Books To Read, By Mood

For a brief spell last year, I stopped reading books. (It was terrible, as you can imagine.) I don’t know, I haven’t figured it out really. It’s just that I was writing a lot and felt spent, so I wanted to fill up on something really, really good but couldn’t get into anything, not really, and then I got sucked into Making a Murderer and it all kind of went downhill from there.

(Worthy sidenote.)

But then, while I waited my for my own book edits to come back, I read everything in sight. I was famished. And now I am full, in the best way. Here is your new library list, as a result:

The Book: When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
The Reason: You want to read a book that re-prioritizes your life, that offers a jolt, that tips the great imbalanced balance scale until what doesn’t matter topples into what does.
The Line: “The main message of Jesus, I believed, is that mercy trumps justice every time.”

The Book: Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
The Reason: You want to laugh and smile at things that are both heavy and light, and you want to do it in the brief 7-minute window of opportunity between the time it takes your toddler to (a) awake, and (b) declare boredom.
The Line: “A few nights later, I secretly hope that I might be a genius. Why else can no amount of sleeping pills fell my brain? But in the morning my daughter asks me what a cloud is and I cannot say.”

The Book: Blue Nights, by Joan Didion
The Reason: Joan Didion.
The Line: “When I began writing these pages I believed their subject to be children, the ones we have and the ones we wish we had, the ways in which we depend on our children to depend on us, the ways in which we encourage them to remain children, the ways in which they remain more unknown to us than they do to their more casual acquaintances; the ways in which we remain equally opaque to them.”

The Book: Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Reason: You want to make something (anything!) – a business or your breakfast, six figures or six quilts, but you’re stuck somewhere between step one and step thirty-two.
The Line: “Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything.”

The Book: Did You Ever Have A Family, by Bill Clegg
The Reason: You need to lose yourself in a story that reminds us of life’s bigness, but also it’s smallness. You need evidence that every wave crashing around can knock us into our own selves – and also into each other.
The Line: “Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes… Or maybe someone you won’t see coming will need you… And good people might even ask you to marry them… I don’t think we get to know why.”

What about you, friends? Have you read anything lately? You know I want to hear all about it!

  • Kate Morton novels. The new Marie Kondo book {even better than the 1st!} 2 Thessalonians. And Adam McHugh’s ‘The Listening Life’ sits patiently waiting to be picked up …

  • I just finished When Breath Becomes Air last night and when I got to the epilogue, I realized that March 9 was the 1st anniversary of Paul’s death and I never recovered…I wandered around my house thinking of his brave and wonderful life and his two remaining girls and I just felt so deeply connected and impacted by that story. Which I guess it probably precisely what he hoped for.

    Next up for me is Waiting for Birdy..a party I am very, very late to :)

    • Oh goodness – what a beautiful reflection, Jamie! And Waiting for Birdy is on my list, too!!

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. UH-MAZ-ING. Read it in two days. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

  • I am writing these down. A good book just makes life more full. I love the worlds both fiction and nonfiction open to me.

    I recently finished Me Before You which I know has been out for awhile. I didn’t agree with all the decisions the characters made, but oh it made me think. I loved it!

    I’m also currently reading Wonder – so good.

    Thanks for your always uplifting words.

  • I love how you organized this -Book-Reason-Line- so I get a small taste of the book as well. Maybe I’ll stop rambling when trying to convince another to read a favorite book, and try this instead! Sometimes my brain needs a healthy dose of format, of editing – It’s never fun to stop, mid-sentence, and have no sense of where I’m going or where I came from… “well anyways…just try out the book. It’s just really really great.” (HA!)

    • Ha, I’m the same way when I talk about books. “Just read it! It’s great!” But somehow I’m more prolific in writing. ;) Hugs to you!

  • Thanks for this list!!
    Here’s mine:
    Book: End of the Affair, Graham Greene
    Reaon: incredible mix of love, spirituality, human experience. When you want fiction and a little escape, but also to know that 1940’s rainy day London and 2016 Boston, aren’t that different.
    line: “I’m sorry she said and I had the impression that she meant it. She had a lot to learn, in the way of books and music and how to dress and talk, but she would never have to learn humanity”.

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson.

    I like books that are a bit quirky…

  • Oh…I second All the Light we Cannot See…so many lovely layers to it. Another that won’t leave me is Station Eleven. Such a surprise that it was so beautiful!

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