I don’t typically get too deep into holiday gift guides but something moved me to do it this year. Probably chief among my motives is all the amazing books I read in the last year or so and wanting to pass those on. I don’t know about you, but I find as I get older, books have become more and more a source of comfort and solace for me — and they have become more important. So this is volume one — “Holiday Gift Guide: Books” for your consideration. With more editions to follow, no doubt.
BOOKS I’VE READ
The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories about Facing the Unknown
I had never heard of “storytelling phenomenon” The Moth. But it’s a non-profit that preaches the fine art of crafting and telling stories. I love that. So when I needed a book to get lost in on my mini staycation this year, I grabbed this hardcover from The Last Bookstore. It is filled with 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown from both unknowns and celebrities like Tig Notaro, John Turturro and Meg Wolitzer. Almost every story surprised me — mostly because I am such a cynic. In its pages I found a lot of happiness, sadness and inspiration. It is filled with passion, courage, truth and humor. I pretty much inhaled this book. [MORE]
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
I’m not one for “self help” books, but this one, by Mark Manson, grabbed my attention with its in-your-face title and bright red cover. So there I was, curled up on my couch, essentially having a religious experience and, for the first time in years, putting a highlighter to work with portions of the text I did not want to ever forget. And the book is not actually telling you to not give a f*ck. It’s only explaining that sometimes, we just give too many f*cks and we’d all benefit from figuring out what is actually worth our time and what isn’t. Stop trying to be some beacon of positivity and light, and just get right down to the shit that makes you happy. (Yes, it’s easier said than done.) [MORE]
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
I guess I inadvertently sought out a lot of “self help” with the inclusion of this book in my reading list this year because I felt like this book’s author, Hannah Hart, can really help a lot of people in sharing her story. She is funny and smart and complicated with a family history that stunned me a little but ultimately inspired me because of how much she’s accomplished — from her YouTube channel to her new Food Network show. (Have you seen it? I’m obsessed.) I encourage you to give this a read and try your hand at Hannah’s patented brand of “reckless optimism.” [MORE]
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
I’m also realizing how many personal memoirs I read this year — not a genre of book I was ever really into before, actually. Go figure. But if you want to read a book that will make you say “HOLY SHIT” out loud every six minutes, than this is the book for you. Jenna Miscavige’s (niece of Scientology leader David Mascavige) life story is so incredulous that it’s more like reading a work of fiction because it’s just so hard to believe anyone endured what she did, growing up in the so-called “church.” At 21, she made her break, risking everything she’d ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. It’s harrowing. [MORE]
I’m Just a Person
Right up front I will tell you, if you or the recipient of the gift are not Tig Notaro fans, you may not enjoy this book. It is written with the same short, dry humor she infuses into her stand-up and into her Amazon series, “One Mississippi.” If you are not familiar, it follows her insane journey and mostly focuses on a span of four months in 2012 when Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C.Diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Her mere survival of this marks her as strong and brave but the way in which she shares her story also, in my opinion, makes her courageous as well. [MORE]
BOOKS I WANT TO READ
There are presently
401 403 books on my Goodreads “want to read” list, which is a little alarming. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough, guys….
Bad Feminist: Essays
A co-worker told me about Roxane Gay and now I want to read everything she’s ever written. In these funny and insightful essays, Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. It is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better. I’m in. [MORE]
Topless Prophet: The True Story of America’s Most Successful Gentleman’s Club Entrepreneur
Weird choice, right? But I heard about this on the morning radio show I listen to, and I’m hooked. It’s a wild autobiography by Alan Markovitz, who while only in his early twenties transformed a modest Detroit bar into the first prototype of the truly modern gentleman’s club . . . and then to parlayed that win into a string of wildly popular and highly profitable chain of topless venues that continues to expand today, nationwide. What really sold me, though? He bought the house next door to his ex-wife, just so he could erect a statue in the front yard that held up a giant middle finger in his neighbor’s direction. COME ON. How do you not want to read this guy’s autobiography? [MORE]
How to be Champion: My Autobiography
I’d never heard of Sarah Millican but fell in love with her when she appeared on the Graham Norton show. Her debut book delves into her super normal life with quirky stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life’s blips – like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS (right???) and how to blossom post divorce. If you’ve ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelled rather bad, then I’m told this book is for you. [MORE]
So what have a learned? Well, this year I was super into self-help, memoirs and comediennes. Nothing wrong with any of it, though.
And in conclusion, I ask YOU as well — got a book to recommend?
I’d LOVE to grow my list past 403 — no joke! Do share in the comments, please.
Note: You will not find any affiliate links in this post or any of my gift guide posts. That probably doesn’t make me the savviest of businesswomen but I honestly cannot be bothered with it. I just want you to discover something new to enjoy or to gift someone you love.