This year, every few months I am choosing the books that inspired me or spoke to me the most, and sharing a little bit about them here on the blog. As always, you can see everything I’m reading on my Goodreads profile!
These two months were pretty intense: I was doing my yoga teacher training in wild, wonderful, crazy India, and then I was home with my family again relaxing after a year and a half away. I didn’t do quite as much reading as I normally do but I read some excellent books.
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This was an amazing book. It was recommended to me by my friend Dylan, who gushed about it and said it was one of the best books he’d read in a very long time. I’d have to agree with him: it is beautifully written, very evocative, and emotional. At its core it is a soaring story of love lost and found, but it also manages to be educational in a vivid way. The book’s protagonist is a young woman who grew up in Nigeria and later moved to the United States. It was fascinating to read about her perspective on the cultural similarities and differences between Africans and African-Americans, and learn more about each. I felt like I walked away more well-informed.
2. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
To be perfectly honest, at the time of this writing I don’t remember many of the individual stories from this collection BUT I have a feeling they’re the kind of stories that will come back to me at (seemingly) random moments or occur to me as I’m working through some kind of personal problem. This was my first time reading Lorrie Moore – this book was recommended by the blog Cup of Jo – and I really enjoyed her writing. A lot of the stories are written in a “how-to” style (hence the title) that I found very poignant, they were about dark topics but very funny, and most of them were very relatable.
3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
At first I didn’t like this book (that I’ve been hearing amazing things about for years) because it was 700 pages long and it felt a little slow, but then I realized that I was incapable of putting it down. I liked the main character’s personality (read: irreverence, temper and sense of humour) and I liked the love story too. At times it felt a little predictable, in that it had every imaginable situation for that particular time period (witches being burnt at the stake! a prison break! recuperation at a French monastery!), but I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself the whole time. It went by quickly, and I think I’ll definitely read the next one in the series.
4. Present Moment, Wonderful Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh
This is a very short book whose subtitle is “mindfulness verses for everyday living”. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a collection of little verses (called “gathas”) to recite silently as you go through your day-to-day activities such as eating, washing dishes, driving. They each come with a little explanation of the purpose of the verse, and sprinkled throughout are tidbits about mindfulness and Buddhism, explained in an accessible and loving way. We found this book in a tiny bookstore in India and it came at exactly the right time. One of my favourites is the title gatha: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Breathing in, I am in the present moment. Breathing out, I know that it is a wonderful moment.”
You can see all my book recommendation blog posts here.