As the year soon comes to an end, I love reflecting on my IOS Notes app "Books I Read This Year'' list as well as my "Books to Read Next" list. If your gut reaction to that sentence is to tell me to get on Good Reads, my response is that I am ~working~ on it and may make the transition next year - just can't stand that dusty UX! I look back on my list as a way to segment out my year - remembering the novel I finished on my partner's grandparents porch during our trip to Florida in April, or the book that made me cry out loud while on a flight to Arizona in September, I love reflecting on where I was in life when I was reading a book.
My dad (an avid and prolific reader) writes down the start and end date of reading a book as well as a short blurb of what happened the day he finished the book - in this way, books can serve as a way to mark the passing of time, allowing us not only to reflect on what the book brought into our lives but who we were in that moment, and how we've changed since the time we read the book. I typically enjoy reading 4-6 books simultaneously - chipping away at each one little by little, picking up a book that matches my mood and energy level.
At any given time, I'm typically reading a mix of:
a non-fiction/educational book - typical topics include medical/psychedelic explorations, mental health & meditation, politics, social justice, behavioral science
a novel - love mysteries & thrillers
a biography or historical event
something related to my profession (emerging tech, business/startups, product management, tech strategy, leadership)
So, without further ado, the following are my top 5 reads from 2022 + where I'm going in 2023:
#1:Quit Like a Woman, Holly Whitaker - this book unexpectedly sits at my #1 book of the year - an exploration of society's obsession with alcohol and Big Alcohol's not-so-subtle predatory marketing of "wine as empowerment" towards women and the skyrocketing incidents of alcoholism and alcohol-related incidents among women in the last decade. Whitaker shares her own journey to sobriety and argues that you don't have to hit rock bottom / identify as an alcoholic to cut back on drinking. Her descriptions of 'the sober life' inspired my own sober curiosity this year, and I haven't had alcohol in almost 10 months. I have more energy, better skin, and have experienced a childlike sense of joy at social events during which I would typically drink in order to have fun (weddings, bachelorette parties). A great read for anyone interested in rethinking their relationship with alcohol.
#2:It Didn't Start with You, Mark Wolynn- a deeply personal read, Wolynn shares how unspoken family trauma can be passed on through generations. Pulling from a myriad of his own patient's stories, including grandchildren of Holocaust victims, Wolynn argues that trauma experienced by our parents and grandparents, such as a tragic loss of life or a devastating heartbreak, can unknowingly live on in our DNA. These stored traumas can manifest in inexplicable panic attacks, chronic pain, depression, dissociation, insomnia, and more. Wolynn walks his reader through their lives, allowing them to create a map of the trauma experienced by their family in hopes of finding answers to questions asked by anyone struggling with mental health & wellbeing.
#3: Hood Feminism, Mikki Kendall- an examination of how the feminist movement left out key players: women of color. Throughout this book, Mikki Kendall unravels feminist issues that disproportionately impact women of color - and have been largely ignored by the white-led feminist movement that celebrates "girl bosses" but fails to recognize healthcare, food insecurity, and gun violence as major feminist issues. Written from the South Side of Chicago, this book is humbling and important read for anyone who considers themselves a feminist.
#4: The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker - How to create more meaningful gatherings - whether it be a wedding or a monthly book club, this book helped me rethink why we need to gather, the importance of identifying a purpose behind a gathering, and how to be a more proactive friend. From providing practical hosting tips (such as shifting rooms after a dinner party to give some folks a chance to leave and others to signal their interest in hanging out longer) to embracing "generous authority" when planning an event, Parker's actionable advice will have you throwing more meaningful and memorable get-togethers.
#5 Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid - The only novel to reach my top 5 list this year, and it's well-deserved. I won't give away too much about this historical fiction novel, but it's a colorful narrative of an old Hollywood actress recalling her life during a farewell interview. It gave me Gatsby-Meets-Devil-Wears-Prada vibes (which we love), and I enjoyed the journey and message behind Reid's writing.
Honorable Mention (because who could choose just 5):
A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain, Sarah Manning Peskin- Peskin, an acclaimed cognitive neurologist, has created an interesting medical exploration on how truly close we are to insanity at any given point (relatable) - one failing protein or a single DNA mutation can induce confusion, memory loss, absurd behaviors, and more.
She Said, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey - now a major motion picture, She Said recounts the journalistic story of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey as they investigate the decades-long sexual and emotional abuse rampant across Hollywood, centered on the takedown of Harvey Weinstein, a milestone that lit a fire in the 2017 Me Too movement.
Local Woman Missing, Mary Kubica - a murder mystery novel! Great beach read - I think I finished it in three sittings.
This is Your Mind on Plants, Michael Pollan - Pollan, an American author and journalist, writes his 2nd(?) book on how drugs impact our bodies and minds. Splitting the book into three separate essays, Pollan explores how opium, caffeine, and mescaline impact how we live and think.
What I'm Looking Forward to Reading in 2023:
Some topics from my 2022 list that I want to explore further include Native American History / how indigenous people have used the earth as medicine for thousands of years, political biographies and memoirs, addiction, disability / ableism, history of racism in The United States, and LGBTQ+ topics. My list so far includes:
Educated, Tara Westover
Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O'Neil
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones
The Immortality Key, Brian Muraresku
What is the Bible, Rob Bell
Equal Partners, Kate Mangino
History of the Transgender Child, Jules Gill-Peterson
Joyful, Ingrid Fetell Lee
Finding my Voice, Valerie Jarrett
The Light that Carries Us, Michelle Obama
How the Body Knows its Mind, Sian Beilock
Schopenhauer's Porcupine, Deborah Anna Luepnitz
If there's anything else I should be reading, please let me know! I love book recommendations and will always read a book recommended by a friend.