It feels harder and harder to create reading time in a world crowded by emails, texts, memes, social media posts, podcasts and peak TV. The irony that we are reading less even though we are reading more and have more to read isn't all that distant a cousin from the fact that we are cooking less even though millions of people make time to watch other people cook on TV.
Still, reading is an important way of stretching your brain while also allowing it to drop into a state of relaxation, and the ability to focus is critical, which is why Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari should be one of the first 2022 reads on your year-end list.
If memoirs and biographies are more to your taste, check out Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin about Constance Baker Motley who was the first Black woman elected to the New York State Senate, the first female Manhattan borough president, and the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary. Didn't We Almost Have it All: in defense of Whitney Houston by Gerrick Kennedy is a candid look at a woman who was elevated by exquisite talent but also bound by shame. Kennedy both explores Houston's relationship to her Blackness, her sexuality, and her addictions, and also the ways in which her fame and public perceptions wouldn't let her be who she was. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama by Bob Odenkirk is a trip down memory lane for the man best known as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul but who started his career doing sketch comedy and being a member of Saturday Night Live. And then there's one of our favorite thespians, Viola Davis, with her memoir Finding Me.
The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama also finds its way onto shelves this November as a follow up to her bestseller Becoming. Her newest addition shares stories and answers questions about how she goes high when others go low and how she approaches some of life's biggest challenges.
If you like to exercise but want to find out more about the history of fitness and how we came to naturally be agile and able until we engineered society backwards far enough that we had to create gyms to stay that way, Danielle Friedman's Let's Get Physical and Bill Hayes' Sweat, A History of Exercise revisit all the trends from Lotte Berk and Jazzercise to Barbell gyms and the circus. Eating to Extinction by BBC journalist Dan Saladino addresses the food side of health and fitness, and makes a case for why we need to save some of the world's rarest foods as well as why the homogenization of food sources globally is a worrisome and unhealthy trend.
For fiction lovers, this year has given us many great reads. For something fun and light but not completely frothy, check out Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus or Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Someday Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli offers a portrait of loss and leaves us with an emotional gut punch that lingers afterwards. Tom Perrotta follows up his book-turned-movie Election with Tracy Flick Can't Win, revisiting his Type-A overachieving heroine Tracy Flick now that she's 40 and life hasn't wound up quite the way she expected it to. Our Missing Hearts is Celeste Ng's follow up to Little Fires Everywhere. is both a mystery and a tale of how civilized communities can ignore horrible injustices. For sci-fi lovers who would like a literary twist, The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier, is the story of an airplane that lands twice with the same passengers two months apart, creating duplicate people with parallel lives.
For the Young Adults in your lives, The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li tells the story of two French girls recovering from war in France and the literary prank they pulled that sent them on completely different trajectories. Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson is about two teenage misfits who bond over art and inadvertently start widespread panic in their hometown.
And lastly, if you need a bit of poetry for your soul, Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman showcases the Presidential Inaugural Poet's graceful and uplifting prose.
Happy Holidays from PopUP CleanUP!