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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!