Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with combining business and pleasure. As an aspiring author, reading is something I absolutely have to do, every day. It’s my favorite thing on my to-do list, but it’s serious. Non-negotiable. I have to untangle myself from a couch cuddle with Alex every night in order to take myself to bed and read. Would I rather watch another episode of The Office, wrapped in the arms of my sweetheart? You bet. But I gotta keep my eye on the prize.
“Non-negotiable” has become one of my favorite words. Alex acquired a book last year called Discipline Equals Freedom, by Jocko Willink. From the scary black cover to the hardcore title font, this book clearly isn’t marketed to people like me. But I agree with the sentiment. As Jocko writes, “the shortcut is a lie. The hack doesn’t get you there… There is only one way. The way of discipline.”
Reading takes discipline. There’s always one more load of laundry waiting to be folded, or a carpet crying out for a vacuum, or a batch of gluten free cookies that, for obvious reasons, desperately want to be baked. But the truth is, folded clothes and clean carpets and cookies won’t help me become a published author. Reading will.
I read 17 memoirs last year. From celebrities to stay-at-home moms, from thru-hikers to cross-country cyclists, they all had something to teach me about the craft of storytelling. And, more importantly, the art of patience: every one of these authors was disciplined enough to crank out, revise, edit, and publish an entire book.
Writing a memoir takes years. Years. That’s more discipline than I thought I possessed. But here I am, 2 years later, still typing away at my manuscript.
Reading the published works of others helps remind me, over and over, that this is really possible.
Here’s a list of what I’ve read in the last 2 years. I can’t choose favorites, so I’ve lumped them into categories. If you have any recommendations, please leave me a comment below.
***Note: Memoir is the only genre I’m reading at this point in my life. I’ll let you know if that changes. :)
What I’ve Read So Far
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (*One of my favorite books of all time)
I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn (*Another favorite)
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Going Somewhere by Brian Benson (*Fellow cross-country cyclist memoir!)
Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis
Memoirs About Writing:
On Writing by Stephen King (*Life-changing)
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr (*Also life-changing)
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Memoirs About Sex and Love:
Whip Smart by Melissa Febos
Love & Trouble by Claire Dederer
All Other Memoirs:
Liar’s Club by Mary Karr (*Unbeatable)
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos (*Magnificent)
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too) by Nora McInerny
The Boys of My Youth by Joann Beard
Lit by Mary Karr
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss (* I wrote a blog post about it here.)