What I’ve Been Reading

Not going to lie, never have I ever binge watched TV like I did this past year. As I type I have dark circles around my eyes from watching Bridgerton episodes until midnight. That being said, all this time at home has also reminded me that tucking into a good book at bedtime is a sure fire way to make it easier to fall asleep. Since the pandemic started I have been waffling back and forth between paper books (my ultimate favorite way to read) and listening to Audiobooks while I walk outside or drive. Below is a list of a few of my recent favorites. I was conscious of flipping back and forth between learning and luxury so the list is pretty diverse. Get reading. These books don’t disappoint.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky – An absolutely beautiful and heart-breaking “true novel” about the experience of an Italian man who comes of age during World War II. I have read many books about this time in history, but none from the standpoint of Italian’s who supported the allies. It is a true page turner with a touch of romance.

Open Book – On Audible I really enjoy listening to people read their own books. Jessica Simpson reads her biography and it is just so… well, Jessica. She was one of the celebrity icons of my high school years (Remember those Daisy Dukes? How could you forget!) so it was fascinating to hear what was actually happening behind the scenes in her life while we all watched it unfold on TV. It’s entertaining and very easy to listen to.

When Things Fall Apart – This was one of those books that 3 trusted friends told me I had to read years ago. Pema Chodron is a thoughtful writer who is one of the world’s most well known buddhist voices. I read this book while in Vermont spending our last week there before we sold the house. We were all sad to see it go, but we knew it was time to sell. This book which dives deeply into how to survive and thrive during loss of any kind was just the right read for that week, and amidst a pandemic year.

Key Messages in this book:

  • Embracing your fears is your ticket to greater self-knowledge.
  • Loneliness is the perfect opportunity for self-observation and self-love.
  • Hope has a surprisingly detrimental impact on our lives.
  • Celebrating impermanence, suffering and egolessness brings us closer to the meaning of life.
  • Being compassionate toward others allows us to love ourselves more deeply.
  • Meditation, breathing and a new perspective on the world can carry us through difficult times.

Inside Out – Demi Moore reads her own biography too and I didn’t realize how much I had missed that raspy Demi vibe since my days of watching Ghost over and over again… She too is wiser and more deep than I thought she was. She had one heck of a childhood which really helps you to understand why things went South so quickly in her years after divorcing Bruce. This is one you can’t put down!

The Dearly Beloved – This book was handed off to me by a friend who knows the author through a mutual connection. Cara Wall is a writer worth following. If you are a fan of Wallace Stegner, you will love this novel. It’s well written and it’s details are what fascinated me. I could imagine myself there in the room with the characters. It is a beautiful look at 4 very different people and how fate conspires to bring them all together through marriage and friendship.

Calypso – David Sedaris is hysterical. Always. Irreverent and honest, this book once again dives into his family life while focusing also on all the changes he is experiencing as a mid-life gay man. You chuckle, and sometimes even nod along. That is if you have a dysfunctional family. But wait, don’t we all???

Know My Name – I mentioned this book in a blog post here at the end of last year, but it is worth revisiting. I had never read much about what happens to victims of assault and rape in America. Chanel Miller is the young woman who was sexually assaulted by the Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner. In this book she helps all readers to understand the flaws within this system and what we can do in the future to protect women from the years of trauma that often haunt women who stand up to these horrific experiences.

The Body Keeps the Score – This book is so incredibly dense that it is hard to sum up. Bessel van der Kolk is a therapist and scientist who dives deep into the impact of Trauma – on our brains, bodies, and internal chemical systems. Part of what I found to be so valuable in this book was how the author explains that “trauma” is not reserved for those who have witnessed a murder or been raped (that is trauma with a capital T), but rather that trauma can come in small doses daily and be equally as damaging to the survivor. He opens the door for many more people to seek healing when he explains what trauma is, and why it all “counts”. In the second half of the book he sites chronic illness, sleep issues, weight issues, and a whole host of other maladies as long term affects of trauma. The good news is that van der Kolk discusses and helps the reader to understand how different types of therapy can and do help trauma survivors recover. It was fascinating.

Black is the Body – I bought a few books during the most heated days of the Black Lives Movement, and this was one that came highly reviewed. The more I watched the news during this sad time, the more I realized I had a lot I needed to learn about the black experience in our country. I contemplated blogging about it, but felt charged to research more before opening my mouth. I am still learning and hope to share more of my thoughts on this matter in the months ahead. In this book Emily Bernard shares a compilation of stories from her past. All of which help the reader to understand what her experience has been like as a black woman living in America. Full review to come once I have finished.

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