Monthly Book Highlights of 2022

As we approach the last week-and-a-half of 2022, I find myself reflecting on the year and thinking about the books I have read. As of this post, I have read 50 books this year, though that is short of my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 57 I had optimistically set back in January. 

This week, rather than focus on the books I didn’t read, I’m going to highlight one book from each month of 2022.

January

The first book I finished this year was Claire Cook’s Life Glows On. I felt like I was starting the year on the right foot, reading about creativity — the ways we demonstrate creativity, the reasons why we need to dedicate time and energy to creative endeavors.

February

During the shortest month of the year, I read Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids: A Timeless Anthology edited by Zibby Owens. As I wrote in my blog post: “I found myself relating to so many of the authors. The specifics may differ (where we live, how many kids we have, the ages of our kids) but the emotions are universal.”

March

In March, I read First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s memoir Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself. I loved reading about Dr. Biden’s passion for teaching, because I know that passion.

April

I picked up Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens because I wanted a fun, entertaining read. This novel was that, and more. (Which reminds me, I still haven’t read her other novels.)

May

Jane Goodall’s The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times was a powerful book with a powerful message.

June

We’re a basketball family. And while our team will always be the L.A. Clippers, we respect and appreciate many players on many different teams. The “Greek Freak,” aka Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is one such player, and why I was interested in reading Giannis.

July

Brighter By the Day: Waking Up to New Hopes and Dreams is the third book I have read by Robin Roberts. The book feels like a pep talk Robin Roberts is sharing with you, simply because she believes in you and just wants the best for you.

August

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon is much more than a rom-com. Plus, there’s that exciting feeling knowing an author you have recently discovered has written other books you have yet to read.

September

Jean Meltzer’s Mr. Perfect on Paper was such a great read. I love that Ms. Meltzer writes books featuring a protagonist who is not only Jewish, but who also lives with an invisible chronic illness. (Be sure to also check out her first novel, The Matzah Ball, perfect for reading during Hanukkah.)

October

Love and Saffron by Kim Fay was a story told through the letters two women write to each other during the 1960s. I was instantly intrigued because I have a pen pal. We have been exchanging letters for almost thirty years!

November

Book Lovers by Emily Henry is a special book, for a couple of reasons. First, I bought it during our family trip to Maui. And secondly, it earned five stars on my Goodreads review. 

December

Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday was an entertaining holiday romance. It was a fun escape to be able to open the book and slip into this other world.

Readers, feel free to share some of your favorite books that you read during 2022!

Life Glows On

The first book I finished reading in 2022 is Claire Cook’s nonfiction book Life Glows On: Reconnecting With Your Creativity to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.

It’s a book about acknowledging all the ways we express ourselves creatively. It’s also about acknowledging the need for, and the benefits of, dedicating time and energy to a creative project.

I love Ms. Cook’s definition of creativity:

“Creativity is the box of crayons we use to tell our story, and in telling our story we figure out who we are.” 

And I love this recommendation:

“Every day, do one good thing. And after that, give yourself permission to do one creative thing for yourself.” 

Then there’s this bit of motivation:

“Being creative is about touching hearts. It’s about finding our own heart. It’s about tapping into our past and remembering the unique experiences and insights that make us who we are. It’s about flipping our adversity and challenges and experiences into a point of view, a vision, a style, a voice. It’s about standing strong in our authenticity and individuality and distinctiveness.”

I also enjoyed this paragraph about one of the benefits of getting older:

“Because the coolest thing about getting older is that we really can just be whoever the hell we want to be. If we’re lucky, we’ve stopped caring so much about pleasing the rest of the world. Nobody can tell us who we are. Or who we aren’t.”

A Process of Reinvention

 

The plan was for me to retire from my teaching career after twenty years, at least. Probably closer to thirty. 

To retire because I chose to. Because the time was right.

The reality was different. I retired due to a disability after a twelve-year teaching career. 

Everything changed. Not just my daily routines. But my identity.

I had to reinvent myself, in a sense. 

Recently, I finished my second read of Claire Cook’s Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (Without Getting Lost Along the Way). The first time I read it was a year after I left teaching. 

Now I re-read it, simply for a refresher. A little burst of encouragement to help me get out of my comfort zone and try some new things. 

This week, I’d like to share just a few of the book’s gems with you.

“Life can be ridiculously tough. And when it is, we have two choices: give up or be tougher.”

“  ‘Of course you’re afraid,’ a character in my novel Time Flies says. ‘We’re all afraid. There are only two choices: afraid and boring.’ “

“If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. (204 if you’re in Japan!)”

All I Can Do is Take It Step By Step

I recently finished reading Claire Cook’s The Wildwater Walking Club: Step By Step. It was a fun, easy read. Exactly what I wanted. 

The book is meant to make readers feel good. To transport readers into another world, Noreen’s world, as she walks with Tess and Rosie and navigates life as a newly certified health coach. 

So, why then, were there times I felt sad? 

Why did this feel-good book leave me feeling a bit down at times?

It took me a while to figure it out. 

And then I realized – it’s the walking. (Which is a big part of the book.)

I no longer know the easy joy and pleasure that comes from going on a daily walk.

I do continue to walk each day in my neighborhood, but they’re not always joyful. Not always pleasurable. 

I walk. Certainly not at a quick pace. And not to count my steps. 

But to walk. To exercise. To spend time with my family outdoors. To observe our neighborhood.

But my walking is … I struggle for the right word. Difficult? (Sometimes.) Unpredictable? (Sometimes.) Pain-inducing? (Sometimes.) Exhausting. (Sometimes.)

I don’t always experience more pain after a walk, but sometimes I do.

Sometimes I experience random pain during a walk. A step off a curb that sends a jolt up and down my left leg.

A sudden gripping pain in my calf, that causes me to stop and wait and hope it will pass so I can continue walking. But then the walking has a bit of limping to it. 

If I walk while in pain, it’s still walking. 

And so I keep doing it. 

Because some days are better than others. 

And I walk, step by step, hoping for one of those better-pain days.