Pursue What Matters
Episode 191: Book Review – Best Reads of 2022
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
It’s the end of another year, I hope you are taking some time to slow down, relax and play. And if you happen to be in the need of a great read, you are in the right place. I’m so excited to share some of my favorite reads of 2022.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:17
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So if you’ve listened too much to the podcast, you know, I am a total bibliophile. I love books. And I love reading. So reading has always been my first passion. As a young girl, reading was my favorite pastime, and it didn’t hurt that my grandmother was our county librarian. And so I was always well stocked with great books from the library. And hanging out at the library was pretty cool to me, when I was young, because I could help feed the fish, I could help take books in from the book bin, which was kind of a big deal. And so, you know, my love of my grandma is totally tied in with my love of reading. And so every time I pick up a new book, I have a little tug of my heart from my grandma, and I’m so grateful to her. And of course, my mother was always a great reader, for instilling in me, the love of reading, I came across several years ago, I don’t know who said it, so I apologize, I’m gonna, I’m gonna share one of those quotes. But basically, the sentiment was, readers are always content as long as they have a paper book paperback book with them. And my husband can probably attest to that, because I can, I can be a pretty good companion and I can, you know, go along and, and be with him as he does his thing. As long as I have a book. And I’m pretty content for hours on end. And so reading was my first passion as a young girl, and it continues to be my favorite pastime, it is something that I go to every single day, it’s, it’s a bad day, if I haven’t been able to at least spend a few minutes in a good book. But often, that’s what I’m doing in the evening. So I’m not a TV watcher or anything like that. And so reading is is how I integrate the day wind down and jump into another world. So as I consider the end of the year, and my hope that you can have some downtime, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads of 2022. So I think this might be a new tradition on the podcast at the end of every year, because let me tell you this, I don’t think there’s a better gift than sharing a great book recommendation. Now, you might not be a big reader. So you might not feel the same way. But I hope that you agree that a great book, referral is a good gift. And I hope that you also maybe find something on the list that captures your imagination, shifts your understanding of yourself or others and offers you an escape that is connecting. So every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead. We do that, but by leading with clarity, what matters. Where are you going? And why does it matter, leading with curiosity, which is all about cultivating self awareness, and leading and building a community. So strengthening our relations with others. And I’ve got to tell you, I really do think reading fits the hits that hits the mark on all of these. So when I think about my favorite books, and I have reviewed my list of books for 2022. You know, I read books that are purpose driven, I read books that bring me meaning that connect me to some of my most important values. And so a good book can absolutely help us lead with clarity, leading with curiosity. So that is really the essence of a reader. You’re curious, right? You’re curious about people in different times, different lands, different experiences than yours. And I remember that was one of the things I loved most as a young girl reading is I could jump into another world and learn about topics that I in my small, small rural town in Idaho, which that might be redundant. They’re mostly all small and rural town in Idaho, like I had absolutely no life experience with. And yet by reading a book, I could be curious and I could develop empathy and those connections actually helps me in my life because they brought perspective and then leading into Lina community right like you learn about different people how they think how they to approach problems, and that has been such a gift to me over, over my life. And so the best books give us escape, but they also help us connect, right because in reading, we’re reflecting on our own experience. And so I think it’s really, really incredible that books can offer so much to us. So I want to also just tell you, I didn’t use much of, I use a metric for deciding which books I would share for you. But it’s really I just went through my Goodreads list. So if you don’t know about Goodreads, you got to know about Goodreads. If you’re a reader, it’s such a great way to find new books, to review books to see what your friends are reading, and to catalog what you’ve read. And so I’ve been on Goodreads since 2010. And it’s, it’s, it’s my library shelf to help me to keep track of my books. And so I went through my book list, and I picked out the books that I gave five stars to, and let me see I have 1-234-567-8910, I gave five stars to 10 books, in 2022. And to put that into perspective, I’ve read 100 books in 2022, which is a lot that’s a lot of books. And it’s I do a reading challenge every year with good reads. And it’s it’s really just so I can cultivate my love of reading, because when I’m consistently reading a book, I do better. And it’s easy for life to take over if you’re not careful and then fall out of reading. And so out of 100 books, 10 met the mark for five stars, which is the highest number of stars you can get. And so from that list of 10, I’ve identified five that I want to share with you today. And so I think for the past several years, I’ve I’ve read over 100 books each year 20 2019 was a big year, I read 123 books, but I don’t know that I’ll do that again, because it did become a little task driven for me at one point, which obviously we don’t want that to happen. But let’s jump in. And I’m going to share with you some of my favorite reads of 2022. And again, my hope is that you find something that captures your imagination, helps you to shift your understanding of yourself, and is a great escape while also connecting you to what matters most. And so my first read that I want to share with you from 2022 is the Lincoln Highway, buy a more towels, t o w l e s, oh my goodness, this is such a great book,
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:51
I knew I would probably like this book, because I loved one of his other books, which is a Gentleman in Moscow. That’s actually one of my top favorite books. And this is a very cool book. It’s set in 1950s America. And it’s really about a journey, a big Odyssey, two brothers that are traveling the country traveling the Lincoln highway in 1950s, America and the challenges that they find on that path. And as they go along, he learned more about their family, their history, you learn a lot about the people that they are meeting, this is a book that you can just immerse yourself in. It’s so great. It also helps I read this on vacation. So I also have like very happy memories of reading it while on vacation. So it’s a big book, it’s a thick book. So you know, set aside time for this, because I do think if I hadn’t been reading it on vacation, it could have taken me longer to read it. And I could have lost some of the thread. So but as it was, I was able to read it, you know, in just a few days time and really loved it. So I’m just going to share the review. I adored everything about this book, several lines just left me smiling at how clever they were, or how they spoke to the truth of life. This is tender and tough minded, and I loved it so much. A Gentleman in Moscow is one of my favorites. And though this is a very different story, towels has written another incredible story with characters so vividly alive. So I remember while I was reading this, you know, my husband was sitting next to me on a beach chair. And I would read aloud some of the lines because they were just so delightful. I don’t know how it hasn’t felt about that felt about that. But I was very pleased to share some of those really clever lines. So that’s my first pick the Lincoln highway. So this is fiction. It’s a great story. And now let’s head to my second pick for 2022 which is radical compassion learning to love yourself and the world with the practice of rain rain is an acronym our ai n this is by by Tara brach she is a best selling author and psychologist, she does a ton of meditation, mindfulness work. This has been such a good book for me this year right now this book is sitting on my nightstand. And so it’s really good to read. And then it’s really good to keep going back to as a resource, then I think in those times, when you’re just facing challenges, it can be really easy to get hard on yourself to get down on yourself to become critical. And this book really is an invitation to be compassionate with ourselves. And, you know, in many ways, it is radical, right? There are ways that we’re taught that being hard on yourself. Being tough on yourself, being critical of yourself, is what’s required for success and happiness. And I’m here to tell you that that’s false. I believe that for a long time, and with the work of Tara brach and others, I’ve really helped to shift my beliefs about what, what helps, what helps me to grow what helps me to change what helps me to improve and radical compassion really is one of the core foundations. And so this is a description of the book that Tara brach is an in the trenches teacher whose work counters today’s ever increasing onslaught of news conflict demands and anxieties, stresses that leave us rushing around on autopilot, and cut off from the presence and creativity that give our lives meaning. So in this heartfelt and deeply practical book, she offers an antidote, and easy to learn four step meditation that quickly loosens the grip of difficult emotions and limiting beliefs. So each step of the meditation practice, recognize, allow, investigate and nurture is brought to life by memorable stories shared by Tara and her students, as they deal with feelings of overwhelm loss and self aversion. So again, really inspiring, also, super practical. So like I said, I’ve got this on my nightstand. And I reference it quite a bit. It’s really wonderful. And so, you know, with my psychologist, hat on, it’s also really helpful. If you’re dealing with some mental health challenges, you’re wanting to really challenge some of your cognitive beliefs, it can be super helpful. So that’s my second pick for you. And now let’s head to my third pick for 2022, which is Burial Rites. This is by Hannah Kent. And I love this book. So I came across this book, as I was planning a trip to Iceland earlier this year, I love reading about places that I’m traveling. And so I really did some research to find some good books that I could read in Iceland. And this is one of the books I came across. And I was not disappointed. My goodness, I this book is so atmospheric like you like even if I weren’t in Iceland, I really feel like I would know exactly the contours of the land, the cold weather, the biting wind, but it made it all the better that I was reading the book while I was in Iceland, and I have had this thought of, would I have loved the book so much? Had I not had the association with Iceland? And the answer is yes, I think I would. I think being there and having the connection to the land really just kind of took it over the top, but kind of next level for me. But this is a very compelling story. So what they have to say about this book, this is a brilliant literary debut inspired by a true story, the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. So doesn’t that hook you right there. I love historical fiction. So this is historical fiction. It is based on real events. So that was really cool to me as well, because, you know, I was traveling around Iceland and thinking like, oh, okay, this is this is where their homestead was. And they have those places marked in Iceland, because this is a pretty famous story in Iceland’s history. And so this isn’t really compelling story. It’s a murder. That’s a murder investigation, a young woman. And it’s I loved it, it was so good. And so what I had to say about this book, there’s something magical about reading a book about the land you are traveling through this book is so atmospheric, remarkable. Really, it is a compelling story of a true story. And the author brought the characters to life. I cried as I finished it. So again, love that book. So that’s my third pick Burial Rites by Hannah cat. And now let’s move to pick four, which is one of my favorite books ever. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. So I first read this book, I think, when I was probably in junior high or high school, and I really liked it. Like I thought it was a really fun story. But I’m telling you the profound meaning in this book. It just blows me away.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:51
This is a book you could read in a day. It’s a very short read. It is a parable of a devil. Writing letters. to his nephew who is a devil in training, and he’s trying to give him advice on how he can really corrupt humans most effectively. It’s profound. There are so many implications for the world that we live in. And so I tried to read this book, you know, every couple of years because they’re just, I find so many lessons for myself. And so I read it this year again, and yeah, I just absolutely love it. So a little bit about The Screwtape Letters. The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as the patient Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy of hell, and acts as a mentor to Wormwood, the inexperienced tempter in the body of the 31 letters, which make up the book Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith, and promoting sins in the patient, interspersed with observations on human nature and Christian doctrine are more than screw tip Screwtape live in a peculiarly morally reverse world where individual benefit and greed are seen as the greatest good, and neither demon is capable of comprehending or acknowledging true human virtue when he sees it. This is an incredible book, like I said, it is it’s a parable. parable, you can think of it as an allegory where it’s it’s an entertaining read. But if you’re paying attention, if you’re awake, there are profound lessons about purpose and meaning and goodness, right. And so, I love this book. And like I said, you could read this in an afternoon. So that’s my fourth pick The Screwtape Letters. And now to my fifth and final pick, it was hard to narrow it down to five, but I didn’t want you to have time to hang out this holiday season and not be stuck on a podcast. So my fifth pick is the marriage portrait by Maggie O’Farrell. This was a new book in 2022, I believe, and oh, I loved it. So I thought this book out what I saw when it came out, I was so excited because one of her books that I read last year, it was my favorite book last year, which was Hamlet. And so I was really excited to see that she had another book out. She is a master storyteller, and she does a lot of historical fiction. Hamlet is about Hamlet, and Shakespeare, the writing of Hamlet, and it is historical fiction, right? So we have some true to life characters. But the story is considered fictional. And the same thing with the marriage portrait. So there are a few small details about people that actually lived and this story, but of course, then she takes a fictional license historical license to tell the story and this is from the author of the breakout New York Times best seller Hamnett, winner of the National Book, Critics Circle Award, and electrifying new novel set in Renaissance Italy and centering on the captivating young Duchess Lucrezia de Medici. And so this is set in Florence in the 1550s. And Lucretia is a third daughter of the Grand Duke. So she’s comfortable with her obscure place in the palace, she’s free to one wonder at its treasures. And then her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding. And so this third daughter is put up to marry this, this Duke and so the Duke requests her hand in marriage, and her father is just as quick to accept on her behalf. So she is a young woman, she’s like 15, I think and share. She’s cast into this, this new world. And so she is trying to make her way in a very troubled court. So it’s far from home, she doesn’t understand their customs. They’re not really welcoming to her. And then she’s really confused by her new husband. So sometimes he’s really loving and other times, you know, he’s kind of like a Jekyll and Hyde. And so this is definitely a mystery. And it’s so fascinating. The writing is exquisite, it’s full of drama, it’ll really keep you on the edge of your seat. And I recommended this to a friend. And she just said, she just finished it return the book, and she adored it as well. And so this is what I had to say about the book. Another big win by Oh Ferrell. This was compelling historical fiction that had some intriguing twists and turns. But what this author does so well is bring you into the heart and mind of characters. I felt as though I was moving through the court of this young bride feeling her anxieties and anticipating her next move. I loved this book. And so this if you want a great book to escape into, you need to read it The Marriage portrait, it would be a great way to end and 2022. So there you have it, there are some of my favorite reads from 2022. So number one, the Lincoln highway number two radical compassion, number three Burial Rites. Number four, The Screwtape Letters. And number five, the marriage portrait.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:24
I hope that you if you pick up one of these, you’ll let me know what you think I’d love to hear your review of the book and you can connect with me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith I’d love to hear what you’re reading. I’d love to get your recommendations as well. And I hope that you have a lovely end of the year and that you can look forward to 2023 through through hopeful eyes, and that you’re refreshed and ready to jump in. So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode. www.drmelissasmith.com/191-favoritereads2022 So one more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/191-favoritereads2022. So I will also include a link to Goodreads so if you’re not familiar with that you can explore around and see if that might be a good resource for you. And then my tag on Goodreads is MelissaH and I’d love to connect as friends on Goodreads. It’s so much fun to see what other folks are reading I it’s what is the first place I go find that the bookstore to read reviews. I think the reviews are way more helpful than some of some of the reviews that you’ll find in the media. So it’s it’s my number one go to resource when I’m trying to find a book. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
Transcribed by https://otter.ai