I stumbled across a movie preview for The Tender Bar and it looked interesting so I grabbed the book by J.R. Moehringer before watching it (I just can't help myself, I just can't watch the movie first!)
I've become a big fan of memoirs and really liked this one. Some parts felt a little long and drawn out but at the same time the slow, detailed pace of it all was also what I loved about this book. I was wrapped up and engaged in the story the whole time, it was beautifully written. It was funny, touching, dysfunctional and heartwarming.
Ryan Holiday recommended Kate Bowler in one of his monthly reading list emails, so I picked up No Cure For Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear). I continue to enjoy memoirs and found myself speeding through this one and enjoying it. Bowler reminded me of a mix of Glennon Doyle and Rachel Held Evans. She has an interesting take on the world of self-help and positivity, calling it toxic. Her writing is refreshing and funny and a nice reminder that we all are simply - human.
I picked up Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman after learning about it in How to Raise an Adult. While not my favorite memoir, this had some good nuggets and was funny, honest, blunt and edgy with many risks taken by the author that ultimately I appreciated.
After continuing to hear how good it was, I picked up Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey and read it in a week. Even with the good reviews I was still skeptical about this one but man am I glad I read it. What a unique, well written, thought provoking and at times hilarious memoir. I loved everything about this book, and even if you're not a McConaughey fan, I'd give it a try.
I wanted to love The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper, but thought it was just okay. I've really been enjoying reading memoirs over the last few years, so maybe my expectations were too high and I think I was expecting something different from this. Overall I liked Harper's stories from the ER and some of her commentary about the nature of hospitals. But I was hoping to get more insight into her and read more about her personal story. For me that would have made this book more compelling.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle was my first introduction to this author. I really liked this book, it was compelling and had many highlight-worthy insights that I'm sure I'll return back to. This was intimate, honest, messy and hopeful. At times it felt a little preachy to me, but it was well written and her personal stories were interwoven nicely and I think I might have been feeling some of the immediacy and intensity of her words, which ultimately created an inspiring and incredibly empowering read. I put this book down feeling "zoomed out" - the world is messy - but the point isn't just to change that, the point is to pull deep down from your own soul and exist beautifully in it.
I started Searching For Sunday by the late Rachel Held Evans last year after learning about her through The Liturgists Podcast. It must've stopped feeling relevant to me, so I put it down but picked it up again recently and finished it. I'm glad I did, this was a good memoir about wrestling with organized religion and Evans' journey to ultimately rediscover her faith and find a place again in church. She realizes that none of it is clean and simple - it's messy and complicated, but that's sort of the point of it. Anyone who has been cynical about religion or wrestled with ideas of faith and community will connect with this one.
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.
Literacy is a prerequisite for freedom. Read deeply. Read what matters. Build a reading list. Don't take literacy for granted.