Way back in a time before kids I used to read… a lot. I would read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on and I can remember getting in trouble at what felt like 1 am for staying up WELL past my bedtime reading under my covers with a flashlight. I read the entire Little House on the Prairie series, 60 of the Sweet Valley High books (then gave up because I graduated highschool before the twins did). Unfortunately when I had kids I found it nearly impossible to read, so 10 long years went by and the only reading I did was the news, blogs and magazines. Then I found the Kindle app on my ipad.
WOW! What an amazing tool e-readers and the kindle app is! I can read in the dark so that when my lazy bum is ready for bed I can just turn my ipad off and put it on the bedside table 🙂 This year I really got back into reading and somehow managed to read NINE books. I know that’s not a lot, but considering everything else going on in my life I feel like this is nothing short of a miracle (and I’m finally starting to feel like my old self again).
Here’s my list of books to read:
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Last year I read Malcolm Gladwell’s books “The Tipping Point” and “Ouliers“. Because I loved those two books so much, I decided to read Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants“. In this book Malcolm challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, and offers a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, suffer from a disability, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or endure any number of other apparent setbacks. I found his philosophies about how setbacks can actually help you to become stronger and more successful interesting and inspiring.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
Within days of downloading “I am Malala” I was finished reading it. I’ve never understood the fear and corruption in Pakistan, so this book really helped me to gain greater insight in the world we live in. Malala is an amazing young woman who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban –she gives us hope for the future, and her story is beautifully told in this book.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
After reading two heavy, non-fiction books, I downloaded Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl on the Train” for something lighter that would entertain me without a need for a lot of thinking or reflection. While this is a dark, haunting and depressing psychological thriller, it’s incredibly entertaining thanks to the writing skills of author Paula Hawkins. Rachel is a divorced woman who would do anything for a drink, and like a lot of folks consumed by a love affair with the bottle, one might call her a victim of circumstances. The train that Rachel rides to London each day takes her past her old neighborhood. From the window of the train she observes not only her old garden that backs up to the tracks, but also the daily activities of another couple who reside down the street from her previous home. In her imagination she has given the couple names and has created a fairy tale love life for them. Real life, however, cannot live up to her fantasy and the couple does not have the picture perfect relationship that Rachel has concocted. When a murder occurs, Rachel becomes entangled in the investigation because of what she has witnessed on her daily commute.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Last year I read “Left Neglected” and fell in love with the author Lisa Genova. What makes her books so appealing to me is that Lisa is also a neuroscientist so the science behind the stories is well explained. In “Still Alice” Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever. While his book has also been turned into a movie (that you can watch on Netflix), I found the book to be better, but really, isn’t that always the case?
Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
Also written by Lisa Genova, “Inside the O’Briens” is a tale about Joe O’Brien, a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s disease. This book is about a parent’s worst nightmare – the terrible impacts of Huntington’s disease – both on the individual but more tragically, I think, on the family.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
After learning about “Girl on the Train” from the best sellers rack at the grocery store, I decided to download “Leaving Time” because I saw it in the same section. This is a gripping story of a daughter searching for her missing mother. Teenager Jenna Metcalf was just three years old when her mother disappeared from an elephant sanctuary. Ten years later, she takes up the search for her mother, Alice, by studying Alice’s decade-old journals on grieving elephants. The research itself is fascinating, but Jenna cannot find her mother on her own. By enlisting the help of a formerly famous—now infamous—psychic, as well as a down-and-out private detective whose career went south during the botched investigation of Alice’s disappearance, Jenna forms a sort of new family to help her in her quest. I loved the twist at the end!
Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
My co-worker, Denise, gave me this book to read after my full marathon in 2014, so this was the first book I read this year. I am obsessed with the history of women in sport. My grandmother was inducted into the 5-pin bowling hall of fame for her role in building the sport of bowling and I was enthralled with the stories she told of women breaking into sports. It’s not wonder that I LOVED Girl Runner, a story about a young runner, Aganetha Smart who defied everyone’s expectations to win a gold medal for Canada in the 1928 Olympics. It was a revolutionary victory, because this was the first Games in which women could compete in track events. Many years later two young strangers appear asking to interview Aganetha for their film about female athletes and she readily agrees. Despite her frailty, she yearns for adventure and escape. And though her achievement may have been forgotten by history, her memories of chasing gold in Amsterdam remain sharp. But that triumph is only one thread in the rich tapestry of her life. Her remarkable story is colored by tragedy as well as joy, and in Girl Runner Carrie Snyder pulls back the layers of time to show how Aganetha’s amazing athleticism helped her escape from a family burdened by secrets and sorrow.
Running in Flip Flops by Abigail Fay
I downloaded this book because I thought it was a book about minimalist running. It turns out I was completely wrong but by the end of the first chapter I was so engrossed in the story that I kept on reading. Running in Flip Flops is a story about Shannon Wheaton, a recent college grad who signs up for two years in the Peace Corps and gets exactly what she expects: a mud hut, a boisterous host family, no running water or electricity, and endless days of shelling peanuts. What she didn’t expect was to clash so intensely with Wolof culture. In her rural village in Senegal, West Africa, Shannon is challenged in ways she never could have imagined. She finds herself riding an emotional roller coaster. Moments of wonder and of frustration, tiny successes and multiple failures, American friends and village neighbors, all shape Shannon’s new world — and her with it. Her story is an earnest chronicle of Peace Corps service, with the enduring question familiar to all volunteers: What does it mean to make a difference?
Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.
After my blunder in finding a running book to read with Running in Flip Flops, I cam across Once a Runner in the Kindle bookstore. This book was originally self-published by the author, John L. Parker, Jr. in 1978. Inspired by the John’s own experiences as a collegiate champion, the story focuses on Quenton Cassidy, a competitive runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school’s athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes’ protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team. Under the guidance of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life against the greatest miler in history. I particularly loved the detailed account of the final one-mile race of the story, I could definitely relate tot he pain the runner felt.
What were your favourite books of 2015?