Four years ago, I set out to finish one book per week. Still in college with a part-time job and plenty to do, I knew this goal would challenge me to read smarter and write better. It would also encourage me to experiment with genres and check off some titles from my list of must-read classics (I see you, The Catcher in the Rye). In September of this year, everything changed when I downloaded Libby and Overdrive, determined to set my surplus of podcasts aside and catch up to my yearly reading goal of 52 books.
Accepting audiobooks into my life changed the game. Now, I infuse productivity into my morning routine, commute to work, and walks to and from yoga classes. Here, I’ve listed some of my favorites along with the themes they embody for your own reading pleasure.
1. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
by Kory Stamper
There’s something oh-so interesting about jumping into another employee’s world, especially when it’s within an industry you have zero familiarity with. Stamper dives into the nitty-gritty details regarding her position at Merriam-Webster. You won’t believe how little we know about the process, and you’ll find the author’s humor keeps those in-depth explanations pretty fresh.
2. Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Theme: American History & Culture
Over the last year, I have intentionally turned to authors who’ve shared their personal experience with racism. In this way, I strive to recognize white privilege along with the injustices this phenomenon supports. If you’re seeking to make the same change, there’s no better place to start than with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ powerful and compact novella.
by Nora Ephron
A vivid depiction of marital discordance spliced with dated, adorably simple recipes. If you ate up Sourdough by Robin Sloan just as fast as I did, this is a natural follow up. Plus, Meryl Streep’s narration makes this drama simultaneously tragic and hilarious.
This vintage cover was too cool not to include.
4. The Sirens of Titan
by Kurt Vonnegut
When I first reviewed this novel, I summarized my experience with this word: otherworldly. Now, I’d like to revise that statement to emphasize the sheer worldliness this novel offers. With its protagonist Malachi Constant scattered acrosspace and time, readers will revel in Vonnegut’s crystal-clear illustrations of intergalactic atmospheres.
5. Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen
by Jose Antonio Vargas
Theme: Current Events
I’ll let Jose speak for this one:
“This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book––at its core––is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in.”
Read by the author himself, this piece pulses with pain and sincerity. And, given its subject matter, that’s absolutely necessary.
6. The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building
by David J. Peterson
Recommended for fans of Game of Thrones, Star Wars, or J. R. R. Tolkien. This one has transported me back into an academic state of mind, breaking down complex linguistic concepts as they apply to the craft of conlang (constructed language). Broken up by tidbits about working for HBO and Syfy, you’re sure to finish this one in just a couple of days.
Confession time: I don’t think I’ll finish 52 books this year. But, I’m overjoyed to have carved out more room in my life to intake these new voices, thoughts, human experiences, and far-flung tales.
Now, it’s your turn. Challenge yourself by picking a title outside of your typical taste. Or, send this list to a friend in need of an end-of-the-year push for productivity.
Also by Holly: 3 Rules To Curating Your Ideal Eco-Friendly Makeup Bag
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