I decided that in 2015, I was going to read more.
This might seem a little bizarre, since most people assume that since I write books I also read books constantly. And there was a time when I did— but when there were deadlines or meetings or book tours or dinners I found myself thinking of reading more and more as a “leisure” activity, akin to marathoning a show or going to a movie. Which, of course, it isn’t– reading is part of my job! And it’s something that undeniably makes me a better writer, happier person, and, if I say so myself, cooler human being.
And so I really settled in to reading in 2015. I didn’t have a specific number of books in mind, though I did decide to keep track of what I read (and I will say that keeping track of what I read was VERY satisfying because the number kept going up and thus I felt nerdily productive). Here are the stats:
In 2015, I read 73 books (and will perhaps make it to 74 before the year is truly up).
Of those, I listened to 47 as audiobooks.
Yep, 2015 was THE YEAR OF THE AUDIOBOOK. I’ve actually never been hugely into audiobooks before, but I decided that if I really wanted to up my reading, I would need to use them– I spend a lot of time in the car, or walking, or puttering around the house, or cooking– and that was time that could be used listening to books. Listening to audiobooks is definitely a very different experience than reading a hard copy book, but I’m telling you, it’s every bit as rewarding. In some ways, I think I retain more from audiobooks because I can’t skim ahead, no matter how badly I want to know what happens on the next page.
I thought I’d break down my 2015 in several posts rather than one giant long post. Also, keep in mind that there are a handful of books I’m super excited about that came out late in 2015, and thus I just haven’t had a chance to read. So with that in mind…
My favorite non-fiction books of 2015:
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – Caitlin Doughty
I truly cannot express how much I loved this book. The author does a really amazing web series called Ask A Mortician; she has a wonderful voice (as you’ll see if you follow that link) and does a phenomenal job with her audio book. I have always been interested in death in way that often feels very different than my peers; I’m not into coffin couches or skull ornaments or making a laugh out of it (which is totally fine, for what it’s worth)– death is something that intrigues me in a very serious and somber way, specifically how personally we all handle the idea of it as well as how we approach the very personal act of mourning. Doughty does a truly wonderful job of telling funny, weird stories about life as a crematory operator– but she’s always respectful. She seems to take a great deal of pride in her job, and recognizes the importance of her role despite how many bodies and families and deaths and funerals she’s seen over the years.
Additionally, she sheds light on some fascinating funeral traditions, and has some eye-opening thoughts on America’s death practices, specifically embalming. I really enjoyed hearing her discuss the cultural, personal, and communal value of certain death traditions, even those that may seem a little bizarre to our ears (one specific story about cannibalism was really interesting). This is one of those books that I am going to be recommending for years and years– it has real staying power.
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
I almost don’t even have anything more to say about this book, since I’ve been shouting about it on Twitter for weeks now. I chanted the title to all my writing friends. And non-writing friends. And pets. It is the warm hug of creativity that I didn’t know I needed. I finished it and got back to work on a book I love, but have been neglecting. I think it has changed my life. No, for real. I think it has. I had a rough summer creatively and personally, but reading this renewed my faith in myself as an author and person. Do I sound sappy? I sound a little sappy. But whatever, I don’t care. Read this book and feel magical.
Troublemaker – Leah Remini
So, my very awesome friend/author/derby girl Lauren Morrill told me I needed to listen to this book. And I was sort of like…meh? I mean, I never watched King of Queens? I only know Leah Remini as Stacey Carosi from those weird beach episodes of Saved By The Bell? And then Lauren said “It’s ALL ABOUT Scientology” and I was like “SIGN ME UP.” This book is total candy, but in the best, most delightful way. Do the audiobook if you can– Leah reads it and it’s like she’s in your car with you, explaining how messed up Scientology is and rolling her eyes and yelling curse words at anyone who dares cut you off in traffic. It is a fun read/listen about a crazypants religion, and I loved it and you should listen to it and then we can talk about all the Tom Cruise Wedding stuff because O.o.