List Love // Free Printable Reading List
If you love reading and making lists, boy, you're really gonna like this post.
How To Realize You're Not Reading Nearly Enough
I had this weird moment last year while I was reading an article I found on Facebook. It was about entrepreneurialism in some form or fashion, although I honestly can't remember what it was about specifically. I was only half paying attention. (Facebook Scrolling Syndrome is very real.) What did catch me, though, was when the interviewer asked the entrepreneur about how many books she'd read that year. Her answer was some completely ridiculous number, like 32.
32? Thirty-two??? How the hell did this lady manage to run a business (I'm assuming, or maybe invent things or whatever, who knows) and also read thirty-two freaking books? Wait...how many had I read this year, anyway? I thought about it for a second, and it didn't take long for me to tally it up -- one. I had read one book in the whole of 2016.
That wasn't going to cut it, squirrelfran. When I was younger, I would easily read 10 or 15 books in a year. I was the kid who showed up at the book store at midnight to buy the new Harry Potter release, and I'd have it finished by 4 am. I'd show up at school the next morning looking like I'd just come off a 2-week bender. And that was the actual best. I want to find a book that I can't put down until 4 am! What happened to that??
The Reading List
So, I decided that 2017 would be the Year of the Book. I started with Big Magic, and then I guess I just got bit by the bug. I've read 4 books so far this year, and I'm in the middle of 3 more with several others waiting in the lineup.
I'm one of those habitual (read: obsessive) list-makers, so it felt pretty appropriate to start this new blog series called "List Love," in which I'll share a few fun printable lists for your OCD enjoyment. I made this Reading List to keep track of the books I've read and have yet to read, with a little ranking system for fun. Download your own sweet copy so you can feel extra awesome about yourself and all those books you're gonna devour this year!
MY READING LIST
Here Are Some Gems To Get You Started
Here's my 2017 Reading List so far. I'll update you as I discover the best of the bunch. I've filled in the rating bubbles on my list in blue marker, so the rating system consists of 1-5 "Little Blue Dots," with 5 dots being effing amazing and 1 dot being complete and utter shit.
I haven't technically finished this, so if I were a proper book critic, I wouldn't dare rate it quite yet. However, I'm not a proper book critic, and I don't really care -- this book is totally getting 5 Little Blue Dots. I love it. It takes a pretty hard, scientific look at "non-conformists" and creatives, and breaks down (with super-thorough stats and studies) how and why they end up being the movers and shakers of the world. While it is very fact-based, it also manages to maintain an anecdotal kind of air which makes it really engaging for the reader. I've pretty much bathed this thing in ink, underlining everything and writing in the margins. It's inspired a lot of blog post ideas about creativity and productivity that I can't wait to share. I highly recommend this for makers and entrepreneurs -- or anyone looking to shake things up and leave their mark.
I picked this book up before my Hawaii trip, and finished it during the week I was away. I learned about Commonwealth while I was reading a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic (which I *highly* recommend, by the way.) Elizabeth is a friend and fan of the author Ann Patchett and references her a handful of times in Big Magic. I knew about Ann before that, though -- she lives in Nashville and owns my favorite book store, Parnassus. I took Elizabeth's high praise of Ann's work as my cue to finally give one of her books a read, and I chose Commonwealth.
It's a story that spans 50 years and two generations. It starts out with a kiss shared between two married people at a baby shower, and follows the unraveling and rejoining of both families after they divorce and remarry one another, with 6 children between them. When the kids reach their 20s, one of them (Franny) begins an affair with an author who uses a particularly dark moment of their childhood as the basis for a book and, eventually, a movie. This, as you can imagine, is not well received by several members of their clan. Some conflict, humor, and (at least partial) healing ensues.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It started out a bit slow while we jump back and forth through time and the author sets the complicated stage. But once it becomes apparent where it's all going, things get really intense and interesting, and I couldn't put it down. The only reason I give it 4 Little Blue Dots is because the ending (without giving anything away) left me saying "huh." Not that I didn't get it, or didn't like it, I suppose. There was no huge drama, no big twist, no "Hollywood moment," and I guess that just felt unexpected. But it was also real, so I don't think that's a bad thing. I just still find myself turning it over in my head, wondering what the takeaway should be. "Life is real, and doesn't always get wrapped up in a tidy bow?" Probably. So, 4 dots only because I'm still mulling over how I feel about the ending. I may upgrade it when I suss that out.
To get a bit personal for just a moment, I have a somewhat complicated relationship with my mother. I adore her. She was my total hero as a kid. She's the bossest bitch around, and my friends used to call her Business Woman Barbie. However, she is also very intense, outspoken, and sometimes pretty damn embarrassing. She had a nickname for me as a kid -- Quad B, which stood for Bitty Bitey Booby Baby -- she would not stop calling me that when I first started to grow tata's. My childhood was blush central and full of "OMG, MOM!!" moments, but it was also a lot of fun. She turned me into the kind of woman who is confident enough to take risks and speak her mind, and I owe her everything for that.
So when I discovered @crazyjewishmom on Instagram, I died. It's an Instagram account completely dedicated to sharing the texts that daughter Kate receives on a daily basis from her Crazy Jewish Mom, Kim. I was obsessed, and of course I bought the book right away. Her childhood stories are so intensely familiar. It was an hysterical read. Fun and a bit fluffy, but also pretty cathartic, too. Reading about Kate and Kim's relationship helped me see my mom's craziness in a much more positive light, and I actually think our relationship (or at least, my willingness to take my mother with a grain of salt) has improved. I give it 4 Little Blue Dots only because I don't think it'd be that relatable if you don't have a Crazy Mom of your own. But if you do, get this book, friend. You'll love it.
I bought this book while I was watching Victoria and The Crown simultaneously on tv. I was jonesing for more aristocratic British historical drama, and this book seemed like the perfect prescription. It's about the "glittering and seductive world of English aristocracy in the waning days of the empire." It also seems like it's got a little bit of a Cruel Intentions vibe going on, with the main character kind of falling in to the company of one effed up posh family, with drama and sexual tension ensuing. Sounds pretty good.
I can't give this book a rating as I haven't finished it yet, and to tell you the truth, I'm having a bit of a hard time with it. It's usually that way for me with older British literature. I love watching Pride and Prejudice, but when I first picked up the book in high school, I found reading it to be a lot more dull and dry. Now, I haven't gotten far enough in to Brideshead Revisited to really know if it's going to pick up and get juicier (I expect it will), so I'll update and rate it when I've finished.
Why Not Me? isn't pictured in my 2017 lineup because I gave it to my mom during our Hawaii trip. I finished this book in about 3 or 4 days, and I found it hysterical. Mindy Kaling, comedian and curvy girl extraordinaire, is of course the token Indian lady on The Office, and creator/writer/lead actress of The Mindy Show. I have to admit that I didn't buy this book for myself, and probably would not have (sorry, babe.) It was a gift from my boyfriend, who I think would have rather bought me a self-help book about How To Deal With Your Emotional Baggage, but chose this one instead out of a desire not to be torn a new ass hole. (I found those 3 books you put in your cart on Amazon but didn't have the guts to pull the trigger on. Cute.)
Even though I wouldn't have picked this one up off the shelf myself, I laughed the entire time I was reading it. In fact, I was sitting across from this super sweet Indian woman on the train in NY while I was reading, and she started laughing along with me. We had a funny chat about contagious laughter and boss-ass female minorities. The main reasons why I personally only give this 3 stars is because I'm just not a massive fan of Mindy. She's funny, for sure, and it's not like I *dislike* her. I watch her show sometimes, but I just wouldn't call myself a super-fan. I mean, it's kind of like reading a book about Eric Clapton when you think he's the guy who wrote Stairway To Heaven. But, still -- it's a fun, light read that'll make you laugh, and probably garner a lot more dots if you're a Mindy fan to boot.
What Books are you reading this year? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!