reading list | the bookish athlete

2022 reading summary

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dnf

january

  • 1. Wintering (Katherine May)
    Katherine May initially intended this book to be more of a travel narrative. But the subtitle is “The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.” She describes her experience dealing with darker seasons of life and the necessity for rest. She writes with beautiful language, something that I appreciate but prefer to listen to. Once I got to the chapter on cold water swimming, I got sucked in. One of my favorite quotes… “Happiness is the greatest skill we’ll ever learn.

  • 2. Girl Sleuth (Melanie Rehak)
    If you’ve read the Nancy Drew books and have ever been curious about where she came from, then this is the book for you. It is a thorough account (over 300 pages) of who was responsible for telling the tales of her adventures. Spoiler alert, it was not the author you see on the book jackets. This book is about the people and syndicate that kept Nancy solving mysteries for several decades – the father, daughters, and ghostwriters that kept the adventures going.

  • 3. The Professor and the Madman (Simon Winchester)
    As its title might suggest, this book is about a professor and a madman who played primary roles in creating and publishing the Oxford English Dictionary. One of these men was a project manager tasked with simplifying a complicated task into manageable chunks. The other a resident of an asylum and creator of a useful strategy that landed thousands and thousands of words within the published product.

  • 4. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)
    Is it possible to fit seven lessons on physics into two hours of reading time? Yes, thanks to this audiobook. After absorbing some complex science ideas in Project Hail Mary, I was curious to check this book out. No, I don’t understand the wonders of the universe. But I still followed along (..ish) through these short physics lessons covering gravity, time, quantum theories, black holes, and the role we humans play in all that chaos.

  • 5. The Binding (Bridget Collins)
    A dark, forbidden love story with elements of fantasy, perhaps witchcraft. In this book’s time and place, people come to “book binders” to forget their memories. The white-hat binders keep these books and their stories safe and secret. Other binders sell them to turn a profit. The Binding is a haunting story about love lost and what it may take for two young men to remember.

  • 6. Apples Never Fall (Liane Moriarty)
    This is the fourth book I’ve read written by Liane Moriarty, and it’s my least favorite. I’ve enjoyed other books by this author because of the page-turning pace. It was good enough to stick it out and find out what caused a family member to disappear. But this one was slower, and these characters didn’t suck me in as others have in the past.

february

  • 7. Where the Deer and the Antelope Play (Nick Offerman)
    Nick Offerman writes about politics and economics through the lens of the outdoors. This book is divided into three parts. First, Nick goes off to Glacier National Park with two friends for some hiking. Next, he writes about his visits to James Rebanks’s farm in Matterdale. And finally, he covers his cross-country trip in an Airstream RV with wife, Megan Mullally. Highly recommend the audiobook, read by the author himself.

  • 8. The Comfort Book (Matt Haig)
    This is the second book I’ve read by Matt Haig – the first was The Midnight Library. The Comfort Book reminds me of a personal journal or even a commonplace book. Each chapter stands alone, and the messages of each one reminded me of a lot of ideas and thoughts I had when I did The 100 Day Project a few years ago. I pulled many notes and highlights from this book that I’ll definitely revisit in the future.

  • 9. Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
    I’ve had Bird by Bird on my tbr list for years, and I even own a copy of the eBook. Since this book kept getting pushed back on my list, I finally snagged the audiobook and read it! This book is about writing, but it’s not just for writers. I felt like I was sitting with the author, most likely over coffee, and listening to her lessons about the world, told through writing. Her view on the inner world of a writer made me feel like she’s been inside my mind and heard my thoughts. It’s funny, dry, sometimes shocking, surprising, and sarcastic.

  • 10. Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops (Shaun Bythell)
    The idea behind this title grabbed me, but it just wasn’t the experience I was hoping for. Maybe I took it too seriously, but the whole book came across as unkind to me. I’m not sure what else I was expecting, given that it’s a book about categorizing types of people based on their behavior. But it just seemed…mean.

  • 11. How to be an Artist (Jerry Saltz)
    Another short little book that you can dip in and out of easily. Each chapter is only about a page long and is usually accompanied by a piece of art. The author even includes some exercises along the way.
  • 12. Four Thousand Weeks (Oliver Burkeman)
    After finishing this audiobook the first time, I immediately rewound the book to listen to the Appendix again. And after that, I went back to the beginning to listen all over again. This book was great on audio, but I have a copy of the paper version in my cart for the future. Unlike other time management books, this one takes a different approach. As you read, you’ll take a few steps back and look at how you use and manage your time and what you might do differently in the future to align more with who you are and what you value most in life.
  • 13. Taste (Stanley Tucci)
    I love a good food memoir, especially when it’s an audiobook read by the author. But when I told my sister that I was going to listen to this book during a long run, and she warned me that this memoir talks a LOT about food. She wasn’t kidding, and I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the title. Pasta anyone?
  • 14. The Overstory (Richard Powers)
    A character and theme-centric book where the human characters stand up for some non-human characters – trees. I heard about this book on a few different podcasts, and each guest said it changed the way they look at trees. And this book did that for me, as well. This is also a more lengthy read, coming in at 500 pages, and required a bit more effort for me to get through. The overall structure was different, and I probably liked Part 1 (Roots) the most.

  • 15. Millenneagram (Hannah Paasch)
    I’ve read a few Enneagram books (like The Wisdom of the Enneagram) and listened to some podcasts on the different types. Those resources, along with a few different Enneagram assessments, make me pretty confident in saying I’m a 9. I like learning more about each of the sub-types because I feel like it helps me understand myself and others better. And this book takes a millennial spin on the sub-type descriptions and offers new language and examples of how each type appears IRL.
  • 16. Nobody Wants to Read Your SH*T (Steven Pressfield)
    I’m slowly working my way through all the books Steven Pressfield has written about writing (or any creative pursuit). He gives writing advice that I want to follow – practical and empathetic. In this little book, every “chapter” stands alone and yet links to the previous chapters and the ones that follow it. Lots of great quotes, and this is one I snagged early on: “In the real world, no one is waiting to read what you have written.”

march

  • 17. Rules of Civility (Amor Towles)
    In 2021, almost half of the books I read were fiction. This year has been a slower start – less than 20% fiction so far. So it turns out that this book by Amor Towles (same as author as A Gentleman in Moscow) was just the break I needed from nonfiction. Rules of Civility takes place in New York in the late 1930s. There’s a bit of story and plot but nothing too dramatic. The perfect read for just before bed (and also for “Gah, I woke up in the middle of the night again, and now I can’t sleep” reading).

  • 18. How to Be Perfect (Michael Schur)
    Welcome (to the world of moral philosophy). Everything is fine. In How to Be Perfect, Michael Schur introduces readers to ethics and philosophy using humor and empathy. The audiobook includes narrators from the cast of The Good Place and a fun way to get through the footnotes throughout the book.

  • 19. Significant Objects (Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker, Editors)
    A collection of short stories written by 100 different authors and based on an experiment. “Hypothesis: Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.” Story authors were given an insignificant object (worth only a few bucks) and wrote a fictional story about the object. The objects were then auctioned off on eBay and ultimately sold for much more than their purchase prices.

  • 20. Food (Jim Gaffigan)
    No doubt about it, Jim Gaffigan LOVES food. I think he breaks down and describes every food type out there. His take on bacon, Hot Pockets, and almost every fast-food restaurant is hilarious (and a little too relatable sometimes). For best results, consume Food on audio. It’s like getting your own personal stand-up comedy show.

  • 21. A Life in Parts (Bryan Cranston)
    If you’ve watched Breaking Bad, read this book. If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad, watch it, then read this book. He covers so much more than BB in this memoir, but watching that series, and then hearing his creative take on acting and honing his craft through a cross-country motorcycle trip, a scary stalker experience, soap opera acting, playing a dad on Malcolm in the Middle, and memorizing lines for a Broadway play is a unique “peek-behind-the-curtain” experience.

  • 22. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum)
    This memoir by Neil Patrick Harris follows a “choose-your-own-adventure” storytelling format. Not all the outcomes actually happened in his life but still add to the overall arc. The audiobook, read by NPH, sticks to the choose-your-own-adventure style with a few changes so that you can listen without jumping around within the book.
  • 23. The Bookshop on the Corner (Jenny Colgan)
    This novel has been on my tbr list for a while. After a reading run of recently released books on my library holds list, I was finally able to sneak this one in. Set in Scotland, this was a light, easy, “book about books” read with plenty of friendship and romance.
  • 24. The Reading Life (C.S. Lewis)
    Get C.S. Lewis’s take on reading and the role reading plays in our lives. This is a collection of essays and letters by C.S. Lewis and includes short chapters like: how to know if you’re a reader, why we read, how movies can ruin the book, and benefits of re-reading books.
  • 25. The Best of Everything (Rona Jaffe)
    Somehow I seem to group similar books together, and this book echos a recent read, The Rules of Civility. Published in the late 1950s (and featured in Mad Men), it follows a group of secretaries working their first jobs for a publisher in New York. It’s a longer read at close to 500 pages, but it was perfect for a recent trip that included some airport/plane time.

  • 26. Cultish (Amanda Montell)
    Snuck in one more read before the end of the month with this audiobook. Cultish looks at the language around cults and cult behavior. And according to the author, cult behaviors and the desire to “drink the Koolaid” result from language, aka “cultish.” This book dives into groups like Scientologists, MLM companies, Instagram influencers, and CrossFit. There’s an entire section devoted to the cult-like fitness followings of CrossFit, as well as Soul Cycle, Peloton, and even 80s aerobics.

april

  • 27. The Checklist Manifesto (Atul Gawande)
    When there’s a patient on a surgeon’s operating table or a mechanical issue arises on a plane mid-flight, how valuable is a checklist? Atul Gawande would say very valuable. The Checklist Manifesto describes how checklists end up saving lives and details how seemingly simple checklists seen in an OR or a cockpit were developed.

  • 28. Will (Will Smith)
    Will Smith narrates his own story in this 16-hour audiobook. It’s long, but it has some extra audio clips from his music, TV shows, etc. He covers a lot: childhood, his family, his music, getting started in TV, movies, and more about his family. All the details he provides in the first 15 hours of the audiobook version make the last hour even better.
  • 29. Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)
    Bel Canto has been on my tbr list for a while; I added it after reading The Dutch House a few years ago. While it’s not a driving page-turner, it still has some action. This long-term hostage situation blends beautiful opera singing with unlikely relationships. And throughout the whole story, I couldn’t stop asking, how and when will this all end?

  • 30. It Didn’t Start with You (Mark Wolynn)
    A book for those of us who want to do some self-reflecting, listening, and pattern identifying. This one starts off a little “woo woo” but then digs into the science of genes, DNA, and the cellular signs of inherited trauma. I may not agree or believe everything I read throughout this book, but there was plenty there for me to think about critically. Some chapters and reflection exercises were more powerful than others. I’m glad I started with the audiobook, but now I’ll be going back and taking my time with the paper copy.
  • 31. Dear Highlights (Christine Cully)
    The subtitle for this book is “What Adults Can Learn from 75 Years of Letters and Conversations with Kids.” It’s a compilation of letters published in Highlights magazine over the past several decades and provides a glimpse into the minds of kids. One of the things I liked most about this book was seeing letters on the same topic from the 1970s, as well as 2022. The editors have answered some tough questions about friendship, family, and identity with kindness over the years.

  • 32. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama (Bob Odenkirk)
    Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama is a glimpse into Bob Odenkirk’s experience as a writer, comic, and actor. As the title might imply, it’s a lot about comedy with a dose of drama toward the end. This book is detailed! He goes far into the weeds on all things comedy. I was hoping for more details on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, which are there. But only a few pages worth (For much more behind-the-scenes details on Breaking Bad, read Bryan Cranston’s memoir.)

may

  • 33. Jog On (Bella Mackie)
    I happened to start this book at the beginning of May, which is also Mental Health Awareness monthJog On is all about how one individual learned to manage her anxiety—running saved author Bella Mackie’s life. She went from anxious and lost to living with anxiety and using running to help her manage her mental health. Running may not eliminate anxiety, but it’s a much more productive way to spend your time when your thoughts are taking over.

  • 34. The Joy of Sweat (Sarah Everts)
    Everything you wanted to know about sweat and probably quite a bit that you didn’t. This book had it all and went beyond the science of sweat into forensics, sports performance, temperature regulation, odors, sweat disorders, deodorant, saunas, wearable tech, odor art, and even smell dating. And somehow, the author weaves all of these topics into an interesting read.
  • 35. Nomadland (Jessica Bruder)
    Summer always brings many, many RVs to my small Colorado town. But this book (that’s been sitting on my TBR list for quite a while) isn’t about summertime fun in an RV. Instead, it’s a bit more bleak and digs into the lives of older adults who live in RVs full-time. They’re not homeless, but they’re “houseless.”

  • 36. The Rose Code (Kate Quinn)
    After a slower start, this book picked up and carried me quickly to the end. I can already imagine this one as a film, and I hear the audio version is great. The story takes place in Britain and follows three young women through World War II. I wasn’t sure how much was fact or fiction, so I liked reading the author’s notes and explanations for where her characters came from and who she based them on in real life.
  • 37. The Swimmers (Julie Otsuka)
    This book is about a group of swimmers who’ve been swimming at the same pool for years. One day, a crack appears on the bottom of the pool. While pool management decides how to handle the crack, the book transitions and follows one specific swimmer, Alice. Alice has dementia that is progressively getting worse, but she feels most herself when in the water. I loved this entire book, although it did get a bit emotional for me toward the end. But it was worth it for the swimming-related descriptions early on. This one was one of my favorites: “The moment I see that painted black line I feel fine.”
  • 38. Emotional Agility (Susan David)
    Not sure that I learned anything new in this book, but I love the term emotional agility. Especially when I contrast it to how I feel when I’m emotionally stuck. There were some good reminders here of why it’s important to take meaningful action and stay true to my core values. To stay agile and get unstuck.

june

  • 39. As You Wish (Cary Elwes)
    If you pick this one up, I highly recommend the audiobook! I’m pretty sure I listened to this peek behind the scenes of the making of The Princess Bride with a smile on my face the whole time. With some laugh-out-loud moments, too – one between Cary Elwes and Andre the Giant even made me stop in the middle of a trail run because I was laughing so hard.

  • 40. Digital Body Language (Erica Dhawan)
    I started a new job in March of this year, and one thing I noticed was a change in my teammates’ Slack messages. My previous company had a very casual Slack environment, and once I started my new position, my Slacks immediately became more formal to match the digital culture. So I was curious to read this book (the perfect read for some weekend yard work). Overall, this content was a good reminder to be aware of how and what I communicate at work.
  • 41. Joyland (Stephen King)
    This is a more recent Stephen King book, published in 2013. I don’t remember hearing about it when it came out but popped up in a summer reading list I stumbled across. While I’d agree that this book is a thriller, it wasn’t too scary. And at a little over 200 pages, it was a quick read.

  • 42. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (George Saunders)
    Checkhov and Tolstoy are two Russian authors I admire, but their work also intimidates me. So I admit that they’ve never been high on my TBR list. However, I was curious about this book by George Saunders which gave me a glimpse into the Russian literature I’ve avoided. The format follows a pattern where a Russian short story is followed by Saunders’s commentary on the story, events, and writing. I liked this one on audio and enjoyed the narrations by Nick Offerman, Glenn Close, and others.

  • 43. Atonement (Ian McEwan)
    I’ve almost picked this book up so many times, and I finally opted for the audiobook. In Atonement, a little sister’s misunderstandings have significant consequences. I was impressed with the writing of the characters, so much so that I found myself almost yelling at them, particularly the little sister, Briony. It seems like this book could’ve been a true story; instead, it’s a popular work of romance and historical fiction.
  • 44. How to Stop Time (Matt Haig)
    How to Stop Time is the third book I’ve read by Matt Haig. (The first two were The Midnight Library and The Comfort Book.) So far, I’ve liked all three, and each one has been very different. In some ways, this book reminded me of a much less dark and sinister version of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. And I loved this quote: “I understand the way you stop time is by stopping being ruled by it.”

  • 45. Nothing to See Here (Kevin Wilson)
    I don’t know what made me want to read a story about two kids who might burst into flames (safely) at any point, but I’m glad I did. This book is less about the catching-fire details and more about the relationship between the kids and the woman who agrees to take care of them. It was great on audio and was just the right mix of warm-fuzzy feelings and f-bombs.

july

  • 46. Book Lovers (Emily Henry)
    This is the first book I’ve read by Emily Henry, and it was a great read for the middle of summer. It has plenty of romance and a bit of book talk as the main characters are in the book publishing world. I can already picture this one as an upcoming film.
  • 47. The Maid (Nita Prose)
    Molly is a hotel maid who has a hard time reading social cues. When a man is found dead in his hotel room, Molly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation. Some of the characters in this book accept her for who she is, while others take advantage of her. I appreciated the sweetness of the characters in this book, as well as the driving plot line.
  • 48. In the Great Green Room (Amy Gary)
    This book is about a famous author, Margaret Wise Brown. If her name doesn’t sound familiar, think back to when you were about four or five years old. You may remember reading Goodnight Moon? MWB is the author of that book and many other children’s books. Using Margaret’s old diaries and documents, In the Great Green Room tells the story of this prolific author’s life.

  • 49. The Anthropocene Reviewed (John Green)
    One of my favorite Instagram accounts is @subparparks. The creator takes bad reviews of parks, like the Grand Canyon (aka “just a boring ditch in the ground”) and turns them into art. Similarly, the author of The Anthropocene Reviewed, takes events, items, and places from the Anthropocene and reviews them. The Anthropocene is “the period of time during which human activities have had an environmental impact on the Earth regarded as constituting a distinct geological age” (source). I highly recommend the audiobook.

  • 50. Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give (Ada Calhoun)
    The 50th book I read in 2022 was another audiobook. The title of this one was too intriguing to pass up. This short little book takes an empathetic look at the ups and downs of marriage. It’s honest and relatable. And while the title suggests it might appeal to newlyweds, the longer you’ve been married, the more you’ll recognize your own relationship within these words.
  • 51. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (Eva Jurczyk)
    A book about books that go missing? I was in! The plot sounded mysterious and right up my alley. I love a good mystery, but it needs to pick up momentum and carry me to the end. Unfortunately, this one fell flat.

august

  • 52. Everybody Has a Podcast (Except You) (Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy)
    I don’t plan to start a podcast, but I listen to quite a few. And because this book digs into the whys and hows of producing a podcast, I was curious to learn more about the process. The authors, who are successful podcasters with a variety of shows, present good tips for content creation in general. And then share a lot of technical details, diving into things like what microphone to buy or how to set up a “home studio” for recording. So if you’re looking for a how-to-podcast guide, this book pretty much has it all.
  • 53. The Speckled Beauty (Rick Bragg)
    Another audiobook? Yep, and it’s a good one. I’ve been driving to the pool most mornings, and it’s about a 20-minute drive. Adding this daily commute has given me extra listening time, and I’ve been taking advantage. This book was special, and I looked forward to listening to the story. Rick Bragg writes about “Speck,” his Aussie mix, and their lives together in Alabama. Highly recommend that you, too, listen to this one on audio. You’ll laugh, and you’ll cry. (But don’t worry. I don’t feel like this is a spoiler, just important information. No animals die!)
  • 54. Lessons in Chemistry (Bonnie Garmus)
    After wondering if this book was as good as everyone was saying, I had to find out for myself. I loved it. The story unfolds in a unique way. You learn things about the characters in kind of a disjointed pattern, but it all comes together so beautifully. I found myself rooting for chemist/rower/mother Elizabeth and all that she stands for. Bonus, this story comes with a super-cool dog, as well. His name is 6:30. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.
  • 55. Bomb Shelter (Mary Laura Philpott)
    It took a little bit to get into, but as a fellow lifelong worrier, I appreciated quite a few of the stories in this memoir. I laughed, I cried, and even though I’m not a mother like the author, I still found quite a bit to relate to here.

  • 56. The Likeability Trap (Alicia Menendez)
    This book is focused on likeability and how it shows up for women in the workplace. I think I was hoping for something more from this book, like an application outside of the office, but it still makes some good points about staying true to who you are.
  • 57. The Next Right Thing (Emily P. Freeman)
    The Next Right Thing might be a good book choice for some, but this one wasn’t the right thing for me. It takes a look at decision-making through a very spiritual, Christian lens. I skimmed quite a bit, and skipped over the end-of-chapter questions that could make for good devotions for the right reader.

september

  • 58. My Southern Journey (Rick Bragg)
    After reading The Speckled Beauty, I searched for other books by the same author (Rick Bragg), and that’s how this book wound up on my tbr list. This is a collection of essays that first appeared in magazines like Southern Living. I recommend the audiobook, which the author reads, and really enjoyed the stories about southern food and football.

  • 59. What Now? (Ann Patchett)
    Another audiobook recommendation here. This book is a quick read; it’s a commencement speech that’s solid inspiration for any time you struggle with questions like what next or what now.
  • 60. Dirt Work (Christine Byl)
    If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to work on the trails in a National Park, this book takes you behind the scenes. The author organized this book so that each chapter focuses on a different tool and its significance to her experience. Don’t skip over the introduction; it was probably my favorite part.
  • 61. Beach Read (Emily Henry)
    I managed to get this book in before summer really started winding down. It was light and entertaining to read, and the audiobook was great. It’s definitely a romance book, but it was also fun to read about the main characters (both authors), their struggles with writer’s block, and how they overcame it.
  • 62. Draft No. 4 (John McPhee)
    This book is perhaps a lesser-known book about writing! The author is a long-term faculty member at Princeton and teaches creative nonfiction. Many of these essays first appeared in The New Yorker, and this book’s overall feel and style reminded me quite a bit of On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

  • 63. Platonic (Marisa G. Franco)
    The subtitle for this book is “how the science of attachment can help you make—and keep—friends.” It’s true that there is plenty of research included in this book, but it’s not overwhelming. And while the author goes into the science behind attachment theory, this book is so much more. You’ll find yourself thinking about initiative, authenticity, vulnerability, generosity, and affection and how these traits show up in your friendships. This book has the potential to create a foundation to put this research into practice in your own life.

october

  • 64. Never Say You Can’t Survive (Charlie Jane Anders)
    I like reading books about writing, like On Writing and Bird by Bird. This book is also about writing but is a bit different. The author focuses on writing through difficult or complicated situations to deal with the challenges in your own life. Reading stories where the characters experience emotional gut punches is one thing. I’d never really thought about what it takes to write about those experiences.

  • 65. The Practice (Seth Godin)
    I recommend the paper format over the audiobook if you pick this one up. I can see this as a book you flip through, read a short chapter, and gain some inspiration from. Listening to it from start to finish got tedious at times. But there’s still some good content here! I mean, it’s Seth Godin.
  • 66. Shit, Actually (Lindy West)
    The synopsis of this book hooked me. Here, the author breaks down and rates movies, like Harry Potter and Love Actually, with The Fugitive as her gold standard. I loved everything about The Fugitive (“The guy did a Peter Pan right off of this dam, right here.”), so I also loved the first chapter of this book. But then, it all went downhill from there. Sometimes I’d rather suspend belief than poke holes in a plot, so this book wasn’t for me.

  • 67. The Circle (Dave Eggers)
  • 68. The Hotel Nantucket (Elin Hilderbrand)

november

  • 69. The Bullet That Missed (Richard Osman)

2022 dnfs

  • The Wisdom of Insecurity (Alan Watts)

  • The Final Girl Support Group (Grady Hendrix)
  • The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty)
  • The Humans (Matt Haig)
  • The Sentence (Louise Erdrich)

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!