I didn’t write as much as I would’ve liked in 2014. A big move, a new job, negotiating new routines all played a role. Still, I hope to do more in this new year.
But there is one thing about 2014 that I’m pretty happy about. I read. A lot. This was a very intentional return to daily reading that I hinted at in 2013, but that really hit its stride this past year. I was a voracious reader as a child. Fiction, non-fiction, almost every genre. But during medical training and then the first couple of years of my son’s life I really got away from it. Finally, this part of my life is back and it is like coming home. I credit three things with giving me the nudge I needed to prioritize reading again:
- A return to honest-to-goodness books. No more ebooks for this luddite- at least for the near future. My reading dramatically increased when I switched back to paper.
- Weekly trips to the public library. My son and I got pretty religious about this starting early in the year. Seriously, why in the world did it take me so long to get back to the library on a regular basis? I’m now a library evangelist. You do all realize that in any city or town with a library you can check out any book you want, any time, and they’ll let you read it for free? That you can put a a book on hold and they’ll save it for you? What an amazing and vastly under-utilized national resource. When we moved, finding our neighborhood library and getting in the groove of our weekly visits was an early, important part of starting to feel at home again.
- A Goodreads reading challenge. I’m not really in the habit of promoting websites here, but I am a huge Goodreads fan. It helps me keep track of what I’ve read, see what my friends are reading, and find new gems to read. But, in 2014 it was the the challenge feature that really motivated me. If you have a little competitive streak I highly recommend it. It was great fun to keep track of how much I’ve read this year and interesting to see the constellation of books I ended up choosing. I’ll be giving myself a more audacious goal for the upcoming year- will let you know how it goes. . .
So, in the spirit of one reader inspiring another, I’ll leave you with a few of the books that have been most meaningful for me over the last twelve months:
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee: A biography of cancer may not sound like the most uplifting read, and certainly at times it is not, but this exquisitely researched and written tome by Mukherjee was a fascinating journey into the history of cancer, how we know what we know, how far we’ve come in understanding it, and how far we have yet to go.
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I devoured this lovely novel in a little more than 24 hours. I loved the writing, the characters, the themes. The members of my dear book club had mixed reactions to the ending, but it certainly inspired a great conversation.
- Being Mortal by Atul Gawande As a long time Gawande fan, I eagerly awaited this release. I think it may be his best writing yet and is a must read for all health care providers and really anyone who desires “not only a good life but also a good end.”
- My Life in France by Julia Child This one is not new, but I somehow missed it until now. I found it fun, whimsical, and surprisingly fascinating. Although, I should warn you it may inspire dreams of a trip to Paris or ill-fated attempts to re-create Julia’s coq au vin (and for a fun expansion on that theme, check out the movie Julie and Julia if you haven’t seen it).
Happy reading! What great books did you read in 2014?