Final Book List for 2022

One of my goals this year was to write a monthly post detailing the books I finished. Since the last book post from May 2022, I haven’t kept up with this goal! A main reason for this is that I really did not get through many books between traveling and delving back into podcasts for the entirety of the summer. I don’t know about you, but I tend to go in waves of books-books-books, then I take a break and jump back into podcasts for a while, and then back to books!

Since we are coming up on the end of 2022, I figured I would compile the remaining books into one post. I’d love to hear what your favorite book recommendations are for the year, too!

I have seen a number of Brene Brown’s talks online and heard interviews with her. I chose this book to start with because I was feeling lost in how I was handling the challenges of young children. I am still pretty lost, but books like this one help me to step back and examine how my own upbringing shapes my parenting style without my realizing it. It definitely made me stop and re-think how I do things and how my kids perceive my actions and words. This is one of those books that will be valuable to return to at different ages/stages of my children’s lives.

Brene Brown’s “Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto” – image from Etsy

Years into my health and fitness journey, I am still learning! I love books, podcasts, and videos about all things health and nutrition. I first heard of this book’s author on a Jay Shetty interview, and I dived right into his book thereafter! It is packed full of evidence-based information about nutrition and health, and I have since incorporated much of what I learned into my daily life. Stevenson is also the author of “Sleep Smarter” which I will likely read one of these days, but since I already go to sleep early and know about good sleep hygiene practices (but don’t always practice them!), I didn’t find it personally as urgent as this book was for me. My health journey has been through many ups and downs over the years which I will detail in another post, but books like this one help me realign. I also recommend Stevenson’s podcast The Model Health Show! He conducts awesome interviews on a vast array of health topics.

This was another book I had been hearing about on various podcasts over the summer, and though I already think I have created pretty good habits, I know I can always learn more and do better. This is a quick book to get through, and the audio was enjoyable and easy to listen to. I found it fascinating how the author details stories of how people or groups of people went from mediocre, or even failures, to huge successes simply by making minor but consistent tweaks in their daily practices. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in achieving a goal, no matter how big or small!

Switching gears now from self-help to fiction, I chose this book because it’s written by a South Asian author and also featured on Reese’s Book Club. I feel it was a well-written novel, but it was so very sad. What’s sadder is knowing that these issues of religious conflict and the lack of true women’s rights continue to plague India. We typically hear major news stories regarding religious conflicts, but this was a more intimate look at how such conflicts affect everyday people’s lives to the point of ruin. The vast majority of those stories go untold, and therefore no justice is served. It also examines how deeply ingrained beliefs about women’s inferiority are in India, but it points out that it really isn’t a far cry from what women experience in more “modern” societies like the U.S. I think this is a worthwhile book to read, but I think I just needed something more lighthearted at the time.

Another book written by a South Asian author, this book was an imagined epic back story to another well-known epic, the Ramayana! I am usually not a fan of mythology much; I could never keep all of the Roman and Greek gods straight! That is one major reason I have not yet read ‘Circe,’ though I hear it is worth the time even if you hate mythology. However, since I am somewhat familiar with Hindu mythology, I was drawn into “Kaikeyi.” Kaikeyi was the step-mother of Lord Ram, and this story tells her tale of how she partly shaped Ram’s story how she has been misunderstood. It reminds me of how “Wicked” gives the back story to the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz, and the audience feels a kinship with her by the end of it. This book was gorgeously written and weaves in threads of feminism into an otherwise patriarchal tale. I have to admit that it took me some time before I became invested in this book, but once I finally figured out her connection to Ram (and to the evil Ravana who is portrayed brilliantly in this book), I was hooked. This is a must read!

I listened to this audiobook for a book club. It is the autobiography of Jarvis Masters, a man who became Buddhist on death row. An Oprah Book Club pick, I knew it would be deeply moving. However, I was honestly disappointed not by the story of Masters’ life, but by the lack of details about how he became Buddhist. Most of the book detailed his childhood and early years in the foster care and prison system. As expected, it was just heartbreaking to think that so many children like Masters exist. It is no wonder that they end up in the prison system because of their lack of exposure to opportunity or stable upbringings. That part of his story is crucial for readers who may not be familiar with how marginalized children become institutionalized adults. I do wish he offered a much more detailed account of how he was introduced to Buddhism, his meeting with the influential monk that affected him so deeply, and his daily practices as a prisoner that helped steady his mind while being on death row. It was truly amazing, though, to hear how he transcended the baser sensations of anger and rage to learn to see the larger suffering impacting all human beings. All in all this was a moving and powerful book, but I just wanted more details about Masters’ newfound spiritual life.

I read this book at the beach with my family and COULD NOT put it down. Sorry kids for the book cover, but I read this at the recommendation of a friend and am so glad I did! It was a perfect mix of beach read plus notes of more serious themes such as childhood trauma and addiction. I found the writing to be so witty and sharp! I especially loved the main character Eva’s daughter Audre, a beyond-her-years emotionally intelligent pre-teen. I loved everything about this book, and though it is technically a romance which I am typically not into, it was so much *more* than basic romance. The romantic scenes were quite steamy and not cringey at all. If you need a great vacation or escape read, this is the one!

Speaking of great vacation books, here is another one! I don’t think I was actually on vacation when I read this, but I sure felt like I was. It was another fun but smart novel about two best friends and their summer trips over the years. I love the witty banter between them, and I am always impressed by authors who create such depth of relationship between the characters. I loved the tension that is built with each successive chapter. Another romance novel, this book also had plenty of steam, but it was also a very sweet book about friendship and personal growth. I hope I can find another book like this for the beach next year!

The last two books I am working on before the end of the year are:

Celeste Ng is the author of “Little Fires Everywhere” which I absolutely LOVED and “Everything I Never Told You.” I enjoyed “Little Fires Everywhere” as one of my favorite books of all time, and the Hulu series was so well-done. I was not as big a fan of “Everything I Never Told You,” though. It was a good book, but I was so saddened by the ending. I am about halfway though “Our Missing Hearts” and very much enraptured by it. It is set in a dystopian U.S. society (which scarily almost could be reality in a short while) and offers much needed criticism of over-the-top patriotism and nationalism. It also highlights anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. and how, like any other kind of racism people have faced all throughout history, it can easily be accepted into the folds of a society’s psyche as long as it is a disguise for protecting the people (a.k.a. the people who really matter to those in power). I am so interested to see how the book ends!

“Essentialism” is another self-help category book that I have been hearing about from multiple different sources, so I know something is telling me I need to hear it in full! December is a tough time to delve into minimalistic thinking, but on the other hand, it may be the perfect time to start practicing more minimalism and essentialism because it can be all too easy to get caught up in the consumerism of the holidays. I am just a few chapters into this book and already loving how its principles can be applied to both the personal and professional aspects of our lives. I am sure I will learn and change a lot after finishing this book!

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