Toward the end of every year, I like to think about what I’ve accomplished that year and look ahead by setting goals for the year ahead. Knowing me, that usually means several lists, divided by categories, prioritized…and sometimes color-coded.
Inevitably, personal development is one area that draws a lot of my attention. All that means is me asking myself some questions. What do I want to learn next year? How can I make myself better?
I feel very fortunate to be in a job where much focus is placed on intentional learning, and in turn, quite a bit of reading. So, for the first time ever in 2015 I set a reading goal for myself. I tried to make it challenging but attainable. Turns out I’m a little optimistic.
After a little research and looking the list I keep of books I want to read, I settled on a goal of thirty. And how did I do?
I’ll admit I was a little disappointed in myself when I did my tally at the end of the year, but upon further consideration, that’s not so bad at all. According to the fine folks at the Pew Research Center, the median number of books read by readers last year was 6; the average, pushed up by those always-reading outliers, was 15. By that, I’m above average – yipee!
Here are some of my favorites from 2015 (in the order I read them).
I started the year off with a series awesome and hilarious books written by some equally awesome and hilarious women. What better way to kick of the year, right?
While they all had their merits, none stuck with me as much as Tina Fey’s Bossypants. For years, I’ve heard how much I remind people of her. I’m pretty sure it’s just the similar hair and (usually) glasses, but whatever the reason, I’ll take it.
Bossypants is a hilarious and insightful memoir that follows Tina Fey from childhood near Philadelphia all the way to 30 Rock. It was great to read something that I could have just as easily written – about the challenges of being a woman, in business, in the home…EVERYWHERE!
And it was good.
Another memoir, What Remains is also a love story – a love story from start to finish.
During the story of meeting, falling in love, and marrying her (literal) prince, Carole Radziwill’s What Remains is smart and funny. But it was the final few chapters that brought tears to my eyes. (And if you know me at all, that’s no small feat.)
If you’ve ever loved and lost, no matter the circumstances, this one will tug at your heartstrings.
I made it through about half of episode one on HBO before I had to turn it off, but I just couldn’t escape the craze! Despite the very vivid imagery provided by George R.R. Martin in A Game of Thrones, I’m hooked.
There are definitely some adult themes (thinks incest and torture, to name a couple) involved, but at the root it’s a tale as old as time – family, love, power…the usual suspects.
If you have some time on your hands (each book clocks in at right around 1,000 pages), it’s a fun ride.
Because I figured I should bookend the year with more awesome and hilarious ladies…enter Sara Bareilles and Sounds Like Me.
I’ve been a fan of Miss Bareilles for a long while (since seeing her on Jimmy Kimmel back in 2007), seen her live multiple times, and currently have her What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress playing on a loop.
Despite all that, I did not see this coming. The book is structured as a series of essays, each based around one of her songs. No matter how talented and successful she is, she finds herself constantly struggling with self-doubt.
In the end, I was really just left with one big question: HOW ARE WE NOT FRIENDS YET?
My new reading goal for 2016 is 24 – a little lower than last year’s goal and a little higher than last year’s results. It breaks down to just two books a month. I can do it!
I have a healthy stack of books to read on my shelf, but I’m always looking for new suggestions. Whadaya got?