[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
I reread this book this year, in part because it was so useful the first time around and in part to determine what information would help me train better now. Dr. Sims' tagline is that "Women are not small men. Stop eating and training like one." She writes about how to eat, supplement, and train throughout all phases of a woman's life; how to train with our cycle, and how to adapt to our unique female physiology. It's a highly readable, deeply educational book that I recommend to every female athlete.
2. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I bought this book for $3.99 on Thrift Books (check it out if you're looking for deals on gently used books). Everyone has read (or at least heard about) this book, or seen the movie rendition. If I were you, I'd read the book and stick it out through the first section, as the beginning can drag a bit. Once Krakauer begins telling the story of summiting Mt. Everest, the book really takes off. Told with poignant clarity, his account of climbing Everest is harrowing, griping, and a singular work of journalistic excellence.
3. The Tender Bar: a Memoir by J.R Moehringer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Set in a bar in the Long Island city of Manhasset, Moehringer tells the story of his abnormal family life, a mother doing her best to get by, eccentric grandparents, an absent father, and Uncle Charlie, who brings him to Dickens, where J.R meets men who he idolizes and who, for better or worse, teach him how to be a man. It's a coming of age story infused with tragedy and comedy. Read the book but please don't watch the movie.
4. Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson ⭐⭐
I listened to this book on Audible, at the recommendation of a friend. Lawson writes all about her depression and anxiety, and the book is a series of anecdotes that are by turns funny and relatable. Maybe I didn't relate as much as others because I wasn't anxious or depressed while I read this book, but for some reason it didn't strike a chord with me. Lawson is a great writer, and the book comes complete with photos and illustrations.
5. Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is Gonzalez's debut novel and it's not to be slept on. The novel is set in 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro, are both semi-public figures in their New York neighborhood. While their lives seem glitzy from the outside, there is drama, corruption, and familial strife hidden behind closed doors. This book was also set against the backdrop of one f the most devastating hurricanes to hit Puerto Rico. I listened to it on Audible, and it was an easy listen, very airport friendly.
6. My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams ⭐⭐
Like most of you, I watched Inventing Anna on Netflix and was hooked on not only the incredible storytelling but by the show's protagonist, Anna Delvey, who is problematic in more ways than one. My Friend Anna was written by one of Anna's good friends Rachel, (who is no longer her friend). Rachel helped to uncover Anna's long string of deceit and unpaid bills. I read this after watching the Netflix series, and it was an interesting inside look at the somewhat fictionalized events presented by Netflix. It was not that well written, and it felt like Rachel was both defending and justifying her friendship with Anna, which was annoying and tiresome.
7. Never Broken: Songs are Only Half the Story by Jewel ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Who doesn't love Jewel? I've listened to her music for years, and after hearing more about her childhood on a podcast, decided to read her book. Jewel explores her unconventional childhood and upbringing, from playing music with her family in bars in Alaska to being homeless in San Diego, to becoming one of the most decorated artists in history. She also writes about her fraught relationship with her mother, the rise and fall of her marriage, and how writing songs and poetry has helped her make sense of it all. Worth the read even if you're not a Jewel fan.
8. The 7 husband's of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Read ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was one of my favorite Audible books of the year. It tells the story of Evelyn Hugo, a reclusive Hollywood movie icon who was married seven times and who, right before her death, decides to tell the truth about her life. She selects a journalist named Monique to write her memoir, and the reader later finds out that their lives are inextricably intertwined. A very 1950's Hollywood romance/mystery that is by turns heartbreaking and highly entertaining.
9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Glass Castle might be the best book I read this year. Jeannette Walls wrote a brutally honest memoir about growing up with two unstable parents who tote her and her three siblings from town to town to avoid bill collectors. Her father was a drunk and her mother was mentally unwell. Going from one run-down living situation to the next, the family's situation only worsens. One by one, her siblings escape to New York to make a life for themselves and now, as a successful adult, Jeanette watches as her mother becomes willingly homeless. The Glass Castle is riveting, at times nearly unbelievable. It's sad in some ways, but it is ultimately a redemptive tale of overcoming hardship, pain, and heartbreak.
10. Verity by Colleen Hoover ⭐⭐⭐
Hoover is one of those authors with a million titles, but Verity is one of her most popular. It tells the story of Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, who is hired by Jeremy Crawford, husband of best-selling author Verity Crawford, to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen finds an unfinished biography of Verity's, full of family secrets. Lowen and Jeremy (of course) fall in love. It's a romance mystery that I read due to hype, but wasn't all that hyped about.
11. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen ⭐⭐⭐
Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite young-adult authors, and I've read every one of her books. I found What Happened to Goodbye in a used book store by the beach. It tells the story of a girl named Mclean, the divorce of her parents, and how being uprooted helped her re-discover herself. Dessen's trademark wit, grace, and compelling storytelling makes her books engaging for readers of all ages.
12. I'd Like to Paly Alone, Please by Tom Segura ⭐⭐⭐
I listened to Tom Segura's book on Audible. Once, while listening on a run, I had to stop to catch my breath and get my laughter under control. Segura is one of my favorite comics, and his humor translates to the page. I'd Like to Play Alone, Please is a collection of stories that won't test your IQ, but will keep you entertained.
13. Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee ⭐⭐⭐
This was Lee's breakout novel, and it feels part memoir, part fiction. Casey Han is a young Korean woman, who, after spending four years at Princeton, isn't sure what to do with her life. Her parents are immigrants who work in a dry cleaners, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Casey is doing her best to break away, and as she navigates Manhattan, she becomes starkly aware of the economic and social divides between where she comes from and where she wants to go. Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities and throughout different stages of life.
14. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey ⭐⭐⭐
This book was originally marketed as a memoir, but after some controversy surrounding the truthfulness of some of it's contents, it was remarketed as "creative nonfiction." James writes about his addiction to any and all drugs, and his time in a treatment center in Upstate New York. He meets all sorts of interesting people, and slowly but surely begins to embrace the idea of sobriety. He falls in love with a woman at the center, and after leaving, maintains sobriety.
15. Sacred Cow by Diana Rodgers RD and Rob Wolf ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sacred Cow might be the most important book I read this year. After spending years as a vegan, I had a difficult time grappling with the reality of eating animals. The authors make the case that animals, specifically beef, are often wrongly framed as environmentally destructive and unhealthy. They take a critical look at our current food system and at proposed solutions. They show not only that beef is healthy and essential but that sustainable food systems cannot exist without animals and that regenerative cattle ranching is one of the best ways to eat better and mitigate climate change.
16. White Oleander by Janet Fitch ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was one of the best books I read this year, and an Oprah book club favorite as well. White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, who goes through a series of Los Angeles foster homes. The reader gets an inside look into the foster system, and Fitch paints a brilliant story that kept me turning the pages. On a flight to New York, I read White Oleander for five hours straight without bothering to blink.
17. One Two Three by Laurie Frankel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Another one of my favorites. One Two Three is set in a town called Bourne, where something bad happened at a factory that poisoned the water and therefore the people living in Bourne. The Mitchell triplets (One, Two, and Three) are beloved by the townspeople and are being raised by their single mother. The sisters slowly unravel a years-old mystery surrounding their water, the corporation that polluted it, and how the justice system failed them.
18. Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This novel is set on Maple Street, a quiet suburb on Long Island. The Wilde family moves in and immediately stick out. A sink hole opens up at a neighborhood barbeque and after a girl falls into the sink hole and dies, the neighborhood turns on the Wildes. One woman, Rhea Schroeder, turns on them especially hard, and the novel ends in a violent outburst that no one in the neighborhood can ever forget. Part mystery, part social commentary, Good Neighbors was hard to put down.
19. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Steinbeck's last published novel, The Winter of Our Discontent won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature. Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children constantly want for things they cannot have. One day, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous moral standards. The Winter of our Discontent explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty.
20. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Eagan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Eagan's books are always ruthlessly researched and beautifully written, and The Worst Hard Time is no exception. Dust storms terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Great Depression, and Eagan writes about them from the perspective of those who lived through it. The rise and fall of the high planes, the way settlers flocked and then fled, and how some of them stayed despite crops failing and family members falling ill from dust. This book is an important look into a forgotten time, and it was by turns deeply disturbing, eye-opening, and informative. A great read even if you're not a history buff.
21. The House of God by Samuel Shem ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The House of God is a hilarious, sobering look into the hospital system and the way doctors are trained. The grueling hours, the constant death and pain, and the responsibility of caring for other humans weighs heavily on those in the healthcare system. The novel's protagonist, Basch, and his colleagues, are not as perfect as we might expect doctors to be. They crack under pressure, engage in elicit affairs with the nursing staff, and run themselves ragged in a hospital known as the House of God. I found this book in a cozy little store in New York, and it was a worthwhile pick-up. With more than two million copies sold worldwide, it has been hailed as one of the most important medical novels ever written.
22. Never Finished by David Goggins ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
David Goggins first book, Can’t Hurt Me, was not only wildly popular, but was also self-published. Goggins believes we all have a well of untapped ability, and he demonstrates, through his own life stories, the power of the mind. Never Finished goes deeper into his life, uncovering the philosophy and psychology that enables him to do extraordinary things, despite the odds. Goggins came from a hard and broken home, and this memoir offers hope and motivation to anyone willing to read it. I listened on Audible, where there's over 3 hours of bonus content, including an interview with his mother.
23. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
An immediate New York Times #1 bestseller, I'm Glad My Mom Died offers an unabashed look into Jenette McCurdy's childhood. Her mother was narcissistic and abusive, and all McCurdy ever wanted to make her mom happy. Her mother orchestrated McCurdy's acting career, indoctrinated her into the world of eating disorders, and died of cancer when McCurdy was only 21. After discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
P.S. Find a new book (for less!) on Thrift Books, or send me a book recommendation (please & thank you).