A lot of readers have asked for my book list. And it kind-of, sort-of existed but it had been a long while since I updated it. In creating this list, I realized something: my day is torn between continuing to build and build upon this list and actually getting work done. I could write about books forever. And I could keep making a list and never be satisfied with my own selections. So I have decided that I will continue to build upon this list as time goes on. I will add categories. I will add new selections. And you can chime in through the comments to help me build upon this list.
Happy reading season!
A little fiction never hurt nobody.
Little Bee: I told my mother I was coming up with a book list and she nearly fell into a fit of rage jumping up and down with fists clenched screaming, “LITTLEEEEE BEEEEEEEEE. RARRRRRRRRRRRRR.” But no, seriously, you need to go read this book and then decide which room in your house you want to redecorate with all the pages. Next week on the blog I will post a tutorial on how to turn Christopher Cleeve’s book pages into wallpaper so that you can drool over it while cooking pasta in the kitchen or brushing your teeth in the bathroom.
I Know This Much is True
El Girasol: A restless young woman searching for more finds herself in the arms of a Channing Tatum-esque man who just so happens to own an orphanage in El Salvador. Nuff said.
Plain Truth: Jodi Picoult is the junk of fiction. She does it all right & in an effortless kind of way like, “Oh, I just made your heart fall out of your chest with my ridiculous plot lines. Want another?” So read Plain Truth and then go build a bunker in your local library and camp out with all the books she’s ever written. The Pact is another solid one. And when the security guards come to remove you, scream that you’ve caught the Jodi and you are absolutely incurable. They’ll be sympathetic. I’m sure.
Firefly Lane: This book is perfection for the ones of you that feel like sitting in a pile of your own snot and tears tonight. A great story about friendship that will surely curl close the memories with your own best friends but there is just one thing I recommend: Keep your phone preset to dial 911 for the exact moment that you fall from the couch to the floor and begin choking and hyperventilating over your tears.
The Help: You is kind. You is special. You is important. This book is designated for a day where rain is cluttering the window panes and all your body is screaming for is a hot cocoa with whipped cream on top. These are the kinds of characters you want to pile up in your minivan and drive around town with stopping at various Starbucks to show off what a groovy clan you’ve got. Minnie will want to sit in the front seat, or maybe even drive the minivan. Fair warning.
The messed up sides of you will like these selections.
Room: Also known as “The book that won’t stir you until page 50 but don’t give up on it yet.” I’ll admit that I stumbled and stammered and almost put the book down but that everything changed when I reached the 50-page mark. You go from barely holding up the book to gripping it tightly, sucking the oxygen from the teeny tiny pages. Twisted plotline. Twisted perspective. So delightfully gripping.
The Virgin Suicides: It took me a while to get into the actual plot of this book… or to distinguish if a plot even existed. But the way the author puts words together is its own form of crack. Like, if we were crack dealers he would probably be the king of us (so many crack references…).
Looking for Alaska
The Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Creative Nonfiction is my crack.
The Year of Magical Thinking: Do you know how ridiculously tough it is for me to even type out that title. I get choked up. I want to retreat far, far away from this computer space to curl up in a corner with Joan Didion’s book and just weep & pour over it. Joan Didion is the loomer or the loomstress or the seamstress (whatever you call it) to literature. She chooses her words carefully & wisely and spins you into a better person because of it.
Me Talk Pretty One Day
The Opposite of Loneliness: This girl is on fire. Period. End of story. Marina Keegan passed away suddenly in a tragic car accident just a few days after she graduated from Yale University. Her writings went wildly viral as a result. Her words are gonna grip you and pull you and rip you apart. And you’re gonna be addicted to what she left behind.
Reading Lolita in Tehran
The Diary of Helene Berr
On Writing: a memoir of the craft: Three words: “Kill your darlings.” For any writer, this is the stuff… The. Stuff.
Lady Friends to Travel With.
Wild: You knew I couldn’t make a list without mah girlzzzzz– Cheryl and Liz. This book made me want to pack a backpack (quickly), invest in hiking boots, and then haul on over to the Pacific Northwestern Trail. Get ready for a good journey, babycakes.
Tiny, Beautiful Things: This. Just this. I can’t say much more. This book is my designated “I give it to every single friend going into any sort of life transition” book. I can’t type much more than that… I swoon.
Bread & Wine
Never Have I Ever: This memoir is hilarious and unbelievably relatable. This is the kind of narrator you hope to have always– one who writes to you as though you both are sitting down to coffee, retelling every detail. Pick it up and laugh. Hard.
Eat, Pray, Love: This book is a classic in my book. My loyalties are pinned to it. I will never deviate. Liz Gilbert is my favorite writer, hands-down. And this book brought me through a number of monumental things– break-ups, starts of new semesters, transitions, and my own book-writing journey.
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: I read this book when I was 14-years-old. It made me want to be a hysterical writer. Susan Jane Gillman is the kind of gal you want to go traveling with. She is honest. She is brave. She. Is. Brilliant.
Dat dude upstairs.
Blue Like Jazz: I am still quite certain that there will come a day when Don Miller and I are sipping sweet tea out at the front of a wraparound porch. The man is genius. I’ve never had a single tempting to get a tattoo but some of his sentences are just so sticky that I think I want to ink them on my body in a forever sort of way. All of Don’s stuff is pure goodness. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is another one I highly recommend, especially if you are beginning to wonder the purpose within your little bones.
Traveling Mercies: If God were to grant me a small pocket of time to be Tyra Banks and judge this book as it strutted down the runway, I’d say something so Tyra-like, “Fierce. This book… all its pages and stories and plots within… all of it is FIERCE.”
Help, Thanks, Wow.
One Thousand Gifts: If grace could grow pages and a spine, it. would. look. like. this. book. Beautiful language. And a beautiful thought process living on the page. There is no possible way that you will turn away from this book not being better or stronger in your walk with God.
The Hiding Place
When we were on fire.
Where the Heart Waits: Not to be confused with “Where the Heart Is” about the girl who gets pregnant and delivers a baby in Wal-Mart. I am a mega fan over any ink that Sue Monk Kidd places down on a page. This book is perfect for anyone going with a dark period with God.
Tables in the Wilderness: This book isn’t due out until October but I got to read an advanced copy and Preston Yancey delivers a moment that body slams you and your current state of spirituality. I love this boy something fierce and I know this is just one of what will be many, many books from him.
Radical: This book should be renamed. To something like, “Hi, My name is David Platt. And I am going to smack you in the face with truth. And it’s gonna be uncomfortable. And maybe you will move to Africa when you are done reading… TBD.”
Young Adults are Underestimated.
Hunger Games: I don’t care what a single individual says: These. Books. Are. Awesome. Sauce. And Rue’s whistle is my current ringtone. Read the first one and you’ll suddenly find yourself dropping off the face of the planet to read all three. They are addicting so please, only start these books on a week when you don’t have engagements to attend. And let me know if you want to put in an order for a t-shirt that reads, “Real Men Bake Cakes” from my one day, some day clothing line.
The Book Thief: If this book were actual crack then I would be a junkie in a heartbeat. I don’t know what more to say than this book needed to be read by you yesterday. Go, child. GO.
The Fault in our Stars
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: This ain’t because More Love Letters is sitting pretty at the back of the new book (wink) BUT the story in general is one that will yank you back to your high school shoes and all you ever felt about fitting in and wishing to be infinite for a little while. A real coming of age story that shakes and stirs at any age or angle.
Sometimes I wish Seth Godin was my daddy (and other things you’ll say after reading these business books).
Start Something That Matters: Blake, the founder of the TOMS movement, tells a compelling play by play of all the nuts & bolts behind a grassroots movement turned global. I reference this little ditty often with More Love Letters and it is perfect beyond perfect for anyone that wants to dig into business but is allergic to numbers and case studies.
Quitter: This book was a major player in helping me find the courage and the resources to quit my day job. Jon Acuff is smart and spewing with know-how when it comes to the topic of living out your passion in a remarkable way. I would recommend this book to anyone-a-n-y-o-n-e- who is looking to be humored and inspired and challenged, all at the same time.
The Firestarter Sessions: I worked with Danielle Laporte for six months, once upon a time. And everyday was as inspiring as this book. It’ll kick you in the pants. It will drive you to new levels. And it will touch on a topic you probably need to face: FEAR. Plus, it’s really, really pretty and bright orange so it’s a great addition to any bookshelf just for its aesthetic.
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: One of my favorites. PR Master Kelly Cutrone spits truth about the hustle. Be warned– it’s brutally honest and candid but you’ll learn a lot. She’s kind of like a merciless big sister.
The War of Art
Essentialism: I have been on this wicked crazy rampage as of lately… One where I want to cut all the excess out of my life and just start fresh. This book is basically that idea, but in business format. Get ready to cut, cut, cut the junk out of your life.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: I don’t know if this book is available as more than an e-book but I got my copy for $2.99 or some absurdly cheap price. Which is crazy, considering it helped me completely restructure my day and squeeze the maximum amount of productivity out of me.