Leah O'Connell

for photographers, personal

My 2022 Book List

book recommendations for photographers and parents
I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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Creating a book list is key to actually reading books I’m interested in throughout the year. I actually majored in English at university and got my Masters degree in Secondary Education so I could study books and help others love to read for a living. But despite how much I love to read, the hurdle of deciding what to pick up next is real.

I stopped reading for the longest time when my kids were really little…

I felt too stretched to pick up a book for leisure or actually digest anything of value because I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow each night.

I would only read non-fiction business books because I felt like if I had downtime, I needed to be doing something “productive.”

But when I changed my mindset and accepted that books are made and consumed one page at a time (duh), I freed myself up to read in the cracks of life instead of only in large focussed chunks of time.

book recommendations for photographers and parents

Here’s how/when I find time to read:

  • I leave one book on the counter or a kitchen side table at all times. This makes it my default reach (as opposed to my phone) while dinner is sizzling, while the coffee is brewing, while the kids happen to be playing well together for 2 minutes.
  • School pickup line. This could also easily default to phone time, but when I bring my book, that’s a solid 15 minutes of quiet (or to the babbling sounds of my little guy playing trains in the back carseat.)
  • Bedtime. Sometimes it’s half an hour, sometimes it’s just a page. But it’s still a page. It quiets my mind from my present swirl and opens it to a wider world before my eyes collapse.

The more I committed to these little habits, the more I truly enjoyed reading again.

What kind of books “count?”

I tend to lean towards a non-fiction read in the mornings and fiction at night if I’ve got 2 going at the same time.

Last year, I read a conglomeration of non-fiction, fiction, photography, and children’s chapter books (hello homeschooling in a pandemic.) We would have “lunch read-aloud” and again at bedtime… but I chose the books 😉

Here’s a book list of what I actually consumed in 2021

(*top recommendations // ~re-reads)

Business + Nonfiction



Children’s Series + Chapter books



It’s more books than I’ve probably ever read in a single year. All in the fringes or with children underfoot. It was the gold in a pandemic year.

So now I have a habit back and my sights set on an ambitious book list, knowing and hoping that other little nuggets pop into my radar that I “just have to read,” and others might get pushed aside because life is unpredictable!

I’ve made an effort to seek out diversity in authors and topics, and included more fiction, too – after all, I’ve come to learn that fiction is just as packed with insight as anything else. 🙂


The 2022 Book List





Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham


Call Us What We Carry – Amanda Gorman

Did any of these books make your book list this year?!

I’ll be sharing books and reviews on these as I finish them on my Instagram account @fireflyphoto_leah, so come join me there for more book chats!

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.