Reading has always been one of my strongest passions and my number one hobby since my earliest memories. The amount of time I have devoted to reading has ebbed and flowed over the years. My typical routine is to read non-fiction for fifteen to thirty minutes in the morning with my coffee and then fiction in bed right before sleeping. I rarely read non-fiction at night because I’m too tired to absorb facts or concepts. I also enjoy audiobooks – though I often get impatient with the pace – and listen to both non-fiction and fiction on my walks or in the car.
After Ashton was born in 2017, the quantity and quality of my fiction reading plummeted due to lack and time and sheer exhaustion. In the last year or so, I rekindled my love of reading for pleasure, particularly at night. This year, I set a few intentions for my reading life, but first I’ve rounded up what I read in 2022.
In 2022, I didn’t read a ton of new non-fiction. Or rather I didn’t finish reading as many non-fiction books as I have in past years. It was the year I finally gave myself permission to not finish a book if I didn’t love it or had taken what I needed from it. I used to be really rigid about finishing everything I started, but I accepted that I’d rather let a book go than waste precious time being bored by a book. I also started taking advantage of Audible’s return policy on books I just could not get into.
I purposely pulled back on purchasing and consuming as much non fiction as possible because I wanted to re-read several books that I felt were important and worth another look.
Author: Eric Jorgenson. Format: Hardback. Rating: A+. I had never heard of Naval Ravikant before picking up this book, but I stumbled upon the book via a social media recommendation. It was the first non-fiction book I read in 2022, and it was my favorite book of the year. I plan to re-read it again this year. The chapters are short, easy to process, and full of wisdom.
Author: Gino Wickman. Format: Paperback & Audible. Rating: A+. Re-read. As an entrepreneur, this book is always in my bag or in my book stack close by. I re-read it for the third time last year, and I think it’s the best book for small business owners I’ve read to date. I have both the Kindle version and the paperback version, and I prefer the paperback because I use it as a reference book and like to be able to easily flip to certain sections or my highlights. Wickman’s other Traction book – Get a Grip – is an anecdotal account of a fictitious software firm implementing EOS (entrepreneurial operating system) and how it affects their business and working relationships.
Author: Jean Stoffer. Format: Hardback. Rating: B+. I am a huge fan of Jean’s design work and have been following her on Instagram for several years. Her show on the Magnolia Network is a particular favorite of mine, so course, I was curious to read her book. This is not a design book at all and more of an autobiography with a sprinkling of design, business, and life advice. Jean is a devout Christian, so there is a religious bent to this book in case that sways you one way or another. I was interested to learn more about her story and how she evolved her business into the multi-faceted design powerhouse it is today.
Author: Max Lugavere. Format: Hardback. Rating: A-. I read the vast majority of this book after listening to the author on a podcast and being intrigued by his research. I think the best advice here is to focus on adding not subtracting from your diet in order to benefit your brain health. I was pleased to discover every food on his list is a favorite of mine, so their brain benefits are a great reason to eat them even more.
Author: Gino Wickman. Format: Hardback. Rating: A. Obviously I’m a big Gino Wickman fan. This book is the one that’s most appropriate for a general audience and would benefit anyone looking to improve their habits and life overall. It’s not solely for entrepreneurs or CEOs. This short read is also on my list to revisit this year as I attempt to implement some of the key habits.
Author: Gino Wickman. Format: Audible. Rating: A. This is a great book for any entrepreneur whether you plan to implement the strategies in Traction or not. Rocket Fuel explains the difference between a visionary (ie. a thinker) and an integrator (ie. a doer) and helps you understand where you fall on the spectrum of each. I lean visionary. While I can function as an integrator, I don’t enjoy it. It was so helpful to clarify that just because I can do certain roles in my work doesn’t mean that’s how my time is spent best.
I read several other non-fiction books last year that were either re-reads from previous years or that I didn’t finish. In the parenting genre, I started both The Family Firm by Emily Oster and Good Inside by Dr. Becky but have been taking my time to process the information and try some of the strategies. In the health category, I started a few books around intuitive eating and body image that I enjoyed but didn’t feel a strong urge to finish.
I give myself a solid B for my fiction reading in 2022. I did read a few quality books, but I didn’t push myself. There were many nights that I downloaded the first historical fiction WWII novel that Kindle Unlimited recommended to me and read it like consuming a bag of popcorn at the movie theater. That is to say completely mindlessly and as quickly as possible. But, often this was by design. As a morning person, I’m often burnt out by bedtime, and my brain is so fried that the thought of reading anything intense or intellectual is too overwhelming. I choose my books with the intention of escaping or traveling to another place or time, and in 2022, I wanted escape to be as easy to achieve as possible. The list below isn’t complete because I found a read a lot of books and couldn’t remember a single thing about them even after reading the description!
Author: JoJo Moyes. Format: Audible. Rating: A. This was my first listen of 2022, and I enjoyed it right up until the end. I was looking for a historical fiction novel not set in WWII. The narration was strong, and even though I felt one of the storylines was a little weak, I found myself invested in the characters and extending my walks and drives so I could get to the end.
Author: Brit Bennett. Format: Hardback. Rating: A. I knew that this book was very popular and highly acclaimed when I started it, and I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I found myself thinking about the story and the characters for a long time after I finished it, wondering what I would have done in similar circumstances. If you love or need a satisfying ending, I’m not sure this is the book for you.
Author: Stephanie Dray. Format: Paperback. Rating: A+. The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a weighty historical fiction novel set in France during different time periods and centers on the real life castle and true story of the Marquis de Lafayette and more importantly his wife Adrienne. Considering how important Lafayette was in American history (and that my best friend attended Lafayette College), I knew remarkably little of him or his story. I thought this book was incredibly rich with detail and history and couldn’t put it down especially at the end. I highly recommend it.
Author: Colleen Hoover. Format: Audible. Rating: B+. I’m torn on this book. I know it’s incredibly popular and a bestseller, and I did enjoy it. However, I found the sex scenes to be repetitive, boring, and perhaps a little gratuitous. Was it entertaining? Yes, it was. But, I found myself wishing I had read it rather than listened to it so I could have finished it more quickly and skimmed the passages I didn’t care for. This was my first experience with Colleen Hoover, and I’m not sure I’ll pick up any of her other books after this one. Should I give her another chance?
Author: Kelly Bowen. Format: Kindle. Rating: B+. I’ve read dozens of historical fiction novels with split timelines tied together by a common thread with a present day mystery that the protagonist untangles. The Paris Apartment fits neatly into that category. I do love stories of the French Resistance, and this one involved an art mystery to boot. I’d recommend it as a great example of the easy fiction I read at night to relax before falling asleep.
Author: Format: Paperback. Rating: A-. Light detective novels are not a genre I often gravitate to, but my mother had left this paper book for me to read when I visited. The series starts nearly a decade after WWI in London and centers on the heroine Maisie who has just launched her own agency. I had no idea that it was the first in a series when I started it, and enjoyed it so much that I stayed up past midnight one evening to finish it. I plan to continue the series this year. I found the characters intriguing, and I do love a good British drama.
North & South Trilogy
I first read the North & South Trilogy by John Jakes the summer between eighth and ninth grade. I spent that entire summer reading those three immense volumes, checked out from our small town library, along with the Kent Family Chronicles. It’s been thirty years, and I wanted to re-read them with a fresh perspective as an adult. They’re still massive. It took me months to read all three in succession – most of the spring in fact. The overall story was more shallow than I remembered or prefer as an adult, but I appreciated the refresher on American history. A Jakes’ novel is nothing if not well researched. It was fascinating to read the minutiae of presidential politics up to, during, and just after the Civil War, and to draw parallels to our present circumstances.
Author: Barbara Davis. Format: Kindle. Rating: B. The Keeper of Happy Endings is a historical fiction WWII novel with a past and present component. It could be predictable at times, but it was a quick read and overall entertaining. Reviewers on Amazon complain about some of the little mistakes throughout the book.
Author: Rhys Bowen. Format: Kindle. Rating: B+. Rhys Bowes is one of my go-to Kindle Unlimited authors, which you’ll see from this list. This was one of my more favorite WWII novels from her. I enjoyed the characters, the overall story, and the rich descriptions of Venice.
Author: Kathleen McGurl. Format: Kindle. Rating: B+. Historical fiction based in London with a past and present split plotline that involves the sinking of the Titanic. One of the better Kindle Unlimited books that I’ve read in this genre.
Author: Rhys Bowen. Format: Kindle. Rating: B+. A totally feel good historical fiction romance book that was ultimately predictable. I read this one in a couple of evenings.
My Reading Intentions for 2023
My reading intentions for 2023 are pretty simple. First, I want to prioritize reading non-fiction first thing every morning for 20-30 minutes and fiction in the evening for the same amount of time. I have started putting my phone away at 8:00 and keeping my Kindle close at hand. Instead of scrolling through Instagram when I have a free minute, I read a paragraph instead. I don’t have a set number of books I’d like to finish in 2023, but I’d like to keep pace at three to four books per month. This includes re-visiting books I’ve previously, which brings me to my second intention…
My second intention is to read for comprehension and to take action on what I read instead of reading for speed and consumption. I’ve been so guilty of this in the past, especially with non-fiction. I would devour book after book without putting any of the lessons into practice. This year I want to re-read some of the non-fiction books I read too quickly or listened to mindlessly in previous years with an aim to complete the exercises and truly internalize the information I find valuable.
My intention for my fiction reading life is to expand my boundaries into new-to-me authors and venture outside my safe space of historical fiction, particularly the Kindle Unlimited versions that are all so much the same and therefor forgettable. I’ll never be a reader of science fiction or fantasy, nor will I ever knowingly pick up a book that depicts any kind of violence against children or animals. I don’t want to read about gruesome topics. Our world is already so filled with negative imagery, news, and disturbing events that it’s not something I particularly want to read about for entertainment. I’d like to pick up some classics this year and read more American literature. I didn’t take any English or literature in college, so I’ve always felt like this is a gap I need to make up for.
I know I could be a little more adventurous and even a little more fun with my reading choices. I’m already practicing more spontaneity by randomly picking up books when out shopping or from the library without obsessing over how many stars they have on Amazon. My 2023 reading is off to a running start because of this practice, and I’ll be sharing what I’ve read so far in an upcoming post.
Do you actively think about what you choose to read and why? And, have you set any intentions for your reading this year? If so, I’d love to chat about them in the comments.