books & reading, personal & miscellany


It’s July 1st, which means that half of this calendar year is gone. Unfortunately it’s been little more than a numbing blur of work, but I’m currently halfway through a brief vacation, and am starting to regain some feeling.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may be noticing this recurring theme. In theory, work takes up about 40% of my waking life. In practice, though, it takes a bit more of my time than that, consumes far more of my energy, and rules the patterns of my days, weeks, and years. I am deeply grateful for the gift of having good work to do, but feel the consequences of the seasons of life passing me by. Missed opportunities to visit with family and friends, adventures deferred. Always in service to the broader community, but seldom free enough to properly celebrate, care for, mourn with, or just spend time in the community of the individual people that I know and love.

Spring brought the good news of widespread vaccination (in my home and community anyway), some joyful reunions with dear ones we hadn’t hugged in far too long, and the return of baseball to Petco Park, but so far my horoscope for this Year of the Metal Ox (per the Chinese zodiac) that predicted a quiet year in which I may “finally be able to catch a breather” has been wildly, outrageously inaccurate. I’m ever an optimist, though, and although the year is already half over – it’s also only half over! There’s still time to play catch up on all that other 60% of my badly-neglected life, and I intend to try.

In the meantime: BOOKS! Here’s what I read in the first half of this year, with a few of the standouts highlighted. (Full list below.) I took a quarter-long management course and really dove into the recommended reading lists, so you’ll see an unusual (for me) volume of business-y, management-y topics, which I don’t totally love. But mostly it was a good mix, with a few really enjoyable reads.

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph, Ryan Holiday (2014)
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson (2020)
Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (180; translated edition by Penguin Books, 2006)
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg (2012)
Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol, Holly Whitaker (2019)
The New One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard (2015)
Why We Swim, Bonnie Tsui (2020)*
The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr (2005)
Thick: And Other Essays, Tressie McMillan Cottom (2019)*
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson et al. (2002)
Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011, Lizzy Goodman (2017)
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katherine May (2020)*
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Coleman (2006)
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Cathy Park Hong (2020)
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, Alice Wong (Ed) (2020)*
On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear, Lynn Casteel Harper (2020)
Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism, Laura Gómez (2020)
Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Avi Loeb (2021)
Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, Eric Klinenberg (2018)

The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl, Marra Gad (2019)
Mean, Myriam Gurba (2018)*
A Promised Land, Barack Obama (2020)

Fiction – Adult
Goodbye, Vitamin, Rachel Kong (2017)*
America Is Not the Heart, Elaine Castillo (2018)
The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett (2020)*
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig (2020)*
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara (2015)
Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor (2014)
Mostly Dead Things, Kristen Arnett (2019)
A Burning, Megha Majumdar (2020)
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (2020)*
The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner (2018)
Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld (2020)*
Earthlings, Sayaca Murata (2020)
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison (1970)
Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam (2020)
The Lying Life of Adults, Elena Ferrante (2019)
A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet (2020)
Weather, Jenny Offill (2020)

Fiction – Young Adult
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling (2006)
The House on Mango Street,
Sandra Cisneros (1984)

*The ones I really loved. Have you really loved something you read recently? Please share!

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