2020- My annual re-read of Essentialism, during No-vember, took me the entire month to read this time around. Sure, I wasn’t in a rush to read it, but for whatever reason I couldn’t find myself getting into it this year. Perhaps my brain was already mush having read so many books this year already. Then again, maybe the content and main point of the book is something I have consumed so many times that I simply glaze over much of the content. With that said, I was reminded that there is always room for improvement in how a person approaches an essentialist lifestyle and that no one is ever perfect. I am hopeful that in the future I will be in a leadership role where I have others looking to me for guidance & support and in turn employ some essentialist strategies to combat the very elements of leadership and management which drive me crazy.
2019- My annual re-read of this book as a reminder that it’s okay to say no, and not to feel bad about it. My realization in more recent months is this—taking things in life down to the most important is essential, but at some point ‘yes’ needs to be said more often. I’ve excluded less important things for so long, to help me focus on what really matters, that I haven’t brought into my life some less-important things to help balance things out and to provide meaning and value to the things/experiences I cherish so very much. There needs to be a balance between the essential and the non-essential.
2018- An annual re-read, I took away this time around that saying “no” sometimes is not enough. If an individual finds themselves saying “no” long enough, without any “yeses” to provide a necessary balance, both personal and professional lives may be unfulfilling. My anticipation is to re-read this again in early 2019 to provide some perspective for the year.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: One of the few works of fiction that I have read this year, and in a long time, I thoroughly enjoyed this post-apocalyptic story against a familiar southwestern Ontario backdrop. Blending the present with the past through creative means of story telling, I appreciated that the future world depicted in this work was not overly grim and contains a glimmer of hope for both society and the individuals central to its story. A populate read from a few years ago, I’m not certain why I did not previous pick this up.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker: Although I do not typically appreciate non-fiction works that are filled with personal anecdotes rather than factual statements, The Art of Gathering is a read that I will not easily forget. Helping me to (re-)consider the way I interact with guests, I am interested in if some easy changes to the way I host people can help to increase the connections I have with others. As Someone at the beginning of planning a wedding, I am interested what I can pull from this work to shape our communal gathering. While not mind-blowing book has helped me to slow down, and think any means, this book when it comes to gathering with friends and strangers alike.
Educated by Tara Westover: This book is not what I expected it to be. A “slow build” of a story, by the end of reading this work I could not but help to think about the story of long-term abuse it depicted. As someone who has not read memoirs in the past, this book may be a gateway to a genre that can provide a bridge for me between the non-fiction works I almost only read, and those of fiction that I would like to become lost within.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin: Hailed as a “classic” of sorts in the personal finance world, I was not overly captivated by this read. The how-to nature of this book did not speak to my needs or interests. With that said, the broader theme which is was created out of—simple living, and working towards identifying and providing for one’s means—is certainly something that stuck with me. I might say that this work belongs on the more radical, and somewhat unnecessary end of the personal finance spectrum, but to each their own.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman: Recommended as an “important” read as part of a “relaxed” marriage preparation course, the findings of this book are supposedly based on factual, scientific evidence. Admitting to “reading” this in the audiobook format (the only book I remember reading in this fashion) there was lots of check-lists, and work sheets that did not translate in the audio format. Like most self-help, or marriage prep books, it can be challenging to follow the rules or suggestions without having the book in front of you. As with any good book on relationships, the central themes of mutual respect, and good communication were present.
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works: A True Story by Dan Harris: Again, a book at turned out to me something other than what I thought it might have been about. This book provided a gateway to other potential future reads regarding the power of meditation in every-day life and how an individual can integrate such a practice to support their basic needs. I am not certain that I would recommend this book to anyone as it did not include a truly compelling, underlying statement, but it might be valuable to some.
Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese: Having read this on recommendation by my social worker, after she found out about my shared $1-million lottery win with co-workers, this was a relatively quick read for me. Penned by a leading First Nations author, this book’s approach at telling the story through the eyes of all of the major characters involved helped to provide some perspective. I am not sure how much of the story itself would be likely to unfold as it did, if it were to happen in real life, but that is the point of works of fiction, no?
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery: Having re-read this book in an attempt to join a local book club I had high hopes, I was rather unimpressed (again) with the book. Funny enough, I was also unimpressed with the purpose of the bookclub itself and organization. I feel that this book is only surface deep and fails to recognize all of interconnected realities of the cities we live within.
Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution by Brene Brown: See my comments regarding Brown’s other book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone which I also recently read.
On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King: I wish I had of read this book much sooner. Not a compelling work, for myself, based on what it offers in terms of the writing process, On Writing was a phenomenal look into the life and development of Stephen King. As I am not generally a fan of King’s written work, I was surprised when I easily read through this book on a trans-Atlantic flight this summer. I have lent my copy of this book to a couple of friends already and have heard good things in return.
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown: Having been moved, last year, by Daring Greatly I was hoping that this work from the same author would have done the same. Unfortunately, it did not have the same impact on me. I am hoping that in 2019 perhaps I can revisit this, along with Brown’s new work, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts (2018), to reconsider if it/they provide as much value as her breakout hit did.
The comments above also go for, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution by Brene Brown, which I also recently read.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: It’s really hard to capture the essence of this book. The easiest way is to tell someone to watch the movie, remove the epic soundtrack, and enjoy the ride. This coming of age story is one that I can’t get enough of. I find there’s great depth within the words of this story, whether on paper or on the screen.
People Space: The Making and Breaking of Human Boundaries by Norman Ashcraf: A dated read regarding the space that people occupy, and how they interact with such space and the others in their vicinity. Some minor foundational thoughts about the aforementioned interactions, but given that many of the examples are from eras passed, I am not certain if it is valuable enough to recommend. This book was picked up at a used bookstore in Kingston, Ontario during the Family Day weekend in 2018.