2017 Goodreads Challenge: A Look Back at 40 Books

I set a goal of reading 40 books this year in the Goodreads Challenge. I read 50 last year, but gave myself some slack this year to, you know, wedding plan, have a wedding & honeymoon and such.  

Somebody asked me how I choose the books that I read and honestly - I’m a mixed bag. I’m down to read all genres and get lots of inspiration from people I admire, famous and not. 

I used to read non-fiction almost exclusively (aside from Harry Potter), so I’ve actively sought out more fiction reads. In this year’s reading journey, I’ve found a soft spot for science fiction! Next year I’m hoping to read all the books in my personal library that I never got around to actually reading, plus more authors of color and books by & about Filipinos.

Here’s a rundown of what I read in 2017 and some brief thoughts on each. (Disclaimer: each title is linked to an Amazon affiliate link)

  1. 10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins by Jason Selk - I think this was recommended by Popsugar Fitness. I wasn’t a big fan but if you like quick, motivational reads, this might appeal to you.
  2. Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by Melissa Hartwig - I’ve been interested in the Whole 30 diet but haven’t done it yet. This book focuses more on changing your mindset and relationship towards food.
  3. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2) by Octavia Butler - This year I discovered the magic that is Octavia Butler; thanks to her, science fiction has worked its way into my heart. 
  4. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator Of NIKE by Phil Knight - I love Nike forever. Reading about the history of my favorite brand from the man who invented it was a lesson I enjoyed; it wasn’t always roses and world-famous athletes, but the passion and fire never wavered.
  5. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking - My friend Taylor got me into the hygge lifestyle and this book was a sweet little crash course into it!
  6. Imago (Xenogenesis #3) by Octavia Butler - Another Octavia Butler masterpiece
  7. How to be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest - I was surprised how much I liked this book! A fun & witty guide to channeling the powers of the Parisian goddess.
  8. We Gon Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang - My friend Leonetta gave me this for Christmas last year and I really liked it. It’s a short collection of essays on modern racism from an Asian-American perspective.
  9. Kindred by Octavia Butler- If you are reading Octavia Butler for the first time, make it this one. Imagine being a woman of color who discovers she can (unwillingly) time travel back to slavery days. I still think about this book all the time.
  10. Yes Please - Amy Poehler is a gem.
  11. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - This year’s book list was full of “I can’t believe I waited this long to read this”. Americanah was no exception. Read this if you want a love story for the ages!
  12. A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes - If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you know Chris Hayes is news bae. A Colony in a Nation is a great read if you want to understand the racially-charged history behind the ‘order’ in American ‘law & order’.
  13. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen - I’m kinda mad at myself for not just reading The Sympathizer and experiencing the full-blown Viet Thanh Nguyen magic in all its glory, but The Refugees did not disappoint. This book of essays simply left me wanting more and more.
  14. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax - I can’t remember who recommended this to me, but it’s an interesting look at how some industries have gone digital - only to re-incorporate the analog ways that made them great to begin with.
  15. Love x Style x Life by Garance Dore - My library card has me reading books I’ve been passively interested in but not enough to buy. A lot of those are fashion books - that I’ve added to my Amazon wish list after reading! Haha. I didn’t really follow Garance Dore much before reading this but could not help falling in love with her journey.
  16. The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential by Leo Babauta - Zen Habits is one of my favorite blogs of all-time. I’m a big fan of Leo’s simple and straightforward writing!
  17. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight - I think that title says it all. This year was all about saying no to the bullshit and laser focusing on the people, places, and things that light me up.
  18. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg - I read this about a month before Spike passed away. I remember distinctly thinking to myself “This book would impact me so much more if I was currently dealing with grief.” A month later, there I was. I’m really grateful to Sheryl Sandberg for being so open about dealing with death.
  19. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen - I read this on our honeymoon, and phew. This is one of those reads that wraps you up and takes you for a ride.
  20. Capture Your Style: Transform Your Instagram Photos, Showcase Your Life, and Build the Ultimate Platform by Aimee Song - Another one of those fashion reads I’d put off. I’ve always admired Aimee Song for her business savvy and eye for design. This book is truly great if you want to pick up a few unconventional tips about creating interesting content for Instagram (or taking cool photos).
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  1. City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, From Bohemian to Rock by Melissa Magsaysay - I’ve had this on my list for years and finally glad I read it! It’s always nice to see a Filipina-American doing cool things. I like how Melissa incorporates different styles for a unique look at L.A. 
  2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg - To be honest, after awhile these self-help books start to feel redundant. I do appreciate the overarching message of this book. Habit and routine are how you turn small steps into life-changing leaps.
  3. The French Beauty Solution: Time-Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out by Mathilde Thomas - Caudalie is an incredible beauty brand, so I knew Mathilde had to have some good tea to spill on her own beauty secrets. I learned a lot from this one and also have it on my Amazon wish list!
  4. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay - Roxane Gay is a national treasure. Hunger is hard to read at some parts, but it’s a necessary one if you want to understand body image and its impact.
  5. I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi - This is the first book I read after Spike passed away. It could not have come into my life at a better time. Luvvie had me in tears laughing and shaking my head at the realness and truth bombs she dropped in this book.
  6. Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self by Alex Tizon - Alex Tizon passed away earlier this year, right before his Lola’s Story became the cover story for The Atlantic and ignited a firestorm. I’d had his memoir on my list and was in the library hold queue for a while. It made me want to read more Filipino and Asian-American writers.
  7. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes - I checked this out on a whim after reading about it in a Well & Good newsletter. At first, I thought it was just a silly junk read, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! It weaves some of the ridiculous fitness and wellness trends out there (some of which I am a die-hard) into a crazy story about a scammer fitness guru. Moral of the story: do your research and don’t fall for every new trend!
  8. The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems - This was a wedding present from my coworker Linda. I started it on my honeymoon and it took awhile to work through. I wanted to absorb each poem one by one!
  9. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - I could not read this without hearing Anna Kendrick’s voice narrating it to me in my head. I still can’t tell if that means I liked it or not.
  10. Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur - I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I think I read this in a half-hour.
  11. We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere: 9 Principles to Live By by Gillian Anderson - I think this book would have been awesome if it was billed as ‘good life advice in general’ and not a feminist manifesto. That title threw me off.
  12. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have the Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco - I read an excerpt of this and immediately added it to my library holds. I loved the behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to work for/with President Obama. God I miss him.
  13. How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath - Decent self-help book. Nothing exciting or groundbreaking.
  14. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami - I’ve put this book down and picked it back up again for weeks, often forgetting where I was in the story. When I finally got in the groove, it was riveting. I’m looking forward to reading more of Murakami’s fiction.
  15. Make Yourself at Home: Discover Your Style and Transform Your Space for Inspired Living by Moorea Seal - Moorea Seal’s latest book is about home design, but it was also really therapeutic for me. Spike left such a gaping hole in our hearts and void in our home, but reading this made me excited to actually putting effort into designing our home - while honoring Spike’s memory, of course.
  16. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert - I put off reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book for a long time and I’m not sure why. I should have known this was going to be one of my favorite reads this year!
  17. The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life by Michael Roach - This one was tough to get through, and it made me really appreciate self-help authors who can restrain from putting too much of their personal experience and opinion into the advice they’re looking to give to others. p.s. This was not one of those situations
  18. Dear Ijeawele (Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - A quick but good read. If I was tasked with giving sage advice on how to be a strong woman to someone younger than me, I’d hand the girl this book.
  19. The Autobiography of Gucci Mane by Gucci Mane - Y’all know I love me some Gucci! I actually loved reading about his life and how he got to where he is today. Things could’ve gone sideways about a million times and here he is thriving.
  20. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson - I have been recommending this book to anyone who will listen. It will break your heart, make you angry, and hopefully inspire you all at the same time. I could not have asked for a better book to end this year’s reading challenge on.
  21. The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur - This was another quick read right after Just Mercy. I checked it on a whim from the library’s new release section. I tried and I just don’t think her poetry is the style for me.
  22. Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection by Sharon Salzberg - One of my goals this year was to cultivate a meditation practice. This book is fabulous if you’re someone who likes to guide your own meditations towards working through emotions and distractions.

What should I read next year? Leave me a comment below with some of your favorite books! Check out my current reads over on Goodreads.