Reading books is often on peoples’ New Years’ resolutions or lists. For us, it’s something we crave, look forward to and enjoy. This wasn’t always the case for me – I used to have a hard time reading books that were not related to school or work – the hardest part was knowing what to read, so I didn’t bother reading. I’ve found that it helped to head to the library and look at the recommendations section and seeing if the recommender’s style resonates with you then trying those books out or looking for similar books. That’s how my foray into reading daily began.

In the last year I’ve come across a few books that have changed the way I think, opened up a completely new world to me, or struck a deep chord in my heart. These books were not necessarily written in 2019 or 2020, but are ones that we read in 2019 and are looking forward to in 2020.

Let’s start with our 2019 favorites:

#1 – The Hidden Life of Trees

I’ve never felt more *mindblown* moments than when I was reading through The Hidden Life of Trees. While I had come across some papers showing how trees have neural networks and process information I had no idea of the scope or impact of this. I also had no idea about the Wood Wide Web that fungi connect. The tree world is magical, and just because they’re silent(ish) and don’t walk around the way animals do, doesn’t mean they aren’t complex and live in a highly connected world which impacts us and everything around us. This is hands down my most recommended book and the one that has fascinated anyone I’ve recommended it to. The book contains a lot of research done by the UBC forest ecologist Dr. Simard and her team. If you want a lighter, more ‘I want to entertain my guests’ version of this book there’s a coffee table worthy illustrated edition

The text version of the book which goes into all of the details.
The illustrated version which is better suited for a light read / coffee table.

#2 – Why We Sleep

Did you ever go through a time in life (or maybe this is the current period) where you thought sleep is useless, and why bother sleeping because it’s a waste of time? I thought that for a long time, cutting into many hours of sleep, feeling terrible during the day but feeling like I could just plough right on. Research has been booming in the sleep science segment and there are so many things I wish I knew before that would have helped me now. Why We Sleep goes into detail on what sleep does on a molecular level, why it’s important for how you function and disease states, and discusses what happens during different phases of sleep. It changed how I think about sleep and sleep hygiene and I’ve been living a whole different life after respecting sleep. 

Hardcover or softcover – depending on whether you’ll read it in bed

#3 – The Library Book

I used to love libraries (before moving to a city with a very sad state of libraries). I still love libraries and am looking for the nearest one that I can wander into like a kid in a candy store. Bookstores now fill the void. When I first saw this title, I was intrigued, more in a joking way, that I’d read this book because it’s called The Library Book. I was not disappointed, The Library Book is a non fiction book about one of the largest libraries in the world, in LA. The book chronicles the event in great detail making you feel like you’re right there in the midst of the event, the aftermath, and investigation and the authors research. It’s immersive and for anyone who loves books, it’s a must. 

Hardcover – because a solid library book should have a solid cover.

#4 – Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things

Before reading Joyful, I never knew that researching joy was something one could do. It sounded, well, joyful in itself. Joyful goes through examples that transformed how I thought about the everyday and the space I live in – from highlighting how color and color in spaces bring joy, to textures in a living space, I found many examples that inspired me to redecorate and love the space I live in. Most importantly, I was able to find joy in the spaces I occupy most frequently. 

Hardcover or softcover depending on what brings you joy.

Now for the 2020 list:

#1 – The Forest Unseen

Ever since reading The Hidden Life of Trees, I’ve been obsessed with learning more about trees and the forest ecosystem. They’re simply majestic and magical and our lack of understanding is causing widespread loss and devastation. The Forest Unseen is about a one-square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest which the author visits daily to trace the changes and inhabitants and bring them to vivid life. I’m looking forward to learning about this forest’s magic. 

#2 – Adventures in Memory

I’ve often wondered why some memories are vivid, why some are buried and why some people are stubborn about things they ‘remember’ but that aren’t true or never happened. Adventures in Memory goes into detail to answer these questions and a lot more giving us insight into our memories and hopefully helping me figure out how to properly document my life and spend time on the things that generate happy memories.

Hardcover or softcover depending on what you remember you prefer.

#3 – Ferment: A Guide to the Ancient Art of Culturing Foods

In an era of diets and extreme processing, it’s fascinating to understand how food is made and all of the pieces that go into it. Recipes are one thing, but foods that are brought to be via microorganisms are fascinating. Everything from sourdough to yogurt and kimchi are fermented; they’re brought to life by miniature life forms that require feeding, love and care – and in return, deliver delicious foods for us to enjoy. I’m hoping to try out some of the techniques in Ferment and gain a deeper connection and understanding of the microorganisms that help create the foods that I take for granted. 

Hardcover because all good cookbooks need to last.

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