2015 Roundup: Books

I’ve kept a composition book since 2005 simply listing the books I read. As I write this, I’m reading my 25th book for 2015; well off my peak of 44 in 2009, but showing an encouraging trend: the last three years I’ve read 6, 8, 16.

Here are a few books I read this year that had an impact on the work I do and how I live in the world.

  1. The Anatomy of Melody, Alice Parker (194 pages) Alice’s first book outlining her thinking about music “theory” and in particular about melody as the primary structure in music worldwide.
  2. The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer (336 pages) Amanda Palmer uses her own story to talk about being willing to boldly put yourself in front of a group and ask for what you need.
  3. Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, Pema Chödrön (131 pages) I finished this lovely little book – a Christmas gift – just two nights ago; she writes movingly and compellingly about the need for failure as a step in our journey. The first half is a beautifully laid-out text of a commencement address she delivered; the second half is a long interview she gave about the address, which delves into enough biography to let us know her advice on failure comes both from her Buddhist studies and her personal experience.
  4. Felicity and A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver (81 pages, 130 pages) It has been a very Mary Oliver year for me, between her gorgeous and moving poetry to her moving interview with Krista Tippet to her book about poetry. I understand that she doesn’t permit her poetry to be set to music; however, I’m so appreciative of her Handbook, which approaches the poem in a practical way that I will use both as a conductor and a composer.
  5. Show Your Work, Austin Kleon (215 pages) Austin writes that in the connection age, it’s incredibly important to develop habits of sharing your art as you make it.
  6. What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn), Seth Godin (160 pages) Seth writes about taking the leap into bigger ideas, bolder visions, a more impactful life. Unlike previous books, he has designed this to look and feel like a magazine. It’s lovely and compelling.

I’m sorry not to include any novels on my list – I love novels but this year I haven’t read any that deeply affected me.

I happily take recommendations – let me know what books made your year so I can check them out!