It’s been a busy year for me, but I’m proud to say I met my Goodreads goal: 45 books! Check ’em out! Some were duds, but most were wonderful. I’ve written brief reviews beneath the ones I really enjoyed.
- Provence, 1970:M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr
- Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
- A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
Fun, fascinating, and entertaining! If you love food and history, you’ll enjoy this book!
- Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
- Letters on Life by Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Ulrich Baer)
A meditative and delightful collection of Rilke’s prose thoughts on love, death, nature, art, and so many other wonderful topics.
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Funny, thoughtful, and surprising—I loved listening to Amy Poehler read this audiobook. There is real substance here.
- Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
Though this book is a bit slow in places, it is fascinating and thorough! Wilson begins before pots and pans, travels through French renaissance kitchens, and explores molecular gastronomy.
- Next Word, Better Word: The Craft of Writing Poetry by Stephen Dobyns
Incredible! Thorough, down-to-earth, and detailed. I underlined something on every page and stopped mid-chapter to write my own poetry. I recommend this book for all poets! I especially loved his final chapter on linguistics.
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
- Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds by Bernd Heinrich
An outstanding narrative exploration of ravens! Compelling stories, philosophical observations, and exciting discoveries—all expertly written.
- The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram
Completely absorbing! Abram traces the evolution of the alphabet, the debate between oral and writing cultures, and the effects of the alphabet on our relationship to the wild world. Absolutely extraordinary.
- e.e. cummings: A life by Susan Cheever
A perceptive and captivating literary biography interspersed with the poet’s work.
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
- Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Listen to Meryl Streep read the audiobook. Totally worth it! It’s a cute, well written story.
- Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife by John M. Marzluff
- Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet In Our Time by Eavan Boland
Boland explores the struggles of being a female poet in the very male tradition of Irish poetry. This is a fascinating contemplation of a writer’s motivation and origin—how she can build something value from a tradition that has excluded her.
- Essays in Love by Alain de Button
- Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership With Nature by Tina Welling
- Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue
- When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
- A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf
- Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto
- The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner
- Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller by Georgina Kleege
Kleege is a reflective, capable writer. This book is a fantastic meditation on Keller’s life and cultural legacy!
- Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write by Gayle Brandeis
- Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography by Sherwin Nuland
- On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
I’ve always enjoyed Sacks’s writing, and his autobiography was no exception. I appreciated hearing about his own struggles as a physician and writer, but I didn’t enjoy the overall structure of the book.
- The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder
- Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening by Stephen Kuusisto
- Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life by Sylvia Boorstein
Warm, inviting, and practical.
- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
- The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel Levitin
- The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
I have a soft spot for poets writing prose and sci-fi/fantasy writers writing nonfiction, and this collection does not disappoint! Gaiman covers everything from journalism and film festivals to his favorite influences in science fiction and fantasy.
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Love, Live, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Encouraging, systematic, and fortifying! I loved reading this book—it’s way too good to be called “self help.”
- Acquired Tastes by Peter Mayle
- Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: . . . and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory by
- The Geek Feminist Revolution: Essays by Kameron Hurley
Ardent, biting, and analytical! Hurley’s collection of essays is full of passion and personality!
- The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of English by Roy Peter Clark
A lovely light read on English grammar and writing. I learned a lot and would love to assign this book to a class!
- The Three Marriages: Reimaginating Work, Self, and Relationship by David Whyte
A rich and rewarding combination of personal history and literary biography.
- The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
- Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue
This is a lovely collection of meditations on sensory experience. Though I enjoyed Anam Cara, I found Beauty much more engaging.
- TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson
An engaging introduction to presentation literacy. Anderson covers many of the how-to’s of setting up and delivering a TED Talk—as well as profiling several of the best TED speakers and talks.
- League of Dragons (Temeraire #9) by Naomi Novik
A not-terribly-thrilling end to the fabulous Temeraire series. Solid but unremarkable.
- How to Be a Tudor: A Dawn to Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman
Utterly fantastic! Goodman covers Tudor fashion, food, living arrangements, and so much more! The book is well researched and well written! I enjoyed the meticulous details!
- More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
Another book of fun and pithy kitchen essays. I love reading Colwin’s strong opinions on everything from picnic fare to gingerbread.
So what’s on the list for 2017? Probably more of the same. Books on poetry, food, language, birds.
Have a recommendation? A favorite book or a recent read? Share in the comments below!