I actually started Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl last year and just got around to finishing it. This book can be found on many must-read lists, and I wanted to be sure to read this one after reading The Choice, which was probably the best book I read last year (and an especially humbling read during the pandemic).
Frankl talks about his time in Nazi concentration camps and his exploration into what truly drives humans, which isn't pleasure, but meaning. Most people will be inspired by reading this book, it certainly stands the test of time.
After reading the book about President Biden, I figured I'd follow it up and learn more about VP Kamala Harris by reading her memoir The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. I also didn't know much about her so this was super informative.
This book came out before the 2020 election, and maybe because of that, much of it felt a little like a stump speech to me. I didn't mind too much though and I enjoyed this quick read.
I've spent the last 3-4 months reading about 3 books on and off and not finishing any of them. When Barack Obama's book A Promised Land released in November, I grabbed it and finally finished a book to wrap up 2020.
I loved this book and am so glad I took the time to read it (it was long, for me at least). This is the first volume of I think a two-part memoir by the former President. It was a beautifully written account of Obama's journey from his beginning interests in politics through his first term as President.
Obama is reflective and introspective, offering an intimate, 'day-in-the-life' view of the Presidency. His story is accessible, inspiring, funny and informative and is a great historical recount of his time in office and I look forward to reading part two.
It was hard not to grab Alex Trebek's memoir The Answer Is... - at the very least I was interested in some behind the scenes look at Jeopardy! I was pleasantly surprised, by the end of the book I felt like I knew Alex and wanted to give him a big hug. He came across so endearing, just a good guy. He didn't "tell all" and he didn't write in beautiful prose, but he warned everyone in the intro that he wasn't going to do either. What came after were some interesting stories and insights, some behind the scenes about the game show industry and Jeopardy! and a closer look at the personality and life of Alex Trebek, a beloved TV personality who (unfortunately) we will see leave us soon. If you've ever enjoyed catching Jeopardy! from time to time, this is worth the read.
I heard a lot of positive chatter about I'm Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown and I wasn't disappointed. Brown wrote a beautiful memoir that offers a powerful perspective on race and sheds light on racial injustice and inequality. I went through all the emotions while reading this one, I couldn't put it down, I'm so thankful Brown wrote this.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by a policeman who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes, which gave new vigor to the Black Lives Matter movement across the globe, more people than ever now outraged and joining together for change.
This sparked me to do some important reading on this topic. I quickly read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World And Me. It was a quick read and quite eye opening. I've read Coates' work before and have enjoyed his insight and the same goes for this memoir and letter to his son who was 15 at the time he wrote this to him.
It's incredible how different my world is from that of Coates and his family, how different my life is because I was born to white middle class parents. It's sometimes embarrassing for me to think how I was born into such privilege, but then I slap myself for being embarrassed because that's me again, being privileged, and this isn't about me and it's not about my own self improvement. It's about listening and understanding those who have been suppressed and discriminated against for so long and speaking out against racism and injustice at the right time and place and in the right way. It's about doing the work and helping make this an everybody issue and not a black issue. I'm glad I read this and I'll read more.
I read The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger and really liked it. It was interesting to read this in the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it sure helped put things into perspective a little.
This is Eger's story of her survival of Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. It's more than just a memoir though. She not only tells her own story, she uses it to reveal how everyone can find inner strength and meaning in their life.
I'm so thankful that Eger wrote this story. This is going to sound selfish, but I was a little worried about reading a book about the Holocaust and it being too hard for me to read or making me feel too depressed about the human race. I'm all for learning from the past and reading the hard things, but I wasn't sure I wanted to be weeping alone in my room, stuck in my house in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. But Eger surprised me. I was so sucked into her story, her ability to overcome challenges unknown to most and her ability to continue to help people after her losing her childhood to the war. It was an inspiring read.
All That You Leave Behind is a memoir by documentary filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, daughter of the late New York Times columnist David Carr. This is a raw, well written memoir that starts with David Carr's untimely death and somersaults into a story about grief, alcoholism, drugs and the often dysfunctional but intensely loving relationship between Erin and her dad.
I couldn't put this one down. It reminded me of how I felt when I read Educated.
My brain wanted this to end differently - I wanted Erin to dive further into some of the questions she had about her life and how her relationship with her father was dysfunctional. Many reviews tout all the great advice David Carr gave to Erin and how they want to give the same advice to their own kids, but I was more interested in the too-close relationship and how that affected both Erin and David. But this was her story to tell, not my interpretation of it, and it was still a book I really enjoyed reading. I'll probably now read David Carr's memoir The Night of the Gun.
I picked up Comedy Sex God by comedian Pete Holmes after he promoted it on a podcast and was recommended by my favorite person to get book recommendations from, Ryan Holiday.
I liked this book more than I thought I would, and Holmes surprised me with his insightful look into spirituality and religion. I had no idea this book would help me continue down my religion rabbit hole I took last year (see my book reviews from summer of 2018). I'm glad I read this.
Holmes grew up an Evangelical Christian, and tells his story about this upbringing, getting into comedy, falling out of religion and then ending up finding God again just through a different lens. His story is very relatable. I hadn't seen any of his comedy work or shows, but once I read this I watched his latest stand up special and enjoyed it more because I felt I knew him.
I probably would've laughed more at the book if I knew about his comedy beforehand, but because I resonated with the religious content, I was hooked. His podcast You Made it Weird is also great. If it doesn't resonate, I'd suggest reading the book first.
I read Educated by Tara Westover book in a week (which is fast for me, at least at this point in my life). This was an excellent memoir, I could not put it down.
It was horrifying and beautiful, it reminded me of The Glass Castle. Tara recounts her life living with a survivalist family, her dad convinced that his kids getting a public education would be detrimental.
This was well written and even though Tara's life seems unique, the impact family has on an individual is not. It's also an interesting look at how education can be taken for granted, when juxtaposed with Tara's extreme circumstances. Her story is truly amazing.
Literacy is a prerequisite for freedom. Read deeply. Read what matters. Build a reading list. Don't take literacy for granted.