HILARY WRITES ABOUT THE INTERSECTIONS OF WOMANHOOD AND SPIRITUALITY.

What I Read in 2018.

2018 was a banner book year for me. I read 28 books total! This is a record, probably the most I’ve read since grad school when Evie was small. Two kids and life can make it difficult to prioritize reading, but I was inspired by a friend to begin a Goodreads account and track my progress. I set a goal to read 25 books and exceeded it! I’d love to share the books I read this past year, and those that made a pretty huge impact on me.

Here is the list, in order of when I read them:

And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy, Adrian Shirk

Show Your Work, Austin Kleon

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni

The Road Back to You, Ian Cron

Healing Through the Dark Emotions, Miriam Greenspan

Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud

Rising Strong, Brené Brown

Hunger, Roxane Gay

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen

Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit

Believe Me, Yolanda Hadid

A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle

Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle

Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren

All We Ever Wanted, Emily Giffin

On Writing, Stephen King

Walking, Henry David Thoreau

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Jaron Lanier

The Business of Being a Writer, Jane Friedman

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, Jon Meacham

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

Deep Work, Cal Newport

Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Adrienne Rich

The Story of Arthur Truluv, Elizabeth Berg

The Path Between Us, Suzanne Stabile

As I reviewed the types of books I read in 2018, I realized that I lean heavily on non-fiction. I would love to increase my fiction reading to about 50/50 of my total reading this year, which I am excited about! I realized that I don’t tend to dive into new fiction because I just feel unsure whether I will like the story and if it will be a good use of my time. So a friend recommended I start with stories I am already familiar with but have never read! Genius. I am building out a list for this year that includes some classics like Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, and I may even attempt the Outlander series. We shall see!

As far as books that impacted me the most this year, here are a few major standouts.

The Road Back to You (Cron) and The Path Between Us (Stabile)

It’s no secret that I am obsessed with all things Enneagram. I discovered this tool in 2016 and it has honestly revolutionized my life, my marriage and my closest relationships. The more I learn, the more I find that it is a deep well of knowledge and insight that can be as transformative as you allow it to be. I read The Road Back to You while on a Disney cruise early last year, and it was such a great overview of the different types. Definitely an introductory book, but there were nuggets in there that stuck with me. I found myself thinking of all the closest people in my life while reading each chapter, and having so many “aha!” moments about why they do what they do. This book also launched me into an even deeper study of my own number, my motivations, and other Enneagram related books. I read The Path Between Us, (just realized that two Enneagram books “bookended” my year! ha.) and this was such a great primer on the Enneagram in relationships. The highlighted areas about numbers relating to each other was so helpful! And Suzanne has such a beautiful way of painting a picture for the reader of how the Enneagram plays out in real life. Can’t recommend these two books highly enough.

Hunger, Roxane Gay

This book caught me by surprise. I listened to it on audio, with the author reading. The content of the book was compelling as her personal narrative, but the entire time I was reading it I found myself simply bowled over that she had the courage to write this book at all. The book itself was such a testament to raw honesty and vulnerability, and I found myself listening with my jaw open most of the time. The way she describes her body, her relationship to it, and the ways that her relationship with her body has been shaped by outside forces beyond her control just blew me away. I realize that this wasn’t her first book and she is already well established as an author, but I still found myself so inspired by her ability to write about something so deeply personal in such an unapologetic and honest way.

A Year In Provence, Peter Mayle

This book is just the perfect escape, especially on a dreary winter day. I loved reading about life in Provence, and mostly the food. Ah, the food. Someday I will get there and experience it for myself.

Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, Liz Gilbert

These were my first ever Liz Gilbert reads, I know that I’m late to the party here. But reading them both back to back was great fun. I didn’t personally relate to many of Liz’s struggles in Eat, Pray, Love, but simply reading about her journey was inspiring and enlightening. Her way of writing about spirituality is so open and unassuming, and I love that. This book felt like one huge permission slip to write my own journey with honesty, all the messy parts included. I’ve found that more and more I am drawn to female authors, not because I dislike male authors, but just because I have spent the last 37 years reading mostly men, and I want new voices. Voices that sound just a bit more like mine, or at least reflect my experiences more closely. Liz Gilbert provided that for me this year. Big Magic was a beautiful peek into her creative process, and another permission slip to live a curious and creative life. Thank you Liz for making this year so lovely for me!

Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Adrienne Rich

This book was a 700-page slog, but wow was it worth every minute. It took me almost the entire year to finish it (I just kept reborrowing it from the library). :) I am always fascinated by any work that explores motherhood, and I have found a handful of books out there that have some amazing research and content. This book was groundbreaking, because the author positioned it as an academic work, but also included her personal experiences. I love that so, so much. This book was published in 1974, and an academic book with personal anecdotes may not have been accepted as purely academic. Not to mention that so many mothers weren’t even sharing the more difficult aspects of their experiences at all at this point in history. But isn’t that the most beautiful metaphor for motherhood and women’s knowledge? It is in our learned experience, our day-to-day, that we know and understand so much about who we are as mothers and women. The disconnected mind/body narrative of academia just doesn’t fit. So Adrienne Rich wrote what she knew, both from research and her own experience as a mother. Wonderful! The insights I gained around motherhood as a historical institution were invaluable. We have come so far, and we have so far to go.

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Accounts Right Now, Jaron Lanier

This book is disturbing. As someone who has earned a living in the social media space for over ten years, this book caused me to ask myself some deep questions about my role. I deleted both my personal Instagram and Twitter accounts after reading it. It is straightforward and practical, from a person who has been in the tech world, but once you read it you realize how much of the mess we are currently in, culturally speaking, is a direct result of how algorithms are designed. It’s a must read, but don’t pick it up unless you are ready to ask yourself some hard questions about your place in the social media landscape.

I love seeing how books shape our year, our thinking, and our lives. This was fun! I hope you enjoyed these short reviews, and here’s to a great reading year in 2019!

My Father's 45s