This Is Every Book I Read in 2022 (3rd Annual “One-Book-Per-Week Challenge”)

This Is Every Book I Read in 2022 (3rd Annual “One-Book-Per-Week Challenge”)

In 2020, faced with the pandemic lockdown, I kicked my love for reading into hyperdrive and read one book per week. (These are the 55 books I finished.) Invigorated by all the stories I devoured, I tried reading one book per week again the following year. However, the slow return to “normal life” made it harder to find reading time so I only finished 31 books in 2021, a little more than half the goal.

2022 marked the third year of my annual “One-Book-Per-Week Challenge.” This year I found a better book-life balance and while my tally increased dramatically from last year, I once again missed my quota. That said, I consider it a very successful year of reading. For starters, I finished a respectable 46 books (see full list below). More importantly, my reading list achieved diversity of genre, literary complexity, and focus. Lastly, I found a new favorite author: Sloane Crosley. Sloane is an American writer known for her fiction and non-fiction tongue-in-cheek commentary inspired by/about her life. My first experience reading Sloane’s writing was in “Cult Classic,” The Booze and Book Club‘s pick for July. Upon finishing that book, I purchased her four other books and finished three. It was such a joy finding an author whose writing and voice really resonated with me.

While Sloane’s books were the highlight of my year, I enjoyed most of the books that made their way into my home this year. Other repeat authors from this year’s list include Jennifer Egan, Jean Hanff Korelitz and Paolo Coelho. There were stories about sports, war, relationships, ghosts, sociopathy, and innovation, among others. My favorite memory was reading Paolo Coelho’s “The Pilgrimage,” a memoir about his trek on El Camino de Santiago, while my mom and I completed our pilgrimage along its Portuguese route. Our journey on foot was memorable for a number of reasons and sharing my joy of reading with my mom during this once-in-a-lifetime experience was among them.

My mom and I on the Portuguese Route of El Camino de Santiago in June. We walked 119km from the southern border of Spain to Santiago de Compostela over 5 days.

I look forward to what 2023 will bring between two covers. To inspire your reading this coming year, here is every book I read in 2022 (in order of completion). I marked The Booze and Book Club selections with an asterisk and those I absolutely adored in bold. Did any of these make your reading list? Which books are you most looking forward to reading this coming year?

Continue reading “This Is Every Book I Read in 2022 (3rd Annual “One-Book-Per-Week Challenge”)”

I Tried Reading One Book Per Week in 2021. Here Is How I Did.

I Tried Reading One Book Per Week in 2021. Here Is How I Did.

I read one book per week in 2020. Breezing through books was easy when the pandemic confined me indoors with no social prospects. A book per week was a tougher task once life started returning to normal. Reading time was superseded by dinners with friends, a flurry of travel, and the joys of a new relationship.

While I did not achieve quite as voluminous a reading list in 2021, I still managed to finish 31 tomes (approx. one book per two weeks.) Like last year, I focused on varying my reading selections between fiction and non-fiction and across genres, themes, and topics. One book a month was assigned by “The Booze and Books Club,” which was once again one of the highlights of my annual reading journey. Not only did we continue meeting on a monthly basis, but this year our club also launched its own instagram (@theboozeandbooksclub) and began hosting progressively more elaborate, on-theme gatherings. For example, in August, members brought their dogs to discuss canine-themed “Nightbitch” by Rachel Yoder and in September, we met at family-owned seafood restaurant La Camaronera to discuss “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reed that spotlights the dynamics of a family that owns a seafood restaurant. Oh, and we began incorporating discussions with the authors into our meetings both virtually and when the pandemic (and Miami Book Fair) allowed, in person. Props to Virginia Gil and Gio Gutierrez for all of the hard work they put into running the best book club hands down.

Another milestone moment from this past year was my chat with Barney and Falc of @booksandbeersclub. You can watch the Books and Beers episode on YouTube here. We talked about my career, my George Constanza sweatpants, my numerous Instagram accounts, and all things reading. My favorite part was our animated discussion on our favorite and least favorite books. Both Barney and Falc share my love for the teaching of Dale Carnegie and struggled through “Cien Años de Soledad.” Nothing energizes me like intellectually stimulating discourse with fellow book lovers!

Before I share with you the comprehensive list of every book I read in 2022, I want to thank all of you who reached out to discuss books, suggest books, send books (Murph! Wanka! Christine! Reggie! Betsy! Faja!), and in the case of Scott Deitche, share books you authored. For me, reading is as, if not more, thrilling as a team sport than an individual sport. Please take a look at the list below and then reach out in the comments or on social media with your favorite books of 2021 and your most anticipated books for 2022. My very best wishes to you for a happy, healthy and book-filled year to come!

Every Book I Read in 2021 (in order of completion)
I marked the Booze & Books Club picks with an asterisk. I show in bold those I loved.

Continue reading “I Tried Reading One Book Per Week in 2021. Here Is How I Did.”

I Read One Book Per Week in 2020. This Is Every Book I Finished.

I Read One Book Per Week in 2020. This Is Every Book I Finished.

I have a penchant for making ambitious annual commitments. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, I committed to running one mile per day of the year, or 365 miles per year. However, despite my best efforts, which included regular 10 to 13 mile Saturday morning runs, multiple half marathons and my first marathon in 2018, I came close but never quite made it across the finish line. My competitive spirit was inclined to keep going, but I was forced to take a break from persistent running to recover from an ankle injury.

This year, I made a new and exciting commitment: to read one book per week of the year. I am a voracious reader and was on pace at the end of January so the goal seemed aggressive yet achievable. My focus on reading wavered from month to month. Strangely enough, quarantine and a new work-from-home routine were the biggest help toward reaching my goal by opening up new pockets of reading time previously used for commuting and a social life. Virginia Gil’s invitation to join “The Boozy Book Club,” a charismatic group of Miami readers that pick and discuss a new book each month, was also a godsend for my sanity and maintaining reading momentum.

I reached my goal on December 23 when I finished my 53rd book on week 52 of 53. I finished a 54th and 55th book that same week for good measure after there was some contention about counting a 20-page picture book as book 52. Let no one say this challenge was unmet—it was unequivocally defeated! Below is the comprehensive list of every book I read in 2020, in order, for your peer review and reading pleasure in 2021. (While I loved most books, the ones that were life-changing are shown in bold.)

My reading list for 2020 varied widely in every sense. It constituted both fiction and non-fiction. The books ranged from witty quips, poetry and short stories to novellas and novels. I read stories in 20 pages and others in 800+. What I liked most about this year’s reading journey is that every author forced my already open mind to see the world from a brand new perspective, opening my eyes to real and imagined scenarios beyond the realm of what I thought possible. I learned A LOT from reading each and every one of these books. I hope you too will find a much needed lesson, outlook, or escape in their pages.

Every Book I Read in 2020 (in order of completion)
I marked those I recommend in an asterisk. I show in bold those I loved.

Continue reading “I Read One Book Per Week in 2020. This Is Every Book I Finished.”

Why I finally subscribed to the Miami Herald (and you should too)

Why I finally subscribed to the Miami Herald (and you should too)

After 20 years in South Florida, I finally subscribed to the Miami Herald. I read it all the time. The Herald is my go-to source for scoop on the good, the bad and the ugly of Miami-Dade County. It’s where I keep a pulse on local politics and start researching candidates during election season. It’s where I track what’s good to eat around town and catch up on the events I missed when I decide to stay in for the evening. More importantly, it’s where I get to learn from the perspectives of my neighbors on issues that affect our community.

For years I have relied on the Miami Herald as a primary source of local news and at times, as an outlet through which to share information. When I was at the City of Miami Beach, the Herald and I had a love-hate relationship. Its writers and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye on issues pertaining to my work, but I was appreciative of the conversations they ignited surrounding our environment and our city. Moreover, its national prestige ensured these conversations were amplified. I know because when I google myself, I find articles from a wide range of outlets referencing the handful of times I was quoted in the Miami Herald.

I don’t know why it took me so long to subscribe. Perhaps it was the fact that I did not grow up buying the paper. When I lived in Mexico City, a copy of Reforma was always resting on the dark wood credenza in the vestibule of my grandparents’ house. During our Sunday visits, I would pause on my way in or out to flip haphazardly through its pages, never once questioning how the paper got there. When we arrived to South Florida, I was your run-of-the-mill myopic teenager, too wrapped up in surviving school socially and academically to remember there was a world beyond campus. By the time I picked up another newspaper, there was nothing to pick-up, only links to click through while silently praying I wouldn’t hit a paywall.

Today I finally decided to stop x-ing out of that telltale pop-up and support my local paper. I had been mulling over the decision for a few months and all it took was this article by Carlos Frías announcing the newly revamped Red Fish for me to pull the trigger. For years, like many others, I have been syphoning knowledge for free from the pages of the Miami Herald, knowledge that talented journalists bring us at great personal sacrifice, like sitting patiently for 12+ hours listening to a commission meeting each month. It’s about time I uphold my end of the journalistic bargain as a loyal reader: by paying for the work behind the content.

Although my support is long overdue, the Miami Herald needs it more than ever. They were facing financial setbacks before the pandemic and the economic instability continues to threaten its existence. I don’t kid myself that my measly $12.99-a-month subscription is going to save the Miami Herald, but it’s better than $0 and it highlights how much I appreciate the hard work from the newsroom. Next time you read an article from the Miami Herald stop to consider the value it is bringing your life and the work that happened behind the scenes to make it possible. Is it worth more than $0?

Six Books You Need To Read This Spring

Six Books You Need To Read This Spring

I live ravenously and sometimes – when I look outwardly for self-fulfillment in travel or new and exciting experiences – a little haphazardly. The one activity that never fails to ground me and nourishes me internally is reading. During Winter, I took a mental vacation with a little help from fiction reads. I devoured everything from detective novels (shoutout to Faja for giving me “Two Kinds of Truth” by Michael Connelly) to dystopian tomes and finally discovered what all the buzz behind “The Handmaid’s Tale” is about.

Now that Spring has sprung, I am ready to get back to business in the realm of non-fiction so I knocked on Diana’s door after a three month hiatus to revive the Crossing Borders Book Club. Our approach this quarter is more casual: there is no commitment to ready any of the books in any timeframe or order nor is there any plan to meet up to talk about them. We simply want to share what we are reading with you in case you are in need of some inspiration.

We each contributed three books for a total of six books you need to read this Spring. I have grouped them based on who recommended them so you can reach out to us individually if you want to share your thoughts or chat about a specific book. I’m currently glued to “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.” If any of you read it, I’m dying to talk through it.

Diana’s List:

My List:

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

Welcome to the first thing I’ve managed to write in months. It’s not that I haven’t been honing my writing—it’s that I have been doing so by reading ravenously. After all, the wise William Faulkner once said, “Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.” And one does not not listen to William Faulkner.

The Summer reading list of the “Crossing Borders Book Club” in July and your recommendations gave me a wide range of reading options to work through. That said, this past quarter I had a tough time with non-fiction. How did you fare?

On my end, I started with “The Power of One” and abandoned it after a few chapters in search of a book with more storytelling, more anecdotes. I landed next at “When Breath Becomes Air,” a memoir that I finished in less than a week and followed up with “The Age of Innocence” and “Bright Lights, Big City”. (I know. I plummeted out of our book club list and into a black hole of fiction, but the mind wants what the mind wants.)

For our Fall book club reading list, I’m renewing my vows to non-fiction and I’m hoping you’ll keep me honest. I have listed two of the three titles below—Diana’s top pick and my top pick:

  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This is Diana’s selection. I’m excited to read this because The Birkman Method recently outed me as an introvert.
  2. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make The Most of Them Now by Dr. Meg Jay. This was my selection, passed on from my friend Stan who is in his twenties and raves about this book. Sadly I am no longer in my twenties, but he assures me Dr. Jay’s advice is still worthwhile.

We want your help picking the third book. Please send us your recommendations for the third book in the comments below or post them on the book club Facebook page. We’ll be keeping a running list until the day of our in-person meeting (date TBD, but we’re aiming for a weekend in the next two weeks) at which time we’ll vote on one.

P.S. We’re really excited to meet you and hear your thoughts on the books we read this past quarter! From my brief conversations with Diana, her experience over the last three months and her perspective on the books is completely different than mine so you know it’s going to make for great conversation!

Shake Up Your Reading List, Join Our Book Club

Shake Up Your Reading List, Join Our Book Club

Are you looking to shake up your reading list? It’s your lucky day! My friend Diana and I are launching a book club and we want you to join us.

Over the last year, you have been an amazing reading buddy. You’ve graciously accepted my reading recommendations, shared some of your own, and engaged with me in light yet educated discussion on the themes covered therein. Diana and I want to start a book club with you to build on our current momentum and give it a more formal structure.

The idea is simple. We will be releasing a new reading list once a quarter focused on professional, personal, and/or spiritual development. These are the themes we have already been covering in my seasonal reading lists. In fact, some of your favorites from past lists span the full range of topics: Who Moved My Cheese covers professional development, Option B covers personal development, and Why Buddhism Is True covers spiritual development.


We want this book club to transcend borders, both literary and geographic. Diana and I are based in Miami but we want you to participate no matter where you are located. For that reason, we will be creating an online group, called “Crossing Borders Book Club,” where we will be releasing the quarterly reading list and moderating discussions. (We need your help figuring out which platform works best. Is it a Facebook group? Is it a WhatsApp group? Is it something we haven’t considered yet? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.)

We also want to see you in person! We are planning to organize one quarterly in-person meeting at a local coffee shop or bookstore so we can talk books over drinks and nibbles. Think quaint spots with yummy food like the Bookstore in the Grove and Books & Books. We promise to vary the meeting location throughout the Miami area to give everyone a chance to join us.

For our very first quarterly reading list (“The Summer Edition” if you will), Diana and I joined forces to bring you the following three selections:

  1. The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud
  2. Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

We will be reading them in the order in which they are listed at a rate of one book per month through the first day of Fall (September 22) when we will release a new list. Feel free to skip around and to read them at your own pace. We purposefully picked books with minimal spoiler potential and in the online group, we’ll be working to separate discussions by title.

Please reach out to us—personally or in the comments below—if you are interested in joining. We’re excited to have you and to build future reading lists on your suggestions! Don’t forget to start compiling a list of books on your wish list. At our in-person meeting, each member will be putting a suggestion into a hat from which we will be drawing the titles for our next reading list. Until then, happy reading!


Three Books You Need To Read This Spring

Three Books You Need To Read This Spring

Folks, we’ve officially come full circle. As of this post, we have shared the joy of reading for four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and with today’s list, Spring!

This season has been about women-focused narratives for me. I traveled to Paris with The Dud Avocado, a gift from my friend Betsy who gave it to me for its Paris-based story—she makes a habit of reading novels that correspond with where she is traveling—and because the main character reminded her of me. She was right. The mischievous and adventure-loving Sally Jay is my spirit animal!

The last few weeks I’ve been reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman. It’s not a book I would have picked up on my own. My colleague Juliany lent it to me unprompted and after reading the synopsis, I decided to try it as a means of broadening my perspective. I had a hard time getting past the first seven chapters because they paint women as victims and I don’t share that opinion. But, I powered through and made it to the second half which, except for the chapter on abortion, is full of insightful and hilarious anecdotes about the woman experience.

While I have enjoyed both books, I haven’t stopped my pursuit of knowledge on personal and professional development. In fact my library has quadrupled since my last reading list post. Below are the three books at the top of my Spring reading list:

1. Conspiracy

Author Ryan Holiday—you may remember him from Four Newsletters You Need In Your Inbox—breaks down the fall of Gawker Media as a case study of how power works in the 21st Century. In a time when we question everything we hear on the news or from the government, I am hoping this book on conspiracy, patience, strategy and revenge can help us be more judicious about what we believe and don’t believe.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow

I first encountered the intellectual beast that is this book on human psychology and the human brain at 4 a.m. when Betsy and I were walking through the hallowed halls of Miami International Airport after our redeye from Utah. She asked, “If a ball and a bat costs $1.10 and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?” Tired and fully aware of my challenge with math, I nearly killed her for asking such a question. However, when I had my “Eureka!” moment after a few cups of coffee, I was fully committed to reading the whole book.

3. Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within

This year I finally stopped mooching off of other people’s Netflix accounts and thank the lord because they are offering better shows and movies (or at a minimum, I got better at finding them amidst all the crap). One of the mini-series I have most enjoyed recently was Wild Wild Country which documents the Rajneesh’s controversial arrival to Oregon. Regardless of what you think of the Osho from the events recounted in the series, he is one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century and I want to learn from his wisdom. He published his teaching across numerous books. I started with creativity because it is a skill I am working to improve.

Three Books You Need To Read This Winter

Three Books You Need To Read This Winter

Welcome to the first day of winter. As with past seasons, it is time for your friendly reminder to freshen up your personal library. (Here are my book suggestions from this past summer and fall, in case you missed them.)

This series of posts is my favorite to write because I love reading/sharing quality books. I also love that you’ve responded so positively to my suggestions and that a lot of you take this opportunity to give me your own. Some of you have gone so far as to send me books. Apparently you’ve realized sending me books is the quickest way to get me to like you. Kudos.

Unfortunately, it seems my library is expanding at a quicker rate than I can find time to read. The last time I counted, I was actively reading four books at once: 1. The Comic Toolbox, 2. Los Presidenciables, 3. The Ecstatic, and 4. What The Dog Saw. So in this season’s list, rather than include books I have read or am reading, I have decided to include the books I will be reading next. Proceed with caution.

Here are the three books you need to read this winter:

1. What The Dog Saw

I know I said this list includes only books I haven’t read and that I said I am actively reading this. The reason it qualifies as both is because I haven’t even finished the first chapter. I picked it up at a friend’s house a few weeks ago when I was waiting for him to finish a phone call. (Malcolm Gladwell’s name called to me amidst the hundreds of books in his library. It’s a compilation of 19 articles Gladwell published in The New Yorker focused on psychological and sociological topics.) I had just enough time to read the first few pages and am excited to keep going once I have the chance to order myself a copy.

2. The Swamp

As a Floridian and environmental professional, I am shocked I haven’t yet read this book. According to David Lawrence Jr., a former Miami Herald editor that sent me a copy after I joined him on a tour of the Everglades, it is the best book he knows for basic Everglades understanding. I consider it my right of passage into full Miamihood and also a critical part of my preparation into becoming a South Florida National Parks Trust ambassador in 2018. (I received word last week that I was selected into their inaugural class! I’ll share more about what it means in a future post.)

3. Why Buddhism Is True

The moment my friend Victor realized I am more high strung than he initially anticipated, he sent me this book about the transformative practice of meditation. He hasn’t read it but he has read other works by Robert Wright and was impressed by his intellect. Both Victor and I are huge fans of analyzing the human experience—he’s a philosophy major, I’m an aspiring psychology major—so there is no question that Wright’s New York Times Best Selling assessment of the “human predicament” is going to be right up our alley.

And now, for your quote of the day:

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what book he reads.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

I’ve gone book crazy. It’s been building since the summer (see my summer reading list), but it has recently reached a fever pitch. It hasn’t helped that in the last few weeks I have found myself in actual brick-and-mortar bookstores—yea, they still exist—starting with the West Kendall Barnes and Nobles last month and ending with the Books and Books in Coral Gables last weekend. To add fuel to the fire, I took an incredible storytelling workshop with Miami writer Anjanette “Anja” Delgado which resulted in no less than 10 book recommendations curated just for me. Alas, all of my money has been invested in knowledge, imagination, and stacks of paper of varying heights neatly glued together.

My library has tripled in a few short weeks. When I moved in April, I kept a paltry 15 books including a 200-page manual for using my Canon. Today I am the proud owner of 45 books, with a couple more on their way. My apartment looks like a bomb went off with half-started books on every surface: the two nightstands, the coffee table, the dining table, even the floor is not safe. I couldn’t wait to get to them so I started and am reading several at the same time.

Here are the three you need to read this Fall:

1. The Comic Toolbox
This is the last book I started and my favorite one on my fall reading list by far. It arrived on my doorstep yesterday so I’ve only made it through the introduction and it has made me laugh nonstop. Plus, the concepts that the writer discusses made me think completely differently about writing. I am a person that loves rules. In only four pages this book has convinced me to toss them out the window when it comes to writing. Read the passive voice excerpt on pages xiii and xiv and see if you don’t feel the exact same way.

2. How To Read Literature Like A Professor
While I love literature, I have had a hard time since middle school getting all heady about the deeper literary meaning of a text. In fact, as recently as my storytelling class this past weekend, that type of banter makes me roll my eyes so hard they hurt. I am hoping that this book, which on its back cover claims to be “lively and entertaining”, will open my eyes to what other people see or experience when they are engaging in those types of discussions. I’ve got nothing to lose.

3. Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Poetry is another subject popular with literary types with which I have never connected. During elementary school, I participated annually in poetry reading contests and I only remember Margarita, está linda la mar by Rubén Darío, most likely because it includes my name. Then, Anja read us The Book of Genesis According to St. Miguelito on pages 349 through 351 of this collection of poems. It was so powerful, so captivating, so approachable, so memorable that it completely changed my opinion of what poetry can be. I’m excited to see what else is hidden between its covers.

P.S. If you don’t feel like committing to a book but you want to exercise your brain, I occasionally take breaks from reading to do the daily workout on the brain training app, Peak. It probably comes as no surprise given how much I love writing that my favorite game is called “Word Fresh”. And now, for your quote of the day:

“You’ll only get out of this book what you put in. Or to put it another way, the more you pay, the more it’s worth.” —John Vorhaus on The Comic Toolbox