1. The Invention of Hugo Cabret

A young friend read the story of Hugo Cabret to me over the course of several months this year. It’s a work of art, both the stories and illustrations. As we giggled together over the sassy antics of Isabelle, my friend exclaimed, “This is fun!”- something I never imagined I’d hear him say about reading anything, much less a book over 500 pages. For that reason alone it’s one of my favorites of the year.


2. The Writing on my Forehead

A friend passed this book on to me, knowing I’d love it. The story centers on a daughter in a Muslim-American family and explores the notions of tradition, culture, the cyclical nature of mother and daughter relationships, and the push and pull of individual will bound by family ties.


3.  Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking

Read my quickie review here.


4. Outliers: The Story of Success

After reading my first Gladwell book I went on a Gladwell binge, watching his Ted Talks, recommending him to everyone, and rushing out to buy his other books. He’s such a rockstar genius.  I love his hair. I wanted to hang posters of him up in my bedroom, but that’s where El-D drew the line.

5. The Myth of You and Me

This story left me devastated and crying like a lunatic in my bathtub. It’s about a beautiful friendship that goes horribly awry.

6. Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

After taking two economics courses in college, I was convinced the topic could never be made interesting even with buzz words like “freak” and “rogue” attached to it.  I was wrong. This was fascinating.


7. Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

Read my quickie review here.


8. The Retreat: A Novel

I met the author of this novel, Carol Kortsch, on a retreat during fall break. Reading the book helped keep me in a retreat frame of mind after I returned back to my semester.


9. Fowl Weather

Read my quickie review here.


10. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Parker Palmer always takes me on a deep dive into Self. He makes me want to be a better person with all his Quakerness. Here’s a flavor of what this book offers:

 …the word vocation…is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear.  Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by whch I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life (p. 4).

Let your life speak…Let the highest truths and values guide you. Live up to those demanding standards in everything you do (p.2).

11-13. Fifty Shades Trilogy

Oh yes I did – because sometimes I need to balance out my psyche with some lowbrow smut. It’s called equilibrium people!  And I can’t wait for the movie.  Read my quickie review here.


14. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

It seemed like something I should read to follow up Tolle’s The Power of NowIt read more like an extension of the earlier work than a stand alone whole.

15. The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

Read my quickie review here.

16. The Hand: How its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture

When I finished reading this book I felt like my small brain grew three sizes. This is a masterpiece work by the brilliant neurologist, Frank Wilson. It took me quite awhile to read it – two years –  because it’s packed with so much fascinating information, including references and footnotes, which sent me reeling down unexpected paths. And then sometimes I just had to stop reading and stare at my hands like “Whoa, these are my hands…” in a trippy sort of way because this book took me down the rabbit hole to the jungles of Hadar to meet australopithecines and there were all these bones to look at there, but we couldn’t stay long because there were chimpanzees, musicians, jugglers, rockclimbers, and puppeteers to meet.  Wilson’s writing style reminds me a bit of Oliver Sacks. It was a really good book, I tell you.

17. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Read my review here.

18. When You are Engulfed in Flames

I don’t know how El-D discovered David Sedaris.  I’m almost certain he hasn’t read any of his work. But several years ago he gave me Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day , an audiobook he found at the Goodwill.  Last year it was his idea for us to sit in the glow of the Christmas tree and  listen to SantalandThis year he gave me When you are Engulfed in Flames, another Goodwill find.  I loved it. This one also left me a lunatic in the bathtub, this time cackling.

19. Full Dark, No Stars

Read my quickie review here.


20. Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel (P.S.)

Read my quickie review here.

21.  One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

This one was a fun adventure – vivid characters, almost cariactures, but in a good way.

22. An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life

El-D found this one for at the Goodwill and brought it home as an early Christmas present. Everything about all of that made me happy. It’s a good book.

23. Trapping the Butterfly

This romance novel is set in the 1920s in one of my favorite cities, Hot Springs.   It was a super quick read and I didn’t want the sweet love story to end.

24. Burn: An Anna Pigeon Novel

Read my quickie book review here.

25. Talk Like Ted: The 9-Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds

Loved this book and all the new talks it introduced me to.  It really warrants its own post, which I may write later this week.


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