The Books I Recommend More Than Any Others

For a while now, I have wanted to update my top ten list of books—actually a list of thirteen because ten is too few. This time, my list includes more than thirty books, some by the same author. I could narrow it down to ten, but I don’t want to and I didn’t even try. So, this isn’t really a top ten. It’s not even a top thirty. More, it’s a list of the books I talk about the most. They’re the books I own multiple copies of, the books I buy for others. The books I insist my friends read. The books I recommend more than any others.

I hit on this particular theme while exploring ways to narrow the selection for this post. The next step was to step into my home library and peruse the shelves. I already knew some of the titles I’d be featuring, or some of the authors I’d like to include, but I have so many books (around 2000) that I wanted to bop along the shelves and see what was there. This is one of the reasons I keep a home library. I love visiting with my books. I’ll pause by a series or an author and reminisce for a while. Recall why this book or that series are favourites.

When I got to a book or an author I wanted to include in this post, I pulled the book out. I didn’t set a limit, I just pulled books from A-Z. I counted them when I got to the end, and when I discovered I had twenty-eight authors, I went back for two more books, deciding an even thirty sounded good.

I then divided the books into groups of ten, figuring I’d split the list into three.

I’ll be sharing the list alphabetically by author. Although I love some of these books just a little more than the rest, assume they all clock in at number one. They’re all amazing, fantastic, memorable reads, none more or less deserving than another, regardless of genre, author, or literary merit. They’re the books I adore.

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Tracking my reading using Notion

Last year, friend and fellow author, Jenna Kendricks, introduced me to Notion. I lost a few hours’ productivity figuring out how to use the deceptively easy tool—and I do mean deceptively easy. Notion is almost absurdly simple to use once you understand how it works. I also quickly figured out that while others’ templates served as a inspiration and instruction, designing my own was the way to go.

I now use Notion to track dozens of activities, including plotting and outlining my WIPs, marketing and promotion, tracking buy links and review quotes, brainstorming, jotting down ideas, keeping wishlists, and tracking my reading. What I love about it, and why I’m using it, comes down to two very simple ideas:

  1. Every page starts with organized data, so… a spreadsheet
  2. I can view this data in more ways than I need to; as a spreadsheet that’s fully sortable and searchable, as a list, a calendar, an Kanban board, or a simply as a page, meaning just one line of my spreadsheet can be expanded into a single sheet.
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Reporting from Mount TBR

Another year, another reading challenge! This year, I’ve decided once again to tackle my massive backlog of To Be Read titles. The two bookshelves housing my TBR pile have begun sneaking books onto the floor, and the piles from the floor have migrated to my dresser, nightstand, and desk. The approximate number of unread books in the house is close to 400—which is only about half the number of unread titles lurking in my digital libraries.

My plan is simple. Every month, I will sort the books in my digital libraries to the earliest date and send one to my e-reader. Then read it. Or make an attempt to. If I like it, I’ll mention it here, on my blog. If I don’t like it, I’ll delete it. Same goes for the physical books. I’ll pick one from the shelf and read it. If I like it, I’ll blog about it. If I don’t like it, I’ll tuck it into the library donation box.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for November was: a book debut author. Bryan Washington isn’t a debut author, but Memorial is his first novel, so I’ve decided it counts. Also, I really want to talk about it.

Memorial was my November Book of the Month Club selection, and I picked it because it reminded me of the beautiful movie, Lilting. I also really enjoy stories about people who wouldn’t choose to spend time together. This is that, twice over.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for September was: a book I wished I’d read in school. I’ve written before about books I’d like to see on high school reading lists. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, so I was determined to read something I really, really wished had been recommended back when I was in school.

When I researched current high school reading recommendations, I was pleasantly surprised to find a more diverse list than what I’d expected. Although there were titles I’d replace (ugh, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I both love and hate you), there were several exciting choices. I’d just about settled on The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela when a title farther down caught my eye—A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

I was born in Australia but attended high school in the United States. My knowledge of Australian history and culture, therefore, has gaps. I grabbed a copy of Alice from the Free Library of Philadelphia and started to read. Half an hour later, the app I use to read library books posted an alert: The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg was ready for me to borrow.

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