re-reading are anything by Sarah Addison Allen and anything by Cheryl Strayed. In August I also re-read Big Magic and loved it just as much the 2nd time.
1. This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick
What I loved most about this book was that it was not about figuring out which place in the world would be perfect for you and then moving there. It was about learning to love the place where you already live, and not just through wishful thinking but through taking action. Throughout the book there are stories of people who love all kinds of cities and towns, and she uses their stories to figure out strategies she herself can use to love her small town more than she initially does. These are simple, profound things like walking everywhere, making friends with your neighbours, contributing something to your community, shopping at the local stores that you love, and starting whatever you wish existed. As I gear up to live in a place I never thought I liked all that much, I was inspired by the idea that there are so many things I can do to love it more.
2. Slade House by David Mitchell
David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors, and I love that he doesn’t restrict himself to just one style or genre of writing. His books are so varied and fascinating, and for that reason Slade House was not what I was expecting at all. It’s an impeccably written, creepy as anything horror novel set in England that spans several decades and characters. To be honest, it really freaked me out, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m probably not doing a great job here of either describing it or making it sound like something you’d want to read, but I went into it with no idea what I was getting myself into and was blown away.
3. I Need Your Love – Is That True? by Byron Katie
I’m not a huge fan of the title, but Byron Katie is completely amazing. I had been hearing about her book Loving What Is for a few months, but the library only had this other book by her, so I decided to start with this one. I just finished reading Loving What Is, and as great as it was, I have to say I liked this one even better – quite possibly because it was my first time learning about the four questions she uses in her method and the strategy of the turnaround, which were game-changers for me. This method, which she calls The Work, is so simple, so truthful, and brings such clarity. It’s a powerful tool that I have already found useful in my life several times since reading and am so happy I’ve learned it.
4. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
This one is not new, and I was tempted to put another book that I didn’t like as much on this list for the sake of recommending new things. But that wouldn’t have been right, exactly, because the truth is that I enjoyed re-reading this one for the 4th time more than I enjoyed reading some other books for the 1st time. So! On the off chance that anyone here hasn’t read this one yet, here is your reminder. It makes me feel peaceful, connected, and inspired every single time. Read my longer review of this book (from 2012!) here.
You can see all my book recommendation blog posts here.