the top ten

I’m following my friend Sarah’s lead and sharing my favourite books from 2012. As a result of getting a Kindle for my birthday and committing to reading one book a week (#24 on my list), I’m quite sure I’ve read more this past year than any other. And. it. has. been. so. good.

Most Favourite

The Happiness ProjectGretchen Rubin

I’ve already shared a little bit about this book. It’s a wonderful mix of research, reflection and inspiration on a topic of great importance: happiness! I often find quotes from Rubin floating around my head during the day and the best point I took away from the book is to be me.

Most ‘Should Be Read by Everyone’

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself Harriet Ann Jacobs

This book would also take out the ‘Most Gripping’, ‘Most Inspiring’ and ‘Most Thought Provoking’ category if I didn’t put it in here. Wow. Jacobs provides incredible personal insight into slavery in the US in the 1800s, sharing her own story as a young slave girl and detailing the most degrading, horrible practice. It was deeply moving.

Most Fascinating

(Note: 2012 saw me particularly intrigued by Mormonism and Neuroplasticity!)

Under the Banner of HeavenJon Krakauer

Krakauer’s book is the true story of a chilling murder by Mormon fundamentalists. Rather than just explore the murders though, the book weaves together a fascinating look at Mormon history through personal accounts, interviews and historical research.

Becoming Sister Wives Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown

I’ve been fascinated by the polygamous communities I’ve come in contact with here in Kenya, and just as fascinated by this account of a polygamous Mormon family in the States. What was most fascinating was reading the women share how they believed it was the right way to live, even as they were so open about the incredible struggles and challenges polygamy presents.

The Woman Who Changed Her BrainBarbara Arrowsmith-Young

I started reading this book because my sister bought a copy to read on the flight home from our Sydney adventure. I probably wouldn’t usually choose it. But then I couldn’t put it down. An amazing story of a woman who overcame incredible learning difficulties through ‘brain exercises’ she developed herself, and has since gone on to establish a program to help thousands of people ‘change their brain’. Some of the science went a little bit over my head, but it was fascinating!

The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and rememberNicholas Carr

The Shallows takes some of the same research that came up in The Woman Who Changed Her Brain and related it to something we’re all very familiar with – using the internet. Again, the research was fascinating and Carr included interviews and his own personal reflections to question the way the internet is changing the very way our brains function. Thank you Sarah for the recommendation!

Most ‘I-didn’t-think-I’d-get-so-into-it’

Lazarus RisingJohn Howard

Though I can remember drawing a picture of Howard as part of a Grade Six assignment, I can’t say I was following Australian politics closely at the time. Lazarus Rising covers many of the big political issues of Howard’s time, with Howard’s personal reflections on the personalities, the policies and the leadership challenges. I have to say I learnt a lot reading this book, and was especially interested to read bits and pieces on many of today’s political personalities. I guess I tend to forget that politicians aren’t one hit wonders and have usually been on the scene a lot longer than we’d know.

Most Thought Provoking

Revolutionary RoadRichard Yates

I finally got round to reading this classic after ongoing recommendations from my husband. He knows how involved I get in books – I tend to soak up the mood, good or bad, so I do watch what I read – and warned me it could be depressing. But even though I read it quickly (it’s only short), I’ve spent much longer thinking it through.

Most Gripping

Son of Hamas Mosab Hassan Yousef

Again, I have to thank Sarah for the recommendation, so basically – what Sarah said.

Most Inspiring

UnbowedWangari Maathai

A great read upon arrival in Kenyan, as it is the memoir of Kenya’s first Nobel Prize Winner and an incredible environmental and political activist – Wangari Maathai. Inspiring and eye-opening, this book also gave great context to different issues here in Nairobi.

There we go! Any books I should add to my ‘Must Read List’ in 2013?


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