Despite being busy with school, and working a full-time job this past year, I decided to focus on reading more. On Goodreads, you can set a goal for the number of books to read. I set mine for 25, and was able to surpass it!
I hit my goal by reading every single day. Through most of the year, I would be reading 2 books at once – a physical or digital copy, and when my eyes were tired, an audiobook.
For the most part, I alternate between fiction and nonfiction. Here is my list from the past year.
Witty, observant, and full of cringe-worthy confessions and heartwarming encouragement, Confessions celebrates both running and life.
Part Bridget Jones, part Forrest Gump, Dana Ayers chronicles her awkward mishaps and adventures in transitioning from childhood bookworm to accidental accomplished athlete. Over the last 10 years, Ayers has completed a vast array of races. She runs them all while admittedly not getting much faster, much thinner, or much more disciplined — though she has managed to be on national television, split open her pants, and get electrocuted. Ayers intersperses her hilarious yet relatable struggles with insights about how and why she keeps running.
This is such a fun read! Dana is relatable for us average runners, and she is hilarious. This was one of my favorite reads of the year.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks, who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
In one of my school courses, I had to select a contemporary award winning book. So, in true Paul Stroessner fashion, I made things difficult for myself. Why pick 1 book when I could read a whole series within 10 weeks?! Am I glad I did too! Becky Chambers won a Hugo Award for Best Series with her Wayfarers series. While there was not much action in this first book of the series (or any of the books for that matter), the character building was masterful. You get to know each character very well, and the crew feels like they are a part of your family, and you really care what happens to them.
Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in a new body, following a total system shutdown and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
While this sequel has a whole cast of different characters from its predecessor, the tone and character building is much the same. You get to know and love these incredible characters and story.
ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S TOP 100 NONFICTION BOOKS OF ALL TIME
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
I kept hearing from other authors how this book is a must-read for any author…aspiring or established. I finally dove in to this book, and I can totally see what all the hype is about. Not only is this an interesting memoir (notice I didn’t include an adverb Uncle Stevie) by one of my all-time favorite authors (along with Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe), but it is also loaded with some of the most useful writing advice I have ever read so far.
Being a “rebel”, my first instinct is to avoid what the masses are reading, listening to, or watching. However, in this instance I am fully on board this bandwagon!
Return to the sprawling universe of the Galactic Commons, as humans, artificial intelligence, aliens, and some beings yet undiscovered explore what it means to be a community in this exciting third adventure in the acclaimed and multi-award-nominated science fiction Wayfarers series, brimming with heartwarming characters and dazzling space adventure.
Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way.
But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. While the Exodans take great pride in their original community and traditions, their culture has been influenced by others beyond their bulkheads. As many Exodans leave for alien cities or terrestrial colonies, those who remain are left to ponder their own lives and futures: What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination? Why remain in space when there are habitable worlds available to live? What is the price of sustaining their carefully balanced way of life—and is it worth saving at all?
A young apprentice, a lifelong spacer with young children, a planet-raised traveler, an alien academic, a caretaker for the dead, and an Archivist whose mission is to ensure no one’s story is forgotten, wrestle with these profound universal questions. The answers may seem small on the galactic scale, but to these individuals, it could mean everything.
This is the final book of the Wayfarers series I read (she has since published Book 4: The Galaxy, and The Ground Within). Becky Chambers does it yet again with a totally different storyline and characters, yet still within the Wayfarers universe.
Each story in the series is unique, and I can’t even pick a favorite! Science Fiction and Fantasy readers will enjoy this series, especially readers who are Star Trek fans.
Remember the first time you saw Michael Jackson dance with zombies in “Thriller”? Diamond Dave karate kick with Van Halen in “Jump”? Tawny Kitaen turning cartwheels on a Jaguar to Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”? The Beastie Boys spray beer in “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)”? Axl Rose step off the bus in “Welcome to the Jungle”?
It was a pretty radical idea-a channel for teenagers, showing nothing but music videos. It was such a radical idea that almost no one thought it would actually succeed, much less become a force in the worlds of music, television, film, fashion, sports, and even politics. But it did work. MTV became more than anyone had ever imagined.
I Want My MTV tells the story of the first decade of MTV, the golden era when MTV’s programming was all videos, all the time, and kids watched religiously to see their favorite bands, learn about new music, and have something to talk about at parties. From its start in 1981 with a small cache of videos by mostly unknown British new wave acts to the launch of the reality-television craze with The Real World in 1992, MTV grew into a tastemaker, a career maker, and a mammoth business.
Featuring interviews with nearly four hundred artists, directors, VJs, and television and music executives, I Want My MTV is a testament to the channel that changed popular culture forever.
To say that this book is comprehensive is putting it mildly. This is an incredible resource for the history of MTV, from the initial thought all the way through the actual music video days. There are hundreds of artists, directors, and executives that were interviewed. The format is perfect for MTV. I can picture this as a special television event being in the format of shows like I Love the ’80s and VH1’s Best Week Ever.
This is a must-read for anybody who grew up in the ’80s.
Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
This is a good book for anybody who has gone through trauma…which is pretty much everybody. However, there wasn’t anything useful for me in this book as I had already learned the relevant information from my own counselor/therapist. If you go to therapy already, and are honest, then this book may not be necessary. But for anybody else, it may be worth checking out.
It’s the winter of 1984. Twelve-year old Herbie and his two brothers—Wally and Cockroach—are enjoying the mayhem of winter break when a late Nor’easter blows through New England, trapping their quirky family in the house. The power goes out and playing Space Invaders to AC DC’s Back in Black album is suddenly silenced—forcing them to use their twisted imaginations in beating back the boredom. At a time when the brothers must overcome one fear after the next, they learn that courage is the one character trait that guarantees all others.
This hysterical coming-of-age tale is jam-packed with enough nostalgia to satisfy anyone who grew up in the ‘80s or at least had the good fortune to travel through them.
This was a great read by a local author! And I’m not just saying that because this is the first time my name has been officially in print in a book, as I have a blurb in it. This was actually a reread for me as I was preparing for Steven Manchester’s follow-up. The story flashes back to the ’80s, and memories came flooding back for me. There were a lot of things mentioned that I had forgotten about. And Steve is such a great writer, it really feels like you are totally reliving the ’80s. If you like the character interactions in the movie, A Christmas Story, then you will enjoy this. And Steve is from the Somerset/Fall River/Westport area. So, you may read about some forgotten landmarks in the area.
Lawn Darts & Lemonade: Tackling the ’80s by Steven Manchester (physical)
It’s the summer of 1984, a season of dodging lawn darts and chugging lemonade—or at least the discolored tap water Ma tried to disguise as lemonade.
Growing up is never easy, no matter what era you do it in. For generations, teenagers have suffered peer pressure, bullying, fear of rejection, and a sadistic obstacle course of one unexpected challenge after the next. Three brothers, Wally, Herbie, and Cockroach, learn that the past can be filled with questions—even shame and regret—while the future might be shrouded in worry and fear. But staying in the moment, now that’s where the sweet spot is.
This was Steven Manchester’s follow-up to Bread Bags & Bullies, and is a direct sequel to that group. This time, the story takes place in the summer. It’s the same characters and tone. This time we take trips to the beach and the amusement park. Anybody from the East Bay in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will be very familiar with these sites. If you want to relive the ’80s, this is a great book to bring you there!
We live in a time where it has never been more important to be knowledgeable about a host of social issues, and to be confident and appropriate in how to talk about them. What’s the best way to ask someone what their pronouns are? How do you talk about racism with someone who doesn’t seem to get it? What is intersectionality, and why do you need to understand it? While it can seem intimidating or overwhelming to learn and talk about such issues, it’s never been easier thanks to educator and historian Blair Imani, creator of the viral sensation Smarter in Seconds videos.
Accessible to learners of all levels—from those just getting started on the journey to those already versed in social justice—Read This to Get Smarter covers a range of topics, including race, gender, class, disability, relationships, family, power dynamics, oppression, and beyond. This essential guide is a radical but warm and non-judgmental call to arms, structured in such a way that you can read it cover to cover or start with any topic you want to learn more about.
With Blair Imani as your teacher, you’ll “get smarter” in no time, and be equipped to intelligently and empathetically process, discuss, and educate others on the crucial issues we must tackle to achieve a liberated, equitable world.
This is a very good, educational book. It’s a great conversation, and it’s not preachy, judgy or scolding at all. It explains people’s feelings. Of course, the people who need to read the book most, won’t. But for everybody else, this is enlightening.
Life in the Fat Lane by Lisa D’Elena-Borges (physical)
Join Lisa D’Elena-Borges on her personal journey in her debut book, Life in the Fat Lane. Lisa tells the story of an average person’s struggle to lose weight and keep it off in this crazy, hectic world we live in. Spending decades trying to find the balance between marriage, children, career, and staying healthy she shares intimate details of personal struggles and triumphs with raw emotion, honesty, and a little humor. Lisa tells stories about things that we all think about but nobody will talk about, from the struggles of dining out to shopping and how the world looks at plus size people. Whether you have had your own weight loss struggles in the past or are currently on your own journey, Life in the Fat Lane will touch and inspire you. Lisa D’Elena-Borges had a career in the Communications field that spanned over 25 years mainly working in Radio in New England. Changing career paths and dipping her toes in writing, Lisa made her debut book a personal story. Lisa lives in Rhode Island.
This was an enjoyable book by yet another local author. I found this book in the Local Authors section of Barnes & Noble. This is a fun, funny, emotional and relatable memoir.
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, this beautifully designed volume features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning. Call Us What We Carry reveals that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.
This is another one of my top books of the year, and I will definitely be re-reading this! Amanda Gorman blew me away with her poem The Hill We Climb at the presidential inauguration in 2021. I had heard she was releasing this book of poems, and I swiped it up at the local Inkfish Books in Warren, Rhode Island.
Every poem is beautiful, relevant and creative. Amanda has an impressive career ahead of her!
In flow, everyday experience becomes a moment by moment opportunity for joy and self-fulfillment. Flow is the brain-child of a fascinating psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned social scientist who has devoted his life’s work to the study of what makes people truly happy, satisfied and fulfilled. While much of the study of psychology investigates disorders of the human mind, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi takes a different route. He focuses on the noble side of human nature, our capacity for living a life of integrity, courage, and perseverance. With his landmark research on flow, he reveals what he considers beautiful in life, ways of being and behaving that make people happy, satisfied and delighted to be alive. His insights into the “flow experience” show ways to lessen stress, fear and anxiety while increasing feelings of challenge, joy and excitement. The revolutionary findings of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Experience Sampling Method offer unprecedented information about the specific ways we can turn life into a continuous high quality experience. You’ll discover how anyone can enrich his or her quality of life simply by learning how flow occurs and what it feels like. You’ll learn about the key elements of the flow experience including:
- why it is important to know what you want to do in any given moment
- specific activities you can do that produce flow easily and naturally
- how to improve your experience of work so you feel in control and rewarded by it
- keys to harnessing the power of concentration
- the difference between pleasure and enjoyment (only one leads to personal growth)
- how to match challenges with skills to avoid boredom and frustration and maximize enjoyment
Once you experience the exhilaration of the “flow” state of being, you’ll want to return again and again.
The feeling of being in flow is euphoric. I love when I get in a state flow while running and while writing. This book gives great tips on how to achieve this.
Long before the First Order, before the Empire, before even The Phantom Menace…Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in The High Republic. Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy.
This year I watched the Star Wars Celebration convention on YouTube, and was inspired to check out more Star Wars material beyond the movies and television shows. I’ve seen every Star Wars movie in the theater since the original changed my life in 1977, and I never miss a Star Wars television series on Disney +. I’ve read several books over the years, and I love how the more recent books are part of the canon. So, I decided to jump into a time that took place long before the prequels and discover new characters.
Into the Dark is a fun read. While I do love Star Trek almost as much as Star Wars, this book feels more like Star Trek than Star Wars. That’s not a bad thing, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. There are some cool action scenes and a pretty decent mystery and suspense. Although there were jedi in this, it really didn’t feel like a Star Wars story. But, it was fun enough where I will probably check out more books from this High Republic series.
High in the Himalayas, armed with a host of barbaric, improvised weapons, Chinese troops ambush a contingent of highly decorated Indian soldiers. The brutal, hand-to-hand combat lasts for over six hours, destabilizing the already tenuous relationship between the two nuclear neighbors.
Fearful of the global consequences of engaging Beijing head-on, countless United States administrations have passed the buck.
But when a covert American diplomat tasked with negotiating an Asian version of NATO is murdered on the streets of Jaipur, doing nothing is no longer an option. It is time to unleash Scot Harvath.
As America’s top spy, Harvath has the unparalleled skills and experience necessary to handle any situation, but this mission feels different.
Thrust into a completely unfamiliar culture, with few he can trust, the danger begins to mount the moment he lands in India. Amidst multiple competing forces and a host of deadly agendas, it is nearly impossible to tell predator from prey.
With democracy itself hanging in the balance, Harvath will risk everything to untangle the explosive plot and bring every bad actor to justice.
I was in the mood for a good political action spy thriller, and I got it with this one! I hadn’t heard of the author Brad Thor or this Scot Harvath character/series. I loved this book, and will definitely check out more of this series. Harvath is a combination of James Bond and Jack Ryan. The story flows seamlessly and I flew right through this one. If you like Tom Clancy, but wished you didn’t need to check a thesaurus every other sentence, while still holding an intelligent read, then this book is for you!
You’re one more intentional thought and action away from discovering your best life
In The Power of One More, renowned keynote speaker and performance expert Ed Mylett draws on thirty years of experience as an entrepreneur and coach to top athletes, entertainers, and business executives to reveal powerful strategies to help you live an extraordinary “one more” life.
In The Power of One More, you’ll:
Learn why you’re closer to your dreams and goals than you think and why using The Power of One More strategies will help you cross the finish line in whatever race you’re running
Understand the psychology and science of how to use The Power of One More in every part of your life will help you solve problems and achieve levels of success you never thought possible
Discover time-tested and unique solutions to challenges that will remove the mental roadblocks you’ve been battling for years
Perfect for anyone who wants more bliss, wealth, or better relationships, The Power of One More is an indispensable roadmap to realizing and exceeding your personal and professional goals by tapping into the superpowers and gifts you already have inside you.
This was perhaps my favorite personal growth book of the year. I listened to the audiobook, and there was so much great and actual useful information that I downloaded the eBook so I can highlight some notes. Ed Mylett is inspirational and relatable. He also has a podcast, The Ed Mylett Show, and I never miss an episode.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. And not only can it be applied to business and personal growth, but you can apply it to exercise, relationships, or any aspect of your life.https://www.youtube.com/@EdMylettShow
Part 2 will be arriving shortly. Did any of these books pique your interest or have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?
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