The Second Lunch Kitchen Resolutions 2024

julia child in her kitchen

🔪 Kitchen Resolutions 2024

Every year I sit down and make some resolutions for the kitchen. Given that food is one of my favorite sources of joy, novelty, and connection, it’s a favorite practice of mine to spend a little bit of time making this space more useful, and my time spent in the kitchen more meaningful. Having people around my table (even figuratively) is how I show love, and bring people together – and although we can’t do much of that these days, I’m thankful to be able to take the time to feed myself well.

I’ve been writing these resolutions for more than a decade, and some of them pop up year after year – affirm doing good things that work – and a handful are new each year. You can take a peek through previous years here:  (2012) (2016) (2017)  (2018) (2019) (2020) (2022) (2023)

I try not to re-invent the wheel, so the categories are the same with some year in review updates!

Re-Commit to Consistent Kitchen Habits:

Particularly the habits that keep me consistent in other areas of my life. I find that most things in my life depend on me eating well.

  • Weekly Meal Planning: one of my home court habits in my “Let’s Eat” spreadsheet. I also make a weekly Evernote note with my shopping list on there as well. One thing that has made this easier in 2023 is that I now publish my meal plan each week in my newsletter! I plan on continuing this!
  • Update my “Anytime Shopping List” ie: regular groceries list (favorites, protein, don’t leave the store without this!)
  • Update my “New Recipes To Try” list (with at least 52 stellar recipes for the year and beyond); and a weekly Turkish recipe.

AND: Dishes cleaned before bed, coffee maker set. Coffee cup next to the coffee maker, ready to take on the day.

Remove Clutter:

While some people find a perfectly spotless and minimalist kitchen ideal; I actually need to be able to see appliances or pantry items in order to be inspired to use them.

  • Do a systems audit for blockages
  • Make what I want to use more obvious
  • Schedule a quarterly KITCHEN PURGE
  • Remove the storage pans from the oven so you can use it more easily this year

In 2023, I gave myself the gift of an organizer who came once a quarter. We worked on some big projects each time, and cleared out the vast majority of all tupperware from my kitchen. Life changing.

Quest for Best:

This is one of my personal values – I get a lot of satisfaction out of keeping track of the “best of”, like your own neighborhood consumer reports.

  • Do a pantry audit, and re-stock pantry with “best of” items, update my spreadsheet (did in 2023, do again in 2024)
  • Seek novelty: Bean of the Month Club, Spice Club, new item at Trader Joe’s or one new item at Formaggio each trip! (NEW: Noma R+D club shipments (re-upped for 2024 – the Dashi RDX and Corn Yuzu hot sauce were fab!)

AND: Update my 1000 new fruits/veg to try list! (By *season* if possible)

Assorted Culinary Miscellany

• Get your knives sharpened. Just do it! (China Fair does it for a dollar)
• Review storage containers for more sustainable options (updated with Anyday)
• Re-Read a classic cookbook every month
• Read more food writing (and memoirs) – added to reading list!

AND: Write a new travel (and local!) bucket list of restaurants. (Currently in my Ideas Doc)

Make Memories in the Kitchen

  • Update Friends + Family Favorite List so I can cook in honor of my people and think about them (or cook for them!) If I haven’t solicited some from you, drop your favorites in the comments for me!
  • Monthly: Update Seasonal Favorite Cooking List (in my Ideas Doc)
  • Monthly: Update my list of “Big Cooking Projects” (in my Ideas Doc)
  • Zoom Cooking classes with friends! (In 2021, I had a great time taking a truffle making course, and a Lamb Biryani from Pondicheri – looking forward to choosing a few great options to take with friends and family!)
  • Pick two signature cooking gifts (something to perfect and send to people)
  • “The Weekly Bean” – I have a subscription to the Rancho Gordo Bean Club that leaves me with a very large stash of beans to eat. I aim for a bag a week. I was very inspired by a picture in the Rancho Gordo Bean Club facebook group of a woman who had a nice running list in a bullet journal of her weekly beans. 

Restaurants in Boston I’d Like to Visit

Yes it’s not *technically in my kitchen* (also generally working my way through Eater 38) – this actually got a kickstart in 2023 with a monthly dinner with my friend Kathy! We went to Pammy’s (stand out!), O Ya (truly delightful), Fox & The Knife, and Bar Vlaha.

Still want to try: Oleana •  Kava Neo-Taverna  • Contessa •  Menton

New Cookbooks in 2024:

My bare minimum of reading/rereading starting point – I read a lot more cookbooks generally, but my specific resolution is to add recipes I want to try to my running doc! I also want to read a range for my creative input.

  • January: Jeremy Lee – Cooking Simply and Well, For One or Many

Do you have any kitchen resolutions this year? I’d love to hear about them!

PS: ICYMI: my non-exhaustive list of food I ate in 2021 and food I ate in 2022!

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things: Week 46

Cross-Posted to my Substack, my new weekly Newsletter.

Buds. This week saw several pup-walks with our friend Sawyer the Corgi, and our friend Sylvie the Frenchie.

👀 This week I started my End of the year Retrospective Process. It’s something I really enjoy doing in downtime over the last few weeks of the year. I’ve written about this before in some detail here.

Usually, I’ll go through my calendar, my photos – 12k this year so far, my emails, my writing, journals and notebooks, and anything else that can help me to get a better picture of my life in the past year.

It’s quite a fun process – I get great satisfaction in looking back and re-living things!

I also make yearly lists while I’m at it: here’s a peek at last year’s 2022 Eating: A Non-Exhaustive ListList of Lists (which is due for an update). My 2023 Kitchen Resolutions. My 2023 Reading List.

And then over the next few weeks I’ll update some of my regular life-binder lists: my movies/shows to watch, creative adventures, purchases I’d like to make, creative inputs (podcasts, etc.), Goodreads, etc. I’ll review my financial plans and finish up my taxes early.

At the end of the month, I’ll update my intentions for the new year, and pick a new word of the year, so I can set off with fresh ideas and inspiration.

I’ve been loving the light hitting the tops of the trees this week on our late afternoon walks before it gets dark.

This Week in Good Things:

  • Food Memories: I boiled a chicken. And then when it was almost done cooking, I some farfalle noodles to the stock, and served myself a soup with chicken, pasta, and a lot of lemon, just like my dad would when I wasn’t feeling good.
  • Sometimes Self Care is.. doing nothing? I had my quarterly-ish facial with Lily. Upon observing my skin, she mentioned that whatever I was doing with my skincare I should do more of. I didn’t tell her that actually, I went down a rabbit hole of finding the best products over several months, acquiring them, and then never using them. My skin just likes being ignored, almost criminally.
  • Change of Scenery. My neighbors are re-siding their house, which is noisy. So I picked up and went to work at the coffee shop a few times this week during the mid-day. It reminded me that I still haven’t gotten my pre-pandemic coffee shop routine back, and might want to figure out how to do that again.
  • First Snow (that wasn’t.) Well, it was supposed to snow, but ended up being a bit of a dud. That said, I decided to celebrate with chocolate mousse. I pulled in my dahlias (the tubers need to be split and saved this week.) The following several days we had un-seasonally warm-ish weather.
  • World Adventures: Our Battle Ducks team made it to region 11 of CRAW, the circumpolar race around the world. We’ve been going for several years now! This region is from the top of Alaska down through Canada to the Border of Montana. Early days I used to write a weekly re-cap of where we are in the world – I think I’d like to bring that back!
  • Good Snacks: Light Rye Wasa Crackers, Trader Joe’s Pavé Cheese, Kalles, and Topaz Apples.
  • I acquired one of the most unique cookbooks in my entire collection from one of our neighborhood little libraries: Sharing the Table With Your Bird: Recipes for people and parrots!
  • I had a great time watching The Marvels. Is it the best Marvel? No, but it has one of the most purely enjoyable Marvel fight scenes that I’ve seen period. The magic systems are interesting. And the new world locations that we visit are delightful. Also, I got myself popcorn, which I never do. (I also learned that Majestic has brought back $7 Tuesdays, and you can still reserve your seat on Atom. So I think I’ll be doing that again.)

Good Things Elsewhere and on the Internet:

I’ve been trying not to go down too many rabbit holes this week. (Although Sam Altman being outsted from AI has definitely been one of them.)

  • Age is a number. Statistics-wise, Lebron James is having the best season of his career. This is his 21st year in the league, and he’s about to turn 39. He’s also the oldest player right now in the NBA.
  • Birds are fascinating. Man plays a flute while his raven sings along. I also loved this one of a parrot reacting to their human leaving the house. Dancing along to the Tiki Room. Budgies Singing Sean Paul.
  • Taylor has her Disney Prince (with a good voice, too!) Swifties then proceeded to help him get to number one on the charts.
  • Are the 90s a lie? I’ve not been able to look away from the TikTok’s of Enrique Iglesias singing poorly at live shows. (Sadly, I feel like there’s something that has happened to his voice. Also, in contrast, Nepo babies crushing it: check out Emily Estefan on Instagram.
  • Local History: For those of you who know anything about Massachusetts Geography, I live right around the corner from the Star Market over the Mass Pike. Enjoyed this article about it’s history.
  • Nature. I made the mistake on chiming in on a Neighborhood Facebook Group post about Coyotes. (Do not recommend). Also, this video of a bull elkThis Dog TikTok Content.
  • Creative baking TikTok. “Cherry Pie”.
  • I stumbled upon my own blog as a citation in the Wikipedia page for Chez Panisse.
  • Maybe you need some Squid Facts. The nice thing about this is that it asks you to prompt it any time you’d like a fact, and doesn’t send them aggressively.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

This week I’ve been going through my meals in 2023. Every year I make a big recap list, and it’s always fascinating to see what kinds of foods I’ll eat for weeks at a time, and then… forget entirely.

  • Sunday: Meatloaf, mashed potato, steamed broccoli with blue cheese and balsamic
  • Monday: Chipotle Pulled Pork Chili, leftover mashed potato, green salad
  • Tuesday: Jaju Pierogi, grilled onions, roasted cauliflower
  • Wednesday: French Onion soup with… tofu.
  • Thursday: Thanksgiving! (We’re having Orenell’s.)
  • Friday: Leftovers and a very large salad
  • Saturday: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things: Week 45

When things admittedly feel a little shaky.

Cross-Posted from my Substack. (Please subscribe if you’d like this in your weekly inbox!)

I pulled out the good camera. As much as the best camera you have is the one that you have on you, the DSLR in fact does produce better images than my nice iPhone.

This Week in Good Things:

  • This week felt like an “I made it through the week!” week. If it felt that way for you, solidarity! I felt a sudden strong onset of seasonal affective disorder, spent the first several days of the week absolutely a mess, and have been working to turn this frown upside down.
  • I’m featured in the Boston Globe Magazine for my love of bagels. (Specifically, the Sportello Bagel, RIP).
  • Bertram got nose butter and didn’t complain about it. This stuff works magically. Also, in the cold weather he becomes a morning snuggler.
  • I voted. While I’m proud that Massachusetts makes it easy to vote by mail, I still roll up to my polling place. The best part about voting in person is that you get a sticker.
  • I got an icing cookie with little ball sprinkles from Arthur’s Montreal. (Thank you, John!). And a Walker’s Shortbread Advent calendar. (Yes, I’m Jewish, but everyone needs a box of seasonal treats in the winter.)
  • In, things that went comically badly but I turned around: I was supposed to go to one of my favorite 2x a year Wellesley club of Boston events: Authors on Stage. It’s an excellent event with three authors, each sharing not specifically about their book, but more of the behind the scenes of writing the book. This one was with Carl SafinaNovuyo Rosa Tshuma, and Virginia Pye. On the morning of, the temperature had dropped, and when I went to turn on my car, my battery was dead. Instead of hopping in an Uber, I went upstairs, poured myself another coffee, and cried. (Thankfully AAA does battery replacement. So now we have a fresh one. If you don’t have AAA, it’s always worth it.)
  • I succumbed to “bro-science” and ordered a box of AG1 (athletic greens powder). When it arrived, the box was weirdly damaged internally. I dropped a note to support and literally before they responded they sent out a replacement.
  • Working on the porch in the afternoon before it becomes too cold.
  • I got to hang out in a semi-empty Museum of Fine Arts after hours for an event. I won’t lie, getting to wander through galleries without stepping around people, pretending that I’m spending a night at the museum is probably my favorite way to experience art.
  • Pumpkin waffle with crunchy Biscoff Spread.
  • We’re over 100 people registered for the Ompractice Slow Down! (First live class is Tuesday.)
  • I got to take home two more free bouquets of flowers from events (making my current household total six fancy bouquets.)
  • All hard weeks are solved by purchasing paper products and planners you will use approximately 30% of. I snuck over to the Paper Mouse to grab myself a Hobonichi Techo!
  • Tackled nagging tasks: finished cleaning out the car. Went to the Container Store for a drawer organizer for jewelry and other little things, and some baskets to keep my daily fitness clothing a little bit more organized.
  • Good numbers. 11/11, 11:11.

Good Things Elsewhere and on the Internet:

  • Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Two wild women discussing their (copious) awards.
  • I finally broke the seal and started my first Brandon Sanderson: Mistborn while patiently waiting for Iron Flame to come out.
  • I giggled watching Joy Ride. The Marvels is out, with a new box office weekend low for the MCU, but I think honestly it’s because I saw ZERO marketing. I will be going to watch it.
  • I ordered a Lisa Congdon “Live Your Values Card Deck” (affiliate link) in anticipation of my yearly Retro and Goal Setting. I keep my personal values on an Apple Note called “2023 Habits” which I read every day.
  • Mostly (NSFW – not safe for work), I can’t stop listening to Troye Sivan’s One of Your Girls. (Where can I find Marabou in the US?)
  • Working myself up to enjoying the cold weather, I’ve been watching Cecilia longer youtube videos. This Cecilia: “I live on a cabin in Svalbard, an island close to the North Pole”. This one was lovely.
  • Peppermint Mini Cones are at Trader Joe’s right now.

The Weekly Meal Plan:

  • Sunday: Salmon Rice Bowl with avocado, seaweed, ginger, cucumber
  • Monday: Woks of Life Poached Chicken with Ginger Scallion Sauce, cucumber
  • Tuesday: Salad bowl with chopped red peppers, marinated corona beans, salami, cheese, almonds
  • Wednesday: Beef Chili (it’s chili season!)
  • Thursday: Farfalle with vodka sauce and cacio pepe chicken sausage, salad
  • Friday: Tofu and broccoli bowl with peanut dressing
  • Saturday: Indian Takeout

That’s all for now! Know someone who might like this newsletter? I’d love if you send it to them!

xo, Sam

Weekly Good Things: Week 43

California Vibes

👋 Greetings! I’ve just returned back from a few energy-infusing days in San Diego. Ironically the weather was significantly warmer in Boston the entire weekend, but I always love a good excuse to go West!

I was going to push this off to tomorrow morning, and then I remembered that I value both consistency and connection with humans. And I reminded myself that we don’t need to wait to say the perfect thing to reach out and say hello. So, hi!

This Week in Good Things

This felt like somehow both the longest and shortest week. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Revolutions start at the dinner table. 🍽 A dinner party! My friend Daria brought together 8 women from different parts of her life. None of us knew each other particularly well. Her invite, which I loved, promised: “This is an intimate dinner for remarkable women who are my friends and colleagues in the tech world. Come as strangers, eat delicious food, and leave as friends.” It delivered!

Note to self: find more opportunities to get together with amazing people at the the dinner table. I’d love to host something like this once a quarter!

  • Going home feeds the soul. I have many homes, but one of them will always be Wellesley. I was so thrilled to have an Ompractice booth at the employee benefits fair at the college. (Employees have free access, so this was extra fun because all I had to do was have wonderful conversations with some amazing people (including so many people who have been working there since I was a student almost 20 years ago!)

On Thursday at 5am, I hopped a flight over to San Diego, to experience (and speak!) at Weekend at the Pitch Club, surrounded by incredible women leading mission driven businesses. I’ll be sorting through my 27 pages of notes this week, but here were a few things I noticed.

  • Rituals make life feel more meaningful. I experienced my first cacao ceremony. As someone who both loves the taste of good chocolate, and finds myself particularly moved by taste memories, this was a wonderful experience. Looking forward to bringing more small rituals like this back into my day-to-day life.
  • Good spaces drive good ideas. I had a half day workshop in an inspiring work space in San Diego, in the San Diego Made Factory. I always find that ideas come when I’m surrounded by plants, incredible people, and good architectural bones.

The water is my happy place. In San Diego, before each full conference day, I spent each day running on the water. My two favorite things: coming across the Saturday morning fish market where the fish were *massive* compared to any East coast catches, and people were walking off the dock with trash bags filled with a 40? pound fish they were carrying by the tail. And then seeing the Star of India this morning with people all over the rigging, ready to drop the sails for a special week!

Good Things in the World:

A week where I had curiously little consumption, I still bookmarked a handful of things, finished some good books, and made note of things I appreciate.

  • V.E. Schwab’s new book The Fragile Threads of Power (this is the first in a series, but not the first in the world. If you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic, I’d start there!
  • Yo Yo Ma playing in the woods. On that note, are you familiar with Saxquatch?
  • I watched a single episode S1 E1 of Vanderpump Rules, and I’m debating whether or not to take the leap in order to experience the ultimate reality television cultural phenomenon. (Or so I’ve been told.)
  • Dazzle Dry in Rose Gold. Here’s a discount code.
  • Chicken Katsu Curry. I used to eat this quite a bit in California, and it’s hard to find on the East Coast (unless you make it yourself!)
  • I got to actually see and hold one of my friend Jennifer’s Meemzy Magic Sensory Toy boxes in California! (I got the dinosaur one! I also got to give her a hug for the first time in about a decade! On that note, I got to give my friend Traca a quick drive-by hug while we were serendipitously in the same country and location on the same day. (Hugs are great.)
  • Rewatching the Wednesday Adams dance to get into the spooky season mood. The whole series is worth a re-watch.
  • This incredible home studio. How do I fill my home with more like this?

The Weekly Meal Plan:

After a long weekend of travel meals (some of them quite delicious!) I’m looking forward to being back in my own kitchen. And vegetables.

That said, one of the excellent things I ended up doing before leaving was eating down much of the fridge (the other excellent thing was a very good deep clean before travel). So I’m looking to restocking tomorrow night – usually I go straight to my “anytime shopping list” and go from there.

  • Sunday: Shakshuka (handed to me in a warm bowl when I returned from the airport)
  • Monday: Feast and Fettle Japchae Noodles
  • TuesdayWhite chicken chili
  • Wednesday: Fish Chowder. (Sam Sifton’s no-recipe recipe.) I found a handful of good Red’s Best fish in a freezer drawer I had forgotten about this week.
  • Thursday: Dinner at a work-related thing!
  • Friday: Pesto pasta, before all my garden herbs are totally frozen.

Lunches: End of the chili, tofu, pumpkin samosas from Trader Joe’s (still in there!)

Snacks: overnight oats, Topaz apples from Volante.

That’s all for now! Hope you have a great week!

xo, Sam

PS: Tomorrow morning, I’m going to clean my computer keyboard. (On the off chance that you need to do that too, consider this a fortuitous reminder!)

Summer 2023 Lobster Roll Quest 🦞

Cedar Hill Dairy Joy Lobster Roll - on a picnic table with fries and an iced tea

I love a good project list, so this year, I’m enjoying working through my summer lobster roll list. Is there a more perfect food for a New Englander in summer? I think not.

Yes, lobster rolls are expensive. Yes, it’s cheaper to get lobster from Market Basket (and they’ll steam em for you!) But making a quest out of it ensures that my ratio of spend to enjoyment as I build my body of “creative work” – a.k.a. the review list is balanced.

The Lobster Roll Short List:

This is not an exhaustive list of lobster rolls in the Boston area. There are some that aren’t on here (notably, I’m not an Eventide lobster roll fan – although I love lots of other things there! And I’ve eaten a few too many Cottage lobster sandwiches).

There are many more I’ll probably add as I go along – feel free to pass me along a suggestion if you have strong lobster roll feelings.

I prefer a cold lobster roll personally (mayo based), but I’ll not turn down a good option if presented to me. Additionally, I’m a fan of lobster in other forms, including lobster salad, lobster sandwiches (including the Alive + Kicking sandwich making it’s way as an interloper on this list), and lobster pasta.

A shout-out to my friend Rachael who put in a lot of heavy lifting in giving lobster roll suggestions, and also joined me at Cedar Hill Dairy Joy.

  • Legal Seafood (while I prefer the crab roll, this is always solid) 
  • Beach Plum, NH – 10 ounce and Utz chips, eaten on the ocean
  • Rosewood Restaurant Bellingham MA
  • ✅ Cedar Hill Dairy Joy, Weston MA
  • Clam Shack, Salem MA – spend the extra $1 to get it on the brioche bun
  • The Village Restaurant, Essex, MA – a hidden gem 
  • The Knack, Orleans, MA
  • Neptune Oyster – Cold (I haven’t had this for YEARS, but it was spectacular)
  • Row 34, Seaport
  • ✅ Shaking Crab, Newton
  • Pauli’s, North End – 3 sizes
  • ✅ Alive + Kicking, Cambridge, MA (on bread) 
  • James Hook + Co
  • Saltie Girl
  • Yankee Lobster
  • Luke’s Lobster
  • Steamers, Nonantum
  • Shea’s, Essex, MA
  • Beachcomber, Cahoon Hollow Beach, Welfleet, MA 
  • Cousin’s Maine Lobster food truck – you can get CT (butter) or ME (mayo) style – they are small but very good and you can find them at different farmers markets around here (shout out to my high school alum, Jim Tselikis!

Keeping my Lobster Roll Quest notes

I keep a long note on my phone with updates. They look like this:

6/14 Dairy Joy, Weston Ma

  • Price: 25 + 5 included drink and very lovely fries! 
  • Small buttered and griddled. 4ish ounces. With lettuce. Light Mayo and cold. Just a super strong contender. View is greenery and road. And picnic table vibe. 
  • 4.75/5 🦞🦞🦞🦞 

5/14 Shaking Crab, Newton MA

  • Lots of lobster. Roll good not great. I found the filling too seasoned? Delivery: fries soggy but would be good crisped up in air fryer. Side of garlic noodles with shrimp.
  • 3/🦞🦞🦞 out of 5. 

If you’d like to join me on one of my quest outings, give me a shout!

2023 Q1 and Beyond Reading List

It’s here! I’ve been doing a Q1 reading list for the past several years that has somehow turned more into a book list for the whole year. (I have a lot of holdovers from last year that I’m keeping on here.) You can take a look through previous years here: (2022) (2021) (2020) (2017) (summer 2010) (Summer 2014) (Fall Cookbooks 2011)

Having a reading list helps me make decisions about getting in quality reading without falling into decision making slumps. I aim to have a large percentage of my reading written by women, POC, and international writers; and typically read a handful of Man Booker short list titles. I typically make a list of my favorite categories, and then will supplement or swap as I find reading that calls out to me.

I make room for the synchronicity of just picking up any random title, but I always have a backup! 

One thing that I’ve learned after a lifetime of reading: it really helps me to have series that I can blow through – long books that don’t require me to continuously learn about a new world and a new set of characters, as well as a smattering of very easy read books (usually middle grade fantasy, or RomCom) – things I can read reliably for a half hour or hour before bed even after an exhaustive day.

A few notes and observations:

Audio Books: yes, I definitely count audiobooks as reading. I process information better when on my walks and runs, and thus prefer listening to memoirs or non-fiction this way. It’s also easier for me to stay engrossed and follow along while I’m moving physically. 

Don’t forget FOOD! For the past several years, I read almost zero food memoirs, literature, or history – some of my favorite topics. So I made this one of my kitchen resolutions this year! (Again.) I’m also re-reading cookbooks. 

The library is your friend. While I always try to support local book stores – I’m also a huge fan of my local library – grabbing things off the Speed Read Shelf is my jam. Plus you can leave with a large stack and it always feels like I’ve won something. (You can also get Kindle books from the library through Libby. Having a list allows me to put more things on hold, because sometimes there’s a longer wait.)

As always, still working my way through my list of Personal Leadership Development Books, and the BBC Big Read. I also read quite a few business books for work – whatever I need to expand my ideas and sharpen my skills.

I’m always interested in reading things that stoke great minds. I read for entertainment, to rest, to inspire, learn, and to stoke my curiosity. Whenever I listen to a podcast episode, I’m always curious about what kinds of things the guest is reading (particularly when the book is completely outside of their topic,  or very niche in their topic.)

New: I’m trying to engage with my reading more by reading criticism, and more importantly, writing.

Categories to choose from: (I often choose outside these, but I find that when I’m in the mood for a particular feeling, it breaks down by this type of category.) 

Book Categories I Enjoy:

  • Fantasy (Adult, YA Fantasy, Middle Grade)
  • Scandinavian Crime (or Noir crime in general)
  • Fiction (catch all)
  • Memoir (particularly: comedy, leadership, business or political)
  • Non-Fiction (Psychology, philosophy)
  • Nature (and generally Science Writing)
  • Creativity
  • Work (Product Management, People Management, Sales)
  • Food Memoirs
  • Relationships (Hard Conversations, Boundaries, Joy)

Fantasy, YA fantasy or Children’s Fantasy

  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022, 401 pages)
  • King of Scars (2019, 527 pages) /Rule of Wolves (2021, 592 pages) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo (2023, 496 pages)
  • Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin (2019, 513 pages)
  • The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) by S.A. Chakraborty (2017, 544 pages) – own on audible
  • In the Serpents Wake (Tess of the Road #2) by Rachel Hartman (2022, 503 pages)
  • Skyhunter by Marie Lu (2020, 371 pages)
  • Derkholm #1 and #2 by Diana Wynne Jones (and Howl’s Moving Castle #2) (2003, 328 pages)
  • A Court of Frost + Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (2020, 272 pages)
  • Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor (2015, 96 pages)
  • City of Ghosts Cassidy Blake #1 by Victoria Schwab (2018, 272 pages)
  • Mistborn Series Sanderson (will this be the year? 7 books)
  • Look out for new:
    • Kristen Cashore
    • Jonathan Stroud
    • Tamora Pierce
    • Deborah Harkness
    • VE Schwab / Victoria Schwab
    • Phillip Pullman
    • Sarah J. Maas
    • Zoraida Cordova
    • Tomi Adeyemi
    • Naomi Novik

Fiction, GENERAL:

  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (2022, 560 pages)
  • The Last Chairlift by John Irving (2022, 889 pages)
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818, 249 pages)
  • Terry Pratchetta few last Discworlds I haven’t finished – Fifth Elephant #24 (464 pages)
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (BBC Big Read; I think I’ve read before) 453 pages
  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (2002, 255 pages)
  • Thursday Murder Club #1 (Series) by Richard Osman (2020, 382 pages)
  • Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (and Practical Magic) (2020, 396 pages)
  • Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (2022, 368 pages)
  • Look for new:
    • Susannah Clarke
    • Erin Morgenstern
    • Stephen King
    • TJ Klune

Crime / Thriller / Gripping and/or generally Scandinavian

  • The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg (2010, 393 pages)
  • The Island by Ragnar Jonasson (2019, 336 pages) – 2 in the series
  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018, 226 pages)
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu (2018, 368 pages)
  • Death Notice (book 3, if they publish the translation) by Zhou Haohui
  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman (2016, 432 pages)
  • Pick a book by:
    • Henning Mankell
    • Jo Nesbo
    • Arnaldur Indridason
    • Viveca Sten (but I just read the newest in Dec.)
    • Lucy Foley

Memoirs / Non-Fiction Reporting 

  • The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (2017, 288 pages) (own)
  • Dear Girls by Ali Wong (own) (2019, 240 pages)
  • Broken by Jenny Lawson (2021, 275 pages)
  • Taste by Stanley Tucci (own) (2021, 304 pages)
  • Eat a Peach by David Chang (2020, 306 pages)
  • “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman (1985, 356 pages)
  • I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (2022, 320 pages)
  • Life Itself by Roger Ebert (2011, 346 pages)
  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (2018, 518 pages)
  • A Heart that Works by Rob Delaney (2022, 196 pages)
  • A Book of Days by Patti Smith (2022, 410 pages)
  • Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan (2022, 423 pages)

Nature and Science:

  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (304 pages, 2015)
  • Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright (have on audio) (2017, 336 pages)
  • The Nature Fix by Florence Williams (2017, 226 pages)
  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan (2018, 482 pages)
  • Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski (2015, 400 pages)
  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy: by Jenny Odell (2019, 257 pages) (on audible)

Food and Cooking

  • Note, I don’t keep cookbooks on this list, but I try to choose memoir-ish cookbooks as much as possible.
  • Cooking as though you might cook again by Danny Licht (2021, 78 pages)
  • Elegy for an Appetite by Shaina Loew-Banayan (2022, 88 pages)
  • Fatty Fatty Boom Boom by Rabia Chaudry (2022, 352 pages)


  • The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (2019, 282 pages – done)
  • Red, White + Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (2019, 318 pages – finishing)
  • Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Book 2 – 2019, 296 pages), The Heart Principle (3)
  • Hook, Line + Sinker Tessa Bailey (2022, 365 pages)
  • Anything new by
    • Emily Henry
    • Rebekah Weatherspoon
    • Jasmine Guillory
    • Jennifer Armentrout

Leadership / Business / Finance:

  • Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman (1983, 301 pages) – own on audible
  • 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (2021, 129 pages)
  • Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson (2002, 273 pages) (book and audible)
  • The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, Kaley Klemp (In-Progress 2015, 377 pages)
  • Connect by Carole Robin, David L Bradford (2021, 203 pages)
  • The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown (2010, 208 pages)
  • To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink (2012, 272 pages)
  • Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards by Yu-kai Chou (own) (2015, 513 pages)

Creativity: Writing and Creating:

  • The Practice: Shipping Your Creative Work by Seth Godin (2020, 274 pages)
  • Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon (2014, 225 pages)
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (160 pages, 2012)
  • How to Enjoy Art by Ben Street (2021, 160 pages)
  • Better Living Through Criticism AO Scott (2016, 282 pages)
  • Look for new:
    • Cal Newport
    • David Epstein

Fitness and Health / Mindfulness / Brains

  • Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell (2021, 291 pages)
  • Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection by Ximena Vengoechea (2021, 337 pages)
  • Unmasking Autism by Devon Price (2022, 304 pages)
  • The Body, A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (2019, 491 pages) owned on audible
  • The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci (2007, 354 pages)
  • The Comfort Book by Matt Haig (2021, 231 pages)
  • Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller (2020, 256 pages)
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (1992, 324 pages) (updated version on Audible)
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie (1986, 278 pages)
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (1997, 163 pages)
  • Look for new:
    • Mary Roach
    • Bill Bryson

And that’s a wrap! Will I get to all of these? Absolutely not. Will I try to expand on the diversity of my thought and add things along the way? Yes indeed!

What’s on your shelf this year? What’s up next? Here’s to a year of good reading!

xo, Sam