5 Books To Kick Off Your 2018 Reading Resolution
I made a lot of goals for myself going into 2018, mostly because I noticed that I was feeling so anxious, exhausted, and just unenergized that it was really effecting my day-to-day life. From eating more vegetables to bringing back my workout routine that I had tossed aside due to too many stressful work days, I was ready for a total wellness overhaul.
One of my 2018 resolutions that I made was to read more books. I was obsessed with reading as a kid—I once read 4 books in one night and went right to school without sleeping. But as I've gotten older, I've noticed that I read things less and less. Sure, I read articles online and in magazines, but even then I was skimming things over and not really focusing on anything. That, quite frankly, is a trend I've been noticing in my life over the past year. I have had a hard time focusing on everything. Conversations, workouts, work, sleep—I wasn't giving things my full attention.
I could just meditate, but I figured that reading would be a great, more interesting form of meditation—a way to be quiet with myself for 30 minutes a day and focus on reading words on a page and processing them, and nothing else.
I have had the best time this January starting off my reading challenge. My first book was a thoughtful Christmas gift from my boyfriend Tim written by one of my favorite people, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, all about astrophysics. I know nothing about astrophysics, but this entry-level book is funny, informative, and explains the secrets of the universe without being snobby of going over my head. Here are a few more fun reads that I am excited to dive into this year.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
By Neil DeGrasse Tyson
This is the book I chose to start my 2018 reading challenge with. I went into the details a bit before, but I'm sure you may still be skeptical about how a book about astrophysics can be interesting in any way to someone who isn't an astrophysicist. Science was never my thing in school. It was interesting, but it required way too much math for me to ever pay too much attention to it. But I have always loved two scientific topics, ocean life and space. I remember going to the Hayden Planetarium (where Neil DeGrasse Tyson works) on field trips and being completely mesmerized by the star projections up in the sky. This book talks about the creation and secrets of the universe in a way that completely makes sense to me, someone with limited knowledge on the subject, without any sort of smarter-than-you tones that some books like this tend to give off. He even approaches the topics with some humor! (There is a fart joke that he makes in the beginning of the book that is both hilarious and completely relevant to astrophysics.) I don't think that I'll suddenly start devouring scientific reads after finishing this, but I am thoroughly enjoying it and after a stressful day at work it's nice to come home and read something that is completely different from anything I've done that day and fun to read. To pick up a copy for yourself, click here.
Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home
By Danielle Postel-Vinay
Before I get into what this book is about, you should know that I am reading an advanced copy and that it isn't officially for sale until March 18th. However, you can pre-order the book here and join me in learning about how to make your home a bit more French when the book releases.
I am obsessed with all things French, and I always have been. I know it is super "on trend" right now and it makes me sound like a total poser, but the French just seem to live simpler, fuller, more care-free and fun lives, and any time there is an article about French beauty tips or how they style their closets for the winter, you know I am reading it at least twice. That's why Home Sweet Maison seemed so interesting to me. Instead of being about the French diet or how they dress or what color red lipstick perfectly matches a black beret, this book is all about how the French make their houses into homes. As I've gotten older, my living space has grown increasingly more important to me. It's where I come to rest after a long day, seek comfort, and enjoy "me" time. I'm interested in learning about how the author, an American who married a Parisian, believes a French-inspired home should feel. According to the back of the book, a home should "be a reflection of you, your hobbies, your family history, your traditions, all the things that make your life unique." That makes it sound like the book will be more about the French way of life and less about French people preferring one particular kind of home decor to another (which, granted, I still find interesting, but I could get that in an article. I'd prefer a book to have more substance). I think the last sentence of the book description describes it's intentions perfectly and makes me want to start reading it right this second. "Home Sweet Maison encapsulates the very heart of the French way of seeing the world: set the table formally, adhere to all the conventions of ritual and tradition, then take pleasure in indulgence." Very French, indeed!
Yes, I am late to the hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) bandwagon. This term really started gaining popularity in 2016, but I didn't consider reading the book until recently for whatever reason. If you type "Little Book of Hygge" into Instagram, you'll see thousands of pictures of this book's loyal fans posing their copies with fireplaces and tea cups. Why is that? Well, this book is written by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and it is all about the Danish word hygge, which is more of a way of life than a word. According to the back of the book, the word translates to "a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. You know hygge when you feel it." The book is all about how the Danish incorporate hygge into their lives and how they are happier for it, and I think that for a resolution that requires reading for more focus and happiness, this seems like the perfect fit and I am super excited to read it! Everything I know about hygge comes from articles I've read since the book's release in 2016, and they describe hygge as taking some time, either every day or once a week, do just be comfortable and cozy in your home. That could be reading a book under some fluffy blankets, making a delicious comfort food, or sitting with a cup of tea. The goal is to restore your mental health and happiness by doing something that genuinely makes you calm and happy, and I could definitely use a bit more of that in my life. To pick up a copy for yourself, click here.
Are you noticing a trend here? Wiking's first book on hygge did so well that he followed it up with another book on happiness, The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World's Happiest People. Here, he sees how the Danish word lykke (pronounced loo-ka), which means happiness, is embraced all over the world, essentially seeing how the happiest people in the world live and boiling it down to some key takeaways that we can all use in our lives. "From how we spend our precious time to how we relate to our neighbors and cook dinner," the back of the book reads, "he gathers evidence, stories, and tips from the very happiest corners of the planet." I am intrigued about how different countries quantify happiness, and not only do I think it will be nice to learn a bit about managing my "me" time, I also think that this is a great, creative way to learn about other cultures. Plus, this book and The Little Book of Hygge will make great matching coffee table books when I'm done reading them! For your own copy, you can buy the book here.
The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood
By Kathryn Aalto
Now, I originally picked up the book from the freebie table at my old job because the cover was adorable and I thought it would be a cute coffee table book. But after seeing Goodbye Christopher Robin, I was so moved by the story of Winnie-the-Pooh and A.A. Milne that I wanted to learn more, so I've decided to add this book to my reading list. It is a large and heavy book, probably intended more for the coffee table than for reading, but once you open it, you'll never want to close it. Inside there are pictures of the forest that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood right alongside drawings from A.A. Milne's classic children's books, really drawing the connection between the story books and the place that started it all. Weaved into the photos are descriptions of these iconic locations, background information on why A.A. Milne was so inspired by them, and anything else you've ever wanted to know about Pooh and his friends. I think this will be a fun read for anyone who ever read Winnie the Pooh, watched the Disney movies, or has an interest in A.A. Milne, but I highly recommend watching Goodbye Christopher Robin before reading, so you can go into reading the book with a little more knowledge on how the Hundred Acre Wood came to be. You can buy your own copy of the book here or rent the movie here.
These aren't the only books that I'll be reading this year—I hope to read a lot more!—but this is where I am going to start. Stay tuned for an updated list in a few months of all the books I hope to read once I get through these fun reads!