This week, one of the challenges in the Skimm newsletter was highlighting bibliotherapy – reading to reduce stress. They say, “studies have found that it can also treat moderate depression. And no lie: Even fiction does the trick. So today, crack open a book for 10 minutes and let those good vibes set in.”
To honor that, I’ll begin with my book recap of 2021 – all books with * before them I recommend, **I highly recommend.
- *Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told to Me) Story – Bess Kalb
- Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner
- The Roommate – Rosie Danan
- *The Girl With the Louding Voice – Abi Dare’
- Memorial – Bryan Washington
- **Anxious People – Fredrik Backman
- *The Happy Ever After Playlist – Abby Jimenez
- *Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell
- **Writers & Lovers – Lily King
- The Book of Longings – Sue Monk Kidd
- Crave – Tracy Wolff
- Much Ado About You – Samantha Young
- Luster A Novel – Raven Leilani
- *In a Holidaze – Christina Lauren
- *The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
- *Second First Impressions – Sally Thorne
- Leave the World Behind – Rumaan Alam
- Who is Maud Dixon – Alexandra Andrews
- **People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry
- Milk Fed – Melissa Broder
- **The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren
- *The Office of Historical Corrections – Danielle Evans
- *Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life – Christie Tate
- *The Devil Wears Black – L.J. Shen
- *Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney
- The Song of Achiles – Madeline Miller
- *The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang
- *The Husbands – Chandler Baker
- *The Devil in Disguise – Lisa Kleypas
- The Matzah Ball – Jean Meltzer
- The Cows – Dawn O’Porter
- * Any Way the Wind Blows – Rainbow Rowell
- *You Can’t Be Serious – Kal Penn
- *The Last Thing He Told Me – Laura Dave
- Something She’s Not Telling Us – Darcey Bell
My favorites from this list are:
- Anxious People – As previously discussed, I LOVED this book. 5 stars for me.
- Writers & Lovers – Casey wants to life the creative life she’s dreamed of, but the real world and all of its pressures make that challenging. So well written.
- People We Meet on Vacation – I liked her previous book Beach Read also but I loved this one. It’s fun, it’s funny and there’s romantic tension. Great combo.
- The Soulmate Equation – I recommend Christina Lauren books every year, I just love the way they write and the stories they tell. This one is a great example of why they are so, so good. I also loved their In a Holidaze.
- Group – I probably wouldn’t have believed this were true if it didn’t say memoir on the cover. I have a master’s in psychology but I have never heard of group therapy like this.
- You Can’t Be Serious – You may be asking, “Do I really need to read the memoir of the guy from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle?” I would answer with a yes. It’s witty, insightful, laugh out loud funny, and yet another lens providing us with a view of racism within the entertainment industry. He manages to break through and then takes a break to go into politics so he could serve his country. A great read.
As for the rest of 2021, I don’t really feel like doing a summary. I can tell you that I really enjoyed Tick Tick Boom and Spider-Man No Way Home. Let’s move onward!
I might be the only person still watching network television. There’s some good stuff there, people! I watch a lot of news and do stream some stuff but everything seems so dark and depressing. Sometimes I just want to laugh. Here are two sitcoms that I am enjoying:
“Ghosts” – CBS. A youngish couple inherits a run-down castle they’d like to turn into a bed and breakfast. After bumping her head while falling down the stairs, Samantha gains the ability to see and speak with the many spirits also living there. It’s funny and sweet.
“United States of Al” – CBS. Watching a Marine and his interpreter who served his unit in Afghanistan struggle to (re)adjust to civilian life in Ohio may not sound funny, but it is. It is also sad and powerful. The events of this past year are reflected here and, at times, it is hard to watch but important to do so.
Speaking of important, I will plug one streaming show:
“Dopesick” – Hulu. My cousin and I watched the first episode and then took a long pause. It is not easy to watch the Opioid crisis bloom and take over the country. She and I picked it up again and then finished the season in two sittings, with my son and husband joining in. It is disgusting and upsetting how Purdue Pharma was able to do what they did. It hurts to watch but you should. Michael Keaton just won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a doctor in Appalachia; the whole cast should be awarded. The acting is terrific.
Don’t Look Up – It is NOT about a comet coming to destroy Earth. It is an allegory for climate change – we know it’s coming, we can see that it’s coming, we know the steps we can take to reduce the damage and yet, the indifference shown by every government and all of the media ensure nothing gets done. I’m not sure I loved it but I hope everyone sees it and is moved to do something. Anything.
The French Dispatch – I am a Wes Anderson fan. I have no idea how he thinks up these screenplays and then convinces studios to pay for their production but I’m so glad he does. This one centers on an American newspaper in a fictional French city, with each article coming to life. It’s quirky, confusing and utterly delightful.
Resolutions: I don’t do them. But after seeing how appalled my chiropractor was when he learned that I don’t stretch before or after tennis (or any activity) whilst I’m complaining of aches and pains that I need him to fix, I realized that I should probably rectify that. I found this great Super Pilates Stretch through the FitOn app. Hopefully this link works. The instructor is lovely and calm. I like when she tells me that every day is different. Have a little bit of grace for where you are and just work from there. I think that applies to life in general.
Happy 2022, be well.