In Celebration of National Book Month

Missing from the photo – March’s book (I read a library copy) and June’s book (Another library copy, though I plan to buy it and add it to my almost-full bookcase.)

October.

Time for pumpkin-flavored everything it seems. 

Time for small bite-sized candy bars. 

And time to talk about books.

Because October is also National Book Month.

I tried to think about how to commemorate the month. So in honor of National Book Month, I’m taking a look back at the books I have read during 2021. I’m sharing one stand-out book from each month. Maybe you’ll find yourself adding to your “want-to-read” list. 

Or maybe you’ll find yourself adding to your holiday gift list. Because October also means the holiday season is just around the corner.

January:

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

I’ve read this book more than once. It’s that good. From a reader’s standpoint, and a writer’s standpoint, I’m just in awe.

February:

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

A true test that I really enjoyed a book? When I order my own copy after reading a library copy. And that’s what happened with this novel. I just found myself really caring for these characters. And, it’s another good reminder that people are often not what they seem at first glance. You can’t know what someone is really dealing with just by looking at them.

March:

How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth by Terry Virts

For most of my childhood, actually until my junior year of high school, my career goal was to become an astronaut. And all these years later, I’m still incredibly curious and interested in learning about astronauts’ lives. This isn’t a dry memoir at all. You’ll find lots of humor and fun observations.  

April:

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Such a delight to read about these two authors and go along on this journey with them. This was my first novel by Ms. Henry, but certainly not my last. (People We Meet on Vacation was published in May and is on my ever-growing want-to-read list.)

May:

Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas by Alexi Pappas

I was reading a copy of Bravey I had borrowed from the library. But, I found I was putting sticky notes on so many pages, that I ordered my own copy before I had even finished reading this powerful memoir. Honest, raw, touching. 

June:

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Mixed within this sweet, original love story are some serious topics – emotional abuse, wrongful incarceration. It’s a story I didn’t want to end. And now I’ve added Ms. O’Leary’s other novels (The Switch, The Road Trip) onto my want-to-read list.

July:

Surviving and Thriving with an Invisible Chronic Illness: How to Stay Sane and Live One Step Ahead of Your Symptoms by Ilana Jacqueline

When a patient is given a chronic illness diagnosis, they should also be given this book. It’s an important, valuable resource that would have been so helpful when I first became ill.

August:

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Wow! This book is everything — heartbreaking, funny, touching, devastating, enlightening. I didn’t realize how little I knew about South Africa and Apartheid. Just an incredible read. 

September:

Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

There is no one quite like Anne Lamott. It’s that rare combination of what she says and how she says it. She writes with such warmth and honesty about the big things (climate change) and the small things (like pants not fitting).

October:

I’m still reading the first book of October. Stay tuned!

Readers, have you read any books that blew you away? That touched you? That made you smile? That you can’t stop telling your friends about? Please, do share. 

Trying To Be a “Bravey”

A couple of confessions.

First, I had no knowledge of Alexi Pappas until recently.

Second, I don’t remember how I first learned about Alexi Pappas and her memoir Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas

But I’m so glad I did.

I borrowed a copy from the library, but it’s full of so many sticky notes that I had to order my own copy. And then not only will my copy have sticky notes, but I’ll go ahead and highlight passages. 

Alexi and I are very different. She’s an Olympian, for crying out loud. (And a filmmaker, an actress, and a writer.) Yet, her words resonated with me and touched me so strongly. 

This week I’d like to share with you some of my favorite passages.

“It was the first time I used the word bravey, and it stuck. It became a label for a mini-movement, a self-identifier for those who are willing to chase their dreams even though it can be intimidating and scary. It celebrates the choice to pursue a goal and even relishes the pain that comes with effort. There is nobility to it; it’s something to be celebrated.” 

“Imagination, at the very least, brings us joy; at the very most, it empowers us to suspend disbelief and chase the impossible. Imagining things into existence is a superpower.”

“Asking for help is a superpower anyone can have but only some people use. It is brave to ask for help.”

“You have to believe you are deserving of good surprises in life. You set yourself up for it. You walk with your eyes open enough to catch the eye of the person who will invite you in. Maybe they won’t but maybe they will. Luck can be cultivated.”

Supposed to was another phrase I couldn’t let go of — I was supposed to do this and I was supposed to do that — so I kept doing things that helped me appear normal to the outside world, but none of which would help me heal myself.” 

“That’s what being a Bravey is — you are making a conscious choice to tell yourself what you’d like to be until it becomes part of you. You choose to replace “can’t” with “maybe” by acknowledging your feelings but focusing on your actions. Your actions encompass everything from what you do with your time, to who you surround yourself with, to the words you feed your mind. To know you can do this for yourself is the most powerful thing in the world.” 

“You have to take care of yourself first. You are your own most precious resource. Everything you are in this world hinges on you facing yourself before you face the world.”