My reading hasn’t always been this focused, but I’ve found that almost everything I’ve read in the past few years could be classified into three categories: memoir, self-help, or social sciences/cultural commentary. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there are some commonalities those genres. Chalk it up to the the #therapythirties if you’d like, but I suppose at my core I’ve been interested in a few very basic questions. How does this world work? Is it possible to change? What is the good life?
It’s no stretch to say that the work (and the reading) has been fueled by its share of discontent, by the frustration and disappointment of feeling like life isn’t turning out the way I want it to. The good news is that the journey — both in and outside of the reading — has been incredibly rich and that there have been signs of progress along the way. I feel more hopeful now than I ever have before. For anyone who’s interested, here are 15 books — which I’ve grouped into six different topical categories — that I’ve found helpful along the way:
I spent the last four days in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference. It was my first time at the conference and in the city, but time well-spent connecting with classmates, meeting other writers, having conversations about craft, listening to readings, etc.
“I will love with urgency but not with haste” -Mumford and Sons
Okay, so my title wasn’t completely honest. What follows isn’t really a resolution. (My actual resolutions are to give up soda for good and to not buy books in 2015). As for this post, what I mean is I didn’t come up with this idea on January 1 any more than it will end on December 31. I will fail hundreds and probably thousands of times. It’s also not something that can be completely “accomplished,” “achieved,” measured in a tracker, or checked off a list. This has been developing in me for a while now, and it’s less like an attempt of willpower and more like a paradigm shift or an adjusted priority or an overarching principle.
I am drawn to raw honesty. Brene Brown might call this “vulnerability.” In some contexts that have been life-giving to me, we have used the phrase “rigorous honesty.” It has been quite liberating for me to learn that I can show when I am hurting, that I don’t have to pretend to be perfect. I can just go ahead and resign from the dog and pony show.