My Favorite Books of 2019…and A Long List for 2020!
A year and a half ago, I wrote about my love affair with reading and shared with you the books I had recently read and loved, as well as books on the docket.
As the new year takes off, you better believe that prioritizing my (very long) reading list has been high on the agenda. So without further ado, I’m here to share with you my favorite reads (both professional and for fun) of the past year and what I hope to devour in 2020.
Books I’ve Recently Read and Loved
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Owen Meany may be one of the most compelling and intriguing characters ever developed. I was immediately taken in by him and Irving’s writing. And I found myself so attached to Owen that a part of me didn’t want the book to end. Consider saving this gem for the holiday season. It is not a Christmas book per say but one of the best scenes of the book takes place at Christmas. It’s one of those – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and everything in between.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Boy oh boy does Celeste Ng know how to craft a gorgeous sentence. Lots of them in fact. While this book is on the depressing side, I love how she explores the complexity of relationships. Plus it’s been made into a mini-series on Hulu and is expected to air this March, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington – yes please!
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I read this book before the world became obsessed, so I had zero expectations going into it. And I fell in love with ALL of it, hook line and sinker. If you want a page turner that is a mixture of loss, adventure, intrigue, and love, read it.
This is How it Always Is by Lauria Frankel
Frankel uses a less traditional writing style to tell the story of a less than traditional family as they navigate their son Claude’s questions around his own gender. It is beautifully told and Frankel invites our hearts into some of the deepest and toughest questions we face as humans. This book moved me in permanent ways. Keep your tissues nearby.
The Eating Instinct by Virginia Sole-Smith
It is rare to find a skilled writer who really gets the problems with our food culture. Sole-Smith is supremely skilled, “gets it” AND seamlessly weaves together multiple stories, including her own, to express the complexity of our food landscape. She digs into the questions that are at the heart of my work – why and how has eating become so hard and what can be done to make it better? Pick this baby up.
Eat Up! By Ruby Tandoh
Oh I absolutely and completely adored this book. Tandoh crafts sentences that are utterly delightful, dare I say, even delicious! Her love of food is only matched by her capacity as a writer. Her ability to offer incisive critiques of where we’ve gone amiss as a culture while punctuating each chapter with wit and delight is truly unmatched. If you want a pick me up that is both fun and healing, do yourself a favor and read “Eat Up!”
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
I. Loved. This. Book. Gottlieb is an extraordinarily skilled writer and brings to life the humanity in all of us. She bravely shares what it’s like to be in therapy as a therapist and the parallels between her inner struggles and the inner struggles of her own patients. Yes, we are all human, sharing many of the same dilemmas. Read this book. Then you’ll know why I wish everyone could be in therapy!
Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness
JVN holds nothing back in his memoir. And after listening to his story, my love for him grew exponentially (which I didn’t think was possible). He discussed very difficult topics like his own history with childhood sexual abuse, identity related to his homosexuality, sex and drug addiction, and the ultimate consequences of unprocessed trauma. He is a beacon of hope and inspiration that inspires us to believe that healing is possible and that embracing your own unique self is the greatest gift you can give. Amen.
Sick Enough by Jen Gauidiani
If you work with eating disorders and haven’t read this yet, I suggest that it be at the tippy top of your professional reading list. Dr. G brings her compassion, humanity, intelligent practicality, and wisdom to every single page of this book. You’ll not only learn about medical management of eating disorders, but how to provide ethical and social justice oriented care for your clients. My wish is for every single ED professional to read this book.
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
After realizing I knew absolutely nothing about psychedelics, I followed the advice of one of my clients and listened to “How to Change Your Mind.” Afterall, the medical and mental health field is buzzing about clinical trials and the potential for groundbreaking treatments with the thoughtful and careful use of these powerful agents. It’s cliche to say but listening to Pollan’s book blew my mind right open. And I intend to follow the research on psychedelics and am holding cautious hope that they may bring healing, particularly to those individuals whose illnesses have not been adequately treated by our current day interventions.
Irreversible Things by Lisa Hadley
My dear friend wrote a collection of short stories from her own life in a unique format of memoir, fiction, and “the fiction of remembering.” Lisa’s writing reaches deep into your soul, bringing the reader into the tangled mess we call life – including first crushes, a neighborhood murder, struggles with infertility, and a father with Alzheimer’s. Her writing is a dichotomous mix of page turning ease and emotionally fraught and complicated. I cannot recommend it enough.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
If you haven’t read “Olive Kitteridge,” then do it! I just can’t get enough of Olive, who I love and despise and am baffled by all at once! I love how Strout leads us through a narrative that is told in short stories, yet works as a cohesive narrative. Olive makes me laugh out loud, guffah, cry, gasp, and sigh over and over again.
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Hold on to your hats as Ronan Farrow expertly leads you through a real life drama that seriously reads as “stranger than fiction.” Farrow shares the saga of researching and breaking the Harvery Weinstein story, as well as the layers of complicity and cover-up that kept him safe for way too long. As we demand consequences of powerful men who have built careers while abusing and debasing women, the telling of these stories is imperative. If you’re like me, this one will open your eyes and leave you feeling grateful for the very smart and very brave people fighting for justice.
The Witches are Coming by Lindy West
Lindy brings her A-game to this collection of short pieces, which critique everything from politics, to the media, to race and gender, and everything in between. Lindy West’s sharp mind and writing genius had me hooked from start to finish. Have you watched Shrill, her previous book which was made into a movie? Head over the Hulu stat if you haven’t already!
Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison
And last but certainly not least, “Anti-Diet” by my colleague and friend, Christy Harrison. The incredible thing about Christy is that she is not only a dietitian but she is also a journalist. And she uses all of her skills in crafting what I believe is the most essential book to read in 2020.
Christy manages to write a comprehensive history of our dieting culture which sets the stage for deepening our understanding of the fraught and highly problematic dieting landscape we find ourselves in today. With sharp insight, Christy digs through mountains of research to make a case against dieting and spells out all of the insidious ways “diet culture” lives on and in us today. While most books are either cultural critique or self help book, Christy manages to do both. She masterfully paints a cultural narrative while also providing you with the concrete tools to create a different way of relating to food and your body. This book is essential reading.
Books on the Docket
Here’s what’s on my “to read” list in no particular order. For those paying close attention, you’ll see some repeats from 2018.
- Trauma Informed Approaches to Eating Disorders by Andrew Seubert NCC LMHC and Pam Virdi MEd RMN CPN
- Do Less and Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup
- Radical Compassion by Tara Brach
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk
- Handbook of Positive Body Image and Embodiment by Tracy Tylka and Niva Piran
- Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family by Ellyn Satter
- Joy at Work by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein
- Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
- The Brothers K by David James Duncan
- Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
To wrap up, I have three questions for you:
- What was the best book you read in 2019?
- What is on the top of your book list for 2020?
- Do you know anyone that might want to fund my sabbatical and by sabbatical I mean curling up in a cozy chair with all the books.
Head on over to Facebook and let me know!! Thanks in advance. 😉