With the end of November, comes the psychological end of Autumn for me. No more colorful leaves, the wind chill is now the enemy, and my motivation to work out dwindles every day as my waistline does the opposite (no regrets). But the good news is that I can share what books I’ve enjoyed this season! So, here is the list. I would recommend any of these books, if one peaks your interest. Enjoy!
The Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge
Incredibly comprehensive and thorough, the amount of work that had to go into to researching such an elusive character in history is admirable. William Marshal was great indeed, having served five kings of England from the mid 1100’s to 1219. Asbridge not only gives attention to Marshal’s life, but provides immense context to the events taking place under English/Angevin rule and the Crusades. The author is straightforward and careful not to glorify any act that does not warrant glory, whether the act was performed by Marshal or any other person in this book, and he always gives credit where credit is due, even for the “bad guys”. The big take-away is that William Marshal was in fact very loyal, intelligent, and ambitious, with a loving family and a legacy that renders the title of the book true. There were parts that lost my interest only due to my personal inability to really get into the crusades, but overall I highly recommend this book for a detailed history of medieval England and France.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This autumn I dove into more fiction than I usually do and this was the first fiction book of the season. I so enjoyed this book and dove right into the characters from the start. Taking place in ’90’s in the upper class suburban town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, this book brought up a lot of issues in regards to race, class, and adoption. It made me think a lot more than I anticipated. The characters are also extremely well-developed and likable. There is a lot to unpack and I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re looking for a thought-provoking, well-written work of fiction, this will do the trick.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
I didn’t mean to pick this up right before our administration decided to do even more damage to the country by denouncing transgender folks, but what a time to be reading such a book. It’s a fiction book not only about the youngest son, Claude, who was born a boy but was really a girl, but also about family and one’s loyalty to it. Gorgeously written, the eloquence had me turning the page of this beautiful story. This also had me laughing out loud and was really just a joy to read. Definitely one of my favorite fiction books of all time and a great way to educate yourself about transgenderism and get you thinking deeply about family values.
To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins
You know when books happen to come into your life at just the right moment? To Shake the Sleeping Self was such a book for me. When he turned 30, Jedidiah Jenkins biked from Oregon to Patagonia. This is his memoir of the journey and it seemed like some dark, twisted magic had taken many of my own thoughts right out of my brain and put them into his. It was pensive and philosophical, yet fun and a page-turner. I really enjoyed Jenkins’ candor- you get the feeling that you are thoroughly rooting through his mind bit by bit. It is vulnerable and open and he does not hold back. What he did was remarkable and you feel as though you’ve done the journey right alongside him. I highly recommend.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
Trying to be more productive in your everyday life? This is the book for you. It’s a fascinating dive into how our minds operate differently from hour to hour, and the negative effects that take place when we ignore these natural lags in mental state. For example, did you know that there is a 65% chance of a judge granting parole at 9am, but almost 0% at 11:45am? Something that highly affects a person’s life is decided by the time of day in which the decision takes place. Pink also emphasizes the importance of breaks, how to break effectively, how to organize your day based on these natural mood shifts, and how to readjust our focus in the middle of reaching a goal. As the book says, timing isn’t everything, everything is timing. I gained a lot from this one, I hope you pick it up so that you can benefit as well.
The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
I love books like this. Similar to “When” in the sense that it helps with productivity, Goins writes about the value of buckling down and getting to work, despite the fear that may be holding you back. It is something I tackle everyday, and I feel that many creatives are in the same boat. If you are a creative, this is a valuable read, and if you aren’t, the basic premise of the book fits all lifestyles and career choices. The message is simple: be honest with yourself and your goals and then face them, especially when you feel afraid to do so. Jeff Goins is one of my favorite authors from whom to heed advice, and his interview with Chase Jarvis (which you can find here), is hands down one of my favorite interviews of all time. This is a quick read as well, so do yourself a favor and pick it up!
This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps
This is an autobiography by Busy Philipps, known for her roles in Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, Cougar Town, and more, that captured me from the beginning. She just dives right in, talking about being a woman in Hollywood and how she got there. It isn’t eloquently written by any means, but it is written like Philipps is talking directly to you—because SHE IS. It is a quick read- I’m a slow reader and I was reading this around a minute per page—and once I would pick it up, it was hard to put down. She is brutally honest about both her mistakes and the mistakes of others. Sometimes I was like, “damn, Busy, you really told him!” but each call out was completely deserved and you believe it because she is equally as harsh on herself. I laughed, I cried, I gasped. I recommend, particularly to other women. This lady is REAL and I learned a thing or two about standing up for and owning yourself.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
A quick travel guide to traveling long-term. It’s a bit out-dated at parts, given that it was written 15 years ago when certain technologies weren’t as wide-spread, but I enjoyed his insights and wish I would have read this years ago as many of the things he discusses I had to learn about the hard way (but such is life!). I definitely recommend for any traveler, long-term or short—his outlook is highly valuable. Also, being a “quotes” girl, this book is filled with them; they are now written down and will be referred to in the future. This also really got me excited for my upcoming trip to Australia—after all, this blog has its title for a reason.
And there you have it! With cold weather means more time indoors turning pages- any recommendations for my winter list? Let me know!