How do you choose which books to read?
As a kid, I remember walking slowly through the aisles at the library or bookstore, and letting my eye fall on a catchy title or a pretty book cover. Without the grand Internet to validate my choice in reading material, I would sometimes skim through a few pages, trying to determine if I was just being swayed by some top-notch cover marketing or if I would truly enjoy the read.
Truth: I still love doing this.
My love of the browsing book find is exactly why I don’t curate a perfectly well-rounded, social media-ready, overambitious reading list each year.
It can be a challenge to hold back, because I have a great love for lists. Lists, and pens. Also, sticky notes. And planners. The entire school supply aisle at Target. Yes, I’m sure that I’m an adult human, and not immortalized as a ten-year old lover of Lisa Frank pencils and funfetti cupcakes.
For me, reading is a joy and a pleasure. Checking a book off a list isn’t why I sit down with my mug of tea, or why I get excited going to a bookstore, or why I cherish the recommendations of my readerly friends. Lists don’t allow for Goodwill’s half-off book sale, or the used copy of your best friend’s latest favorite find, lovingly sent in the mail. Sometimes, I think lists make readers feel boxed into what they “should” read (actual list name: 100 books to read by the time you turn 20), or worse, feel inadequate because they aren’t huge fans of six out of ten “Best Books of the Year.”
So dear readers, I am only here to encourage you on your reading journey. I am not here to dictate what you should read or what you should like. Be empowered to choose what sounds interesting to you. Remember that it’s okay to not finish a book. Give yourself the freedom to deviate from your list, if you decide to make one.
But, in case you are curious about what the Hungry Heroine will review this year: here are a few of the books I’m excited to check out in 2016.
1. Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” I love this quote from Joseph Chilton Pearce. Creativity is all about overcoming fear, and I want to learn more about that dynamic in this book. I’m giving Elizabeth Gilbert another chance on this one: Eat Pray Love didn’t really jive with me. But I keep hearing about this book’s awesomeness, and I don’t want to miss out!
2. Kate Bolick, Spinster: Making A Life Of One’s Own
This one fits in with my deep appreciation for the feminist-inclined memoirs (Tina, Amy, Mindy- yeah, we’re on a first-name basis). The idea of making one’s own life also really resonates with me. Ultimately, we are responsible for making our own happiness, through our choices.
3. Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests
This book is one that I’ve nearly read a few times in 2015. I’ve picked it up in airports and bookstores, only to put it down with the thought that “I have to finish that other book I’m reading before I buy anything else!” In 2016, I’m formally giving myself permission to purchase and read this book.
4. Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken
It seems I can’t quite stay away from the WWII-era books, but this one looks immensely interesting and has been recommended to me by quite a few readerly friends. A story of survival, resilience, and redemption? I’m in!
5. Donna Tartt: A Secret History
On my first visit to my new neighborhood’s local bookstore, this was the book of the hour. It was the bookstore’s “Recommendation of The Week,” and the employee I spoke to raved about it. And this wasn’t just any bookstore: it was the best kind. Cozy chairs, twinkling lights, bookish decor, and most importantly, a well-curated and awesome selection of books. Anyway, they sold me both on their bookstore and on this book.