What I’ve Been Reading (And You May Like Too!)

For the last couple of months I’ve been feeling a bit… off. Writing has been challenging and reading, well reading just hasn’t been happening at all. I LOVE books and have a big “to be read” stack that just kept growing. Also, because of the feeling off, the growing stack was starting to cause some stress and guilt – “I should be reading and learning, otherwise what am I doing? Read the things JoEllen!!”  Plus, I actually really wanted to read those books I just couldn’t get my mind around sitting down and reading anything more taxing than the comfort reading I keep with my other bath supplies (because baths and silly books, amirite?).

I thought back to the heyday of my reading habit – I used to take down a book or two a week, no problem- and it was when I used to do two things: commute via mass transit and work out at a gym where I could read while on an elliptical machine- now I do neither of those things. Instead I walk. I take a 5 mile walk with my dog every morning and, while I work from home, I tend to walk anywhere I can in Portland- it’s all great for my body and mind but not very reading-friendly. Then I had a flash of inspiration – audiobooks! I had been listening to music during my walk but I realized that I could get through the stack of books if I listened to them instead (because, seriously, it’s just so much more productive to find new ways to do stuff rather than beat yourself up for no longer doing stuff the way you used to). I got myself a library card and an app that puts my library’s audiobooks on my phone and got “reading”. I’ve made a healthy dent in the “to be read” stack and am excited to keep going. For now though, here are the 7 books I’ve read in the last month plus the favorite I just started re-reading:


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

by Brene Brown

I’ve been on a Brene Brown kick since March. This book gave me some lightbulb moments in terms of my own perfectionism and how it holds me back.


It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History

by Jennifer Wright

From disturbing to amusing, these accounts of breakups throughout history are all fascinating.



Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human 

by Jesse Bering

An evolutionary psychologist who studies sexual behavior, Jesse Bering asks fun questions and offers engaging (and often humorous) answers. This one was a lot of fun.


Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America

by Barbara Ehrenreich

The push to constantly be positive is problematic. This book got me thinking some great stuff about the “remove ‘negative’ people from your life!” movement and how the world handles depression.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

So, your life has probably benefitted in some way from HeLa cells. This book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman from whom the cells came. I kept listening to this one when I got home from my walks because I wanted to hear what came next- it was captivating.


Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

by Cheryl Strayed

This collection of questions and answers from Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” advice column was variously heart breaking, eye-opening, inspiring, devastating, hilarious, and comforting. It’s a lot to handle emotionally but 100% worth it.


Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules

by Sarah Mirk

I happened to read this really well done book on the diverse types of relationships available to us and how folks navigate them right before having an intense relationship weekend myself- I was really glad I did. I recommend this to anyone but especially to the non-mongamous among you.

Also available from She Bop


And while I’m on a roll I figured I’d revisit a favorite that I read last year while I was all injured and drugged and not at my best:

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life

by Emily Nagoski Ph.D.

I loved this book when I read it last year but I’ve been appreciating it so much more this time- so much note-taking!

Also available from She Bop


Want more recommendations? Check out Bedhead Approved Reading!

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