The Free Motion Quilting Project: Best Books of 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Books of 2009

Okay, I know this isn't quilting related, but I read some really, REALLY good books this year and want to share them with you.

Some are hokey, feel good self help books, some fiction, some non-fiction. I don't really stick to any one genre and pretty much read anything and everything I can get my hands on.

I don't typically "read" a book. Instead I download and listen to it. I find that for some reason, listening to a book will disengage the chattering, bored part of my mind that is constantly distracting me.

This is actually backed up by a yoga friend who said "If you are listening, you are not thinking."

Of course, everyone is different, but I find that when I have an awesome audiobook to listen to, all I want to do is quilt, quilt, quilt without stopping until the book is finished!

Whether you like audiobooks or you prefer the print editions, all of these books are definitely worth trying out:

#1 - The Host by Stephanie Meyer - Yeah, I'll admit it, I'm a Twilight fan, but teenage vampires don't hold a candle to love sick aliens!

I read the physical book and then immediately got the audiobook version at It's an amazing read and I find that when I turn this book on I can easily get into my "zone" without even trying.

#2 - The Help by Kathryn Stockett - This is an amazing book about life in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. It's moving, powerful, and sometimes so painful and sad it's hard to listen to, but from start to finish, it's one of the best books I've ever read.

#3 - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne - The movie for this book came out a few years ago and while I've seen it on the shelf many times, it wasn't until this summer that I actually downloaded the audiobook and listened to it.

Amazing doesn't even begin to describe this book. It's definitely changed my life and helped me to focus on my goals and turn them into reality.

#4 - Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - This is a very interesting book that is really a great one to read before The Secret.

Basically the author explores the lives of famous, highly successful people and explains WHY they are so successful. The truth is that it's not innate talent, but practice and an ability to seize opportunities as they come along.

I admit that this book miffed me a bit and made me think a whole lot. After thinking about it, I listened to it again and again, picking up new ideas and understanding. This is also a life changing book!

#5 - A Good Year by Peter Mayle - I happened across this audiobook at my public library and thankfully I read it before watching the movie, which was terrible.

The book is awesome though. It's all about quirky french people, wine, and good food. It's definitely the perfect read for sitting in the sunshine in the summer, which is something we can all look forward to in a few months!

#6 - The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky - I actually just started reading this book just last night, but I think it still counts for 2009.

I've read a lot of self help books since my son was born. All of them made lofty declarations like "Love yourself!" and "Live in the present!" but none of them really gave instructions for doing these things.

This book, however, is very different. Sonja is what's called a "positive psychologist" and has studied happiness and the differences between people who claim to be "very happy" and those who claim to be "very unhappy".

While this may seem like a whole bunch of warm and fuzzy nonsense, it's really not! Based on many different studies, the author has found that only 10% of our happiness is actually caused by life circumstance (i.e. how much much money we make, what car we drive).

The most comforting thing about this book is the finding that over 40% of our happiness feeling is not only under our control, but able to be increased by doing simple activities.

Of course, some of the activities work better for some people than others. There are 12 possible activities and a survey is provided to help you pick the four that best suit your personality.

I took the survey last night, and guess which activity ranked at the top for me? Quilting! Well, not quilting specifically, but an activity I can easily "lose" myself in.

I thought about it and realized that the happiest times I can look back on during the previous year are those times when I was actively involved in working on a quilt I loved.

And the other activities that will increase my happiness?

Actively working to improve relationships, engaging in more spiritual activities, and working to avoid over-thinking and obsessing about the past or the future.

What I love about this book is the idea that my happiness is absolutely under my control.

While some of these activities may take work and effort to do weekly until they become routine, overall I know I will enjoy doing them because they fit with my personality and are not hard or make me feel ridiculous.

So there you have it! Six terrific books perfect for the new year!

Let's go quilt (or read)!

Leah Day


  1. Funny! I have been listening to audio books too! I go to my library's website and download from there. I just read Kentucky Heat by Fern Michaels. The entire series lol it was awesome! I will have to try the books you mentioned.

    I agree that it takes your mind off of other things which sometimes is totally needed!

  2. If you want one more you must read The Art of Racing in the Rain. I read all the time and have read several of the books on your list. This book would be a the top of my list. It is told from the viewpoint of a dog but you do not have to be a dog lover to like the book.

  3. I literally finished The Help last night. It was an AWESOME book! I'm sending it to my youngest Stepdaughter so she can use it for her book club.

    Having been born during that time periods, living in the South, and having a "nanny" like Abileen made me identify so much with Mae Mobley...`

  4. Totally agree with you on The Help. Loved that book.

  5. Do you get all your audiobooks from your library or do you have a good source for them? I'm always looking for the free kinds of sources...!!

  6. Hi Leah, thanks for this post, I'm keen to read the last book you mentioned about happiness, I love that it has some concrete ideas rather than just the same old platitudes.
    I hope you have a fabulous year in 2010.
    Kelly :-)

  7. These are the types of books I read!! Enjoy them alot - love learning!!! Have a great day!!!

    Happy New Year!!

  8. Thanks! I'm always looking for a good read.

  9. I love listening to Audiobooks too. The thing about it stopping a busy mind is so true; I often listen to them when I'm trying to get to sleep.

    Do you have a subscription at audible? I've been considering signing up for a while. would you recommend it?

  10. Hi Rachel - I do have a subscription to audible and I would recommend it.

    Just make sure your MP3 player is compatible. I had a lot of problems downloading anything to my Ipod nano, but switched to a Sansa Clip and never had a problem once.

    It's a great way to stock up on good books for a fraction of the price. Libraries also have free options, but I could never get the system to work for my computer.



  11. Thanks, Leah, for this list of good reads. The only one I have read is The Host (loved it). I will have to try some of the others.

  12. I am a fan of some audio books and usually it has alot to do with the reader. My all time favorite is a series of 7 maybe it is 8 books by Diana Gabaldon. I call it the Outlander series since Outlander is the first book. I think it is called Cross Stitch in England. Davina Porter is the reader and absolutely brings the characters to life! I recommend any thing she reads.

    As for print books of 2009 that I think are the best. One stands out above the rest. I always get the title wrong Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

    Yesterday I watched a Netflix instant downloadable movie "84 Charing Cross Road" and it reminded my of the Guernsey book. Both are epistolary in form, and set in about the same era. I recommend the movie, haven't read the book. Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins star in it.

    I can go on forever discussing books and admiring quilts! :)


  13. What a great post. I haven't looked back over the past year. I think I'm afraid to *LOL* Thanks for the book suggestions. I listen to books but I've been listening to the classics from cause the downloads are free. Happy New year!

  14. I love audiobooks while I'm quilting. Like you, it turns off my internal dialogue (which is often negative). I'm a big Malcolm Gladwell fan, but love me some Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. Our library system is hooked to Overdrive, which offers audiobooks like library books, free downloads.
    Love your blog!

  15. This is an awesome list of books. I am going to check into these and to have audio books to listen to while quilting is a great idea. I have thought about doing this but have never followed through so that will be something that I will add to my list of things to add to my routines for the new year


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