Books I Read in 2015

I love reading posterPeople are shocked to learn that I read 156 books in 2015, an average of three per week. It’s part of my on-going goal to read 1000 books in ten years and educate myself along the way. I hit 890 on December 31, 2015, which leaves me with only two to read each week in 2016.

I began last year with a vacation where I read a book a day, 21 books in 20 days. Airports help. I flew stand-by and stayed in the airport for 11 hours, after being bumped twice. Luckily I don’t mind. I read three books before the plane left and one on the flight.

I read from many genres. I started the year with more fiction than usual but ended up reading about one-third fiction and two-thirds non-fiction, which includes health, food, self-development, writing, speaking, marketing, business and politics.

This year I discovered the Calgary Public Library’s amazing online offerings. Last I looked they had over 17,000 e-book titles. I created a wish list. Whenever I need a new book to read, I go to my wish list to see what’s available. (They carry a limited number of licenses for each book so you do need to wait sometimes.)

Before e-books, I would judiciously choose books for my trips, hoping I wouldn’t run out of reading material. With access to so many books online, I no longer worry about being caught without something to read.

Everyone wants to know about my favourite reads. Here are a few highlights from 2015:

Best fiction: Ragged Company, by Richard Wagamese, a heart-rending account of four homeless people whose lives change after a major event. I really felt their pains.

Other notable fiction titles: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I read a few Tom Robbins books, which are far out but entertaining: try Jitterbug Perfume. I enjoyed A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

On the non-fiction front: Two books by Mark Kurlansky entertained and educated me: Cod and Salt. I was amazed by the politics and history around these two basic foods.

Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg showed me a new way to approach writing. It’s on my personal library wish list. How to Lie with Statistics (a book that was already printed 24 times by 1954) proved enlightening and still relevant 60 years later!

Your Perfect Presentation by Bill Hoogstrop was the best book on presentation skills I read last year. (By the way, no presentation is perfect!) The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom were two of the best marketing books I read.

I also read a number of memoirs and biographies of famous and infamous people including Nikola Tesla, Jann Arden, Mark Twain, Willie Nelson, Susan Schmidt (an ex-polygamist), CS Lewis, Helen Keller, Barack Obama, Catherine the Great, Malala Yousafzai (Taliban shooting survivor) and Joni Mitchell.

I was touched by A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead, examining the lives and deaths of over 200 French women sentenced to Auschwitz during WWII. I was struck by the fact that the survivors suffered from multiple health issues after their release, proof of the importance of good nutrition or the harm caused by poor nutrition.

I learned about harem life from Daughter of Persia by Sattareh Farman Farmaian and about First Nations issues in Dancing with a Ghost, by Rupert Ross. I read Quiet by Susan Cain, a fascinating look at introverts and how they don’t get as much respect as extroverts. (By the way, Cain’s TED talk is among the top viewed talks.)

I read a number of books on conquering procrastination and I plan to get around to implementing what I learned sometime later this year! LOL!

Sadly, I gave up my book club. I was unable to attend the first five meetings this season so I bowed out. I will miss the variety they provided to my reading list and the rich discussions we enjoyed.

Reading books has given me an education beyond my expectations. I am a better writer and speaker because of all this “training”.

I realize that three books a week is impossible for most people. I’ve so enjoyed my reading journey that I urge people to read more books, even if it’s one per month. It’s not so hard if you make reading a priority. Watch less TV. Carry a book wherever you go. Embrace online technology.

With regularly scheduled reading time, I promise, you’ll become a faster reader and your life will be enriched beyond your expectations. Happy reading!

I’d like to know what your favourite books are so I can add them to my to-read list.

2 thoughts on “Books I Read in 2015

  1. Wow! that is shocking. . . that you can power through all those books. I find, when I read for pleasure, I actually read quite slowly. While I will put speed reading skills into action for work-related reading, I don’t do anything remotely close to speed when I read for pleasure, preferring instead to ponder the meaning of every sentence; relish in lines that I find particularly eloquent, and paint my visual picture, one painstaking stroke at a time.
    Your comment on book club was also interesting. I have avoided them because I am moody about what I read and when. Lately, I have been completely off of ‘downers’. There’s a group at the Penhold Library which I hear is pretty darn relaxed; no one takes offense if you don’t read the book cover to cover, or even if you choose not to read it at all. After multiple opportunities, I think I may have found a book club that is just my speed.
    Thanks for the good read, Shell.

    • There are some books that I take my time reading. Good luck with the book club. (My club fell into reading downers at one point. One of the members’ sons commented that if a book was depressing it would be perfect for his mom’s book club. After that she chose the “100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window” just to prove we could read something “up”!) The key to a good book club is “no pressure.” Some books simply don’t suit; abandoning them is the only sane choice!

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