2022 in the books!

It’s the year’s end!

I’m so excited around this time of year. It’s full of closure and renewal…ups and downs. And as long as we can navigate that emotionally, we can accept the exposure, and learn a ton!

Speaking of learning…I found a bunch of good books in 2022 that I want to share with you, and I learned a lot from them. I suppose if I distilled down what I learn when I read, I could name it Perspective (possibly humility too though). Reading presents me with another point of view, broadening my scope and reminding me that the world isn’t just seen through my own eyes. In that sense, it also humbles me. I know that each person I talk to, knows more about something than me. Reading has encouraged me to do that.

As always, I try to keep up on posting my reading list on my website here. I want to sing the praises of a select few that I read this year. Hopefully you’ll find one to enjoy:

Less — by Andrew Sean Greer
Pulitzer prize winner right here! I think I read this book in a day or two, and was so pissed when it was over. It follows Arthur Less who is trying to avoid the inevitability of his own life. Sadly, I could relate. It was laugh-out-loud funny, but also seriously threaded through the challenges we all face. Arthur is a failing author, who is invited to the wedding of his ex. So he quickly attempts to set up a book tour to show that can’t possibly RSVP. It’s messy and relatable. Oh…and Pulitzer prizes aren’t just passed out lacklusterly.

City of Girls — by Elizabeth Gilbert
Set in the hustle of 1940s New York, Vivian is kicked out of college and is then sent to be with her Aunt who runs Lily Playhouse — a somewhat rundown theater. Vivian tells the story as an old woman in the last years of her life…looking back. It’s full of great characters, the lively theater world, and the romanticism of New York city. It’s beautiful.

The Signature of All Things — by Elizabeth Gilbert
After reading City of Girls and realizing Gilbert’s quality, I heard about this. Holy! This one feels more like her magnum opus. It’s grand, spanning, and worldly. Centered in 1800s Philadelphia where a titan, Henry Whitaker establishes his estate. The story follows his daughter Alma, who instills herself in the botanical world. It’s full of family expectations, lineage, love, and death. The full span of it. I laughed and cried with both of these Gilbert pieces.

*The Dutch House* (Audiobook!) — by Ann Patchett
The actual book would be just great to pick up and read. However, the audiobook (that I listened to for free in the Hoopla app…connected to your local library) is read by Tom Hanks! His familiar and comforting voice, along with his acting/reading credentials made it so very nice to listen to. I recommend the book however you can get it…but highly recommend the Hanks version of the audiobook. This story uses a house as the focal point for a family tale about a father that achieves incredible wealth through real estate, and then the paradox within the lives of his children. I love how it relates the character of a physical thing (in this case, a house and all of it’s details) and how that can affect us as people. Being a home-body myself I can totally relate, seeing how a home can become part of our identity and how we define ourselves. This story isn’t just homey and happy though. It’s got the full span of life’s challenges too, touching on all of the human condition.

Here are some nonfiction pieces that I loved:

Clear Seeing Place — by Brian Rutenberg
Brian is my favorite contemporary painter/artist. I met him at a showing in Cape Cod, and what a guy! On top of his amazing paintings, he has an informative YouTube channel in which he delivers studio visits to describe his work, and educate aspiring painters like myself. This book is a valuable collection of all of his wisdom. I loved it.

How to be an Artist — by Jerry Saltz
Staying on the theme of art, Jerry is the only art critic that I’ve found so far, that I would read and listen to. Instead of the typical hoity toity look-down-your-nose-at-me type of writing and critique…Saltz is blue-collar, humble, realistic, seriously knowledgeable, encouraging, and hilarious. In this book, he very directly details the simple path to becoming the artist that you keep wondering about.

The 5am Club and The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari — by Robin Sharma
Both of these books are considered ‘Self Help’, which I love. I think that genre gets a bad reputation but sheesh, call it ‘Personal Development’ if that helps you feel better. I respect the hell out of anyone that takes time to read a book that potentially motivates them, and introduces them to new ways of living. Both of Sharma’s books here do that. One of them is focused on mornings and the structure of our day, and the other reminds us of functional ways for us to live more like a monk in today’s world. The x-factor to both of these books though, is the format that Sharma used. In both works, he uses characters and a story-type narrative structure to more effectively illustrate the messages. Both of these books are awesome.

As always, you can check out my reading list and see anything else I’m up to (blog posts, podcast episodes, etc.) on my website by clicking here.

Keep in touch with me. Feel free to send me an email… or send me a comment on my Facebook page by clicking here.

Thank you so much for reading!

All the best,
Jimmy Thorpe

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