My Year in Review with Books 2022

I’m that person that has several books started at once, and for the most part, I do finish them but there are a few out there that are left mid-sentence. Interestingly, I’ve never set a reading goal so when I saw that Good Reads made it easy to set up a Reading Challenge, I decided to give it a try.

I went with twelve books, I thought — one book per month sounds doable. Well, I surpassed my goal by 3! And I’d love to share a bit more about them and my reading journey with them. I’ll chime in with what city I was in too 🙂 Enjoy

Most of my books were lovingly borrowed digitally through the Seattle Public Library using the Libby app.

Year Book by Seth Rogen

It was the start of the year, I was in Seattle but in transit between visiting family for the holidays in December. We were staying in Capitol Hill at our friend’s beautiful apartment, I think they were out of town so I just pretended I lived there for a bit enjoying this book snuggled up in their sunroom. Because my life was in constant movement and the holidays can always be a lot for me, I wanted something fun and light. I asked my sister (another avid reader) for any tips or recommendations and this was it. It was exactly that. I’m not a huge Seth Rogen fan, I’ve watched a handful of his movies and find them hilarious. I knew nothing about his past or childhood so all fun storytelling. I found myself laughing out loud more than once even retelling some jokes to David.

Fresh Banana Leaves by Jessica Hernandez PhD

After listening to this podcast on Getting Curious with JVN, I knew that I had to read this book. Not only because of a shared identity with Jessica (she is half-Salvadoran) but she is also based in the PNW and a professor at the University of Washington. She brings in an element to Indigenous Sciences that is genuine, authentic, and part of her rich culture. I learned so much about indigenous culture including my own lost identity around the indigenous communities of El Salvador.

The Highly Sensitive Person Elaine N Aron, PhD

As you’ll continue to see with the rest of my books, I love non-fiction. I love a book where I can self-identify (*clears throat* self-diagnose) and this was exactly this. I’m still in Seattle but right about to head to Mexico City. All my life, I’ve known I’m more “sensitive” but why? Or what is this? The most fascinating piece of this was connecting it through the lens of Vedic Psychology which I completed a teacher training mid-year and brought this topic up in my presentation (I’ll share more later). Highly recommend if you identify as a sensitive person or are just curious about what this means. I think the first sentence of this book started with something like, growing up people told you to stop crying or why are you crying so much  🙋🏽‍♀️

Breath by James Nestor

Now in Mexico City, this book keeps coming into my professional and personal life. I was in a meeting and someone brought this up, and prior to that, my good friend Haley was visiting us in December and talked about this book. I guess I’ll say it didn’t fit my personal aesthetic. It felt like the breathing version of Eat, Pray, Love for James (but I loved Eat, Pray, Love so again just not for me).

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Feeling like I’m finally in a groove in Mexico City, we found a non-Airbnb furnished apartment in Colonia Juarez. It was important to us to try to support local businesses and not lean on Airbnb so much. Pros and cons to both but there’s been a lot of controversy around how expats and digital nomads are pushing out CDMX residents because of home prices and Airbnb taking over family residents. Anyway, I digress, at this point I know I need some structure. I’m craving a routine and making simple meals at home. Atomic Habit was the perfect match for this allowing me to integrate simple (or atomic) habits into my daily life. Things like making my bed in the morning, a simple habit to start the day that allows me to feel like I’m already creating “good habits”. I think that was my favorite one, but there’s so much more!

Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

Ooooh! I think I was reading this one side by side with both Breath and Atomic Habit — my library loan kept expiring before I finished it and the wait list was always long. I wanted to savor this book anyway so I waited each time. Every line that O’Donohue offers is life-poetry. It makes me say hell fucking yes, thank you for reading my soul and putting words to experiences that are so hard to capture. You know how people have bibles next to their beds? I think this would be my version.

You Were Born For This by Chani Nicholas

Yup, I love astrology. I always have, even as a teenager when I read my Taurus horoscope in the back of magazines. But then I grew up and I got natal and transient chart readings and it got even better! Shari Z. is my go-to astrologer and I’ve already learned so much from her but I decided to check out Chani’s version. Highly recommend it if you’re curious or a beginner to all this, I do wish there was a 2.0 version though for where I’m currently at in understanding astrology.

Love That Story by Jonathan VanNess

It’s the end of July, can you believe I’m back in Seattle now? The second half of my Mexico journey (5 months this time, a total of 7.5 months, is now over) and fast-forward conversations around planning and what’s next — I’m spending 2 weeks with my sister before I’m off on a solo-Seattle journey. All to say, I borrowed this book from my sister since she recommended the first JVN book. I did the audio version of his first book and I’m thinking I need to listen to book 2. While I loved all these stories, it’s just missing his oomph that comes through in his voice.

Becoming the One by Sheleana Aiyan

It’s August and the start of my one-month solo journey in Seattle, read more about that here. I rented the most adorable Airbnb in Victory Heights (northern Seattle near Northgate). It’s a studio unit of a family home and to my surprise, they happen to be away almost for my entire time there! My good friend Haley started this book and suggested we partner-read it and support each other. Contrary to what this title eludes to, Becoming the One is about centering yourself in relationships. Instead of striving or fixing someone else or expecting the fairytell ending, Aiyan provides frameworks, theories, and tools to begin to embody self-love. This book was such a good reminder to come home to myself. I’ve learned some of this ideology through Vedic Psychology, you can read some of my experience here and here. Sheleana’s ability to describe and create something intangible — tangible is a testament to how she embodies these practices and ways of conscious relationship.

What We Say Matters by Judith Hanson Lasater

Back in July, I completed a Non-Violent Communication course with Judith Hanson Lasater. I didn’t purchase the book then because the new edition came out on August 9th so I held off until then to purchase the book. I still haven’t fully completed this book but it’s been such a good adjunct to what I learned and all my notes from the course. The NVC framework is so beautiful and succinct for anyone to understand their own feelings and needs and therefore begin to understand the feelings and needs of others. It all starts with empathy towards ourselves. Something we are not taught how to practice, do or live.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Now it’s September and I’m in Michigan. Part of the journey of figuring out “what’s next” is pausing/living in David’s parent’s home. I picked up this book partly for research in writing my own book, it’s also based in Mexico, and felt fitting after living there and I also wanted something different. I need a break from all that non-fiction I’ve been reading at this point. I loved the imagery Isabel creates! This one is spooky but I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up one night until midnight or later just reading the beauty of this book.

Big Magic (2nd time re-listening) by Elizabeth Gilbert

The first time I listened to this was probably in 2017 or ‘18. Recommended by my dear friend Jenny at the time, I was on the cusp of trying to live an authentic life outside structured lines. Elizabeth Gilbert sums this up as “creative living.” When I listen to E.G, it feels like this loving aunt figure or maybe like cool-aunt vibes that just gets it. I love listening to audiobooks like this when I’m getting ready in the morning. This time around, while living temporarily in Michigan, it sort of gave me this boost of energy to keep going, that creative living is going to change. I’m at a point where I want to write more and eventually publish my own book, and so I question — how can I resist the scarcity mindset around time, money, and thinking that work needs to directly be tied to passion?

The Necessity of Wildfire by Caitlin Scarano

I was looking at taking Caitlin’s poetry course on Writers.com. Another one of my things, aside from reading too many books at once, is taking too many courses and trainings. This may be a resolution for me next year as a try to save for a future home. So, I took a pause and said no, not right now for this course. Hopefully later. I still decided to read Caitlin’s poetry book. Depthful (is that a word lol). Painful. Empowering. Storytelling our pain is healing.

No one is talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (still in progress)

This year, in July, I became a meeting leader for AVeryImportantMeeting.com, a mindfulness and writing community. Calling in this year “I’m a writer” showed me that when I ask for something, the Universe will immediately give me validation without me even searching or trying. All to say that this book was from a recommendation of a fellow writer/attendee. I love/hate this book. Each time, I realize that I’m not in the right mindset when I read it. Meaning that Patricia has this huge metaphor and imaginative way of depicting what we’re facing digitally, what she calls “the portal.” When I’m able to wrap my brain around her parallels and choice of words, this book makes me laugh and question our current modern life. By the way, it’s October and I’m somehow back in Seattle. Have you followed how many times I’ve moved, and packed up those 2 suitcases that have been my life for 13.25 months?

Radical Friendship by Kate Johnson (still in progress)

Ok so at this point, I’ve now gone and left Seattle 3 times this year. This time it’s my last time here.

Fast forward to life decisions and conversations, and I’m officially in Chicago as of November. Right before I leave Seattle, Radical Friendship becomes available on Libby (finally! I think I waited like 4 months for this). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it felt important for me to read about “friendship” knowing that I’ve made some incredible friends in Seattle and I want to keep them around. So here I am reading Kate Johnson’s book and it’s actually an amazing intersection of mindfulness, meditation, equity, anti-racism, and making friends with yourself. More to come once I finish this.

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