Books I’m Reading in 2023

December 31, 2022

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

This was a fast and easy read about a love story between a pilot with past trauma and a nurse who helps him heal. Going into it I didn’t realize that it was pretty romance-novel-esque, aka there were some very steamy chapters. I’m not a big reader of romance novels, so this definitely spiced up my usual repertoire. Overall it was a great escape from the cold and ugly January days and had a nice message of appreciating both the light and the dark side of love and life.

Finding Me by Viola Davis

I listened to this on audiobook, as I do for all memoirs, and holy cow did it suck me in. I know and love Viola Davis in the movies, but her memoir reveals the depths of that emotional well we get to peek at on screen. I was blown away at the remarkable story of the triumph of the underdog. The obstacles and trauma in her life left me in tears almost every time I listened. I am a big reader of self-help type books and when listening to this it made me recollect a lot of the things I have read about trauma and ACEs. I would highly recommend reading Oprah’s book “What Happened to You?” prior to reading Viola’s memoir because it gives you a bit of understanding of what might have been happening in Viola’s brain and give you all the hope for gleaning wisdom from your traumas instead of letting them rip you apart. Could not recommend it enough – and yes, of course, you must listen to Viola read this herself.

It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover

Last year it seemed everyone was reading this Colleen Hoover book, so I put it on my list to read this year. My first Colleen Hoover book was a bit surprising (hello sexy scenes!) so I am curious if this is a thread that carries over into all of her writing. I also enjoyed the fun quick read in January, so I came back for more. Let me start by saying I accidentally read this book out of order. I picked up both “It Starts with Us” and “It Ends with Us” and logically thought I would start with “It Starts with Us”. And after getting into “It Ends with Us” I realized that it should have come first. I still enjoyed them, but if you’re in the same predicament I was in start with “It Ends with Us”. This again was an enjoyable quick read, but I found some of the writing to be slightly cringe-worthy and cheesy. Perhaps this is just because I don’t think Colleen Hoover books are typically my type of books.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

I should have read this before “It Starts with Us”, but oh well. I liked this much better that “It Starts with Us”, although had I read them in order I might have enjoyed “It Starts with Us” a bit more. It was a quick read and gave an a good idea of what the inside of an abusive relationship looks like. If you’ve ever wondered how anyone could find themselves in a situation like that this book takes you along for the ride. Again, I felt some of the writing was a bit cheesy at times, but overall I enjoyed the read. Halfway through reading this it was announced that Blake Lively would play Lily, the main character, and the internet was a-buzz. It made me realize how many people love this book. I’m excited to see the movie.


Atomic Habits by James Clear

This is one that I had read half of and then never finished. I picked it back up again and started over. I found a lot of the tips really helpful, and hopeful for getting things accomplished in my life. The main idea is that tiny steps of action will lead to big progress over time. My favorite analogy used in the book was the idea of the tipping point. Water is still water at 35 degrees, 34 degrees, 33 degrees and then finally all of the sudden at 32 degrees will freeze. Small steps towards a goal are the same – you can’t always see the progress you’re making until you hit that tipping point. It gives me hope that I can still reach some of the goals I have for myself even if all I have are 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to work towards them in between the tantrums of a three-year-old and the clinginess of one-year-old.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wison

This book was an easy and entertaining read. It’s about a woman who is hired to be the nanny for a long lost friend’s stepchildren, who burst into flame when upset. This is particularly problematic because the children’s father is a political figure and he needs to appear… tidy. A bit anticlimactic, but a wonderful reminder of the importance of treating children with respect and learning to regulate your emotions.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

This was a very quick read. It’s a murder mystery set on a rugged Irish island during a wedding weekend. It’s full of suspense and intrigue with a few good twists and turns that all tied together nicely. I loved the characters and the ending felt particularly satisfying.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

When reading this I assumed it was about some real band that I had somehow never heard of. As I approached the end I googled it and realized it is all fictional – LOLZ. Still, it was a fun read and could definitely be based off a real band (I think some have speculated Fleetwood Mac? I dunno). I have not watched the TV show yet, because I am a fan of Fearne Cotton (who’s married to Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood) so I liked to imagine it was actually set in Britain and about them. So I’m not sure I will enjoy the show as much as what I’ve got going on in my head.


Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

I enjoyed this more than I expected. It’s very much true to Matthew McCaunahay’s voice: a bit magic mushroom rambling-esque, but poetic pearls of wisdom are tucked in there nonetheless. The overall theme about following life’s “green lights” was a tad weak, but I still found his overall journey and life to be interesting.

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama

I enjoyed Becoming more, but this was still a good read. She discusses more about her courtship with Barrack, her time in the whitehouse, her relationship with her mother, and her daughters’ lives as adults.


The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

I am a huge fan of Liane Moriarty books, and often listen to them on audiobook because I’m a sucker for Australian accents (I discovered this when I started listening to the Australian Birth Stories podcast and found I couldn’t listen to the Birth Hour podcast anymore because of the American accents (yes yes I know I have an American accent)). Anyways Liane Moriarty’s is the master of bread crumb writing as I call it. She seeps bits of information to you little by little, leaving you scrambling to turn the pages so you can finish the puzzle. This one was about a cast of characters that live on an island in Australia and slowly uncover a family secret from decades earlier. One of the ticking time bombs in the books had to do with one character’s postpartum depression, which they author really portrayed with heavy dramatic irony that left you itching to jump in and help.

Hunger by Roxanne Gay

I devoured this book, pardon the pun. It offers a wonderful insight into pain, injustice, and of course hunger. It also happened to fit nicely into all the books I’ve read about trauma and how much it can affect your life. It was heartbreaking and honest and truly insightful.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Listen, I know this was praised as a top book to read this year, but I struggled with it and still haven’t finished it. I’m going to give it another chance, but it was slow to start and I gave up early.


The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

This was another page turner that I enjoyed. A mystery about a disappearing husband and father and the uncovering of his secrets. It was also turned into a TV show that I did watch and enjoyed (it was pretty close to the actual book).

Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell

I LOVED this book. This one was actually meant to be listened to in audiobook form as he has audio clips from moments in history or interviews with experts. In the book Gladwell takes a look at many moments in history in an attempt to analyze why human behaviors are the way they are. He does this through the lens of the Sandra Bland case – starting there and working his way back through history to see how things could have gone differently. It’s interesting, intelligent and has a little bit of a Magnolia or Crash thing going on as far as analyzing some cause and effects.


For the Love of Men by Liz Plank

Liz Plank offers a highly-researched and insightful guide for growing beyond toxic masculinity. While it was well written and offered me some vocabulary that I was lacking in trying to explain some of these concepts I knew but had trouble expressing, it wasn’t a page turner by any means.


Taste by Stanley Tucci

I love Stanley Tucci and thoroughly enjoyed listening to his memoir. It made me want to travel to Italy, move to London, and buy a pig roaster for the backyard.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

This was another self-helpy type book on how to make the most of the approximate 4,000 weeks you get in your life. I found a lot of the tips very helpful and a few have even stuck with me as little mantras or reminders. One of them being to figure out the top five things you want to accomplish/do in your life and then focus only on those – avoid number 6 at all costs. This was a useful tip for me because I have always been the type whose brain was more like vines growing outward than a tree growing upward. Putting down on paper the five things I wanted to focus on helped set some boundaries on things I need to say no to in order to protect my time.


The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

I enjoyed by first Lucy Foley novel so much I tried out a second one, and it did not dissappoint. It was another murder mystery page turner, with another family secret decades in the making being uncovered. This time, it was set in Paris, in a sinister apartment building, with dangerous power players at work.


Not That Bad By Roxane Gay

While this was a fantastic collection of essays and super important to read, woof, was it difficult to get to the end. Not because it wasn’t good, but because it was hard to listen to (I did the audiobook version) and I found it making me angry the more and more I listened.


The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I watched the series on Amazon Prime before reading this. It was a cheesy teen show and the book was about the same. I enjoyed it and it was a really fast read, but since I had already watched the series this book didn’t really get to anything new. I’m excited to read the second and third books before the next season comes out.

The Broken Ladder by Keith Payne

The author examines inequality through a psychological lens and shows how it has divided us. He doesn’t really go down the politics path, but it’s hard not to see the correlations between this divide and the policies in our country.


I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Oh em gee. This book was so heartbreaking, yet hilarious. When I first started reading it I didn’t know who Jennette McCurdy was (we’re the same age so I think iCarly was for kids younger than me at the time), but I did recognize her and definitely remembered some of the cultural pinpoints in history that she writes about. It’s her memoir of growing up poor, getting into childhood acting, her very troublesome relationship with her mother, her battles with eating disorders, and finally her journey towards healing. It made me cry, and despite the content, I laughed a lot too.

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell

This story was written in two different timelines, one from the past and one in the present. It slowly unravels each tale and reveals how they are linked at the end of the book. It’s about motherhood and the massive changes to how you see the world when you become a mother (obvs I identified).


The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

I decided to keep up with popular culture a bit and read Britney Spear’s memoir. It was short, interesting, and infuriating. The story of her life was a bit sad and full of trauma, but reading about her experience postpartum and the sequence of events that followed was heartbreaking. It’s probably sacrelege to compare the writing of Britney Spears to that of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but I found myself thinking about the similarities between her memoir and Perkin’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, published in 1892. It’s disheartening to think about how little we have come in the fight for womens’ rights in 100 years. On a positive note, her story seems very distant from where we are today (as I feel about a lot of things pre-Me Too movement).

Outlive, The Science & Art of Longevity by Peter Attia

I listened to this as a audiobook and am glad I did. It’s full of medical terms that might have slowed me down too much if I had read the physical book. It was appropriate for ending the year on, as it got me revved up for creating new, healthy habits in the the New Year. It was all about the science of longevity and how to start looking at and planning for the last chapters of your life now. He is a big believer in metabolic health and preventative medicine, and gives good strategies for improving health. My biggest take away was that in order to be healthy and active at age 80, you need to have a strategy and take steps to get there now (in your 30s/40s). I feel like a learned a lot, and have a much better understanding of how I can personally start taking control of my health (i.e. understanding blood sugar readings/cholesterol/etc.).

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