Books I Read in 2017
Reading is an activity that has remained dormant in my life for many years. Growing up, I always had stacks of books on the docket to read. I would read in the car on road trips (luckily didn’t get car sick), and relied on the headlights from cars behind me once the sun went down. In college, there was too much going on around me to re-engage in reading. Pharmacy school was the same, and residency thereafter. I always thought it was merely an excuse to be “too busy” to read but now that I’m finished with my official training, I realize there is a lot of be said about being stretched to the limits. Now, I have the autonomy and space to make the choice to read again.
I’ve finally gotten back into the habit of reading. It’s what I do on the train and a little bit right when I get home so I don’t succumb to the black hole that is evening news until I’ve at least finished an extra chapter. I really enjoy the quiet mindfulness that reading affords me. Since half of this year was taken up by residency, I didn’t think I was able to read that much in 2017; however when I looked at my shelf there were a few I managed to squeeze in, mostly thanks to the New York City move.
1. Leading Change by John Kotter. This was a required reading in seminar for one of my MS courses this year. We read it in sections each week and presented them throughout the semester in a divide-and-conquer approach. This was of particular interest to me because I believe mastering the change process is one of the most important and foundational skills as a leader. This book goes into objective steps to take and mindsets to foster within teams to promote successful and sustaining change.
2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This was a requirement in my residency when we had a guest presenter. It was a quick read, able to finish in one sitting. The author provides an incredible story of going from health care professional to patient, and how to come to grips with the reality of how evidence-based medicine applies when you’re facing death. It will change your life forever.
3. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. This was a book that was recommended by one of my residency preceptors. I didn’t end up reading it until after residency was over, but it was one that I’m glad I did. It walks us through the value of a simple checklist for the most complex of tasks. After reading this, I’m encouraged to maintain checklists for tasks in my own life.
4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Reading this book was like reading my autobiography. Not only did I learn a lot more about introversion (and extroversion), but I learned the facets of me I thought needed to be “fixed” were actually introvert traits that the dominant culture around me is still trying to figure out how to integrate for success. I will forever refer to parts of this book when explaining parts of my identity and encourage both introverts and extroverts to read it. Introverts, to feel more confident in our own skin; and extroverts, to help be change agents in cultivating strengths of introverts.
5. The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins. I’ve talked about this book briefly when I wrote about orienting to a new job and the 90-day orientation update. I read this during my time off between residency and my first job here in New York City. When I went to manager orientation at work, one of the activities was preparing for orientation. I said I read this book and they were so impressed I knew about it. It’s definitely a staple for any career transition.
6. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay. This was my first book written with a focus on feminism and women’s rights. I chose this one out of the many out there after reading the description in my local bookstore, Book Culture. What attracted me was the premise of the writer being a flawed human and flawed feminist, with genuine intentions to fight for what’s right. I love how she can say so much with such few words. And I aspire to embrace my flaws as she does while continuing my quest to fight for what I believe in.
7. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. This was next on my list of feminist books because I have only recently learned about Gloria Steinem and her impact as an women’s rights organizer. As I delve into history to improve my feminism literacy, she is one of the many essential figures to learn from in order to grow as an informed, balanced, and strong activist. In her latest book, she describes traveling as the essential thread to her resilience, hope, and open-mindedness. This certainly speaks to this Millenial feminist's wanderlust heart.
8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (via audiobook). Amy’s book was my first dabble into the audiobook world, and I think it was the perfect choice to do so. It was basically storytime with Amy Poehler. And who doesn’t love that? It was funny, insightful, and had a lot of great guest readers like her parents and Seth Meyers.
9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (via audiobook). Once I finished Amy Poehler’s audiobook, I knew I had to listen to Mindy Kaling’s next. It was a little more relatable because of the parents-of-immigrants factor we both share. Plus, who doesn’t love The Office?
10. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (via audiobook). This was my last audiobook of the year, and my favorite I think of the three. I related to Anna Kendrick the most and found her wit and humor the most realistic to my age group. I finished this one just in time to watch Pitch Perfect 3.
I recommend all of the books I read this year. They’ve each served a different purpose in my journey to learn more about myself and the world around me. Now that I’ve learned I can indeed finish a book again, I’m working on my [much longer] list of books for 2018.