I was pretty thrilled three weeks ago when I noticed I was going to supercede my 2011 book tally. And sure enough, a little time left in the year I’d read, skimmed, and weaseled my way through 77 books.
Although I started the year with a goal to “Read 10 important books” – I didn’t. What I meant by important was books that advanced my knowledge in a particular subject matter. That is, I am always trying to get smarter in a few key areas: Christianity (Theology, as well as Practical Living), Sociology, (especially the basic ideas of power, structure, and the related area of social psychology), and what loosely translates to my own personal idea of the foundations of Western Thought and Philosophy – what some would term the Great Books.
But, what makes an Important Book, or a Good Read anyway?
Based on my capricious mood of the moment I’ve got a different answer for this all the time. When I’m feeling confident, I’m sure that it’s the book that will tip me over toward discovering how to change the world – unlocking some secret about people or structures of organization. Other times, I just want a solution to a nagging problem. When I just want to relax, it’s something that carries me away from the to-do list and the dishes. Many times, it’s simply because the author – whether or prose or nonfiction – has tapped into some rooted truth that I carry deep within me that I hadn’t been quite able to express so eloquently before.
One such nugget I just read this afternoon – “More education can help us only if it produces more wisdom.” – EF Schumacher.
But, what were my top goodreads of the year this year? Well, I’ll simply define them as the one’s that I spend the most time engaging with, remembering and returning to over and over.
Emotional Intelligence. by Daniel Goleman. The idea – you can be incredibly smart but have the emotional intelligence of teen and you won’t get far in life. This book presents a lot of research about regulating your emotions and basic psychology while presenting (only slightly dated) stories about current events. Lots of practical advice for parents, students, and anyone who’s ever lost their temper. This is an example of a book that I thought would help me unlock the secrets of how to change the world.
The Magicians (and the sequel The Magician Kings) by Lev Grossman. The plot, the whole idea of the thing was ripped from Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. However, once you accept that and step aside and stop comparing I found a lot to like. Quentin is a lot of us – he gets what he wants and he still isn’t satisfied. In the second book he has to work even harder to keep what he already has – and I think that’s the best part of the whole bit – you have to work at what you want and what you love, to get at the truth, and to truly understand it. This was a book where the central message really resonated with experience that I have had in life, and kept me mulling over the conclusion for quite a few weeks.
Organizing from the Inside Out. Julie Morgenstern. While I wasn’t the most unorganized person before (for starters, I have a compulsive habit of throwing away things I don’t use every couple seasons) – there was room for a lot of improvement in my home and house. I’m still working on it, but it honestly has streamlined my life a little more and provided me with more coping skills for dealing with a two room apartment housing three people. Recommend? I suppose so – but to each their own. This was a book that solved a problem I had… but it might not be the problem (or solution) that every needs for their organizing woes.
As for you – what were your top books of 2012?