It’s that time of the year when I take stock of all the wonderful books I’ve read in 2015 and choose a few to highlight. I’ve read many good books this year, some of which I’ve already highlighted and written about. This list is intended to spotlight the ones that truly made a difference to my way of thinking, creating, and self-education this year. These are the ones that I will re-read and actually use in the coming year.
1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s no secret that I love this book, I only read it last month and wrote one of the longest reviews I’ve written so far. What I took away from this book was a feeling of hope, a can-do attitude, and yes – a feeling that magic does indeed exist. In the coming months, when SAD sets in, I’ll be re-reading this book, and can count on it to give me a boost when all I want to do is hibernate. Especially since I’m determined to finish what I started this summer – the first draft of my novel – and have a number of creative endeavours I intend to get done.
2. Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution by Roman Krznaric
I find Empathy an inspiring and thought-provoking book for many reasons, chief amongst them the idea that we are not helpless in the face of social, environmental, and governmental changes. There are ways we can connect with other people, listen to their stories, activate our empathy and cross divides. Maybe even divides we don’t know we have. In the coming year, it will give me the tools to find better, more constructive ways of connecting with others, to do something rather than feeling at a loss.
3. The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig
There is nothing quite like humour for making a message stick, and Chuck’s irreverent brand of pen-monkey humour is no exception. When I was feeling stuck, and needed a boost, to find my way back to writing fiction again, The Kick-Ass Writer gave me an extra boost of imagination and determination. All I have to do to push me to start writing is to read something from this book, and I feel like opening my laptop and writing something. This is a great book not least because with the humour is great advice and whether you take it or leave it, there is always something useful.
4. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
I simply fell head over heels for this book. I love Amanda’s voice and the messages in her book, and I can only describe it as a feeling of sheer joy when I finished reading. It is all about how to ask, why to ask, why it’s important to feel okay to ask – for anything. We might not get an affirmative answer, but the point is that sometimes we’re afraid to ask, because it makes us vulnerable. Mostly, though, this is a book about the power of the connection between artists and their ‘fans’ or the people who consume their work – and the importance of that connection.
5. Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
I’ll be honest, I haven’t finished reading this yet, but what I have read so far, I’ve loved. This is a compendium of imagination – a wellspring of inspiration. And I find myself inspired every time I dip into this book. The illustrations, the essays, the exercises, the food for thought – is simply a masterful stroke of genius for someone who needs to fire some neurons and make things up on paper. I’ll be dipping in and out of this throughout the coming year when I need a good dose of creative inspiration.
I’ve also had a very good Xmas for books, and there are a number of non-fiction books I’m looking excited about reading, including:
1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
2. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell.
3. Misfit to Maven by Ebonie Allard.
4. Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer.
5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
I hope you all had a good holiday, and are looking forward to all the books out there waiting to be read!