Resolution-worthy Reading

A few months ago I hit a bit of a slump. Or maybe I hit a bump? Or fell into a slump? I don’t really know the right metaphor. Basically, I just felt a little purposeless. So, I started digging around for some reading that might inspire me to feel otherwise.

Whether you’re looking for something to get you motivated for upcoming New Year’s resolutions or you’ve just run out of good Netflix shows (seriously, why aren’t there more episodes of The Crown?) during this hibernation season, I’ve got six books for you.
I’ve listed them in order of best to worst. But my opinion is, well, just that.
Born to Run
Born to Run
If you have even a passing interest in running, this book is for you. It’s story after story of some of the most challenging runs on earth and the greatest runners alive. It culminates with a run that takes place in remote mountains of Mexico. The writing is great. The topics are fascinating. I’m seriously already thinking about re-reading it.
You are a Badass
You are a Badass
Honestly, I judged this book by its cover and I thought its cover was kind of stupid. But then I saw one of my favorite Instagram influencers post about it being life changing so I read it. (Speaking of stupid.) I really loved it. Yes, it can get a little cliche self-help-y. But it’s honest and funny and it makes you want to change your life for the better.
Eat and Run
Eat & Run
Ok, this one may be for those who are a bit more fanatical about running. Or eating. Or both. Scott Jurek is one of the greatest runners alive. He’s also a vegan. This book is filled with stories of his runs and his recipes. It briefly made me consider becoming a vegan. (It’s hard to explain how brief this was. Like, I was reading it one afternoon at my parents’ house, announced I was becoming vegan, they announced we were having Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and I changed my mind.) But the point is that it will make you think about that stuff. (Like, sometimes now I eat slightly less cheese.)
Living With A Seal
Living With A Seal
This book is an insane story of a guy who hired a SEAL to live with him and train him for a month. It was the first of these books that I read and I really enjoyed it. I would absolutely never do half the stuff they do. But he makes a point repeatedly that most of the time when we think we’re pushing our body to the limit, we’re really at 40 percent. I now think about that when I’m working out/walking three feet.
Tools of Titans
Tools of Titans
Tim Ferriss is the guy who wrote The 4-Hour Workweek. I loved that book. My boss did not love how much I loved that book. This book is basically Ferriss’ notes from interviews with people who have done very cool things—billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. It’s a massive book. But it’s not really designed to be read straight through. It’s great for those of us with short attention spans who like to just learn random facts about impressive people.
My feelings on this book are really mixed. It kept my attention the whole way through and it’s a really interesting sociological study as far as the treatment of obese people in today’s society. But it’s not necessarily a book that inspires or teaches you. And when I finished it, I went to look up the author to see what she’s doing. She’s gained back all the weight. And she’s unhappy. It bummed me out a lot. So, unless you’re super into dramatic weight loss stories, I’m not sure I’d bother with this one.
Have any game-changing inspirational books you want to share? Tell me. I just ordered How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci because my boss has mentioned it like six times around me. And because thinking like a genius seems cool.


A few weeks ago I was having dinner with some friends at my house when my friend Kristy mentioned she was reading a fun book called Living With a SEAL. She said it was by the husband of the woman who created Spanx, Sara Blakely. I said that Sara Blakely had actually thrown the coolest party I’d ever gone to in my former life of doing things like covering cool parties. It was in Atlanta and co-hosted by Sir Richard Branson. Jane Fonda sat at the same table as the guys from OutKast. Jewel sang during dinner and then Collective Soul played at the after-party. I still have no idea how I got to go to that party.

Later that night, Kristy texted me an image of highlighted text from the book. It turns out that its author, Blakely’s husband, was at the same party, and he wrote about it as the night he really fell for her.

This completely meaningless connection intrigued me enough to download the book, which I enjoyed so much that I began reading and literally didn’t put down until I’d finished it a few hours later. It’s a memoir by Jesse Itzler detailing the month that he invited a former Navy SEAL into his home for extreme fitness training. It’s hilarious and inspiring. He weaves some stories of entrepreneurship and his unusual family life into the story, but for the most part it’s a lot about freezing cold runs and insane workouts, which are way more interesting than you’d think.

It’s inspired me to keep reading more crazy fitness books. I’m currently reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, which is making me want to become a barefoot trail runner. Or, you know, get off my couch every once in awhile. I’m about to finish that one though and now I’m hooked on this theme. Any suggestions in the genre for my next read?


I’ve had a longstanding obsession with Russia in the first half of the 20th century. It started when I read the book Nina’s Journey the year it came out. That was 1989. I was seven. I can’t imagine why my parents thought it was a good idea for a 7-year-old to read an autobiography from Stalin’s Russia, but that’s an entry for another day. Anyway, my mini-review of my latest read:

The Book: It’s a beautifully told story about a cultured aristocrat who is put under house arrest in Moscow’s most luxurious hotel after the bolsheviks take power. And he remains there for decades—living an incredible life inside its walls.

Favorite Aspect: The food and wine descriptions. This may be the first time I’ve put down a book thinking, “Well, that really left me craving some caviar.” The author makes food and drinks sound as beautiful as any scenery and as charming as any person.

Top quote: “For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.” So, so true, right?



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Last night I went to Verse & Vino, the annual fundraising dinner for Charlotte’s library system. I go to a lot of these kinds of things with my job, but this one is definitely one of my favorites. Its highlights are buying books, meeting their authors, and drinking wine. If they could somehow throw puppies into this mix, this would actually my fantasy party.

Last year’s event convinced me to read ALL of Karin Slaughter’s books, two excellent novels by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Balm and Wench), and a disturbing book by Chris Bohjalian called The Guest Room.

Last night, Rumaan Alam spoke briefly about his debut novel, Rich and Pretty, but the real power of his speech was in telling the crowd to get it together with this HB2 stuff in North Carolina. Meanwhile, Tom Rinaldi made me literally cry in his description of personally reading his book, The Red Bandanna, to the parents of its subject, Welles Crowther, who died after saving lives on 9/11.

My favorite part of last night though was hearing these authors describe their own experiences with the library. Do you remember going to the library as a child? I do. I can vividly remember being a small child and carrying large stacks of books up to a counter as high as I was to check out. I remember the thrill of getting my first library card.

These days I download most of my books from an app that never requires me to leave my bed, much less step inside a library. But I love that they exist. And last night convinced me that it might be time to go spend an afternoon in one.