I’ve discovered I like to accumulate points or create a streak when I want to instill a habit into my life. That motivates me. My meditation app on my phone, insighttimer.com, gives me a gold star for every ten days of meditation I do. I like to see the days add up. You get a green star for 150 days in a row. I have one of those. I want more.

For the last two years I’ve set a reading goal for myself. Goodreads.com has a Reading Challenge that originally inspired this goal. I aim to read 25 books each year. I type in the title, author and my smiley face review (one to four smiley faces possible with a bonus heart emoji if it’s extra wonderful) in my phone’s notes for each book I read. Again, I like to see the number of books accumulate over the year. Last year I only fit in 20. This year I’m on pace to finish at least 24, maybe 25 if I squeeze in a really short one before January 1st.

I am going to share what I consider the best of the books I read this year. They received at least four smiley faces from me. Obviously, everyone’s taste in books is unique. Take my recommendations with a grain of salt. I’d love to hear if you have read any of the books I mention and if so, what your opinion is of them.

Probably not a big surprise that the majority of books I loved are non-fiction, personal development types. Here they are:

Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships with Your Partner, Your Parents and Your Children by Dr. Jonice Webb: This is a follow up to Dr. Webb’s book, Running On Empty, which I loved! Running on Empty No More talks about dealing with childhood emotional neglect (CEN) and how it affects your adult relationships. If you’ve ever felt an empty sadness that you can’t explain, these books might help.

The Values Factor; The Secret to Creating an Inspired and Fulfilling Life by Dr. John Demartini: Key points I remember from this book are that all relationships include support and challenge and we can’t expect all pleasure with no pain. Our voids lead to our values was another great nugget of wisdom. Dr. Demartini helps you figure out what your values are in this book.

Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships by Dr. Sue Johnson: Relationships heal and Dr. Johnson uses the latest medical technology and studies to prove it. A great book for couples. Dr. Johnson gives examples of common conflict patterns couples exhibit and how to work through them. She gives a big nod to neuroscience and rewiring neural pathways by soothing each other.

The Blessing of a B Minus by Dr. Wendy Mogel: The gist of this one is that we need to get back to basics with our kids. Have them do menial tasks around the house. Let them feel the sting of a B- on their report card. Dr. Mogel said school homework teaches delayed gratification and persistence more than it teaches the subject at hand. It gave me a sense of relief about child rearing.

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — And the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari. This book lists and describes in great length the causes and solutions for depression. It does not focus on genetics or chemical imbalances, although they are mentioned. It talks about feeling disconnected from people, from meaningful work, from status and respect, from nature, etc. as the reasons for feeling down. This all made sense to me.

**When Food Is Comfort: Nurture Yourself Mindfully, Rewire Your Brain and End Emotional Eating by Julie Simon. Although this book appears to be for people with food issues, it is helpful to anyone who has emotional voids to fill. It explains why you feel empty and how to fill yourself up in healthy and mature ways. It talks about nurturing yourself and how to connect with others to receive nurturing from them. This was my favorite non-fiction book this year. I learned the most from it. 

Self-Consciousness Memoirs by John Updike: This book sat on my shelf for a long time, but I’m glad I finally took the time to read it. I learned all about the Rabbit, Run and Witches of Eastwick author. His east coast upbringing, Harvard education and severe eczema stand out to me. His personal stories were surprisingly relatable and I felt like I learned about life in the 50s and 60s. His writing was sometimes humorous and often very human.

Now for a couple of fiction recommendations:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: A friend of mine bought me the first three books in this series. I had not read much in the fantasy genre, but I loved this first book and have already read the second one. It is historical fiction mixed with time traveling; both in service to the underlying love story. Set in England after WWII and in Scotland in the 1700s, I learned about both places during different eras. Thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a television series now too, on Starz.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: I cheered for the main character in this book. She starts out unlikable but as her back story became clear, my heart ached for her. I felt happy when good things happened to her. I cried and laughed reading this. It is a quick read with a twist in the end.


I hope you find my reading list entertaining. Please let me know if you have read any of them. We can compare notes. 🙂 Enjoy!


Happy holidays to all of you! May you have warmth, love and joy around you and in your heart this holiday season!


If you’re still shopping, pick up a copy of my book The Quiet Rise of Introverts. It makes a special holiday gift. 🙂 Click the image below to purchase. Thank you!!