At the end of last year I made a resolution: consume less, create more.
Almost every year since 2010, I have attempted to read a book a week. 52 books in 52 weeks. I never actually did it. Not once. But I enjoyed the challenge and I love to read. The trouble was I usually ended up reading really short books, or tons of classics (because they’re free on Kindle) and I felt a bit like I was reading because I had to, not because I wanted to.
So 2016 was the year that I was going to write more. I was going to let go of the pressure to read every single day and instead write every single day. I was going to read for enjoyment instead of competition. I was going to read epic novels and self-help books that taught me something.
And that’s exactly what I did. I chose books that I really wanted to read and that I knew would add value to the new life I was trying to create. This isn’t an extensive list of what I read in 2016, but it is the best of the bunch. These are books that made me get up and act. They are the books that had me highlighting lines, taking notes and reading them aloud to anyone that would listen (sorry, Luke).
If you’re looking for motivation to start your own business, travel more, move abroad, or even just to make small changes in your current life, all of these books have done that for me in some way.
The Way of Wanderlust by Don George
I think this might just be my favorite book of the year. It’s most definitely one of the best travel books I’ve ever read. It’s a collection of Don George’s favorite travel stories that he’s written over his long and successful career. It reminded me how much I love certain countries I’ve already visited and how much I want to visit those I’ve never set foot in. He just has this incredible way of making you feel like you’re right there with him.
Mother Tongue by Christine Gilbert
I loved it so much I actually just re-read it the other day. There were so many moments where Christine bared her emotions and I could truly relate. The feeling of isolation when you move to a foreign country, the disconnect from community when you’re constantly on the road, the difficulty learning a language. Christine has long been an inspiration to me and when she finally released this book I couldn’t wait to get a first hand look into the way that she travels with her ever-growing family. This book will make you want to travel the world and learn AT LEAST one new language next year.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. I’ve bookmarked certain stories that I come back to so often. I’m a long time Hemingway lover. His writing is what first made me want to be a writer. Reading this, I feel some sort of connection to him. The way he describes life as an expat in Europe, about being a writer, the way he talks about making just enough to live a happy life, because why would you want to work anymore than you need to? Mostly though, I just love how he describes Paris.
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
I love the honesty of this book. I think a piece of all of us is constantly trying to find more happiness. Even if we’re content with what we have, we wonder what we’re missing. This is a very funny account of Eric’s travels around the world trying to find out why certain countries are happier than others. The results are not what I was expecting at all.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book is so freaking beautiful. If you’re not following Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, I highly recommend doing it. This woman just knows how to inspire. Big Magic is like listening to your best friend tell you how to live a more creative life without making yourself feel guilty about it. She addresses the demons we all fight not just in our creative endeavors, but in our daily lives. There were times when I was like HOW DOES SHE KNOW THAT’S WHAT I’M THINKING?? Might go and re-read it right now.
Take Your Life Back by Leah Davis
I found Leah’s blog a couple of month’s ago and have been hooked since. She’s one kick-ass entrepreneur and her book will walk you through how to get started on a location independent life. There are interviews with people who are making six figures on the internet and tons of advice for how to do it yourself.
The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
This book had be laughing hysterically and also crying (I’m a BIG cryer when I read books). I really like reading about other people’s experiences moving abroad and trying to adjust to a new country and culture. This is no exception. Helen spends a year doing research on every facet of Danish life. It’s a truly fascinating read and makes me want to go back to Denmark and see it for myself (and move there because wow, what a great place).
Life Changes Quick by Johnny FD
Johnny is another online entrepreneur that I discovered this year. His book is super reasonable at only $5.99 so I bought it the other day. It’s a quick read and while I don’t totally align with Johnny’s thoughts on money, I do agree with a lot of what he talks about in this book. The first half of the book he talks about how he made his first $30,000 online. For me the most interesting and motivating thing was how he changed certain aspects of his personal life in order to motivate himself to work harder on his business. Johnny is a true inspiration and I definitely recommend checking out his blog as well as his book.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
I might be the only person in 2016 who hadn’t already read this book, but it came at the perfect time. As I was trying to figure out how to get my blogs off the ground, Tim’s words of wisdom and straight talking really got me motivated. This book really got my cogs turning and thinking about how to be a better businessperson (and how to work less while accomplishing more). The first half of the book is one of the most motivating things I’ve read this year (the second half talks about starting your business).
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
This year was also a year where I decided to focus on my health. This book, as you can probably guess from the title, is about eating meat (or not eating it). It goes into so much detail about the meat industry, factory farms, grass fed beef, ranches, the differences between the animals we buy at the supermarket now and the ones from 20 years ago. It’s a truly fascinating, eye-opening read that really convinced me to change the way that I eat. While I haven’t completely given up eating animals, I do consume way, way less than I ever have (about once a week). Same goes for dairy. I feel better, my skin looks better, I have more energy and I’ve even lost a bit of weight.
What were your favorite books of 2016? Let me know in the comments, I need to start my reading list for 2017!!
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