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I’m Tammy Strobel. Welcome to my digital home!

I’m an author, photographer, and cat lover.

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A Holiday Book Sale + Best Books of 2016

A Holiday Book Sale + Best Books of 2016

{This week: A holiday book sale & best books of 2016.}

Hi all,

This week’s roundup is focused on books. Specifically, I’m sharing a list of the best books I read during 2016. The year isn’t over, but I felt moved to share my list of good reads, especially with the holiday season approaching. During the holidays, I’ll be hanging out with family, writing letters, and reading by the heater (or in bed). I love gifting myself good books! If you have book recommendations, please leave them in the comments section. Alternatively, if you’re reading this via email, just hit the reply button.

Before I dive into my book roundup, I want to share a little bit of fun news. My publisher, New World Library, is offering 50% off all books until December 21, 2016. The sale includes my book You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap). Plus, you’ll get free shipping in the U.S. on orders of $35 or more. Simply enter code HOLIDAY at checkout.

With that, let’s get started!

1. In mid-July, I was in Ashland, OR. and I bought Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston. Drink is a memoir, and it’s also filled with fascinating research and important cultural critiques of high-risk drinking in the Western world. Johnston raises important questions about drinking at social gatherings and the supposed benefit of drinking a glass of wine every day. I talked about Drink and how it impacted my life in a recent conversation with Nicole Antoinette and in this essay.

2. I discovered Find a Way by Diana Nyad in a small bookstore in Ashland, Oregon. The title caught my eye, and when I read the first few pages, I decided to buy the book. I’m so happy I did because Nyad’s story was inspiring. Also, it was the catalyst that got me back into masters swimming.

3. Nyad’s book led me to Lynne Cox’s writing. I devoured most of Cox’s books this year. The titles I read included Grayson, Open Water Swimming Manual, Swimming to Antarctica, and Swimming in the Sink. Cox’s writing is lyrical, beautiful, and it captures the essence of swimming. Also, one of the highlights of my year was listening to Cox speak about writing and swimming at The Dolphin Club in San Francisco.

4Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton was a striking and honest memoir. Doyle Melton doesn’t sugarcoat her addiction issues or the challenges she faced in her marriage. It takes tremendous courage to write about addiction, sex, the challenge of raising kids, and more.

5. When I finished When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, tears streamed down my face because Kalanithi’s words were frank, true, humble, and important. His thoughts about what makes life worth living in the face of death moved me deeply.

6. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande was informative and thought provoking. It's an exploration of aging, death, and how the medical profession has mishandled both. In addition, it's a personal book. Gawande discusses his father's illness, death, and how he coped with both. It’s too bad this book wasn’t published sooner. It would have been helpful to read before my dad’s illness and subsequent death.

7. I discovered Keri Smith’s book—The Wander Society—in a lovely bookstore in the San Francisco airport. As I waited for my flight, it was the perfect place to spend my time browsing titles and wandering through the aisles. I can’t remember the name of the bookstore, but it was the best airport bookstore I’ve ever stumbled across! I couldn’t put The Wander Society down. Smith offers a fascinating peek into The Wander Society and how wandering feeds the creative mind. The book combines many of my favorite things like walking in nature, journaling, mindfulness, and more.

8. Arianna Huffington examined sleep from a historical perspective, reviewed the most current research about sleep, and shared personal stories and practical advice in The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. Thanks to Huffington’s words, I no longer sleep with my phone beside my bed.

9. A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington inspired me. I don’t know what it’s like to be a world champion, but I related to Wellington’s struggles around eating disorders and body image. Her honesty was touching and affirming. Wellington wisely noted, “ …I am not sure you are ever cured of the illness that is an eating disorder but the key for me was to have developed a healthier perspective about my body. Whereas I used to see it as no more than contours of skin and color, now I see it as a holistic system that I respect and love for what it enables me to do.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Wellington’s sentiment. After struggling with an eating disorder and body image issues, I’m grateful that I’ve finally learned to see my body as a holistic system.

10. My sister-in-law—Tina Gower—published six novels this year. That’s freaking amazing. I admire Tina’s grit and her ability to tell stories. I’m hoping to increase my writing speed in 2017. After reading so many serious books this year, The Outlier Prophecies series was a lovely escape and so much fun to read.


— I forgot to include Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World in this list. In February, Cal sent me a free copy of Deep Work. I was grateful because I love Cal’s writing, and his book was incredibly helpful. In March, I gave Deep Work to my friend Kent Griswold. Last week, I ordered a new copy of Cal’s book because I need to read it again. If you’ve read this post, you’ll now why.

Happy reading friends!

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