Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

September Reads

This month was a rush of reading, but even so my September reads were nourishing in the best way possible. I’ve been laying low after surgery, and I have to say I don’t mind the extra time for a good book (or six). These books are perfect for fall. They have the right mix of cozy, uplifting, and embracing change.

September Reads

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009

Confession: This book took me longer to read than any other book before it. People read the Bible faster. I started reading this in 2010. I finished it the first week of September. I’d like to blame college and generally business, but really I let shinier books distract me. I would also get bogged down in some of the dense articles, set it aside, and forget it was on my shelf.

But I persevered. Two vacations later, and it’s finally finished. If science and nature writing is up your alley, I would suggest starting with the most recent collection. Please let me know how it is so I can read it in 2022.

 

The Book of Unknown Americans

I haven’t been reading much fiction lately, but this book reminded me why I like it so much. The heart-breaking story was a powerful view into a life so different from mine. From what it means to start over to feeling at home, this book dives into the lives of two immigrant families and takes you along for the ride.

 

Cabin Porn

I picked up this book as a treat for after surgery… and I read most of it before then. I was slightly dissapointed when I first flipped through it to realize that there longer stories about specific cabins throughout the book, but once I started reading them I realized they added way more to the book than if it was just more beautiful photos. I wish it had showed the inside and outside of more cabins, but overall I still liked it. It totally fit in with my tiny house/vanlife obsession.

 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

There is a reason this book got so much attention and praise. I loved it. The story is silly, but totally engrossing. I frequently laughed and I was upset every time I had to put it down. To be fair, there were so many times when I had quiet the voice inside of me that would say “that would never happen!”, but if you treat it like the fiction it is the story will take a hold of you. My favorite fiction this month by far.

 

Lab Girl

Lab Girl was my favorite book this month. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t convinced I was going to finish it after a couple of chapters. Suddenly, I was tearing through it and all I could think about was working faster so I could read it.

Hope Jahren gives a vulnerable look into what it’s like to be a female scientist. She carved her own path, and bared her struggles. Her self-doubt and passion were a soothing tonic for my own life fumblings and confusion. I started to love her amazing facts about trees and plants, and they have really stuck with me. This book is a must read for science lovers and a highly-recommend for everyone else.

 

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

NFL teams swear by it. Tim Ferriss won’t shut about it. I didn’t get it.

At just over 200 pages, this wasn’t a particularly long book or one that dragged on. And yet I didn’t make through a single page without getting distracted and thinking about something else. I could not stay focused on this book. I don’t know what to say, other than maybe it just wasn’t for me.

I took a couple notes and overall it was a nice reminder, especially when I’m currently navigating an obstacle of my own, but it just didn’t do it for me.

 

Want more recommendations?

Check out what I’ve read so far this year:

August
July
June
May
April and March
February
January

August Reads

Last year four books in a month would have been a great feat. But after my run, I was a little disappointed this month. Work and a vacation at the end of the month left my August reads a little shorter than normal.

But just because I didn’t bring home the entire library doesn’t mean I didn’t snag some great reads! I really enjoyed every book this month.

August Reads

Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More

As a long time reader of Erin’s blog, I wasn’t sure if this book would feel like an overplayed song on repeat. After tearing through it, it’s safe to say this wasn’t the case.

I could not have picked a better time to read it. I would snuggle up with this book during my recent move when I was feeling overwhelmed by stuff or like we were missing the perfect solution. I highly recommend it to everyone – whether you want a little more simplicity or you are just curious about how Erin and her family of three (soon to be four) live.

Rad American Women A-Z

Just because this book was written for children doesn’t mean it’s not great for adults too. I loved it! I had never heard of most of these women, let alone their impact on America. It’s also a great gift for your next baby shower.

Shrill

Confession: I didn’t really know who Lindy West was before I requested this book from the library. I heard her on one of my favorite podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend, and added it to my list on impulse.

I’m so glad I did. I laughed out loud and had some of my flash judgements tested. I’m a sucker for any book that puts me into the mind of a successful writer, but even more than that I enjoyed seeing the world from her eyes. This book got the elusive five stars from me on Goodreads.

Americanah

I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up Americanah. I’m so far behind the times on this one, it’s embarrassing.

This book dragged me in and wouldn’t let me go. I was so far into it that when the main character was down I was in a mood for days. I just couldn’t shake the story and I couldn’t stop myself from behaving like I knew her in real life. Brace yourself now and be prepared to need to take some breaks to digest.

Bottom line: Drop what you are doing and read this if you haven’t already.

How to Make Time to Read

If I could, I would spend all day curled up with a great book. I cannot read enough. Even still, I have to make time to read. Life is busy, there are so many other wonderful things to do – I get it. But you won’t regret squeezing in a little extra time to read.

This year I have read more than ever, and a lot of that is because I have prioritized reading. I’m currently on track to read well over my goal of 52 books this year. (I’m secretly shooting for at least 60 now.)

Make time to read with these tips!

How to make time to read

Carry a Book

I take my book(s) with me everywhere. Instead of pulling out my phone and passing the time, I read my book. Each 5-10 minute chunk adds up! I read in waiting rooms, during the in-between moments of work, and anytime I have a few extra minutes throughout the day.

 

Put Down the Remote

You don’t have to give up TV entirely, but each time you pick up a book instead of the remote you drastically increase the amount of time you have to read. It’s impossible (for me at least) to stop watching once you’ve started. Try just reading for 10 minutes and then watching TV. Or better yet, pick a TV free day and read instead.

 

Read What You Love

Who cares if it’s a “classic”? If it’s boring, drop it. No one has time for that. Read the books you love! You won’t struggle to make time to read if you can’t put your book down.

I used to force myself to finish books, and half of my to-read list was full of other people’s “must reads”. One uninspiring book would derail my reading habit and leave me stuck for weeks. Once I gave myself permission to admit I didn’t like a book and stop reading it, I flew through the books I really wanted to read.

 

Two-Time It

I love to read, but I can easily get restless with a book. For the past couple of years I’ve read a non-fiction and a fiction at the same time – double the fun! It keeps me from over-dosing on a good story or burning out on knowledge. You don’t have to stick with fiction/non-fiction. Toss in a magazine, grab a book of poems, settle down with essays, whatever you like.

 

Schedule It

Scheduling doesn’t have to kill the romance. Whether you set aside 15-30 minutes a day or pick a day where you read for an hour, marking your calendar will hold you accountable. It will also remind you to read and help you make reading a habit. I usually make sure I have time on Sunday afternoons to laze about with a book. It’s a relaxing end to the week.

How to Make Time to Read

Stock Up

I can’t help but tear through a stack of library books. While I am notorious for checking out too many at once (I swear my library is set up to encourage impulse shopping. I always leave with more books than I intended), try to keep it reasonable so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you only have a few minutes to read each day, pick 1-2 short books.

 

Turn Off the Screen

My phone and computer can sing siren songs. I will sit down to read and waste 20 minutes on Instagram. I have “closed tabs” on my computer (a.k.a. reading the entire internet) and blown all of my free time. Swap reading for screen time and you’ll start flying through books.

July Reads

I have grand dreams of a warm, relaxing summer vacation, but so far no dice. My July reads were all read at home, except for one that came along for an exhausting trip to Seattle.
July Reads: All the Single Ladies, Between the World and Me, Not Working: A Novel, Open, and The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

Open

Things I know about Tennis: Serena and Venus Williams are bosses, it’s played with rackets and green balls, and the scoring makes no sense. In other words, I know nothing, but I loved this book.

I first heard about it on a podcast – It’s one of Tim Ferriss‘ favorites, and he won’t shut up about it. Andre Agassi’s memoir is a fascinating look into what it’s like to be a professional tennis player and devote your life to a single sport. Some of it felt a little too fantastical to be true, but if you give yourself over to the story it’s a great read.

 

All the Single Ladies

After hearing Rebecca Traister on Call Your Girlfriend, I was excited for this book. I was not prepared for how depressed it would make me. I know it wasn’t the intention, but I came away feeling like if you get married you are screwed and if you never get married you are screwed to. Maybe I just wasn’t prepared for the reality of being a woman in the United States.

But outside of the depressing bits, I really enjoyed the look into America’s past and all of the strong women who have paved the way. More than anything it reminded me that there is no right answer for everyone, especially when it comes to marriage and children, and we all need to chill out and give each other space to make our own decisions.

 

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates is incredible. His book is gut wrenching, especially in light of the recent shootings and violence. Too many.

I’m a small white woman, and I will never truly know what it’s like to be anything but. Coates’ experience and his criticism of The Dream hit me hard. I know what it’s like to always be on guard, to always be afraid, but I have always had privilege to shield me from the worst. This book is as good as everyone says it is. Read it.

 

The Unspeakable

I had a really hard time connecting with Meghan Daum. Our lives and personalities are just so different, and I really struggled through this one. I’m leaving My Misspent Youth on my list – maybe that one will speak to me.

 

Not Working

Have you recently been laid off? Don’t know what you want to do with your life? Feel like you have no passion or direction? Don’t read this book. This one was a little too relatable – minus the excessive drinking and hatred of exercising. (To be fair, I tore through it and it was a good read. It did, however, ignite some serious ennui.)

More:

June
May
April

See all of my book recommendations here.

And say hi on Goodreads!

10 Best Summer Vacation Books

I can’t help myself from packing like Rory when I go on vacation. To be fair, I rarely return with an unread book. Vacation is synonymous with relaxation and reading for me.

These are some of my favorite books and books I have read around the world. From the plane to the beach to the tent or luxurious bed, these books will keep you hooked. You won’t regret making room for (at least) one of these great books.

10 Best Summer Vacation Books

Best Summer Vacation Books

Modern Romance
What’s a vacation without a little romance? This book was insightful (and also vaguely terrifying). When did love get so complicated?

My Life on the Road
I can’t imagine how one woman can travel so far and accomplish so much. Gloria Steinem’s story is incredible, and you will meet dozens of women who made history along the way.

All the Light We Cannot See
You might not see much of your destination either. This book dragged me in and I wanted nothing more than to read it continuously. I had trouble pulling myself away from it. I read it on a ski trip (where I conveniently couldn’t ski, more time to read!), but I don’t see why it would be any less good on a beach or by a pool.

Station Eleven
I read this book last year while in Whistler, which means this book is forever synonymous with vacation for me. Don’t let the doomsday vibe deter you – this was an engrossing story that I would have gratefully read everywhere. I loved the traveling troupe and the rich story. Although fair warning, you may never look at an airplane the same again.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Nothing says great vacation like death. I’m kidding, but despite making my cry at the end, this book had me laughing frequently. It will also help you appreciate your trip even more.

The Martian
Sand. Heat. A rough flight. Astronaut Mark Watney’s experience on Mars is sort of like a tropical vacation. A really horrific vacation. I loved the snark of this book, and it will forever remind me of the train ride from Barcelona to Valencia.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
I started this book on a flight and refused to do anything else until I finished it (I know, I’m a fantastic travel companion). Set in a quirky community in Seattle, this book follows Bee and her quest to get her agoraphobic mother and her disengaged father to Antarctica. Instead, Bee ends up on a search for her missing mother. Bonus points if you read it while on a cruise to Antarctica.

The Happiness Project
A trip is a great time to pull back and take a hard look at your life. What really makes you happy? What makes you miserable? Dive into happiness and extend the vacation glow long after you return home.

Packing for Mars
Your hand guide to the ultimate trip. Mary Roach dives deep into the oddities of trying to get humans on Mars. And you thought trying to get everything into your carry-on was hard.

Wild
I can’t end this list without one of my favorites. I may never lace up my boots and take on the Pacific Crest Trail, but this book inspired me to get outside more and push my travel limits.

June Reads

Without time-consuming training for the past 8 months, I have been devouring books. This month was no exception.

I read nine books this month, although to be fair, three of them were short, read-in-one-sitting, books. I don’t want to overly brag about my selections, but this month’s book are so good! I just couldn’t get enough of them.

June Books 2016-what-to-read-this-summer-june-reads

June Reads

Rising Strong
I am new to Brené Brown. I had heard her name quite a few times, and she is even in Big Magic. I put the book on my list after hearing her on Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast.

The book was a little hard for me to get into, mostly because I was missing the helpful background from all of her books that came before it. Still, this book taught me to recognize the stories I tell myself and realize that they are not The Truth. I have stopped myself quite a few times this month from a negative story where everyone is clearly out to get me and changed it to a positive. It hasn’t rocked my world, but Brown has definitely given me more awareness of my tendencies and encouragement to take control of my experiences.

WomanCode
I had such high hopes for this book. Maybe too high. On the first page I thought I was going to tell all of my friends to read it, but by the last it didn’t seem worth their time, or mine. It did not draw on science enough in my opinion, and there was a bit too much emphasis on changing behavior like exercise and deep, emotional conversations around the monthly menstrual cycle. Not for me.

Creative Confidence
This book left me fired up about creating and writing. Written by the founder of IDEO and Stanford’s famous design school, this was a rich, rewarding book. I have notes on notes on notes. A must read! Especially if you are creative or you think you aren’t. Loved it.

The Age of Selfishness
I never pick up graphic novels, or really anything about the economy, but this one reminded me of a friend when I was browsing the library and it ended up making its way home with me. It was a bit of an odd book for me, but I appreciated the clear breakdown of Ayn Rand’s beliefs and ideas as well as the explanation of the economic collapse. Overall, it left me with great new knowledge and fairly depressed.

Retox
I spoke with Lauren Imparato for a story on the best habits of yoga teachers, and I ended up checking out her book after the piece came out. I thought I might flip through it a bit and look at the pictures. Instead I surprised myself and read it cover to cover.

I have’t used any of her solutions for things like headaches or “rage against the female machine” yet, but I have my notes at the ready. This one is great if you are vaguely familiar with yoga or interested in how you can influence what’s going on in your body.

We Should All Be Feminists
This little nugget warms my heart. It is an essay adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s (just as incredible) TEDx talk. If you have recently watched the talk most of it will feel familiar to you, but I still loved reading it. I mean, the woman was sampled by Beyoncé! She’s amazing. I moved Americanah to the top of my list after realizing she wrote it.

Grunt
I love Mary Roach. She’s one of my writer heroes, and this book is a great example of why. It’s funny, personal, and downright odd. She gives you a look at some of the weirder things all while making science interesting and easy to understand. I loved this book so much I went and heard her speak on her book tour. #HardCoreFan

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
I understood 30-40 percent of this book. It’s not Carlo Rovelli’s fault. Physics theory is not my strong point. But I do feel smarter just for reading it. The book started as columns in an Italian newspaper before they were compiled into this short (less than 100 pages) read. Whether you are a nuclear physicist or you cringe when you hear ‘chemistry’, I recommend this one.

Attachments
This is my only fiction for the month, and it was well worth the read. I really enjoyed the story, up until the end when I got mad because I didn’t feel like it was real enough. I think all of this non-fiction might be ruining my sense of fantasy. Even with my “That would never happen!” outburst at the end, I still really enjoyed it.

6 Healthy Cookbooks – Part 2

As much as I love browsing Pinterest for recipe ideas, it just can’t beat flipping through a solid cookbook. These healthy cookbooks have me all jazzed up about getting creative in the kitchen this summer.

healthy-cookbooks-part-2

Love and Lemons Cookbook
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another book as beautiful as this one. I love flipping through it. The book is full of gorgeous full page photos for every recipe, and the whole thing feels light and calming. Jeanine Donofrio’s recipes include a healthy mix of foods. Notes about how to modify recipes to be vegetarian and/or gluten free are peppered throughout so you can make her dishes to suit your needs.

Bowl
Get ready to crave ramen like crazy. I couldn’t stop myself from flagging nearly every recipe. Vegetarian pho? Yes please! This cookbook has everything from a vegetarian spin on popular Asian bowls to Buddha bowls stuffed with veggies.

Eating Clean
This is the only cookbook I have ever read from cover to cover. Amie Valpone’s story is fascinating, and enjoyed getting some ideas for recipes without dairy or gluten. I won’t follow her meal plan, but I would like to incorporate some of her principles (and snacks!) into my daily eating.

Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking
Confession, I still haven’t actually seen this one. There’s a long list of us waiting for it from the library. But given how create The Minimalist Baker’s recipes are, I’m confident it’s worth my wait and your time. Her vegan (and mostly gluten-free) recipes are flavorful and full of nutritious ingredients.

The Sprouted Kitchen
From yet another blogger I love, this cookbook is pretty and functional. She makes vegetarian food feel innovative and homey at the same time. Her gluten-free cornmeal pancakes are on my short list.

Protein Ninja
Looking to add more vegan protein into your diet? This book is for you. While I loved Veganomicon, I was a little disappointed in this book from Terry Romero. I didn’t realize when I requested it from the library that nearly ever recipe would include protein powder. I also had a hard time finding gluten-free recipes in it.

What are your go-to healthy cookbooks?

In case you missed it: Healthy Cookbooks Part 1

May Reads

I cannot keep myself out of the library this month. Ever since I started checking out stacks of cookbooks, I keep coming home with more and more books. It looks like I’m running a library out of my room, and I’m starting to get concerned the librarians are getting suspicious (they aren’t).

It’s impossible to keep up with the books I’m bringing in. Each time I pick up a book from the shelf I tell myself that I’m only here for the ones that I requested, and I still manage to bring them all home anyways.

In other words, expect quite a few books in the next couple of months. I enjoyed my May reads, even if they were a random mix.

May Reads

What I Read This Month

My Life on the Road
Like most young women, I am very familiar with her name, but I have not read much of Gloria Steinem’s work. I picked up this book based on the suggestion of Emma Watson’s book club, Our Shared Shelf. Her stories are incredible. From nearly constant travel for decades to being around present to some of the most monumental moments in recent history, Steinem’s book was eye-opening in a way I didn’t expect. I loved reading about one extraordinary woman’s life, and I especially took comfort in the fact that she didn’t really know what she wanted or what she was doing for years either. She just kept going and figuring it out on the road. Fascinating book.

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up
I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up while in Spain last year, and I couldn’t help myself from checking out the follow-up. I thought it was a heavily illustrated guide, and to be honest I really only wanted to check it out for her clothes-folding techniques. Overall it was alright, but nothing amazing. While this one does give more detailed instructions, if you haven’t read Life-Changing Magic it’s going to be much less helpful and will often leave you wondering. The first book is likely all you need.

The Happiness Project
This one is not really a new book, but it didn’t change its impact on me. I loved reading about Gretchen Rubin’s self-experiments and the things she thought would make her happier. It definitely helped that our personalities and temperaments are quite similar, but there is definitely something for everyone in this book. If you only read one book out of this list, this might be it.

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants
My brother brought this home from a trip to Portland, and it went through our roommates and friends like wildfire. While I didn’t think it was as good as The Oatmeal’s The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, the males in my life loved it. I could tell when they were reading it by the giggling or full out laughter that would bounce through the house.

Modern Romance
This one far exceeded my expectations. I have complicated feelings toward Aziz Ansari. I loved him in Parks and Recreation and thought he was sexist in a standup I saw. He earned some points back with this one. Get ready for real data and some hilarious quips. I particularly enjoyed some of the blurbs they included from their focus groups/subreddit. It also made me incredibly thankful to not have delved into the complexity of online dating. I got stressed out just reading about it. We have an overwhelming amount of choices. Good luck, my friends. Good luck.

Like No Other
In case you can’t tell from all of the books above, I’m in a bit of a nonfiction groove right now. This was my only fiction this month, and it just didn’t do it for me. To be fair, it’s a young adult book, but for some reason I was holding it to higher standards. It just wasn’t for me.

 

What should I read next? Any fiction or nonfiction books you love?

More Books: You can see all of my recommendations here.