If you’re a fellow lover of books, you know that a reading lull can have serious detrimental effects on your life.
Without an escape to the land of fiction, how do you fall asleep at night?
Without a motivating book or article to read, how do you make it through a weekday lunch?
Without a captivating memoir, how do you inspire yourself to create your own story worth telling?
Yet, the reading droughts help us know when we’ve really found a gem of a book.
2018 started in a lull for me, but the books I’ve finished in the past couple months have reignited my love for reading and for other people’s stories. I’ve gifted one of these books 4 times now, and have told anyone who will listen about the memoir that I couldn’t put down.
So without further ado, here are the books that have revived my reading life this summer.
My Top 5 Favorite Reads This Year
The majority of my 2018 reads have been nonfiction, but I included my favorites across a few categories to give you a variety. Choose which one might be your next read based on your own season of life 😊📚
1. The memoir I can’t shut up about – Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
I love when a book comes into your life unexpectedly and lights a fire right under your butt. That was Blackout, a book I didn’t know existed until I scrolled Modern Mrs. Darcy’s kindle deals and read the description. The memoir proved to be just as compelling as the description implied.
Sarah Hepola has the career I dream of – a journalist and magazine editor – but she has a crutch that she can’t do her job without.
Hepola’s memoir is a juicy read of her life as an alcoholic, how she got there and how she struggled with becoming sober. Her tendency to blackout led to some dangerous and shocking situations, but her honest thoughts and raw voice throughout has you pulling for her like she’s a dear friend.
And even if you don’t have an addiction to alcohol, there are several moments in Hepola’s story that the average drinker can relate to. The thought process that goes on when we decide to have a drink, then one more, and the occasions in life we turn to it for – this isn’t unfamiliar.
Grab your copy >> Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
2. Favorite fictional read – All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed) is a favorite chick lit author of mine, so it doesn’t take me long to snatch up her new releases. I love how her rich characters pull you into their world with their relatable voices, thoughts and drama.
In All We Ever Wanted, I was particularly drawn to the teenage girl, Lyla, who so badly wants to fit in and impress a senior boy named Finch, who comes from a wealthy family.
The parents of these two teens become entangled in each other’s lives when Finch is accused of taking an inappropriate picture of a passed-out Lyla that spreads throughout the community. While the teenage drama is heavy, the adults’ story is just as riveting as the characters must choose between their values and their families.
Get your copy >> All We Ever Wanted
3. An exceptional audiobook – Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat
This self-help book stands out above others for me because of Gawdat’s heartbreaking personal story that is intertwined with his unique concepts. The Chief Business Officer for Google (X), Mo Gawdat’s 12 years of research on the subject of happiness intersects with the loss of his 21-year-old son, Ali, who passed away in a routine appendectomy. Solve for Happy is Gawdat’s way of honoring Ali and his loving spirit. The way Gawdat describes his son makes me wish I knew Ali.
Gawdat applies logic and problem-solving to help us normals understand how our brains process happiness and sadness. Solve for Happy isn’t full of your typical write-5-letters-of-gratitude-every-day and meditate-every-night advice that every other book on joy and mindset seems to preach. The concepts are more complex, like happiness itself, and definitely worth unraveling.
Also, Gawdat’s accent is enjoyable to listen to if you have the audiobook version. This was inspiring and thought-provoking on my morning commutes earlier in the year, and I hope it will bring joy to your days as well.
One thing that has helped revive my reading life this year was joining an online book club through my favorite book blog, the Modern Mrs. Darcy. She selected Interpreter of Maladies as a “flight pick” in one of our monthly selections, and while I wasn’t into all of these short stories, the first one pulled me right in.
What was so special about “A Temporary Matter,” the first story in Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection? Well, about a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a short story with an almost identical plot.
A snowstorm causes a blackout in the neighborhood, forcing a troubled married couple to spend time together and confront their feelings after facing the heartbreak of a stillborn birth. This was the exact plot setup in both stories, but it’s clear when reading them why Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize winner and my story is not published. Her characters are more developed but also more raw and vulnerable. Her cultural elements always add originality and thought-provoking themes to her writing. She is professional, poetic and bold – a good mentor for a writer to study.
Read the story here: “A Temporary Matter”
Get your copy >>Interpreter of Maladies
5. The nonfiction read I’ve gifted 4 times – This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Areby Melody Warnick
This book has shaped my year, it seems. I recommend this book for you if:
- Have recently moved
- Relocate often
- Hate the town you live in
- Love the town you live in
- Are bored
- Want more fulfillment out of life
This book hits all those marks.
Having moved 7 times and lived in 4 states in the past decade, I resonated with the author’s feelings of feeling like a drifter, like she didn’t belong in her new town. I understood her giddiness of researching the town she was moving to and disappointment when finding that it wasn’t everything she had dreamed it to be. But Warnick’s quest to love her new town of Blacksburg, Virginia makes for an inspiring read that was the perfect book to pick up when Kyle and I moved to Phoenix earlier this year.
Warnick’s in-depth chapters feature research, experiments and checklists for loving your city. Her findings got me excited about public transportation (something Kyle has always encouraged), buying local, volunteering and creating something to contribute to my new city. It has made me want to make the most of my time in Phoenix and experience everything while also making an impact. And most importantly, it helped me understand the beauty of moving on, of being a drifter.
And yes, I’ve gifted it four times to friends who are transplants like me. It’s a great book to gift because who doesn’t want to love the town they live in?
This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are
What have you been reading lately? Which of these books hook your interest? Share your reading life with me in the comments!