How Goodreads Got Me out of My Reading Rut
Shoutout to Goodreads for transforming my reading life. For real. Yes, Goodreads has its bugs. And, yes, Goodreads is owned by media behemoth Amazon. But I think the good outweighs the bad.
How Goodreads Got Me out of My Reading Rut
If you’ve been stuck in a reading rut (like I was) and haven’t heard of it, Goodreads is a site and an app that helps readers find new books to read and share their opinions of the ones they’ve read. I find Goodreads useful because it lets me sort books into three categories: want to read, currently reading, and read. Then I can leave a review and contribute to the literary conversation.
Because of this easy-to-use system, I can call myself a reader again. I took a three-year self-imposed reading hiatus due to the onset of motherhood. Anyone else have a similar story? A crying baby and then a teething toddler meant that I only read short online articles. Now I have a little more time and space, so I set a goal on Goodreads to read 20 physical books in 2019.
At mid-year, I have read 14 books: 9 nonfiction and 5 fiction. That honestly amazes me. I thought 20 books was a pie in the sky kind of goal, but it looks like I’ll make it.
Besides boosting my confidence, reading has helped my life in so many other ways. It has led to increased focus and decreased anxiety. It also reduced my TV watching time, and I think it models good free-time behavior for my little one. Yes, I still check my phone like it’s a part of my body, but now my daughter also gets to see me buried deep in the pages of a book. That’s what I would like her to remember about me—not the compulsive phone checking that is so much a part of our lives.
If you are looking to jump-start your reading life, take a peek into my already “read” list. It might give you some ideas for your list or inspire you to look for books that are more your style.
Full disclosure, I’m a teacher, a writer, and a mom in her 30s. Some books have a clear demo, and that’s mine. Other books transcend demographics. Both types are valid and have a place on the shelf. So here’s my list of nonfiction books (Look for fiction in a future post!) in chronological order starting with the most recently read.
My Nonfiction Goodreads Mid Year Update 2019
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
Rating: 4 Stars; fascinating
Target Audience: Everyone who wants to make the world a better place.
My Goodreads Review: This book outlines the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with startling stories and just enough data to remind you that the author is a computer science major. I found it inspirational and think it should be on the nightstand of every presidential candidate. Perhaps it can remind them of their humanity. (Read more here.)
Educated by Tara Westover
Rating: 5 Stars; unbelievable
Target Audience: Anyone who wants to feel grateful that they had the opportunity to go to school.
My Goodreads Review: Whoa. It must have been terribly difficult to write this book. And then to see it published while her parents are still alive. The valley must be buzzing--finally with truth.
Calm the F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can't So You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get On With Your Life by Sarah Knight
Rating: 3 Stars; ironically anxiety-inducing
Target Audience: People who have anxiety or who freak-out on the regular.
My Goodreads Review: It was difficult to read because thinking about calming down generally has the opposite effect on me. But one of these days I’m going to take these lessons to heart.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Rating: 5 Stars; refreshingly honest
Target Audience: People who like Amy Schumer. She’s more real and relatable in the book than on stage, but you still need to actually like her comedy to enjoy the book.
My Goodreads Review: I loved her voice in this book. It's like she's on stage but more conversational and less bombastic. Her story is relatable. A fun, funny, and heartfelt read.
Go Ask Ali: Half-Baked Advice (And Free Lemonade) by Ali Wentworth
Rating: 3 Stars; comic relief
Target Audience: Anyone who likes short, memoir-like books from a woman’s point of view.
My Goodreads Review: Parts are laugh out loud funny. Parts can be skimmed. But an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
Rating: 2 Stars; abrasive
Target Audience: Women who need a confidence boost and simultaneously like to read about the growth of a media empire.
My Goodreads Review: This book is full of ways to tweak your mindset and build your confidence. But I felt like a certain amount of warmth was missing from her writing. Should an author yell directly at her reader for 200+ pages, even if the book is labeled personal growth? It just didn’t live up to the hype for me. (Read more here.)
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco with Lauren Oyler
Rating: 3 Stars; enjoyable
Target Audience: Women who are breaking glass ceilings and are interested in learning that high-powered jobs are just as unglamorous as everyone else’s job.
My Goodreads Review: If my best friend worked at the White House, these are the stories I would expect to hear--meeting the queen, buying all the Post-It notes, installing a tampon machine, and basically making President Obama give a speech in a hailstorm. I learned a lot about myself while reading this memoir. Thanks Alyssa, let's drink red wine together sometime.
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Rating: 5 Stars; compelling
Target Audience: Anyone who wants to learn about apartheid from a person who lived it.
My Goodreads Review: This book is a page-turner. Noah makes something so complicated--growing up in South Africa under apartheid--so relatable. I saw more of America in his story than most Americans would like to believe. A must-read.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Rating: 5 Stars; life-changing
Target Audience: Anyone who believes in becoming something more.
My Goodreads Review: I never expected to have so much in common with Michelle Obama. But it turns out that we are both classic overachievers who are desperate to avoid failure. Fun, right? Her book inspired me to reflect, connect, and share my own story. (Read more here.)
How I Plan to Finish the Year
My nonfiction total is more than double my fiction total at the halfway mark. I guess it’s always been harder for me to invest in made-up characters than someone’s real life drama. What does that say me? Nevermind, I don’t want to know.
For now, I have Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton on my nightstand and City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert waiting for me at the library. I hope they live up to the hype! Stay tuned for my next and much shorter installment: My Fiction Mid Year Update 2019. Happy reading!