20 Books in 2015 This & That

20 Books in 2015

Every January, I try to come up with a few reasonable resolutions for myself. This year, a few of those resolutions are:

1. Eat healthier. Or, basically, stop eating so many damn sweets (because I am literally the worst). I also want to stop drinking soda altogether. It’s day nine, and aside from the s’mores bars I made a few days ago (whoops) I haven’t had a drop of soda, and I’m proud of myself. I have such a sweet tooth… In general, I just want to stop snacking on sweets so much and start being more conscious of what I’m putting in my body.

2. 100 days of yoga. Not 100 days straight, but just 100 days, total, this year. (Or more!) I have a membership to a climbing gym in Seattle that is literally a three minute walk from my apartment, and they have daily yoga classes, so really, I have no excuse not to get my butt in gear and start attending classes more this year. My goal is to attend at least two classes a week. Three, if I’m feeling up to it. I’m off to a good start! I’ve already attended two classes this week. I also want to start climbing more to practice and prepare myself for more summer climbing trips!

3. Read 20 books. A few years ago, that would have been easy peasy, but I just didn’t read as much as I would have liked to last year, so I’m hoping this Goodreads challenge will help push me to read more in 2015.

I thought I’d share some of the titles I’m hoping to pick up this year. These might change of course, but as of right now, here are the books currently on my to-read list:

1. Bossypants by Tina Fey // “Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.”

2. Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath by Anne Stevenson // A biography of the American poet Sylvia Plath which presents a different view of her life and death by shifting any blame away from Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes, and suggesting the problems lay in her personality difficulties.

3. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless // The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Penn’s inspirational film by the same name further skyrocketed Chris McCandless to global fame. But the real story of Chris’s life and his journey has not yet been told – until now. The missing pieces are finally revealed in The Wild Truth, written by Carine McCandless, Chris’s beloved and trusted sister. 

4. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr // From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

5. To the Moon and Timbuktu by Nina Sovich // Nina Sovich had always yearned for adventures in faraway places; she imagined herself leading the life of a solitary traveler. Yet at the age of thirty-four, she found herself married and contemplating motherhood. Catching her reflection in a window spotted with Paris rain, she no longer saw the fearless woman who spent her youth travelling in Cairo, Lahore, and the West Bank staring back at her. Unwittingly, she had followed life’s script, and now she needed to cast it out.Inspired by female explorers like Mary Kingsley, who explored Gabon’s jungle in the 1890s, and Karen Blixen, who ran a farm in Kenya during World War I, Sovich packed her bags and hopped on the next plane to Africa in search of adventure.

6. I Wonder as I Wander by Langston Hughes // In I Wonder as I Wander, Langston Hughes vividly recalls the most dramatic and intimate moments of his life in the turbulent 1930s. His wanderlust leads him to Cuba, Haiti, Russia, Soviet Central Asia, Japan, Spain (during its Civil War), through dictatorships, wars, revolutions. He meets and brings to life the famous and the humble, from Arthur Koestler to Emma, the Black Mammy of Moscow. It is the continuously amusing, wise revelation of an American writer journeying around the often strange and always exciting world he loves.

7. The Sunset Limited by Cormac McCarthy // A startling encounter on a New York subway platform leads two strangers to a run-down tenement where a life or death decision must be made. In that small apartment, “Black” and “White,” as the two men are known, begin a conversation that leads each back through his own history, mining the origins of two fundamentally opposing world views. White is a professor whose seemingly enviable existence of relative ease has left him nonetheless in despair. Black, an ex-con and ex-addict, is the more hopeful of the men–though he is just as desperate to convince White of the power of faith as White is desperate to deny it. Their aim is no less than this: to discover the meaning of life. 

8. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai // When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

9. Little Birds by Anaïs Nin // Evocative and superbly erotic, Little Birds is a powerful journey into the mysterious world of sex and sensuality. From the beach towns of Normandy to the streets of New Orleans, these thirteen vignettes introduce us to a covetous French painter, a sleepless wanderer of the night, a guitar-playing gypsy, and a host of others who yearn for and dive into the turbulent depths of romantic experience.

10. Open City by Teju Cole // A haunting novel about identity, dislocation, and history, Teju Cole’s Open City is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world. Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. He encounters people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.

11. I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan // It began as another newspaper assignment, a celebrity profile of the children’s television icon. But in Fred Rogers, Texas journalist Tim Madigan found more than a fascinating subject. From their first meeting in 1995, at Rogers’ invitation, the two became unlikely friends, a deep and abiding relationship that lasted until Rogers’ death in 2003. In that time, Madigan found Rogers to be much more than the calm and compassionate personality of television. He was a person of unique human greatness who embodied love, compassion and wisdom his every waking moment. He was the transcendent being who guided Madigan through periods of life-threatening depression and the tragic death of a sibling and helped him heal his difficult relationship with his father. I’m Proud of You reveals Fred Rogers as a person who deserves a place among history’s greatest people.

12. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel // Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger in the faint pulse of an overdiagnosed generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. In this famous memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation is a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era for readers of Girl, Interrupted and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

13. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami // Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.

14. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso // The first thing Sophia Amoruso sold online wasn’t fashion—it was a stolen book. She spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and dumpster diving. By twenty-two, she had resigned herself to employment, but was still broke, directionless, and working a mediocre day job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was there that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Eight years later, she is the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. Sophia’s never been a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is winding as all hell and lined with naysayers. #GIRLBOSS includes Sophia’s story, yet is infinitely bigger than Sophia. It’s deeply personal yet universal.

15. Her by Christa Parravani // Christa Parravani and her identical twin, Cara, were linked by a bond that went beyond siblinghood, beyond sisterhood, beyond friendship. Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, the gifted and beautiful twins were able to create a private haven of splendor and merriment between themselves and then earn their way to a prestigious college and to careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively) and to young marriages. But, haunted by childhood experiences with father figures and further damaged by being raped as a young adult, Cara veered off the path to robust work and life and in to depression, drugs and a shocking early death. A few years after Cara was gone, Christa read that when an identical twin dies, regardless of the cause, 50 percent of the time the surviving twin dies within two years; and this shocking statistic rang true to her. “Flip a coin,” she thought,” those were my chances of survival.” First, Christa fought to stop her sister’s downward spiral; suddenly, she was struggling to keep herself alive.

16. The Imperfect Environmentalist by Sara Gilbert // Actress, producer, mother, and imperfect environmentalist, Sara Gilbert understands how helping the environment can seem overwhelming. Between keeping up with work, friends, and kids, who has the time or money to maintain a compost pile, become an activist, or knit a sweater out of recycled grocery bags? Fortunately, we now know that small changes here and there in our everyday lives can make a big impact on the environment. We just need to know where to begin. That’s where Gilbert comes in, with this tongue-in-cheek reference guide packed full of helpful information, available at your fingertips. Sharing the basics on health and beauty, work and money, home and gardening, family and fitness, and more, The Imperfect Environmentalist cuts through the clutter—both in our homes and in our heads—and offers simple approaches to help us clear out the pollutants, put down the poisons, and begin to breathe easy again—one 100% recycled page at a time.

17. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides // Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned.

18. Everything Was Fine Until Whatever by Chelsea Martin // Fiction. Art. Anything is possible in Chelsea Martin’s bizarre and endearingly honest collection of stories, lists, flash fictions, and revealing factoids. Everything Was Fine Until Whatever is a poker-faced and unpredictably comic tour de force. Festooned with artwork and handwritten notes, this is a grand debut by a magical new talent.

19. Rant by Chuck Palahniuk // Buster “Rant” Casey just may be the most efficient serial killer of our time. A high school rebel, Rant Casey escapes from his small town home for the big city where he becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. Rant Casey will die a spectacular highway death, after which his friends gather the testimony needed to build an oral history of his short, violent life. With hilarity, horror, and blazing insight, Rant is a mind-bending vision of the future, as only Chuck Palahniuk could ever imagine.

20. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut // Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.

Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear about what you’re currently reading! I’m always open for suggestions. If you have a Goodreads account, let’s be friends!

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  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 5:36 PM

    I also have such a sweet tooth. I’m not necessarily trying to cut down on the sweets that I eat this year, but I’m trying to eat more thoughtfully. Like if I want cake, I’m going to have the damned cake. But do I want the cake because I’m sad or lonely or whatever other reason? There’s probably a better way to deal with that.

    My goal is also to read 20 books this year! Your list looks great – it overlaps with mine a lot. I just finished The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and it was amazing. I’m not trying to sound hokey, but it was an emotional journey. It’s beautifully written, but I did find the first 100 pages a bit hard to get into. But then I was hooked.

    xx Kathryn

    • Reply
      January 9, 2015 at 5:41 PM

      I totally agree with you! I think that’s what I’m going to do as well. I know I’m not strong enough to completely give up sweets, but I believe “everything in moderation” is the best way to go. I like cake and cookies way too much to give them up completely, haha. Instead, I’ll eat some broccoli and THEN have a cookie… ;)

      I’ll look into that book. If you think we have similar taste, then I trust your judgement!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 6:14 PM

    I have such a sweet tooth too. My weakness is cookies! I have no self-control. I’ve done a couple different yoga challenges on youtube, so I’m hoping to keep up with that this year. It just feels so good! I’ve been wanting to read Bossypants for ages and almost bought it for my vacation over the holidays, but went with #Girlboss and Wild instead. I really enjoyed both! The list of books I want to read is getting out of control and now I have even more to add!

    • Reply
      January 20, 2015 at 10:23 PM

      Haha I have no self control, either. It’s bad. I liked Wild, but can’t wait to read #Girlboss!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    I’m ashamed to admit that I made it through 2014 with reading only one or two books! Shameful really. I just didn’t prioritize it enough. I loved Mindy Kaling’s book, so Tina Fey’s and Amy Poehler’s are definitely on my list. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides was one of my favorite books and it completely slipped my mind that he had written another. I definitely want to make reading more a goal this year. I think you’ve picked some great ones!

    xo, Kristine @ Life Begins With Z

    • Reply
      January 10, 2015 at 2:33 AM

      It’s okay! Life gets in the way sometimes. I loved Mindy’s book, too. I’ve been meaning to read Tina’s for so long! I read Middlesex a few years ago. I heard it was supposed to be really good, but it never fully hooked me. It was good, but not a favorite.Still worth a read though. :) Glad the list helped!

  • Reply
    Josie S
    January 10, 2015 at 1:23 AM

    Awesome goals.

    Out of all of those books I’ve only read ‘Bossypants’ and ‘Rant’.
    ‘Rant’ will make you laugh and cringe. So totally bizarre but excellent.


    • Reply
      January 10, 2015 at 2:51 AM

      Haha yes, Palahniuk is so weird, his books always make me squeamish. The first short story I ever read by him was “Guts” in 10th grade and I almost puked on my desk!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 3:27 PM

    read bossypants and loved it, amazing read!

    • Reply
      January 20, 2015 at 10:24 PM

      Looking forward to reading it! It has been on my list for so long…

  • Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 3:18 AM

    Murakami, Vonnegut, and Palahniuk are a few of my top authors! I’m suggest After Dark by Murakami, if you haven’t read that and Sputnik Sweetheart as well!! As for Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle was amazing! I hope you love all 20 of those books! I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of those, since they are on my reading list as well!

    • Reply
      January 20, 2015 at 10:24 PM

      Oooh I’ll look into those! I’ve read Cat’s Cradle and really liked it. :) I’m sure I’ll update as I dive in to each one.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    I love the books your picked! I need to read a few of these!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

  • Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 7:51 PM

    I gave up soda years ago (every now and then I have some soda with a mixed drink or when my tummy hurts) but once it’s out of your body, its hard to ever drink again. You got this.
    I think you know my deep love for yoga so I’m super excited there.
    For the books, I had a goal of 15 this year (overachiever!), and most are on your list as well. However, I did read Bossypants a few years ago (maybe when we lived together?) and was very disappointed. wahwah.


    • Reply
      January 20, 2015 at 10:25 PM

      Haha, well hopefully I won’t be too disappointed! I miss being roomies… Love you!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    I just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the shore. It’s magical, inspiring and not much like any other books! It’s full of the surreal, fantasy and sometime’s pretty weird. A great choice! I got given Murakami’s A Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and since then I’ve read almost his complete works (slight obsession), so beware but prepare yourself for something great!

    Thanks for sharing a list of other books, I’m always looking to be inspired to read things I wouldn’t of come about unless they were shown to me.

    Also feel you on the sweet tooth (I think most people do). It’s a battle but realising that it’s so addictive, it’s literally a never ending cycle of highs and lows. I’ve gotten into making my own popcorn and putting savoury toppings on it. Though I had banana bread like yesterday, but small consistent changes.

    Once again good luck with the Yoga!

    • Reply
      January 26, 2015 at 12:10 AM

      I’m reading Kafka on the Shore now. I’m almost finished with it. :) I’ve read a few of his other books and really liked them, too! He’s a great writer. :)

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