Favorite Reads of 2019

It’s always the first and last months of the year when the real reading momentum kicks in. In January 2019, I found myself devouring five books before the month was up. Despite best intentions, this momentum began to ebb as the months got warmer, my workload heavier, and my willingness to just sit and relax often felt at odds with my desire to get things done.

But just like the activity of walking around the city, I learned this year that reading is meditation for me. Sometimes I find it so easy to fall right into a book (like with The Silkworm, whew!), while other times, it takes real restraint to make myself stay seated and reading, ignoring the 64 “do not forget” notes my brain keeps interrupting the storyline with.

While I didn’t hit my reading goal this year, I did manage to shave down my in-house unread book collection from 130 to 90 books thanks to a jet lagged clear out session inspired by the question: Am I actually going to read this? Once I unburdened myself of the idea that I needed to read things just because they were famous/popular/historical, it felt so much easier to get rid of books I’d been carrying around for years. And I mean YEARS! I am currently reading a book I bought in 2009. That was 11 years and five moves ago! No book should be waiting in the wings for over a decade, they deserve better than that. So my quest to finish all my unread books continues and fingers crossed, by 2022 I will have completed it.

As we close the page on another year, here were some of my favorite books I read in 2019.

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3 Years of Pottery But Not a Mug in Sight: The Importance of Being a Beginner … Again

There is something deeply humbling about being a beginner as an adult. Covered from bangs to cuffed ratty jeans in clay, I’ve spent many a pottery class watching the vase I spent 45 minutes working on fly off the wheel in front of me or the glaze on a piece I loved coming out looking rather vomit-ish.

In 2015, I signed up for a wheel pottery class — something I’d never done before. Arriving the first day, it appeared I had hit upon a secret club of other 25-year-old ladies having quarter life crisis as we dawned aprons and spent hours hunched over our wheels waiting for our creations (or perhaps lives?) to take shape.

That first semester, my class included a girl named Laura who took to pottery like a YouTuber takes to a photo op against a wall of fake flowers. From the first class, Laura was making mugs that held their shape, graduating quickly to complex designs like tea pots and casserole dishes with lids while the rest of us stumbled along in the dark creating bowls without bottoms and vases that “purposely” leaned to one side. At 25, I was a beginner beginner again, something I hadn’t been in years. It was a humbling feeling, to say the least. But as I continued to pursue pottery over the next three years — showing up each week to cover myself in mud in the pursuit of making a mug — I realized just how important that feeling was to me.

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Is comparison always harmful?

^^ Photo from one of my favorite artists. ^^

For me, there is a fine, almost invisible, tripwire between admiration and jealously. Often times I don’t even know I’ve crossed between the two until I find myself muttering on the sidewalk such statements as “But she’s so cool and friendly and successful and focused, and I’m so … *waves arms in the air like a deranged mime or cat being forced into a bath.* When it comes to comparing my insides to other’s outsides, rarely do I come out on top. But after reading a recent piece from Inthefrow, I couldn’t help but wonder, is comparison always a bad thing?

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