Book Nerd (to the 43rd power)

I grew up in a household where motherhood meant absolute sacrifice. My mom gave her all, every day, to care for me and my sister. As much as I scrounge around in the bits and fragments of childhood memories, I don’t remember my mom ever doing something just for herself. Not once.

I wish my mom had known that the whole maternal sacrifice thing… well, it’s kind of bullshit.*

I give my daughter access to all that I am. But the pieces of me–my love for writing and running, my need to sing off key at every song on the radio, my penchant for remembering lines to movies and bits of songs I haven’t heard in years–make me who I am. I honor myself by making time to do things I love, so that my daughter sees the woman who shapes her world as a whole person. Because I am. A full, glorious, flawed, incredibly enthusiastic person.

The one place where that ability to create space for the things I love hasn’t translated is reading. That’s right. Reading. I love to read. More than I love to do almost anything. Consequently, I feel guilty when I do it. There’s this subconscious voice that kicks in that tells me to stop screwing around, to do something productive. There’s something deep down in my soul that believes I don’t deserve that kind of unadulterated pleasure.

So this year, my 43rd year, I am laying down that reading guilt. I’m going to set it free because it does not serve me. And I am going to fully embrace my love of reading. So much so that I am going to read 43 books this year.


That’s right. Go big or go home, baby.

I’m already reading 3 different books. At one time. So my very first step is, well, you know, to finish one of those. And, yes, they count even if I started reading them before I turned 43… because I am the decider.


Here’s where you get to play along. Got a book recommendation? Drop it in the comments. I love to explore new authors, new genres… and I’m willing to try almost anything you think is good.

Here’s to uncovering all my book nerd glory in year 43.



*And by that, I mean it’s unnecessary to being a good mother. My mom’s sacrifice for us was real. It’s one she feels even now. And while I love and appreciate her, I needed to find another way for myself.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Published by Kendra Lee

I am smitten with Atlanta. I believe Black Lives Matter. I care deeply about housing justice, education, and transportation. I am a huge MARTA fan. I've got the most adorable second grader, an incorrigible Boxer named Delilah, and a pretty amazing husband named Simon. I've been sober for 9+ years. I heart coffee. On any given day I may write about all--or none--of those things.

5 thoughts on “Book Nerd (to the 43rd power)

  1. I don’t want to overwhelm you with a humongous list, but I’d love to give you some recs if you want to chat about it 🙂 My dream job is where I meet people and suggest books to them like a book sommelier.


      1. Alrighty, here is a bit of a wide smattering. I’m sure I’ll add more over time

        Some of my favorite books I’ve ever read:
        The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Murial Barbery
        Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
        A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (not a series, just two beautiful stand-alone novels)
        The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

        Some good YA
        The Bear & The Nightingale (starts the Winternight trilogy, Russian fairytales… it’s great)
        The Hate U Give (NY Times bestseller, this is probably(?) on your radar, worth the hype)
        City of Brass (really cool fantasy novel set in Egypt featuring djinn and magic, start of a trilogy)
        Children of Blood & Bone (same as above, but based on African/Carribean mythology… really great start to a trilogy)

        About Writing
        On Writing by Stephen King
        Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
        Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones (particularly fun for her observations about what it was like to take a lecture with JRR Tolkien)

        Adult Fiction
        The Forgotten Child (thriller with ghosts and things, my friend wrote this and it just came out yesterday and i’m telling everyone to read it :))
        Ireland by Frank Delaney (beautiful story weaving together folklore and family)
        Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan or Sourdough by the same (quirky, techno-literary, rediscovering yourself as an adult type things)
        Magpie Murders if you like a whodunnit (just got this on kindle for like $3)
        The Mothers by Brit Bennet (does this really cool thing with collective voice narrative as the church mothers in this small town in southern california)
        The Clairvoyants by Karen Brown (another slightly spooky one)
        The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (he’s my favorite and this has some of his most beautiful short stories)
        Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (literally one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, like startled myself laughing out loud)
        Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (interesting take on the end of the world type thing)

        Barracoon (came out this year) by Zora Neal Hurston… it’s a lot, but a quick read… and really interesting as a historical piece
        Yes Please by Amy Poehler
        Pastrix by Nadia Boltz Weber (I think she has a couple and I feel like I could endorse any of them)

        This is a lot. 😬


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