I have finished five books this year. For those readers out there, you might not think that’s a lot, but for me, that’s about 3-5 more than I’d typically finish in a year. I wanted to switch things up a bit and do a review roundup of what I’ve read recently, which I’m hoping to continue doing in the future. I’ll just give a blip of my thoughts because if you want to read a long and thorough review, you might as well read the book. For future reference, I tend to gravitate towards autobiographies, anything nature related, and basically anything nonfiction. Side note: I feel like a great first date or getting to know you question is to ask someone what sections they would go to first in a bookstore. For me, cookbooks, nature, and children’s books are guarantees. Then I might glance at eastern religions, music, philosophy, travel, biographies, and maybe science or sports.
- Make Something Good Today by Ben and Erin Napier. I’ve mentioned this book before, particularly in my post about gratitude (here). They’re a sweet couple on HGTV’s Home Town that I did enjoy reading about. I loved hearing their story about how they met and the different things that got them to where they are now. Erin is an artist through and through, which is apparent in her writing. Sometimes it did bug me a little bit how flowery the language can be, but that’s who she is, how her Instagram posts are, and I ultimately appreciate that about her.
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I’ve mentioned this book multiple times and have probably recommended it to anyone I possibly could. It is GREAT! She’s relatable and is presenting seriously useful and true information about courage, shame, vulnerability, and all of the other stuff we try to avoid talking about. I would almost challenge anyone to not relate to at least one thing she says. She has a Netflix special available now, which I also watched and loved. She also has a few TED talks, her original one on vulnerability can be found here and a later one on shame can be found here. She’s also been on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and several clips of her discussions can be found on YouTube.
- A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin. I started reading this book years ago and maxed out my number of library renewals before I ever finished. It’s a good book, but not one that would take up residency on my bookshelf. It’s a true story about a couple who moves to Rwanda to help rebuild it, in ways, and end up opening up a restaurant, called Heaven. I was born in 1992 and had never once heard of the 1994 Rwandan genocide prior to picking up this book. The stories he shares are both heartbreaking and gratitude inducing. It’s not all dark and depressing, but it is eye opening. I struggled slightly with what I interpreted as a tendency to think of himself highly and the work he does compared to other groups as better. Perhaps it is.
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This book is, I believe, a mix of fiction and nonfiction about the authors time as a soldier in the Vietnam war. We were required to read this for junior English in high school, but we were only supposed to read certain chapters. At the time, my brother was in the military making me more personally invested. I found it interesting at the time and have wanted to read the entire thing ever since. Ten years later and I did it! I will say, it’s not for everyone, but I do think it gives you a different perspective. He has a clear purpose for the way he tells a story and how he might continue to repeat something. What gets me about the book is you are never certain whether the story he’s sharing actually happened or if it’s part of his imagination.
- I Was Right on Time by Buck O’Neil. I picked this book up used from the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles without looking inside. When I decided to start it recently, I opened it up to find Buck O’Neil’s autograph on the first page. I first heard of Buck O’Neil when I read another book called The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski years ago. Buck O’Neil was a player in the Negro leagues who became a manager for the Kansas City Monarchs (the team represented on Kenny’s hat in The Sandlot), a scout for the Chicago Cubs, and the first African American coach in the majors. This book reads as if you’re sitting on his knee listening to him tell the story of the Negro leagues. Because it feels like story time, it is a little difficult to follow along at times since there are so many names and so much to tell. I teared up at a few points thinking about the hardships he’s faced, things he’s seen, and mistreatment I am positive he has endured, yet he has such a pure heart. He comes across as an extremely genuine guy that things you might take as braggadocious from others, you never think twice about coming from him. I really do recommend it for any baseball fans out there or for those who, like me, enjoy autobiographies and learning about people.