If you’ve been following me, then you may have noticed a sudden gap in posts.
You see, I didn’t post anything.
Between driving home late Friday night, being turned into free labor, attending one of the most laid-back wedding dinner rehearsals rivaling pajama parties, rehearsing a wedding ceremony, waking up the next day around five to get my work-out kick, finding an awesome bakery with love-at-first-taste coffee and mountains of books, having my hair blown out and curled like a vixen fox, hauling flowers and logs to a church, slipping into a clover green bridesmaid dress while other members of the bridal party complain about having excessively large tits and no room to breathe, meandering through secret tunnels under a church, walking in a wedding ceremony with the most painful heels imaginable on that I began inventing new curse words to add to the dictionary, welcoming when I threw said shoes off, putting shoes back on to cross a street and hobble over to the reception, being texted by the bride to get back to the church to help clean, ordering a Manhattan, drinking Manhattan too quickly on an empty stomach, chuckling in pictures and repeatedly hearing the phrase ‘get your shit together,’ ruining pictures with my high/goofy grins, eating and recovering enough to realize I’ve made an ass of myself, making the rounds with family and friends, having to have my picture taken with every person I meet despite not being the bride, dancing, more dancing, having another drink, losing my keys, finding my keys in my purse after two panic attacks, realizing I have to stay to clean up, locking myself in the bathroom to read a book and muffle out the blaring bass, retreating to the car, realizing Keith and I need to pick up the dog at the hotel, driving home, arriving back at my house around one in the morning, and sleeping, I was too freakishly busy to write a book review.
Sunday? Well, I slept. I stayed awake for five hours that day and was asleep for the remainder of the day. That’s how tired I was. By the time Monday crept up on me, I was at work. Noon passed. I groggily looked at the time, realized that it was Monday, and instead of trying to half-ass a piece, I just decided to give myself a break. The Help will just have to wait.
This week, however, there’s no book review. Instead, as we approach the end of the year, most of us are probably reflecting on what’s happened in 2014. Things we’ve gained and lost. So many unexpected things happened to me this year that I was not prepared for, but I believe helped me grow.
In the book world, we’re looking at our reading goals. If you have Goodreads account, then you’re acutely aware whether or not you’ve met these goals. Sometimes our reading goals involve reading more of a certain genre or reading more in general. But my reading goals are never about the quantity. It’s about the book, my experience with it, and if it leaves a lifetime impression on me.
I had two reading goals this year. The first was to create a book blog and publish weekly book reviews and bookish topics. Other than last week’s transgression, I’ve been fairly fateful to this goal.
The second goal was just to read books I wanted to read versus what I should be reading. It may sound easy, but in the book/publishing industry, if you’re a reviewer, critic, marketer, writer/author, agent, or are in a secret literary organization who’s dedicated their lives to the sanctity of books (look me up please), you’ll meet these kinds of pressures swaying you to read more recently published books, more Classics, more books written by women, more diverse literature, more adult fiction and less YA because you’re an adult and you should be reading in the adult section now, etc. There’s always someone who’s going to tell you what books to read, which can amount to extraneous guilt.
But if you’re reading for pleasure, you have to do what’s best for you. Certainly trying different kinds of books is a good idea, but you have to be open minded to it. Forcing yourself to read something you’re absolutely not interested is useless to you and makes the experience of reading a drag. We don’t want that.
As we are so close to the end of the year, I wanted to give you my top ten books I loved, books that helped me get through some hard times and made me feel less alone, inspired me to do better, and of course, gave me the feels. They also make for great gifts!
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stepehn Chbosky
I recently read and reviewed this book, and it’s already started to worms its way into a special place in my metaphoric heart. A reminder to all outcasts and misunderstood folks ambling for some semblance of normalcy that there is place for you in life.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman
A comical memoir, Nick Offerman, more famously known as his on-screen character Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, delivers uncomplicated, life lessons using meaty content and deadpan humor. He’s similar to Amy Poehler in the way he struggled for years until he finally caught a break. He treats struggle like an accomplishment and truly savors the moment when he’s met his goals. A swift kick in the ass to procrastinator/slackers, you’ll finally get around to those chores around the house and stop making your routine excuses.
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler entertains and shares intimate stories of her life from when she was in SNL to motherhood. In comparison with Mindy Kahling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me and Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Poehler cuts out the cutesy humor and chisels out a piece of authentic, grueling work that still makes you laugh. Admitting that her book was hell to write, she does not shortchange you with fortune cookie lessons. She instead offers practicality and vitality, a voice more women need to hear.
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
A memoir graphic novel, Persepolis wakes you up and knocks you out of your life to pull you into a world of war, sexism, and religious oppression. Satrapi navigates the story beautifully, showing a young girl transform into a liberated woman. Awesome illustrations and a coming-of-age-story, Persepolis is inspirational.
- How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Moran certainly is a woman who feels she doesn’t have to make any apologies, and why should she? She occupies your time with crude and cutting insights that investigate a multifaceted definition of womanhood. When she says, “I’m a feminist,” you’re compelled to do the same and shout it out like a gun salute.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A dense and lengthy read, The Book Thief should be on everyone’s book shelves. It follows the life of a little girl in Nazi Germany in World War II. It’s told by possibly one of my favorite narrators of all time: Death. When you’re finished reading it, the last line will haunt you and won’t leave you for days. This book definitely leaves its mark.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s only novel, criminally labeled as nothing more as depressing, is a must read. Plath tentatively shares with us visceral emotions and punches you with unforgettable, poetic lines. The Bell Jar reminds us that pain is universal, and when you’re in a dark place, sometimes we start to see things distortedly. Thank you, Esther.
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I haven’t identified with a character in a book in a long time. If you’re introverted, an obsessive writer, socially awkward, and a big fan of fan fiction, this book will make you smile and say, “that girl is totally me!”
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
It’s about a girl who meets a boy, and they start dating. Cliché, right? Not this story.
It’s chronicled through a series of pictures illustrating what the girl has put in her box, the break-up box. While the girl may be young, the story is sophisticated and probes you with thought itching questions. It explores the dynamics of relationships, preservation, and the need to spew out toxicity. It reminded me to see things as they are instead of seeing them as we’d want to see them. We can make mistakes and let go. There is a moving-on point.
There you have it. My top ten books I loved reading in 2014, which would make great gifts to loved ones during the holidays. What were some of your favorites? Thanks everyone for following me.
Hopes for many more wonderful books in 2015!