2017 is almost over and I finally finished my reading goal for the year. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know if I was going to make it this time. I knew this year was going to be busy with my training, so my goal was only 40 books. Though my number was lower than usual, the quality was high.
My book choices deeply reflect where I was this year. I had a rough start, which resulted in starting therapy. After learning more about myself and how my brain works, I spent a lot of time reaching out for books that could help me understand further. This resulted in reading more non-fiction than I have in…probably forever, and specifically a fair amount of books about psychology and mental health. It comes as no surprise to me that just about all of the books on this list revolve around these topics. I needed and wanted help, so I used every tool I could find. They, not only, aided in my survival, but they also gave me reassurance that I was not alone in my struggles.
So without further ado, here they are.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
I already wrote a blog post about this one that you can read here, so I won’t go on much. But if you are an introvert, or are close to one, I can’t recommend this book enough. The balance between anecdotes and scientific research make it easily approachable. You gain a lot of understanding about introversion without it being dry. It’s not only about what makes introverts introverts, but also how they fit into the world where extroversion is often praised.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
I saw Jon Ronson speak a few years ago and was captivated. He spoke mostly about his book The Psychopath Test, but he had a charismatic way of speaking that felt like you were talking with an old friend. I saw a YouTube video where someone recommended this book, which reminded me how much I enjoyed his speech. So I went out and bought it. And I’m glad I did. The culture of the internet, Twitter especially, is very interesting, if a bit dysfunctional. In So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, he shares the stories of multiple people that have been publicly shamed online. They were all slightly different – male, female, wealthy, middle class – and were shamed at varying degrees, some far worse than others based on their “crime.” His sense of humor came through in the book as well and left me wanting to read more.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I also heard about this book from YouTube, and it is, by far, my favorite read of the year. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. This is his memoir – about why he studied neurosurgery, his equal interest in literature, and how his view of life changed after his diagnosis. It’s about illness, facing your morality, the study of life, and following your passions. It is beautifully written. And I’m sorry for the spoiler, but this was published posthumously. The epilogue was written by his wife, and I was able to hold off the tears up until her words.
Hunger by Roxane Gay
While I loved all of these books that made me question and think, Hunger has had the biggest impact on my life. It’s about Gay’s relationship with her body and how one event from her childhood has deeply affected the rest of her life, and health. One of my goals for this year was to think of a book idea and start writing. I had a rough idea, but I didn’t think anyone would be interested in it. Hunger reassured me that they would. My book is also about my struggles with my body, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. Gay gained weight in retaliation, whereas I wanted to lose it. Roxane was brave for writing so openly and giving us an insight into extremely personal areas of her life. As I’ve started writing, I understand how hard it must have been, and how vulnerable she must have felt when it was published. For a longer review, check out this blog post.
The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge
This year I was diagnosed with anxiety. I took matters into my own hands and read up on it as much as I could. The Anxiety Solution has become one of my go-to resources. Chloe Brotheridge is a hypnotherapist and anxiety expert in London. This book is filled with helpful suggestions on working with your anxiety, including meditation and physical fitness. There are exercises you can do, questions to ask, and even a look into how our diet can affect us. It’s an easy, but helpful, read that I highly recommend if you’re dealing with anxiety and are not sure how to handle it.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
John Green is one of my favorite authors and I patiently waited for the release of this book. John Green, like me, has OCD and Turtles All the Way Down dove right into it. This is the only work of fiction on my list, but you can feel how personal the story is to John. Like anxiety, OCD is something I have tried to study this year, and while the main character, Aza, has a far more severe case than I do, it was still helpful and relatable. It demonstrates how it can consume your life and affect your relationships. I also had the honor of seeing John on his book tour, and what a beautiful night that was. Not everyone loved Turtles All the Way Down, as it’s hard to read at times, but that’s why I thought it was so effective at showing what OCD is like. Your thoughts are all consuming and it can be so hard to focus on anything. It affects your relationships, even with your parents. TAtWD shows that without a candy coating. For me, it was one of those books that you’re not in love with during the reading process, but once you finish, it stays with you.
And that is my list! It was a good year for books and I’m ready to see what will cross my path next year. Cheers to more reading and more exploration. What were your favorite books of 2017? Let me know in the comments!