reading list | the bookish athlete

2021 reading summary


this year, I’m tracking two things on my reading list:

  • a 3-word description of each book
  • a cross-training “workout” (a related book, article, blog post, movie, TV show, podcast, product, etc.)

reading list by month


  • 1. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
    family, ingenuity, progress
    cross-training: A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)
  • 2. The Operator (Gretchen Berg)
    secretive, unexpected, atmospheric
    cross-training: Mad Men TV series
  • 3. Ready Player Two (Ernest Cline)
    sentimental, digital, slow-starter
    cross-training: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  • 4. Writers & Lovers (Lily King)
    sensitive, single-chapter, crescendo
    cross-training: Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
  • 5. Why We Swim (Bonnie Tsui)
    familiar, storytelling, collective
    cross-training: Charles Tomlinson’s poem, “Swimming Chenango Lake”


  • 6. The Library Book (Susan Orlean)
    nostalgic, puzzling, journalistic
    cross-training: The Giver of Stars (Jojo Moyes)

  • 7. All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
    captivating, detailed, beautiful
    cross-training: The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)
  • 8. The Sun is a Compass (Caroline Van Hemert)
    expansive, resilient, adventure
    cross-training: the Banff Mountain Film Festival


  • 9. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman)
    meddling, funny, warm
    cross-training: Murder, She Wrote TV series
  • 10. On Writing (Stephen King)
    dedicated, pragmatic, fangirl (me)
    cross-training: The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
  • 11. Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
    lengthy, significant, expressive
    cross-training: The Girl with the Louding Voice (Abi Daré)
  • 12. Without Reservations (Alice Steinbach)
    good-natured, introspective, confident
    cross-training: Wild (Cheryl Strayed)
  • 13. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg (Giles Milton)
    risky, competitive, explorative
    cross-training: Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)


  • 14. Daisy Jones and the Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
    compulsive, rock and roll, mockumentary
    cross-training: A Star is Born (2018)
  • 15. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (Deesha Philyaw)
    provocative, honest, identity
    cross-training: Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

  • 16. The Island of Sea Women (Lisa See)
    friendship, heartbreaking, tradition
    cross-training: Sky Burial (Xinran)

  • 17. Zen in The Art of Writing (Ray Bradbury)
    process, poetry, memories
    cross-training: On Writing (Stephen King)
  • 18. I’d Rather Be Reading (Anne Bogel)
    bookish, relatable, connected
    cross-training: How Reading Changed My Life (Anna Quindlen)
  • 19. They Never Learn (Layne Fargo)
    twisted, calculated, avenged
    cross-training: Strike Me Down (Mindy Mejia)
  • 20. The Girl with the Louding Voice (Abi Daré)
    brave, transformative, educating
    cross-training: The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett)


  • 21. Endure (Alex Hutchinson)
    researched, technical, concrete
    cross-training: Peak Performance (Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness)

  • 22. The Greatest Salesman in the World (Og Mandino)
    guidance, action, habits
    cross-training: The Man on the Mountaintop (Susan Trott)
  • 23. How Reading Changed My Life (Anna Quindlen)
    introspective, quick, collection
    cross-training: Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
  • 24. Greenlights (Matthew McConaughey)
    alright, alright, alright
    cross-training: Dazed and Confused (1993)

  • 25. Beginners (Tom Vanderbilt)
    imperfect, inspired, learning
    cross-training: The Pursuit of Perfect (Tal Ben-Shahar)
  • 26. The Storytelling Animal (Jonathan Gottschall)
    wired for story
    cross-training: Building a StoryBrand (Donald Miller)
  • 27. The Biggest Bluff (Maria Konnikova)
    self-awareness, wealth of skill, embrace uncertainty
    cross-training: Turning Pro (Steven Pressfield)
  • 28. Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
    ordinary, witty, identity
    cross-training: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (Samantha Irby)


  • 29. The Art of Gathering (Priya Parker)
    how-to, purposeful, etiquette
    cross-training: The Culture Code (Daniel Coyle)
  • 30. Trick Mirror (Jia Tolentino)
    blunt editorial awareness
    cross-training: Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay)
  • 31. Firefly Lane (Kristin Hannah)
    tearful summer read
    cross-training: Firefly Lane Netflix Series
  • 32. Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay)
    opinionated, articulate collection
    cross-training: Hunger (Roxane Gay)
  • 33. What Kind of Woman (Kate Baer)
    relatable poetry experience
    cross-training: Tell Me More (Kelly Corrigan)
  • 34. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (Chris Taylor)
    overwhelming detailed history
    cross-training: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)


  • 35. Living the Confidence Code (Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, JillEllyn Riley)
    perseverant YA stories
    cross-training: Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)
  • 36. The Finders (Jeffrey B. Burton)
    bad-guy-finding golden retriever
    cross-training: Turner & Hooch (1989)
  • 37. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
    heartbreak is loss
    cross-training: City of Girls (Elizabeth Gilbert)

  • 38. Effortless (Greg McKeown)
    get things done
    cross-training: Essentialism (Greg McKeown)
  • 39. Educating Alice (Alice Steinbach)
    zero tension memoir (“meh”-moir)
    cross-training: Garlic and Sapphires (Ruth Reichl)

  • 40. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry (Kathleen Flinn)
    learning conquers outcomes
    cross-training: Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child)
  • 41. Chatter (Ethan Kross)
    inner voice tools
    cross-training: Quiet (Susan Cain)


  • 42. On Trails (Robert Moor)
    lines left behind
    cross-training: Desert Solitaire (Edward Abbey)
  • 43. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry (Joya Goffney)
    YA, list-making, romance
    cross-training: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV Series
  • 44. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (Charlie Mackesy)
    kindness, bravery, love
    cross-training: Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne)
  • 45. The Great Pretender (Susannah Cahalan)
    undercover mental insanity
    cross-training: Brain on Fire (Susannah Cahalan)
  • 46. On Writing Well (William Zinsser)
    practical writing advice
    cross-training: The Elements of Style (William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White)
  • 47. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View (multiple contributors)
    minor character storytelling
    cross-training: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  • 48. Brain on Fire (Susannah Cahalan)
    brain health memoir
    cross-training: The Big Sick (2017)
  • 49. Goodnight Beautiful (Aimee Molloy)
    twists and turns
    cross-training: Misery (Stephen King)
  • 50. American Places (William Zinsser)
    vivid American icons
    cross-training: National Park After Dark podcast (episode 12)


  • 51. Solutions and Other Problems (Allie Brosh)
    illustrated subjective humor
    cross-training: Reasons to Stay Alive (Matt Haig)
  • 52. A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)
    five-star (hotel) exile
    cross-training: The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

  • 53. The Art of Impossible (Steven Kotler)
    how to flow
    cross-training: Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  • 54. Chasing the Thrill (Daniel Barbarisi)
    real-life treasure hunt
    cross-training: The Thrill of the Chase (Forrest Fenn)
  • 55. Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel)
    pre-post apocalyptic
    cross-training: The Stand (Stephen King)
  • 56. Writing to Learn (William Zinssner)
    write the unknown
    cross-training: The Oxford Guide to Plain English (Martin Cutts)


  • 57. The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah)
    surviving in Alaska
    cross-training: The Giver of Stars (JoJo Moyes)
  • 58. Broken (Jenny Lawson)
    mental health essays
    cross-training: Furiously Happy (Jenny Lawson)
  • 59. The Midnight Library (Matt Haig)
    learn through living
    cross-training: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)
  • 60. The Other Black Girl (Zakiya Dalila Harris)
    what just happened
    cross-training: The Devil Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger)
  • 61. Malibu Rising (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
    surfing phoenix rises
    cross-training: Daisy Jones & The Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
  • 62. The Plot (Jean Hanff Korelitz)
    blazing slow burn
    cross-training: Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood)
  • 63. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (V.E. Schwab)
    beautiful, sultry darkness
    cross-training: The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)


  • 64. I Hope This Finds You Well: Poems (Kate Baer)
    transforming through erasure
    cross-training: Newspaper Blackout (Austin Kleon)
  • 65. Crying in H Mart (Michelle Zauner)
    identity through grief
    cross-training: Kim’s Convenience TV Series
  • 66. Mrs. March (Virginia Feito)
    nameless insecure paranoia
    cross-training: Psycho (1960)


  • 67. You’ll Grow Out of It (Jessi Klein)
    non-linear essay collection
    cross-training: Broken (Jenny Lawson)
  • 68. The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
    rich, magical, romantic
    cross-training: The Prestige (2006)
  • 69. The Highly Sensitive Person (Elaine N. Aron)
    informative but defensive
    cross-training: Quiet (Susan Cain)

  • 70. Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir)
    hilarious science-based storytelling
    cross-training: The Martian (Andy Weir)

  • 71. The Man Who Died Twice – Thursday Murder Club #2 (Richard Osman)
    golden-yeared mystery solvers
    cross-training: The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman)

2021 dnfs

  • Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry)

past reading lists

Follow @thebookishathlete for updates on what I’ve been reading lately. Book recommendations are always appreciated, and I’m happy to throw out some ideas as well!