My 5 Favorite Books of the Year.

Via Michelle Margaret Fajkus
on Dec 6, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

photo: tumblr

What was a favorite book that you read this year?

Any genre, any author, any subject. Or—choose up to five, if it’s too impossible to narrow it down to a single volume.*

I had a baby on January 6 of this year. So I’m pretty proud that I still managed to read so many books.

Here are my top five most favorite that I read this year, because I just couldn’t narrow it down to one.

1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Okay, so I’m way behind on the Jhumpa Lahiri bandwagon. After reading her fabulous short story collection, The Interpreter of Maladies, I finally picked up her 2004 novel, The Namesake. It tells the story of the Ganguli family, from their traditional life in Calcutta through their decades of transformation into Indian Americans.

Every sentence is a pleasure to read. The story is well crafted and the characters feel genuine. I typically tend toward nonfiction more than fiction, but this is a novel you don’t want to miss. Ms. Lahiri published a new novel this year, The Lowland, which is in my book queue.

2. Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber by Ken Wilber

I reread this touching book this year. It intersperses Treya’s personal diary entries from before and during her five year battle with cancer with her husband, respected philosopher Ken Wilber’s writings on spirituality, Buddhist teachings and the struggles and joys of being a caretaker of a terminally ill person.

It’s like the book version of these sad, beautiful, compelling photos.

3. The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

This 2013 book consists of one meandering conversation between actor Jeff Bridges and Jewish Zen teacher Bernie Glassman. The pals riff on everything from love and marriage to earthquakes, meditation and movie-making—all within the framework of the Zen-like quotes uttered by The Dude, the character Bridges portrayed in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Big Lebowski.

4. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

Please read this book. If you’ve read it before, read it again. Even the chapter titles in this book are great teachings: “This Very Moment is the Perfect Teacher,” “Relax As It Is,” “The Path Is The Goal.”

Pema’s compassionate discourse in each chapter only adds to the incredible value of this book’s advice for dealing with the difficult situations that we all face from time to time.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Okay, so it’s not quite in the same category as Nelson Mandela’s memoir (also in my queue), but this memoir by Tina Fey is terribly funny, well-written and interesting—a fun, easy read.

I found myself chuckling out loud at something in almost every chapter. Tina’s tales of her life both before and after becoming one of the most famous American comediennes around, are humble, hilarious and highly readable.

*This is today’s prompt for #reverb13, a means to reflect on the year that has passed and set intentions for the coming year. You are invited to participate, as privately or publicly as you wish. 

I’m always in the market for some good book recommendations, so please leave a comment with your favorite titles(s) and why.

Like elephant literary journal on Facebook.

Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Image: Tumblr


About Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a Gemini yogini, writer, teacher and retreat leader who founded Yoga Freedom in 2002 in Austin, Texas. Her home since 2012 is Lake Atitlán, Guatemala where she lives in a tiny eco cabin with her Colombiano partner and their adorable daughter, dog and two gatos. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has written some inspiring books, with more on the way. She leads yoga and mindfulness retreats and serves as the retreat managers for the stunningly beautiful Villa Sumaya on majestic Lago Atitlan. Her lineage is the very esoteric Yoga Schmoga, which incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma (Buddhist) teachings, pranayama (breath work), yin yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation. Join Michelle on retreat in Guatemala!


4 Responses to “My 5 Favorite Books of the Year.”

  1. latterenee says:

    I highly recommend anything by Sherman Alexie. By far one of my favorite authors.

  2. Kristy says:

    Books…I’ve taken a bit of a break from spiritual/healing books to read fiction in the last while since I was finding myself spending ALL my time on healing work and not enough on fun…which turns me into stressed-me. The last really influential book I read (other than dabbling with yoga books like “Meditations on the Mat” and “YogaBody”, which are great!) was Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”. Facebook really opened my eyes to seeing emotions and the present experience as something within our control. I started noticing, questioning, and altering my feelings of the present moment, even if only once and a while, and this will continue to be life-long learning, which I am so grateful for!

  3. Tina Greenwood says:

    Last year John Benedict published his sequel to Adrenaline. On The Edge Of Death. Adrenaline also got a re-release. Those are two books that are not to be missed. I can't recommend them highly enough. Absolute gems for fans of thrillers, murder mystery and even supernatural fiction.