book covers collage

Erica’s Favorite Reads – 2022

According to Goodreads, I read 22 books in 2022 (that’s a nice convenient number isn’t it?)

I love keeping track of what I’m reading on Goodreads – you get all these stats at the end of the year, like how many pages you read, what was the shortest and longest book you read…

Out of the 22 books I read, only two of them were fiction. Obviously I’m still going strong in my nonfiction (mostly self-help or faith development) kick!

Where the Crawdads Sing
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

I had been wanting to read this book for a long time, but literally for years every time I tried to get it at the library, all the copies were checked out. I finally broke down and put a hold on it so I could actually read it. Despite it being the longest book I read this year (coming in at 384 pages) it probably took me the least amount of time to read. I would stay up late at night reading it because I was so drawn into the story.

I have not seen the movie, but I heard it was kind of meh – I would definitely recommend reading this one because the “books are always better” cliché most likely rings true for this one!

The Gifts of Imperfection
Nonfiction, Psychology, Personal Development

This is only the second Brené Brown book I’ve read, but I’m a huge fan of hers! I loved Dare to Lead and this book had a lot of the same themes. She is a big advocate of vulnerability and authenticity – and of course, bravery. It takes courage to be vulnerable and authentic. I love Brown’s definition of authenticity which I’ll include a snippet of here:

The courage to let go of who we think we’re supposed to be so that we can fully embrace our authentic selves – the imperfect, the creative, the vulnerable, the powerful, the broken, and the beautiful

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved
Nonfiction, Memoir, Faith

I got to see Kate Bowler speak in person at my university’s annual fundraising “Friends of the Library” event earlier last year. She was funny and engaging, just like she is as an author. She challenges the idea that living a good or godly life means good things are guaranteed to happen to you (prosperity gospel). Why do some people’s prayers not get answered? Why do bad things happen to good people? Does everything really happen for a reason, or do some things just suck? If you’ve ever found yourself questioning these things, this will be a refreshing read for you.

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Pay Attention to Yourself – Then Act Accordingly

I took a mental health day today, and it was wonderful. The day has been cloudy, with a temperature staying steady in the high 40s and low 50s… essentially a perfect day to stay home in your pajamas.

I find it hard to take mental health days; I guess I find it difficult to take a vacation or sick day if I could just as easily go into the office, but choose not to. It feels like I need a better excuse. Mental health is important though – I know that – and you know that – and yet it’s still hard to just admit that we need a day off to recharge.

My anxiety had been building up for the last week. I had one of those weeks where everything felt like it was piling up all at once. I felt like I was falling behind at work, at home… the to-do list just kept growing, as did my feeling of inner dread. I’d had an emotional week too, a bit of a roller coaster.

*Side note: have you ever played the level on the Wii’s “New Super Mario Bros.” where you ride the skeleton roller coaster over the lava? It’s insane… and fun, and stressful… all at once. That’s kind of how my week was. Watch this video to see the level in action – it’s aptly titled “The Roller Coaster From Hell”:

One of the best things I’ve learned to do over the last few years is really tune in to my body and the state of my mental/emotional health. If you’ve never done it before, it’s as simple as just stopping and taking note of how you feel physically and mentally. It’s practicing mindfulness. You do it without judgment, and just observe.

Once I assess myself, I can determine what to do from there. Sometimes it requires going a bit deeper into my feelings, and finding out why I feel the way I feel.

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