After reading 61 books in 2017, these are my Top 4 picks!
1. “The Nightingale” a novel by Kristin Hannah: This historical fiction won as my favorite book of the year because of its power to tug at my emotions. The story is set in France during WWII, an era I have learned about in school, but have not taken the time to understand its hardships. The main characters are dealing with the dilemma of caring for the Jews as the Germans take over their country. I cried, many times, imagining the pain so many people went through to care for others. I was able to feel loss, imagine parts of their torture, and faintly understand the bitter cold of the long winters these fictional characters went through in order to preserve relationships, love, and the meaning of family. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to understand, on a deeper level, what our world was like not too many decades ago. It gives me goosebumps to think that even though this book is fictional, the stories are very, very real.
2. “Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living” a self-help book by Shauna Niequist: This book was the most inspirational book that I read for the year, and possibly the most inspirational I have read in my life. It amazed me how honest and vulnerable Shauna is able to be with her readers in allowing them to see herself as a raw person with the same struggles of everyone else. I loved the challenges she gives in learning to say “No,” and realizing which people in our lives will accept us for being present instead of faking perfect. I can see this book being helpful in my future career of counseling as it works through general trust issues, loving one’s self (self-esteem, self-worth, & self-image), and courage to be who you truly are.
3. “East” a novel by Edith Pattou: This book is a mystical Norwegian fairytale about a young girl, a polar bear, and some ugly trolls. I loved how descriptive the author was in sharing the scenery with the reader throughout this story. It was some of the best descriptions I read all year! I felt like the fairytale was similar to the story of Beauty and The Beast, but different enough to make you fight for the main character even more whole-heartedly as she encounters a difficult journey to try to protect her family and find love, whatever that might be…
4. “Attachments” a novel by Rainbow Rowell: I am a little biased with this book as Rainbow Rowell worked in the same building in which I have worked. I loved being able to know exactly what different settings in the story looked like and had fun imagining this story actually happening on one of the floors in real life. It is a story about an IT worker intercepting some emails of two women who share some of the funniest, saddest, and most personal emails, just to get through their workdays and life. I laughed out loud many times throughout the book and have deemed it my favorite Rainbow novel.
Other honorable mentions, in no particular order:
“Using Mindfulness Skills in Everyday Life: A Practical Guide” a mindfulness techniques book by Christine Dunkley and Maggie Stanton: The perfect book for teaching what mindfulness is and how to begin using it for mental health purposes.
“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” a non-fiction book by Stephen King. The first half of the book is Stephen King sharing his story, all the way back to childhood. He shares the difficulties in becoming a writer and in the last half of the book, he teaches how a person can work towards becoming a writer.
“Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches” an autobiography by John Hodgman, one of my favorite comedians. This book definitely won the most laughs, next to Jim Gaffigan’s books, “Food” and “Dad is Fat” that I also read this year. All are great stress relievers! I think I picked John Hodgkin first as he is a more familiar character to me with his weekly podcasts and interactions on social media. We have lots of inside jokes… (or so I think.)
“Entwined” a novel by Heather Dixon: a beautiful fairytale about princesses, dancing, and evil magic (of course!) I thought this book would be too girly for me, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit for something easy to read. The two oldest sisters are my favorite characters and fun polar opposites to adore.
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” a self-help book by Mark Manson: If this book did not use the f-word in it so much, it would have made it in to my top 4. The repetitive use of the f-word felt childish in the beginning, but the core material was great for teaching boundaries in everyday life. I will definitely use some of these ideas when working with clients having boundary issues or needing to work on their self-worth.
Anything Brene Brown is HEAVENLY: I read almost all of her books this year and would recommend each one of them. “Daring Greatly”, “Rising Strong”, and “Braving the Wilderness” are wonderful self-help books that everyone can learn from to make his or herself a better person. I’m still working through “The Gifts of Imperfection” as it hits too close to home and is taking me longer to “work” through.