I can’t believe I have been enjoying writer Karen Marston’s monthly What I’ve Read column for a full year.

Why do I get so pumped about seeing what my friends are reading? Why do I badger people into updating their Goodreads? Why is Goodreads’ UX so painfully ugly?

We just don’t know.

What we do know is this: Karen is right. Reading is important for writing. And talking about reading is fun. She looks like she’s having a ton of fun doing it. So I’ll talk about reading, too.


What I Read in January

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J.K. Rowling | fiction: young adult, fantasy | iBook

I’m reading all the Harry Potter books again! I haven’t read them since middle school. It’s actually a big part of my New Years Resolutions: read all the books again (including in-universe and the new The Cursed Child, which I’m waiting to read at the end), watch all the movies again in between, and revisit the Wizarding World. And spend a shit ton of money there and drink so much butter beer I barf.

If bouts of nostalgia, laughter, and angry crying all before breakfast are your thing, you’ll love rereading it!

P.S. I just bought Fantastic Beasts in February during a trip to Asheville. I was going to just read it on my iPad but the hard copy is so beautiful my inner book-loving beast took over. It’s GORGEOUS.


2. Rejection Proof

Jia Jiang | nonfiction: self-improvement, business | Audible

Good lord the narration on this one was almost unbearable. My soul shrunk a little every time he pronounced “entrepreneur” in a too posh way. My first bad Audible narrator. Anyway.

The book was pretty good. I’m not about to go out and seek 100 straight days of rejection like this guy did, but it does put things in perspective and give you that nice happy feeling you get when you remember the whole human race is in this together.


3. The Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey | nonfiction: self-improvement, personal finance | Audible + iBook

Dave Ramsey is the funniest financial expert I’ve ever listened to. He’s also the only financial expert I’ve ever listened to, but my opinion still stands.

If you’re listening to this on Audible, be prepared to fartle yourself (find yourself so startled that you fart a little bit). This guy is animated and I LOVE IT.

Also, he’s a genius. It should be mandatory that every human reads this.


What I Read in February

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

J.K. Rowling | fiction: young adult, fantasy | iBook

What I loved: Learning about foreign wizards, finally seeing someone appreciate how great Hermione is (Victor Krum), the social commentary on house elves and human rights, Neville finding his passion, and the hilariously outlandish smear campaigns by Rita Skeeter.

What I didn’t love: Nothing. Don’t be ridiculous.


5. Sleep Smarter

Shawn Stevenson | nonfiction: self-improvement, health | Audible + iBook

My shit is out of control. I have a hard time with sleep in that for some reason I seem to need so much more of it than anyone else I know although I eat fairly well and exercise daily.

Shawn Stevenson is an incredibly enjoyable narrator and I felt how much he cared in his voice. He also gave me hope that it could be my sleep quality that needs adjusting, not the amount of sleep I’m getting. Which makes sense, but I honestly never knew it. It’s a fascinating read and I can’t wait to keep including more and more tips from it in my daily routine.


6. Sailor Song

Ken Kesey | fiction: literary | hard copy

Every year I “like to” (I do not like to) read a book that will take me literally whole months of my life to complete and that will feel like an uphill battle nearly the entire way. Last year it was Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins.

This year it was this son of a bitch. Oh, and what do they have in common? My brother gave them to me, so I’m starting to think he hates me. (Also, I saw a review comparing this era of Kesey’s writing to Tom Robbins and thought YES. I am not crazy.)

Or maybe he wants to expand my literary horizons. Whatever. Here is an actual conversation that really happened:

Taylor: Here, read this.
Me: Oh! Ken Kesey. [He wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.]

Taylor: Yeah! It’s good.
Me: Oh, you read it?
Taylor: No. But it’s probably good.

And then I read it like the dumb bitch I am. I mean it was good, so I’m not sure why I’m so angry. (Maybe because I didn’t know what I was getting into and the opportunity cost was reading many great books in the meantime?)

It was 3.5 stars good, but was it reeeally 540 pages good? It was not 540 pages good. I wish I was there when Kesey wrote this book so I could play that Oscars “wrap it up” music.


What I Read in March

7. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Amy Schumer | nonfiction: memoir, humor | Audible

I love Amy. I saw her live last year and it was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. I heard her new special wasn’t that great but do I give a shit? No. I’m gonna watch it anyway because I am one loyal bitch.

I’ve noticed there are no lukewarm opinions about Amy: people either love her or seriously, seriously hate her. Which I don’t understand. I did not particularly enjoy Jimmy Carr’s latest Netflix special but here is my strategy for coping with a comedian I don’t like: I shut the fuck up about it. It totally works!

I loved this book. It’s serious but in such a wonderful way. Dangerous and vulnerable territory for comedians and Amy does it beautifully.


8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

J.K. Rowling | fiction: young adult, fantasy | iBook

What I loved: Fred and George and their extraordinary exit; unexpected villains like Fudge and Umbridge and what they teach us about bullies/dictatorial authority figures; everything about Luna Lovegood; Neville, Ginny, and Luna getting in on the action; Ginny blossoming into a kick-ass young woman; and Sirius’s, Lupin’s, and Molly’s love for Harry.

What I didn’t love:

Do you get it? There’s nothing there.


9. The Bette Davis Club

Jane Lotter | fiction: chick lit | Audible

1/4 of the way in: what in the actual hell am I listening to.
1/2 of the way in: it is very terrible and ridiculous.
3/4 of the way in: I am pleasantly surprised.

I’m not normally a chick lit person but this one was fun. I really really did not like it in the beginning but somehow—and I can’t put my finger on why—it roped me in towards the end. I had a decently good time listening to it while working on some embroidery. The fascination with architectural salvage and all things vintage was fun.


10. The Microbiome Diet

Raphael Kellman | nonfiction: health, recipes | iBook

My physical therapist gave this one to me as homework and I’ve never been happier about homework. It was WONDERFUL. It’s all about gut health and mindful eating, which are finally getting the attention they deserve in the functional medicine world.

The recipes in here are some hearty shit. I’ve made 4 or 5 already and they’ve all been so gosh dang tasty and wholesome.


11. A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway | nonfiction: memoir, essays | Audible + hard copy

Don’t read while hungry. A portrait not just of Paris, but of the food, the expats, the work, and the adventures that made Hemingway’s time in Paris in the 20s so special.

It’s one of the most inspiring books on doing good work I’ve ever read and constantly left me with a craving to do good work. It also was a great lesson on being hungry and eating mindfully.


This Quarter In Numbers

# books read in January: 3
# books read in February: 3
# books read in March: 5
# books read this quarter: 11
# audiobooks: 6
# iBooks: 6
# hard copies: 2
# fiction: 6
# nonfiction: 5

I’ve read 11/31 books (35%) so far for my 2017 Goodreads challenge, which means I’m 4 books ahead of schedule. I’ll more likely hit 40 this year but only like to increase my yearly goal by 1 book per year because life gets nuts sometimes and you never know beforehand.


What I’m Reading Next

1. Words On the Move

John McWhorter | nonfiction: language | Audible + iBook

I’ve already started this one and I promise you it is the most fun a literary/language nerd can possibly have in her entire life. As much as slang usages of dope, lit, fire, and money make me cringe, John McWhorter proves that the type of change that brought about these youthful slang phrases is the exact same type of change that gave us Latin from French.

There is no legitimate language change vs. illegitimate language change. There’s only change—and trying to stop it is as pointless as urging the clouds to stay still.


2. Piercing the Darkness

Frank E. Peretti | fiction: fantasy, Christian fiction | hard copy

I may not be a Christian but I do pride myself on being open to all sorts of reading and to learning whatever I can about the religion most of my friends love and live by. One thing I love about these friendships is our mutual respect for each other’s spiritual beliefs, so when my best friend’s husband gave me this book to borrow I said, “On the list it goes, my fellow bookworm bitch.”

He says it’s about spiritual warfare which sounds cool as fuck no matter what you’re into, honestly.

I’m starting it tonight. I looked up the Goodreads description and this shit sounds NUTS so I can’t wait.


3. Wonder Women

Sam Maggs | nonfiction: history, biography, feminism | hard copy

Does reading about boss ass women not get you the hypest kind of hype? Ugh, women. We’re so great. And so are the men who support us. Can’t. Wait. I sell a lot of my hard copies to Mr. K’s once I’ve read them but I’m totally keeping this one to read to my daughter one day.

Also I just googled “books about cats” so expect to see that here soon. If we’re not careful my whole What I Read In Q2 of 2017 might be 10 books about cats, actually.


These Books Got Me Through Chronic Pain, A Friendship Breakup, and a Dead Cat

And I’m so grateful for that. The embroidery, amazing people I call friends, Dave Chappelle reruns, expensive scotch, new kitten, meditating, and running also didn’t hurt.

I feel good about what I read this month. Nothing too heavy except for this heavy ass corny truth I’m about to drop on you: Harry Potter did wonders for my soul through all this bullshit. It helped me the most.

What are YOU reading? Do you have a Goodreads? TELL. ME.