Saturday, December 29, 2012

My favorite books in 2012

My name is J. and I have a Goodreads addiction. Nice to meet you.

To be fair, my fascination with Goodreads is a natural extension of my book addiction, which started when I was in first grade, led to my three-year adventure in library school and continues to this day.

For my holiday vacation, I arrived at my destination with a library book and a thick book for review under my arm, and I will attempt now to make it home with three additional books (two for review) along with the e-book I checked out to read for fun.

Not only is Goodreads like carrying a bookshelf around in my computer and on my phone, but it
also helps me keep track of the books I've been reading, and makes it easy to come up with a list of books I loved in any given year.

So here they are in no particular order:

She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems 
edited by Caroline Kennedy
This was published in 2011, but a friend gave me a copy for my birthday, so I got to read it early this year, between my birthday and Valentine's Day. Here's what I wrote on my blog, with longer excerpts: "One of my favorite women in the world gave me this book of poems selected by Caroline Kennedy. May the sweet, enormous love in some of these lines fill you with enough passion to share -- with yourself &/or with others. The book is full of greatness."

Gathering of Waters 
by Bernice McFadden
I interviewed Ms. McFadden over the summer ahead of her visit in Austin. Gathering of Waters is a beautiful in the soul-stirring, spirit-infused tradition of Gloria Naylor's Mama Day. It is connected to the story of Emmett Till, but it is fundamentally a love story.

The Rules of Inheritance
by Claire Bidwell Smith
Claire Bidwell Smith writes in this touching memoir that grief is like another country. The writing is honest, raw and poetic. It is unlike a book like Cheryl Strayed's Wild in that it has more of a quiet levity and far more dark contours than light sarcasm.

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change
by Pema Chodron
I love Chodron everything. Here's a bit more of a review: "In Living Beautifully, Chodron writes with her trademark simplicity and directness about living with uncertainty, opening our hearts to transitions and pain through tonglen practice and learning that the “time of the lone wolf is over” and we cannot make any real changes to ourselves or the world on our own."

by Susan Cain
I almost never read any book about introverts that doesn't make us seem like crazed, abnormal hermits. So it was really refreshing to read this, and I'm really happy Susan Cain got all the press and accolades she did for her work. The TED talk was also great.

The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg
Fans of Malcolm Gladwell's books will enjoy this one. Duhigg, a business reporter at the New York Times, looks at important brands, like Starbucks, Febreze, Target and even Alcoholics Anonymous to give readers a sense of how habit shapes what we purchase. Most of it is fascinating, though I was less interested in the parts describing lab rat experimentation. I learned enough about Target's practices to give me pause when I purchase products there.

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