For the past month or so, I have been reading way more than usual. Okay, that's a bit of lie, but only because I listened to a lot of books. I wrote about my new love of audiobooks back in November, and that big boner has not stopped growing.
Audiobooks have changed my mindset a lot. They force me to focus, calm down, and be present in pretty much any situation where I'm alone and moving about in the world. If I start drifting off while I'm listening to an audiobook, I rewind and make sure I don't miss anything. I start to love (or hate) the narrator's voice, and notice patterns in the writing that I normally don't notice when I'm reading. It's an entirely different experience. Also, hands free!
So, blah blah, audiobooks rule. Maybe they're right for you, maybe they're not, but the real point of this post is that the habit of learning is an important one. So if you don't feel like you're learning every day (and you want to be), try to make it easy for yourself. That could mean splurging on a nice armchair or a better reading lamp. Maybe you gotta force yourself to get off Instagram, and let yourself get lost in a Wikipedia black hole instead. Also, don't force yourself to read things you aren't jazzed about. Feel free to abandon books halfway through and move on to something that rivets you (I am super into autobiographies right now, so I'm riding that wave). Create an environment and habits that make learning enjoyable. I'm trying really hard every day, on my own time, because it's important. Less screens, more learning, more walking. It's a daily struggle, and it's not easy, but I'm trying to give it a shot. So far it's been worth it.
This one is at the bottom of the list because... it was okay. However, it made it onto the list because there were a few shining moments. I posted a little while ago about Sophia Amoruso's tip for making your online passwords your life goals. This one thing has actually affected my daily life pretty hard, and for that I'm grateful.
Get ready for some fun stories about a rebellious girl who has a lot of integrity and pulled a solid business together. Beyond that, there's not much. There's not a lot of wisdom, or humility.. In fact, there's a lot of repetitive bragging, and a few tales about managing her company that sort of scared me.
I do recommend this, but I think you should read it and skip the audiobook. I didn't like the narrator, and I think it would have been much better if Sophia had read it for us instead.
Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing To Do With God (audio)
This little ditty was short and sweet, and yes, comforting. The premise is that death is just a result of the passing of time, and if you don't believe in God, facing death can be mysterious. Greta says that that's great, because the passing of time brings us all of the best parts of life. Beautiful moments wouldn't be so beautiful if they lasted forever. All of the good stuff is based on change. If everything was frozen, life would be weird. We would never grow. And so, loss and death are integral to our wonderful and changing lives. Gotta accept it, buds.
My only criticism is that I wish she didn't talk so much about atheism vs. religion, because it's boring to me. I just wanted soul comfort.
I Remember Nothing And Other Relections (audio)
Oh Nora, you get me every goddamn time. Nora Ephron reminds me of a mix between Girls and Seinfeld, and like I'm learning life lessons from a wise, yet knowingly flawed and wonderful aunt. She talks about love, living, New York, family, work, all the good stuff. And she makes you laugh and it breaks your heart that you never knew her, so you try to be like her as much as you can.
Read I Feel Bad About My Neck, first. Then read this. Or listen to it. It's narrated by Nora herself, which makes it that much more special. Nora 4 ever.
Side note: I'm considering listening to her novel, Heartburn, especially because it's narrated by Meryl Streep. Thoughts?
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (audio)
Somehow this is the first book I've ever read by Haruki Murakami. This book is exactly as the title suggests - Murakami is a serious runner, who has been running for decades. By serious I mean he runs for an hour, six days a week, and runs at least one marathon a year.
He believes his success as a writer is directly linked to his resilience as a runner. He trains his body the same way he trains his mind.
I listened to this a lot while running, and that made it nice. I'll have been running for 23 minutes, Murakami for 4 hours, but the way he describes his muscles burning, how he musters strength and treats his body like a machine, how he stops thinking - I related to and utilized so much of what he said. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes running, or writing, or if you want to know what either of those things is really like.
Me Talk Pretty One Day
This book had been sitting on my shelf for a couple years, and it was always on my "I'll read this next" list. When we tidied our house like whoa, we donated a crapload of books, but this one stayed. I genuinely wanted to read it. And I did, right away. I am pretty sure this was the first book I've read by David Sedaris, and I loved it. No wonder everybody is obsessed with him.
This is a book of stories that span his life, and you sort of grow up with him in different tidbits. This book is personal, and special. I loved it. What should I read next from David Sedaris? There's so much!
Also, his voice is wild, so I think trying out an audiobook could be either super fun, or super annoying. I'll keep you guys updated.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends (audio)
I sort of can't believe that I spent over 9 hours of my life listening to Rob Lowe talk about his. But I did, and it was fascinating. I friggin love Rob Lowe.
This book is the story about his childhood, his parents, being a teenager, loss, love, acting, fatherhood, oh man. I cried twice while listening to this book, once during a story about being on the set of The Outsiders, and another when he realizes who the love of his life is.
This best part about listening to this book is hearing his impressions of virtually every character who enters his life. Bill Clinton, Martin Sheen, Francis Ford Coppola, Christopher Walken, everyone. His impressions are so damn good. Definitely listen to this book.
My respect for Rob Lowe is through the roof after listening to this book. And damn, look at that face! He is so precious.
Kitchen Confidential (audio)
Okay, so I will admit that a year ago I didn't know who Anthony Bourdain was. I'm a little bit late on this train. You probably know what I'm going to say: "Holy shit fuck, Anthony Bourdain is the tits!".
You're right, and it's true. The raunchiest kitchen tales from a guy who learns a lot, and who has an aggressive, honest, and strong voice.
Restaurants play a pretty big role in so many of our lives, whether you work there or eat there or drink there. It's time to know what happens behind the scenes. Cocaine, theft, money, drinking, blood, scars and more await you.
Also: he narrates the audio himself. And it's so good!
The Chairs Are Where The People Go
I work at a restaurant where there are frequent readings done by small-ish, local-ish authors. Every time there is a reading, the restaurant purchases a copy of the book being read and puts it on a shelf that is located between Table 1 and Table 18. I don't usually pay much attention to this shelf, but one day I saw this book hanging out, and picked it up. The title and cover intrigued me. I borrowed it and brought it home, and I soaked it all up, one glorious chapter at a time. It was one of those reads where I'd have a dilemma, read a chapter of this book that contained the answer, and repeat this cycle until the book was finished. Serendipity.
The book is basically a collection of Misha Glouberman's decisive views (as he tells Sheila Heti) on different topics related to life in Toronto. He's one of those people who you can tell you want to be friends with. He also teaches a class about charades, where no actors are allowed (so fascinating). At the end of the day this is about human interactions, our environment, and how a little thinking and design can go a long way in making life just a bit better. I can't wait to read more from Sheila Heti.
It was a wonderful month in reading. Stay tuned for my top books in February!
Have a recommendation? Want to review a book? Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. xo