Best Reads of 2016

Best Reads of 2016

Winter is coming! Actually it’s already here, and there is really no better time to curl up by the fire and plow through some great books. Not all of these books were released this year but they have all been incredibly well received, with a winner of the Man Booker Prize, a National Book Award for Nonfiction, and two National Book Award Finalists among them. It’s a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, comedy and drama, historical and present-day. If you’re inclined to read these books, please purchase via my links below (yay, Amazon affiliate income). Get reading!   A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara “…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.” This was the most engrossing piece of fiction I read all year. 720 pages deep, it’s no quick read, but the depth and complexity of Yanagihara’s characters is simply breathtaking. It’s a heavy novel, filled with abuse, suffering, and pain, and without any real sense of redemption. However, the glimmers of beauty and sustenance seen in the friendships throughout the novel provide a compelling reminder that the company we choose is perhaps our best hope for salvation.   The Sellout by Paul Beatty “Sometimes I wish Darth Vader had been my father. I’d have been better off. I wouldn’t have a right hand, but I definitely wouldn’t have the burden of being black and constantly having to decide when and if I gave a shit about it. Plus, I’m left-handed.” If A Little Life was the most...
America the Great

America the Great

The 2016 presidential election has shaken me to my very core. To begin to express the magnitude of my personal grief, the last time I have felt an even remotely comparable range of shock reverberate throughout every fiber of my being was upon the discovery of my best friend’s homicide. The initial feeling was of utter denial. A complete inability to process the finality and reality of a horrific situation. Then followed a seemingly bottomless, gut-wrenching despair – sadness and grief. A heart so heavy and full of sorrow that it felt it could never be mended; returned to its original wholeness. This grief was soon transformed to anger – a fury so singular it could hope for nothing less than a complete karmic retribution for the cruelty and utter lack of empathy, humanity, and compassion of one senseless decision. Finally, the cycle resolved itself with an unwavering personal commitment to fight for a life filled with meaning, intention, and discovery. Before I get into the basis of my disbelief, sorrow, anger (however you may wish to categorize the collective grief) over the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, I feel obligated to explain how my personal belief system aligns with the current American political system. For starters, one of my favorite lines to explain away my experience growing up is “I had an unconventional childhood.” It has proved to be quite simply the easiest way to dismiss the reality of being the highly unlikely ‘successful’ offspring of a schizophrenic, absentee father and a borderline mother. I have no origin...
Summer Reads

Summer Reads

There’s no better time than the summer months to invest in a few quality books to enjoy poolside. Below are several books, both old and new, that I have most enjoyed. The list includes a mix of engrossing literary fiction, a bit on spiritual development, compelling non-fiction, and some great advice on how to be a ‘bad-ass bitch’ in life and work as doled out by NastyGal CEO, Sophia Amoruso.   The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle “Drop the negativity that your mind has created about the situation and that serves no purpose whatsover except to strengthen a false sense of self.” Every time my thoughts become too chaotic and incessant, I know it’s time to pick this up for another read. It’s one of the most straight-forward and powerful manuals for mental health and spiritual development.   Flash Boys by Michael Lewis “The world clings to its old mental picture of the stock market because it’s comforting; because it’s so hard to draw a picture of what has replaced it; and because the few people able to draw it for you have no interest in doing so.” Spoiler Alert: The stock market is rigged. This book will outrage you that Wall Street has once again managed to make prey of the American people following the 2008 crash of the global economy.   Freedom by Jonathan Franzen “There is, after all, a kind of happiness in unhappiness, if it’s the right unhappiness.”  No list of mine would be complete without including a piece of work by Jonathan Franzen. He’s a brilliant writer who manages time and again to...
Intention Setting for the New Year

Intention Setting for the New Year

It’s that time of the year again in which lengthy lists of New Year’s resolutions are scribbled in haste. Vowing for changes to be made, mistakes from the prior year not to be repeated. I personally am an opponent of these traditional, goal-oriented lists. Vowing to abide by a strict set of rules, created in the pursuit of perfection, is a sure fire way to set yourself up for disappointment and failure. Rather, this is the perfect time to slow down and collect your thoughts, reflect on accomplishments and blessings, and set your intention for the new year with a clear head and an open heart. Here are some of my suggestions for intention setting in a time of renewed optimism: 1) Be True to Yourself. Make sure your vision of the future is an actual reflection of YOUR highest aspirations. Don’t strive to replicate the life of someone else. You can be certain that a month or two after purchasing the luxury car your co-worker owns, or replicating the dream trip of a friend, you will have come no closer to finding the authenticity within yourself. Not a single one of us share the exact same dreams, hopes and fears. Your unique life experiences are what set you apart. 2) Seek to Understand the Purpose Behind your Goals. Rather than a vague resolution of hitting the gym four times a week, go deeper and seek to understand the motivation. Is it overall good health you’re after, the pursuit of a physical ideal, or are you simply looking to bring strength into your life? Whatever it may be, understanding why you...