January 29, 2014 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

The past few years I have embarked on a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" to read 52 books in 52 weeks. The cool thing about big goals like that is that you can succeed even if you don't hit the target!

Why did I do it? Before I started this project I was reading maybe 5 books a year. I felt like my attention span was shorter than ever. A big part of that was because of social media and 140 character conversations but I was allowing that to cross over into other parts of my life from having deep and focused conversations to being able to read for extended periods of time. By challenging myself to a book a week, I realize now I was challenging myself to be present long enough to dive in and absorb new information for significant chunks of time.

Below are the books I read, some reviews can be found by searching the hashtag I created on Instagram #52books52weeks.

Editor's Note. I chose all of the books below, some based on my long-standing bucket list of things I wanted to read, some as recommendations from friends and family. I have tried increasingly over the years to diversify my book list to include more nonfiction and more political biographies. Where I have written a book review or included a book in a roundup there is a link to that blog post.

2014 Work In Progress

  1. The Operators by Michael Hastings
  2. Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman
  3. Discover Kaua’i by Lonely Planet
  4. Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
  5. Autobiography of a Face Lucy Grealy
  6. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  7. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  8. America’s Hidden Corners by National Geographic Society
  9. The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein
  10. Field Work: Poems by Seamus Heaney
  11. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
  12. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
  13. The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between Peter Berley
  14. The Way to Love: The Last Meditations by Anthony de Mello
  15. Do Grow: Start with 10 simple vegetables by Alice Holden
  16. On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
  17. The Best Recipe by Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
  18. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  19. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  20. Barnheart: The Incurable Longing For a Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich
  21. Sailing Alone Around The Room by Billy Collins
  22. Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn
  23. Dogs by Lewis Blackwell and Tim Flach
  24. Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes From My Two Villages by Mario Batali
  25. The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball
  26. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner
  27. A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
  28. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  29. The Official SXSW Interactive Cookbook
  30. Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook by Martha Stewart
  31. The Obamas by Jodi Kantor
  32. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  33. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  34. Mercury In Retrograde: A Novel by Paula Froelich
  35. How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain De Botton
  36. The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girls Meets Oil by Christine Bader
  37. The Trumpet Swan by E.B. White
  38. Stuart Little by E.B. White
  39. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  40. Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps by Jo Piazza
  41. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman
  42. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
  43. Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness by Melanie Notkin
  44. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
  45. Murder In Passy by Cara Black
  46. The Goldfinch by Donna Platt


  1. Houses of the Presidents: Childhood Homes, Family Dwellings, Private Escapes, and Grand Estates by Hugh Howard
  2. The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
  3. The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things edited by Anna Holmes
  4. Rework by Jason Fried & David Hansson
  5. Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
  6. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  7. The Tao of Bow Wow: Understanding and Training Your Dog the Taoist Way by Deborah Wood
  8. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  9. The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo
  10. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  11. With or Without You by Domenica Ruta
  12. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  13. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  14. The Bolter by Frances Osborne
  15. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  16. My Name Is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry
  17. Personal History by Katharine Graham
  18. Venice (Step By Step) by Lisa Gerard-Sharp
  19. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
  20. Shoemaker of Dreams by Salvatore Ferragamo
  21. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  22. Fodor's Essential Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice & the Top Spots in Between by Fodor's
  23. Rome (Select) by Erica Firpo
  24. The Richest Woman In America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age by Janet Wallach
  25. Room by Emma Donoghue
  26. Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
  27. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
  28. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  29. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
  30. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  31. Quiet by Susan Cain
  32. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
  33. The Cocktail Party by T.S. Eliot
  34. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
  35. A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
  36. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  37. Learning To Love You More by Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July
  38. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  39. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  40. The Berlin Wall Story: Biography of a Monument by Hans-Hermann Hertle
  41. Australia Exposed by Jason Kimberley
  42. My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss
  43. Walking Paris: Thirty Original Walks In and Around Paris by Gilles Desmons
  44. Clotilde's Edible Adventures In Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier
  45. Top 10 Paris (Eyewitness Guide) by Mike Gerrard et al.
  46. Knopf MapGuide: Paris by Knopf Guides
  47. Fox In Socks By Dr. Deuss
  48. The Satorialist: Closer by Scott Schuman
  49. V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone by Seth Godin
  50. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
  51. United States of Pie by Adrienne Kane
  52. Poke The Box by Seth Godin


  1. The Black City by Elizabeth Richards
  2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  3. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. New York’s Unique and Unexpected Places by Judith Stonehill
  6. The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it Off Forever by Pierre Dukan
  7. An Awesome Book! by Dallas Clayton
  8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  9. The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Tea Ohbret
  10. Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  12. Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
  13. The Guernsey Society and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer
  14. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  15. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  16. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  17. Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner
  18. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
  19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  20. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  21. The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor In an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz
  22. Smiley’s People: A George Smiley Novel by John le Carré
  23. My Story by Marilyn Monroe
  24. Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder To Your World by Gary Vaynerchuk
  25. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  26. The Blue Orchard: A Novel by Jackson Taylor
  27. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  28. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
  29. This is Where I Leave You: A Novel by Jonathan Trooper
  30. The Berlin Wall Story: Biography of a Monument by Hans-Hermann Hertle


  1. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make A Living, Do What You Love and Create a New Future By Chris Guillebeau
  2. Heal Your Skin: The Breakthrough Plan For Renewal by Ava Shamban
  3. Saavy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, And All Women Who Love Kids by Melanie Notkin
  4. Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare To Dream by Whitney Johnson
  5. By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis-Wilson
  6. The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obrecht
  7. Clean, by Alejandro Junger


  1. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami and Philip Gabriel
  2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  3. Everything Bad Is Good For You by Steven Johnson
  4. Naked by David Sedaris


  1. The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery Of The World’s Most Expensive Bottle Of Wine by Benjamin Wallace
  2. Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
  3. The Lake House by James Patterson
  4. Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
  5. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  6. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  8. Creating A World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammed Yunus
  9. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  10. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
  11. The Perfect Storm: A True Story About Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger
  12. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  13. Crisis by Robin Cook
  14. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  15. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  16. Icon by Frederick Forsyth
  17. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
  18. When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris
  19. South America On A Shoestring by Danny Palmerlee
  20. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School At A Time by Greg Mortenson
  21. Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa
  22. The Late Bloomer’s Revolution by Amy Cohen
  23. The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
  24. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  25. Triple by Ken Follett
  26. The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth
  27. Absolute Friends by John le Carré