Books Read in January + February.

Jan. Feb. Books read

“A Little Life” a novel by Hanya Yanagihara

The eleventh apartment had only one closet, but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting across the way, outdoors in only a T-shirt and shorts even though it was October, smoking.

This is a book to get lost in. A thick, page-turner of a book. Sometimes, you wish you could find your way out again as it gets dark. Very dark. But the characters just drew me in, as did their story. As did their friendship. That’s the aspect that most intrigued me. This is the story of male friendship. A deep and abiding, complicated, ferocious friendship between men who meet in college and stay connected through all the ups and downs of their separate yet intertwined lives.

A sentence I love:

In bed, though, he returned to the thought that had crept, tendril-like, from some dark space of his mind and had insinuated itself into his consciousness like a thin green vine: maybe one of them had discovered something about the person he once was.

“tiny beautiful things—Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed

The last word my mother ever said to me was “love.”

So starts the first sentence of the first answer to the first question in this collection of…well, there has to be a better word than advice. Her answers are not just little nuggets of wisdom she tosses out. No. Her answers come from a place deep within her heart, she dredges them from the guts of and soul of her life. The advice is not always pretty or nice or simple. In fact, she often reminds us how complicated life is. How complicated we humans are. And how simple it can be if we look past our own bullshit. After reading this, I felt a piece of her remained with me and when confronted with my own decisions in my own life I started asking myself “What would Dear Sugar say?”

A sentence I love:

There are so many tiny revolutions in a life, a million ways we have to circle around ourselves to grow and change and be okay. And perhaps the body is our final frontier.

 “Twin Study” stories by Stacey Richter

I’ve been a human specimen going on twenty years now, ever since my sister and I were twelve, when my parents enrolled us in the California State University Twin Study.

Reality and the surreal coexist seamlessly in this innovative collection—one never more plausible than the other. Whether it’s about Cavemen intruding on suburbia or a woman who is raising her clone the stories are sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing but always thought-provoking. They remind me that what is at the heart of any story are the characters.

A sentence I love:

I think we just feel and feel as children, or as kids or whatever, and then at some point, we get older and have to decide how much to feel, because it’s too arduous to go through that every day—it’s just too much, like listening to heavy metal nonstop.

“The Untethered Soul- The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael A. Singer

In case you haven’t noticed, you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops.

I remember picking this book up in the store, reading that first line and thinking, “YES! Yes, I do!”

I found this book life-changing. Almost every page is underlined. I chose it for the book club I facilitate at the yoga studio where I teach and am really looking forward to the discussion. So much to think about. So much to digest. I appreciated the different metaphors he used to describe concepts that seem indescribable. But I’d read it and think, “Oh, now I get it.”

It’s all about noticing the thoughts and emotions but not getting swept away by them. Putting distance between the “You” having the thoughts and the “You” watching them. Easier said than done, but so worth the lifetime of practice trying to do so.

Sentences I love:

Just decide that no matter what the mind says, you aren’t getting involved. You don’t fight the mind. In fact, you don’t even try to change it. You just make a game out of relaxing in the face of its melodrama.

“Imagine This—Creating the Work You Love” by Maxine Clair

I first heard of this little gem of a book from Tayari Jones and once I read it I can see why she was so enamored. I could sense her own vital creativity and her own passion to share what she’s learned just as Clair does. Part memoir, part writing process, part spirituality this book earned many, many marks on the pages. You don’t have to want to be a writer to appreciate her story and her advice. It’s about cultivating a life you love through hard work, mindfulness and trust. Each chapter ends with exercises to explore to help you truly create work and a life you love.

A sentence I love:

Becoming one with your expression, you are more than you have ever been. Nothing is needed to complete you; you are more than enough; you harmonize with everything and everyone.

 

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