When I traded in the boob tube for a book list, my happiness factor increased dramatically. I know that sounds – well, dramatic – but I really am much happier now reverting back to my chain-reading habits. And it wasn’t such a big deal for me to cut out T.V. because I was really only addicted to one show (The Young and The Restless, of all shows. Now THAT’S drama!), but it opened up enough time for me to fuel my creativity every evening from Sunday-Thursday. On the weekends, my husband and I will try to watch a movie and maybe catch a couple episodes of Hawaii Five-O as our way of unwinding together when the kids go to bed.

Many writers live by Stephen King’s famous words: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Maybe this summer you can figure out what your major time-sucker is, evaluate its importance, and work toward opening up more time for reading.

And to encourage you to do so, I’m sharing with you the books I’ve read to date in 2016; maybe something will catch grab your attention and you can add it to your reading list.

  1. What Alice Forgot by Liana Moriarty – A funny book with some deeper messages about the difference 10 years (and 3 kids and marriage!) can make on a woman’s personality and outlook. Great book club discussion book!
  2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – This one has shaped my 2016 into a more creative, authentic year full of possibilities! One of my favourite non-fiction books and a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the value of following their curiosities.
  3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – A fabulous book to re-read as an adult. I was blown away by the writing, which I probably didn’t appreciate the first time I read it. Definitely a book to get lost in on a hot summer’s day!
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – Also a re-read because it was my book club’s pick. A very insightful look into the life of a boy with autism. It will open your mind and your heart.
  5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – Another book club read. Humorous and touching, especially if you know any grumpy old men! Took me a bit to get into the book but once I got hooked, I was ignoring everything.
  6. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler – I don’t know a lot about Amy Poehler (see note above re: T.V.) but she shared a lot of lessons I could relate to: about life, creativity, work and love. If you know more about her than I do (which is likely the case), I am sure you will love this memoir.
  7. Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill – If you know me, then you know I have a deep interest in the slavery era of the Deep South and the subsequent (and present) repercussions of it. If you are into historical fiction and that time period, you’ll love this book from the author of The Book of Negroes. I’m currently on the waitlist at the library for his book, The Illegal. (Hurry up, people before me! Read faster!)
  8. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – HILARIOUS!! So, I don’t know much about Mindy Kaling either for the same reason I don’t know much about Amy Poehler. But this book made me follow her on Instagram because she is just too awesome. I could relate to her a lot because of the whole immigrants-for-parents thing and her love of writing, and this was another book I could not put down.
  9. The Wife by Meg Wolitzer – If you are a woman and a writer, you should read this book. It might piss you off like it did me (well, not the book really, but the husband…grrrr), but the writing is wonderful and the story, gripping.
  10. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – another re-read and one of my all-time favourite books. More historical fiction taking place around the time that black Americans were ‘allowed’ to vote (but were met with resistance every step of the way, literally, to the registration sites). Sue Monk Kidd has a way of writing that transports you straight to the Deep South; for a complete sensory experience of the people, sounds, smells and sights of that time period, grab this beauty of a book.
  11. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – A Nigerian woman, also a writer (ok, I’m seeing a theme here), moves to America to go to school and basically reports on everything she encounters through this story. If you love sociology, you will LOVE this book. And you will learn a lot about the immigrant experience.
  12. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – OK. Not a beach read. Not a public read. At all. From about halfway through the book, I basically ugly-cried into my pyjama top and littered my bed with used tissues. You have to read this World War II book about 2 sisters left behind to fight the war in their own ways. But not in public.

Go visit your local library or bookstore and get started on your reading goals. There’s never a better time! Let me know which book(s) you would add to this list, or which ones from here you’ll be adding to your own!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative