It's kind of hard to believe, but the end of 2014 has come and gone. If you're anything like me, you make an attempt every year to make some changes, and set some resolutions... and, like you, I usually blow mine by mid-January. 2014's resolutions included some things that didn't exactly stick - eat more vegetables, for example... (I'll try that one again in 2015). I also decided I wanted to read more. I loved bookstores, and the idea of reading books, but I wasn't exactly what you might call a consistent reader. I got bored easily, and always seemed to be too distracted to actually sit down and read for any length of time. I set a goal to read six books throughout the year. That's one every two months, which seemed reasonable enough, but by the time the summer rolled around I had already read six! I readjusted my goal to ten and finished my tenth book with time to spare! Since I'm so proud of myself for actually following through on a new years resolution, I thought it would be fun to share the books with you! I love that I spent all of these hours reading and not on social media, or staring at my cell phone. And trust me, that is a lot of hours because I am one verrryyy slowww reader.
A little bit about my reading likes and dislikes before we dive in. I'm not a fiction lover at all. Even as a young kid, I refused to watch cartoons, and told my parents I only like shows with real people (therefore, I was a huge Mr. Dressup and Fred Penner fan). I can't explain why, but I like true stories, or stories based on true stories, and I have really grown to love memoirs (my new favourite genre). As an entrepreneur, I love business and marketing books. As a Psychology major (SFU), I enjoy books that incorporate contemporary psychology... bonus points if it's a business book that also ties in psychology. And last but not least, as a Christian, I enjoy books about Christianity and the Bible.
At the beginning of the summer a friend gave me a stack of books that included The Glass Castle. At first I had trouble really 'getting' the writing and the story, but I persevered because so many people had told me how much they loved the book. As I made my way through the memoir of Jeannette Walls' life I found myself completely enthralled with the story. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at her frank comments and humorous touches on such serious topic matter. Before I knew it I couldn't put it down, and never wanted it to end.
Even before I finished The Glass Castle, I ordered Walls' next book, Half Broke Horses, on Amazon, and as soon as it arrived I dove in. Half Broke Horses is based on Jeannette's grandmother, who lead quite the adventurous life for a woman in her day. Setting off on horseback alone in search of work as a teacher, and later flying planes. It's written in the 1st person with the same up front style that had me laughing out loud again. Not everyone will agree (most will say The Glass Castle is the best of her books) but, I liked The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses the same. They were both awesome reads.
It hadn't gotten very good reviews, but when I saw Walls' third book on the shelf at Target, I couldn't resist buying it!! I just love her writing so much, that I had to see if I would like The Silver Star too. The fictional story is about two girls with a mom who's gone a little off the rocker. They end up staying with relatives in a small town and eventually find themselves in some trouble... While it wasn't as good as her first two books, it was totally worth the read! A little slower to get started, but the last third was as enjoyable as I had hoped... and I loved the quirky ending.
Our Interrupted Fairy Tale gets it's own line for a few reasons. First of all, it's an an amazing book about love. The first half will have take you on a trip back in time to your first love... and I mean the first time you were truly in love and didn't know what it was like to have your heart broken. It will tug at the heartstrings. The second half of the book is such a stunning example of what true love is, and what true love does when the going gets rough. Megan's strength and devotion through such a tough situation is something special. We hear people vow, "in sickness and in health" on their wedding day, but don't often take an up close and personal look at what that looks like when the situation arises. I've had the pleasure of meeting the author Megan a couple times (she's a local author). She is nothing short of lovely, and after reading her book, I sincerely look up to her. Megan, you are an inspiration.
**Warning: Tissues Definitely Needed**
On to some more psychology-related reads. Trevor Dayley was raaaaving about Daring Greatly at a conference I attended last year, and I finally ordered a used copy from Amazon over the summer. I definitely have a thing for Social/Contemporary Psychology and this book did not disappoint. Brene Brown's research on shame and vulnerability is extremely applicable to everyday life. She outlines the things we tend to struggle with, what we tend to do to mask and numb our insecurities. Wine, facebook, and blaming people, anyone? Brown's TED talk on this topic is a perfect introduction to this rarely discussed social phenomenon. I have loaned my copy out to my friends, but when I get it back, I think I'll read it again!! It's that good. Not only did I enjoy the topic matter, I also enjoyed Brene's down to earth, honest approach. By no means does she pretend to have life all figured out... even as a shame researcher, she struggles just the same and doesn't try to hide it. Hungry for more, I borrowed one of her other books, The Gifts of Imperfection. Although Daring Greatly is much more thorough, The Gifts of Imperfection was an easy read and definitely had some great points.
Both books got my stamp of approval.
For those of you counting, I actually included 11 books. I'm sorry to throw you off, but I really wanted to include all three of Pete Wilson's books. I actually read Plan B in 2013, but it is probably the book that has stuck with me most out of any of these, and it was the reason I read Empty Promises, and Let Hope In. Pete is a Pastor from Nashville that I stumbled across when a friend mentioned his book (Plan B). We all have an idea of what our lives might look like in the future. No matter how lucky, or unlucky, we are... reality always has a way of letting us down. When (not if) the tough times appear in our lives, its hard not to feel hopeless, angry, sad, frustrated, or <insert your emotion here>. Plan B is all about finding your way, accepting circumstances, and making the most of these situations. He has a neat way of making bible stories applicable today, and whether you believe in God or not, this book will inspire you to think very differently about life's hardships.
His next book, Empty Promises, speaks to the many messages we hear on a daily basis. Just watch a few TV commercials and you will see the world promises us everything - health, beauty, wealth, power, approval, happiness. If you just do <BLANK>, you will be accepted. If you just buy <blank>, you will be beautiful. Yet, we always seem to be left feeling a little empty. Wanting more. So we follow the next empty promise... only to be left unfulfilled... and the cycle continues, again, and again. Pete Wilson breaks down the desires for worth that drive us to chase these Empty Promises the world presents to us.
Lastly, Let Hope In was a practical look at the ways we can choose hope over despair. He touches on the topic of shame (similar to Daring Greatly), but adds a biblical perspective too. The book is filled with illustrations and practical steps we can take to change our approach in life. From trying to control to trusting that everything in under control, from frantically trying to fix our past to leaving it behind and allowing it to transform our future in a positive way.
The last two books were my 2014 business reads. Selling the Invisible is one of those timeless books about marketing that will never cease to be applicable. The information isn't necessarily cutting edge. It's tried and true... kind of like Marketing 101, broken into small sections, complete with examples. It's perfect to keep on your shelf to refer to when you're starting a new project or when you're just feeling like you need a refresher in your business.
Leaders Eat Last, on the other hand, was full of more modern business concepts. Simon Sinek draws on ideas that come from cognitive and biological psychology. I was fascinated to learn the role of hormones in our day to day habits. You know that awesome feeling of accomplishment and energy when you complete a to do list... that's a hormonal response in your brain. You know that quick jolt of satisfaction you get every time you get a new "like" on your facebook status? That's another hormonal response... an addictive one that drives you to obsessively check your phone. The good feelings you get from building relationships with friends and co-workers are also driven by hormones. Sinek goes much deeper into the topic of leadership... What makes a good leader, what makes a leader that is respected, and what makes an organization thrive (hint: it has to do with leadership). Leaders Eat Last is a definitely a multifaceted look at business, and worth picking up. I got his other book, Start With Why, for Christmas, and I can't wait to reading it!
If you want to get into reading more, I highly recommend using Goodreads (the website, or the iPhone app). It helps you track your reading progress, keep track of what books you have already read, and what books you want to read next. It also uses the data you enter to recommend other books you may like... so much better than aimlessly wandering the aisles at Chapters! My goal for 2015 is 15 books! EEk, wish me luck!!