…and your commute is far from delightful…
Wait, that’s not how the song goes? Well, since many of us are facing winter and just want to curl up in front of the fireplace with a book, yet don’t get the two weeks of year-end vacation from our school days, I hope this post is helpful. Rather than talk about sportz or travel, I’m instead writing about books…which I suppose actually do cover the topics of sportz and travel, plus a genre where I’m becoming quite the connoisseur.
Yes, yes, we have all been to school, we know how to read and that books are good for us and that we as a society aren’t reading all that much these days, though the median (five books/adult/year) was higher than I had expected. But between work and training and adulting, who has time? I mean, I’d love to curl up with a page-turner, but those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves. (Unless there is a book about how to automate house chores; if so, please let me know.)
However, this year, I made an incredible discovery: the DC Public Library has free audiobooks! Now, I can devour books while commuting and cleaning. As a result, according to my Goodreads list, I have read (or listened to) 116 books this year. Granted, some of those were actual books that I read on the couch or while traveling, but probably 100 were audiobooks…which is kind of messed up, since it means I spend a lot of time commuting and cleaning!
In the spirit of year-end best-of lists, here are some of my favorites from the past year, organized by category. I’m curious who has read any of these, or if you have recommendations for others.
- Sportz: Out of the books I read this year, I especially enjoyed The Brave Athlete (mental skills, practical exercises, and enough salty language to make a sailor blush), How Bad Do You Want It? (great moments in sportz meets the science that explains them), and Life’s Too Short to Go So **** Slow (triathlon memoir that will have you crying by the end–beware). Of course, my perennial favorite is As Good As Gold, by a woman who tried to make the Olympics in nine different sports in two years. (No, it wasn’t me.) So there’s your bonus recommendation.
- Productivity: So many good options here! I could seriously do nothing but read productivity books all day, but that seems to defeat the purpose. While some of the topics overlap or cite similar studies, here are three that were good enough for me to buy my own copies to highlight and reference again: Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business; Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World; and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home. (As I said, there’s a definite theme.)
- Fiction: Gotta say, I’m usually not a fan of fiction. Why spend time on something that isn’t true? But I did enjoy a few, often thanks to friends’ recommendations, including One More Thing (short stories by BJ Novak, read by him and other actors from The Office; my favorite is the warlord on a first date), The Nightingale (this was on everyone’s top list in 2016), and The Tsar of War and Techno (short stories about Russians that pretty much sums up our state of international politics these days).
- Travel/History: I’ll skip travel guides here for obvious reasons, but some good reads that have a distinct time and place to them are Lost in Shangri-La (i.e. why you shouldn’t go joyriding in unchartered Papua New Guinea), Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (anything by this author is a great travel companion for U.S. historic sites), and The Residence (hot historical gossip, courtesy of White House residence staff).
- Celebrity Autobiography: This is the category where I take the most guilty pleasure. There are some real gems in here, especially when the author reads the audiobook. My three favorites this year were by Trevor Noah, Rob Lowe, and Neil Patrick Harris. All were hilarious but educational in their own way–Trevor’s about South Africa during and following apartheid, Rob’s about the 1980s celebrity scene, and NPH’s about magic (yes, really).
What do you think? Any I should add to the list next year?