Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 243: Book Review- Favorite Reads of 2023

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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Can you believe it’s been another year? While I tend to track my years by the books I’ve read and so now is the perfect time to share with you some of my favorite reads of 2023.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:12
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 it’s the end of another year, I hope that you’re taking some good time to rest, relax, renew, and just enjoy some downtime. If you’re anything like me, one of you know one of the best ways to enjoy downtime is with a good book, especially in the winter. It’s so lovely. And so today, as has become a tradition at the end of the year. On the podcast, I’d like to share some of my favorite reads of the year. And so today I will be sharing with you some of my five of my favorite reads of the year, it’s always hard to pick a favorite. So I don’t do that. But I’m going to, I’m going to share five of my favorite and just as it as it turned out, right. As I think about my reviews on Goodreads, I’m on Goodreads, it’s a great way to track what I’m reading and what I want to read. As I looked at my top ratings of books I’ve read this year, I was pleasantly surprised and to see that there was a real nice mix of different kinds of books. So it wasn’t all fiction this year, I wasn’t all nonfiction. I had a really good mix of books. And for me, I like that because it means I’ve got some balance. And I’ve got curiosity in different areas. And so I hope that there’s something on this book list that is of interest to you. And so we’ll keep the podcast short today because of course it is. It’s a great time to renew and to be plugged into life and not into other devices. Right.

Dr. Melissa Smith 2:22
And so let’s start with my first book recommendation. So this is called Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love. This is by Sarah Blondin. So I came across this author. First, it was a recommendation to me from someone and she has, she’s a meditation teacher. And so I started listening to her on Insight Timer, which is a very popular app. And I absolutely love her teachings. Her writing is incredibly beautiful, her voice is just it speaks peace to me. And this would be a great book to read. But it’s also a really excellent book to listen to. Like I said, she’s got a very soothing voice. And so a little description of this book. So this is a treasury of meditation for living from your heart, from a top teacher at the number one online meditation service Insight Timer. So that’s really what she’s known for. And so really, she’s looking at right in our in our very noisy world, it can seem nearly impossible to find ways to turn off our busy minds, which so often flood us with worry, an unending list of tasks. And so she really asked how do you find your way off the negativity treadmill. And this is a book that you can jump, jump around, and you can listen to it as a meditation. You can listen to it to learn things, but it’s really a book that’s focused on the heart, not on the mind. And so it this would be a meditative book. I have probably listened to it five or six times already this year, I find it that that helpful. And so that is our first book recommendation.

Dr. Melissa Smith 4:14
My second book recommendation for 2023. It was a very popular book. A lot of people read this book this year, it came out in 2023 and it’s called Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity and it’s by Peter Attia. So he is a physician. It’s got a lot of great reviews on Goodreads, and I think it’s a really good resource. And so let’s learn a little bit about this groundbreaking manifest manifesto on living better and longer. that challenges the conventional medical thinking on aging, and reveals a new approach to preventing chronic disease and extending long term health from a visionary physician and leading longevity. Our expert. So what I really liked about this book, first of all, a tee, it covers a lot of topics. But he’s very, very practical. And he has a chapter in there, which, you know, he said that he initially was not going to write this chapter, and eventually decided to do it. And I honestly, like, I think that this chapter makes the whole book. And it’s about mental health. And he’s not a mental health expert. But he talks about his own mental health journey, right as a high achiever, who pushes, pushes, pushes, and was not addressing his mental health had built up a ton of anger and resentment in his life. And it was impacting his health, it was impacting his relationships. And so you know, it was a very vulnerable chapter for him to share. But, you know, I’ve talked to many people about this. And I’ve listened to podcasts about it. And, you know, people across the board agree like that chapter is really what made it because it made it personal. And he also, he also brought to the forefront how important mental health is and that it’s not disconnected from, from our physical health. And so this book is a really excellent book. And so again, like, I think it’s very practical. And it’s just a good resource. This is a book you might want to hold on to as a reference even so it’s really very, very good.

Dr. Melissa Smith 6:26
So now let’s move to our third book, which is a very different kind of book. This is called the Red Famine: Stalin’s War on the Ukraine. Okay, so this is a pretty heavy read. It’s not only long, but it’s also a heavy subject, as you can maybe guess from that title. And so this is by Anne Applebaum. And this is this is nonfiction, its history, right. And it really is, I think, as I’ve read on it, it’s like one of the most definitive accounts of what happened with the red famine, which, of course, was the starvation of millions of Ukrainians. And so this book is really remarkable. I will say it can be, it can be troubling to read, as many things are when we look to our history. Here’s a little bit about the book, though, in 1929, stolen, launched his policy policy of agricultural, agricultural collectivization, in effect, a second Russia, Russian Revolution, which forced millions of peasants off their land, and into collective farms, the result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history, at least 5 million people died between 1931 and 1933, in the USSR, but instead of sending relief, the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. And this is known as the Red famine. You know, I don’t know, you know, about others, but I did not learn much about Russian history growing up. And so, you know, as an adult, it’s been, you know, really compelling to learn more of what’s what happened behind, you know, the Iron Curtain. And so this book is a very important book. But you might just need to pace yourself, right. And this might not be a holiday read, but it is very much worth your time. And again, that is the red famine, Stalin’s war on the Ukraine.

Unknown Speaker 8:34
And now let’s go to our fourth book, as the fourth book is a memoir, it’s called Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir. This is by Marsha M. Linehan. So for those of you in the clinical world mental health world, you might recognize Linehan’s name. So she is a researcher t, she has done groundbreaking work in the field of psychology, she developed the treatment known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy DBT. It’s a treatment that as a psychologist, I use every single day in my clinical practice. And so I first came across this book with our team. We do a quarterly book club, and we decided to read this book, because we’re very familiar with her work. We have a great deal of respect for her and her work. And I gotta tell you, this was an amazing book. So not only does she weave through the development of her theory, which, you know, for a researcher for a clinician, it’s it really hits that geek button. But she also weaves in her personal memoir, and her personal memoir is absolutely entwined with the development of her theory, because she was an inpatient psychiatric patient for several years as a young adult. And, you know, it was It was her experience that she actually, by which she developed this treatment, which is evidence based, it’s been helpful for millions of people. It’s really a remarkable treatment. And so I love this. And I was thinking about like, would I be as interested in this? If I were a clinician and familiar with DBT. And honestly, I think I would, it’s just a really good memoir. But if you have interest in DBT, or mental health at all, it just becomes very, very compelling. And so, Marsha Linehan tells the story of her journey, from suicide to suicidal teenager to world renowned developer of the life saving behavioral therapy DBT, using her own struggle to develop life skills for others. And so again, it’s really compelling. It’s very heartfelt, and a great read. So that book is building a life worth living memoir by Marsha Linehan.

Dr. Melissa Smith 11:02
And now let’s go to our fifth book, my fifth book recommendation for you. And this is a pure pleasure walk. It is fiction. It’s called the Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. So he has written I think a few other books, I really loved one of his other books, I think it was called cutting for stone. And it had been several years, I think, since he had written a book. And so this book came out in 2023. And I first heard about it from one of my friends, she was raving about it. And she told me, I had to read it. And so of course, I immediately got the book. And this was kind of my summer book. So it is long at 724 pages. I wish I could have read it over just a few days, but life was was not that kind to me. So it did, it did take me a little longer to read it, but I enjoyed it all summer. But this would be a great one during a holiday break break to read. And this is a stunning and magisterial new epic of love faith and medicine set in India, India, and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret. And so it spans the years of 1900 to 1977. And it’s set in India and mostly, and it’s it’s intergenerational, it weaves in different stories. It’s a complex story, but real, very readable, very readable, the, the descriptions and the characters are very compelling. And this is just such a great story to jump in. It’s meaningful, it’s profound, and it’s just a great read. And so that is my last recommendation, the covenant of water.

Unknown Speaker 12:53
So I certainly hope that you find something on this list that can be helpful for you. I’ll name the five books again. Of course, you can join me on Instagram where I will share these books again. Book one is Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin that came out in 2020. The second book is Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity and this is by Peter Attia, and came out in 2023. Next we have The Red Famine: Stalin’s War on the Ukraine. This is by Anne Applebaum nonfiction came out in 2017. And then Building a Life Worth Living: A Memoir by Marsha Linehan. This came out in 2020. And then the last book I have for you today is The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. This came out in 2023. And so these are great books. Hopefully, there’s something there that will catch your fancy. And I hope more than anything that you take some time, at the end of this year to renew, to relax to spend time with those you love the most. And I will I will catch you on the flipside so of course you can head over to my website to check out the show notes with their resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/243-favoritereads2023 So of course, join me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith with more great information on the list of books. And if you’re so inclined, please consider giving the podcast a r review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. I so appreciate that. I appreciate your time. And 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