The Millions is one of my favorite bookish websites, and twice a year they release a list of books that will be coming out within the next few months. The first list of 2019 was posted yesterday and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I always get fantastic recommendations from these lists, and this year is no exception.
Today I’m sharing the books I’m most excited to read in the upcoming months. I certainly don’t need any more titles to add to my ever-growing TBR, but how can I resist stories like these? (And the pretty covers. I love a pretty cover.)
This novel tells the story of an Indian woman named Shalini whose mother is dead. Wrestling with her emotions and full of questions, Shalini decides to visit a remote village to find a man from her childhood who she believes might know something about her mother. This was my Book of the Month selection last month, so I have no excuse not to read this one since it’s already on my shelf.
Mothers is a collection of 10 stories about people at a crossroads. These stories are set in locations all over the world. Kirkus notes this collection is “populated by travelers of many kinds.” I enjoy short stories and armchair travel, so I’m excited about this release.
Bertha Truitt appears in New England one day in a cemetery. No one knows who she is or how she got there. She ends up settling down and opening a candlepin bowling alley, which serves as the link between generations of her family. With a concept this original, Bowlaway is toward the top of my to-read list.
The Millions mentioned the words “alternate universe” when describing this inventive novel that plays with time and location. As a realistic fiction lover, I almost tuned out because of that description, but this story about a woman who lives seemingly real, full lives in her dreams sounds too good to miss.
In this novel, Shields reinvents the Greek myth of Cassandra. Mildred Groves works for the Hanford nuclear facility during World War II and has visions of the terrible outcomes plutonium could cause. I thoroughly enjoyed Shields’s first two books, Favorite Monster, and The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac, so I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now.
All I needed to know about this book is that it’s written by John Williams, who penned one of my favorite novels of all time, Stoner. This book, his first, will be reissued by New York Review Books soon. It’s a novella-length book tells the story of a complicated father-son relationship.
This is a collection of 12 stories about women and motherhood, including topics such as infertility, single parenthood, postpartum depression, and uncertainty after giving birth. I love the idea of such a life-changing topic being discussed through various lenses.
This novel is the story of arranged marriage and female agency. An eighteen-year-old named Deya is living in Brooklyn with her grandparents when they start trying to find her a husband. As Deya struggles with being forced to marry, she learns surprising truths about her parents and past. I can’t wait to get my hands on this.
Based on harrowing true events, Women Talking is about a group of Mennonite women who conduct a secret meeting to discuss what to do in the wake of their assaults. They grapple with whether to stay or leave their community while the men are away. I heard about this book a couple of months ago and can’t wait to read it.
Miracle Creek centers around a courtroom drama about deaths caused by the Miracle Submarine, a piece of technology that provides medical treatment to help people with autism, among other things. Goodreads says this book is “an addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng,” who happen to be two of my favorite novelists. This sounds so good.
I keep seeing this book pop up on Instagram, where I’ve heard nothing but praise. Normal People is about Connell and Marianne, completely different people who have a strong connection throughout many years. This book releases in the US in August but has already been published in the UK. I don’t want to wait until August, so I’m happy to see that Book Depository has copies to buy now.
I’m always a bit sad to see the holiday season come to an end, but I look forward to the possibility of a new year. January 1st feels like a fresh start, a clean slate. Change can happen anytime, of course, but there’s something about a new year that makes me feel extra hopeful and eager to make changes.
Today I’m sharing 9 books that have motivated me in different ways. If you too are excited about acquiring new habits and letting go of some old ones keep on reading.
IF YOU WANT TO CULTIVATE NEW HABITS, READ THIS:
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
This book contains a lot of research and information, but Duhigg presents much of it through stories, so it’s never dull. Readers learn how habits helped Tony Dungy lead his NFL team to the Super Bowl and how habits helped a woman stop gambling. Habits impact everything from our diets to our routines, our relationships to our safety. Building a new habit sounds simple enough, yet we all know how difficult it can be. I learned a lot from this book and think of it as essential reading if you feel stuck and defeated by the failed habits of your past.
IF YOU WANT TO FINALLY DO THAT THING YOU’VE MEAN MEANING TO DO, READ THIS:
Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff
Like many people, I’m great at starting things. But finishing what I start? That’s another story. If you too are a chronic quitter, read this book. Jon Acuff encourages people to complete their goals with doable steps and helpful advice. One of the things that stood out to me in Finish is Acuff’s advice to cut your goals in half. I tend to dream big, so being able to focus on smaller goals has helped me many times. This book is only around 200 pages, but there’s a lot of wisdom in it.
IF YOU WANT TO CUT BACK ON YOUR PURCHASES AND GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD A BREAK, READ THIS:
The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
I have a sweatshirt I wear around the house that reads, “Shopping is my cardio.” The mall has felt like a second home since I was a child. I consider T. J. Maxx a close friend and have a deep, everlasting love for Nordstrom. As I’ve worked on decluttering and minimizing over the past few years, I knew my shopping habits had to change. They have, and that’s partially due to books like this one. I’ve never cut out shopping completely or gave as much away as Flanders does, but this book is still worth reading even if you don’t want to take all the extreme steps mentioned. Learning how someone else learned to live with less is inspiring and will help you see your buying in a new light.
IF YOU WANT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOURSELF AND OTHERS, READ THIS:
Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
When I first discovered what an introvert was and realized that label fit me perfectly, so much about my life and personality made sense. I saw myself in a new way and was able to understand my preferences for the first time. If you want a lightbulb moment like that for yourself, Reading People is a good start. Bogel presents a survey of different ways to understand and determine personality types, such as the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and several others. Find what interests you most and then pick other books to dig a little deeper.
IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE AND START TRACKING YOUR READING, READ THIS:
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
Pamela Paul has kept a record of the books she’s read for nearly three decades. Bob, her book of books, comes with her everywhere and its pages tell the story of her life. Paul reads widely and will inspire you to do the same. Seeing how essential her reading record is to her will motivate you to get your own Bob. Book nerds will genuinely enjoy this story of how reading shapes a life.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN HOW TO BE MORE VULNERABLE AND PRESENT, READ THIS:
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Brené Brown’s work has changed my life. I can’t say that about a lot of things and don’t say it flippantly. If I were to make a list of things I hate doing, being vulnerable would be listed between laundry and running, yet it’s essential for a rich, fulfilling life. Brown explores what it means to live with courage and openness, explaining that vulnerability isn’t a weakness but a great strength. If your life needs a tune-up, Daring Greatly is an excellent place to start.
IF YOU WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING, READ THIS:
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield introduced me to the idea of Resistance, which is anything that stands in the way of a creator finishing her creation. Whether you want to write, take photos, bake, or start a small business, Pressfield’s words will help you. This book is like a serious pep talk perfect for those moments when you need someone to remind you that if you want something, there are no excuses. This book should be required reading for all creative people.
IF YOU WANT TO EAT BETTER, READ THIS:
Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
I’m easily overwhelmed by information about nutrition because there’s so much of it. There are countless diets out there and shiny magazine covers that tell you how to lose 10 pounds in a hurry. If your goal is to eat healthier, Food Rules is a simple, understandable guide that will help. Michael Pollan presents a rule per page and explains why it matters. I appreciate that this book gets to the heart of the matter and makes healthy eating seem like a doable endeavor. (There’s an illustrated version of this book by Maira Kalman that I’m dying to get my hands on.)
IF YOU WANT TO USE THAT DUSTY YOGA MAT, READ THIS:
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body by Jessamyn Stanley
We all know we should exercise more, but it can be challenging to find a routine that works. If you’re a perfectionist like me, the pressure to perform a certain way or look like a traditional athlete can be overwhelming. I like this book by Jessamyn Stanley because she encourages readers to move their bodies and to celebrate those bodies, no matter what they look like. The world needs more body-positive exercise guides.
What are your goals for 2019? What motivates you to reach them?
I really like stuff. As a kid, my bedroom was always a mess (sorry, Mom), and was covered with posters, DIY-decor, and piles of clothes/toys/books/etc. (Again, so sorry, Mom.) I wasn’t great at throwing things away, and by that, I mean I never threw things away. I would save old calendars, folks. That’s how dedicated I was to my stuff.
I’d accepted that I was just a messy person who was okay with clutter. It didn’t concern me until a few years ago when I noticed a few things about myself.
I’m really good at organizing. Not only am I good at it, but I love doing it. Few things make me happier than straightening, labeling, or alphabetizing.
I’m ruthless when getting rid of other people’s stuff. I usually help my mom organize her closet once or twice a year, and I encourage her to throw away anything she doesn’t love. When I’m doing a weeding project at work, I can toss books left and right without feeling a pang of loss or sadness.
My workspaces are always neat. For work, I rotate between different buildings, and all my desks are tidy. Even my computer files are organized and frequently reviewed.
My messiness at home started to really bother me. I found that I couldn’t focus very well when my surroundings were a disaster. I struggle with anxiety, and having stuff everywhere wasn’t helping. And when I had too much stuff, it would paralyze me, and I wouldn’t know where to start putting it away.
After thinking about these things, I realized it was time for a change. I’d been making excuses for myself for a long time about how I was just messy, and that’s all there was to it. But considering those four truths above, I knew I could change. I’m still far from perfect in this area, but I’ve gotten better and have learned a lot.
As I always do when I want to learn, I turned to books. Today I’m sharing three titles that helped me transform my life and home. Let’s start with some magic.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I’m sure it’s no surprise this book made the list considering how popular it is. Some of the advice in it isn’t for me, but its thesis–“keep what brings you joy”–has made a tremendous impact on how I declutter and what I bring into my home. I also took to heart the concept of organizing category by category instead of room by room. This book kicked off my decluttering frenzy, and I’m grateful for it.
Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle
I’ve been a fan of Erin’s blog for a long time. If you like the aesthetic of her blog, you’ll like this book. It’s full of gorgeous photos that show just how lovely a simplified home can be. Erin and her husband might live with less, but their home is warm and inviting.
Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith
Part of me wishes I could say I’ve completely embraced minimalism, but that’s not the case right now (and might not ever be). That’s why I appreciate this book. Smith acknowledges that sometimes you want an extra pillow or throw around your house. Meaningless decorations need to go, but Smith’s philosophy allows for elements that add character and charm to a home.
When I need immediate decluttering inspiration, I turn to YouTube. I love watching decluttering videos. I’ve learned a lot about minimalism and simple living from seeing how other people work those concepts into their lives.
What about you? Do you have any decluttering or minimalist goals you’d like to achieve in 2019? What books or other resources have encouraged you in your pursuit? I’d love to know!
I’m back after a Christmas break and am so excited to finally be sharing my favorite books of 2018. My favorites are determined by what books earned 5-star ratings from me on Goodreads. I’m stingy with my stars, so a 5-star book is one that had great prose, a strong viewpoint, and a story that stays with me. Out of the 60 books I read in 2018, only seven earned 5 stars. Five of them are 2018 releases, and two are backlist titles from the same series. Toward the end of the post, I’ll also list some honorable mentions. These titles are in random order as ranking them caused too much literary stress. Let’s get started!
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
The Goodreads Summary:Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer–madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place–feels her inner world light up. Then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Why this book is a favorite: This book stands out to me because the relationship that receives the primary focus isn’t Greer and Cory, but Greer and Faith. I haven’t read many books that focus on female bonds, much less a relationship that features a woman over sixty. I appreciate the feminist slant of this novel and think Wolitzer tells a compelling story. After I read this book, I wrote that it was one that would stay with me, and that’s turned out to be true.
Calypso by David Sedaris
The Goodreads Summary: If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. You’d be wrong.
When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.
Why this book is a favorite: I’ve been a Sedaris fan for years, and have read all of his essay collections. I’ve enjoyed each one, but I think Calypso might be his best. I laughed out loud several times, which hardly ever happens when I’m reading. Sedaris is hilarious, but what I admire about him is his ability to write both comedy and tragedy so well, and sometimes even on the same page. Calypso stands out because of that skill.
Educated by Tara Westover
The Goodreads Summary: Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Why this book is a favorite: If this book had been a novel, I would have thought the story was too outlandish. The fact that Educated is a memoir makes it powerful and unforgettable. Westover’s story is fascinating from beginning to end, and her writing is fantastic too. That combination makes for a book I could hardly put down. I finished this in a couple of days because it’s so engrossing. There’s a reason why this book has been receiving so much praise. It’s certainly deserving.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
The Goodreads Summary: In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.
Why this book is a favorite: There are skills certain authors have that astound me. One of those skills is writing a lengthy novel with a lot of fully-developed characters and another is telling a story that goes back and forth between timeliness in an effortless way that makes perfect sense. Rebecca Makkai achieved both of those feats with The Great Believers. A lot is going on in this novel, yet Makkai never lets the story get away from her. It’s a beautifully constructed novel that’s full of love, friendship, tragedy, and healing. I said these titles are presented in random order, but I think The Great Believers is my number one pick this year. It’s outstanding.
In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2)by Tana French
NoveList Summary for In the Woods: Twenty years after witnessing the violent disappearances of two companions from their small Dublin suburb, detective Rob Ryan investigates a chillingly similar murder that takes place in the same wooded area, a case that forces him to piece together his traumatic memories.
NoveList Summary for The Likeness: This novel finds Detective Cassie Maddox still scarred by her last case. When her boyfriend calls her to a chilling murder scene, Cassie is forced to face her inner demons. A young woman has been found stabbed to death outside Dublin, and the victim looks just like Cassie.
Why these books are favorites: Tana French is the best thing that happened to my reading life in 2018. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries this year, and none of them are as good as her Dublin Murder Squad series. (I’ve only read two of the six books so far. I want to savor this series.) Both Rob and Cassie are fascinating and complex protagonists. The cases in both of these books kept me guessing. French creates such a strong, moody atmosphere and sense of place, a combination that made me feel as if I’d actually been transported to Dublin. I cannot recommend these books highly enough and am looking forward to reading the next volume.
Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
The Goodreads summary: Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents–artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs–Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.
Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.
Why this book is a favorite: When Small Fry first appeared on my radar, I had little desire to read it because I wasn’t interested in Steve Jobs (or so I thought). As I started reading all of the Best Of lists for 2018, I kept seeing this book pop up. My library had the ebook available, so I decided to give it a try after all. I ending up devouring this story within a couple of days. Lisa Brennan-Jobs tells a complex and moving story from beginning to end, and it’s her story, not the story of Steve Jobs. I’m always interested in how relationships work, and the tumultuous bond between Lisa and her father is one I won’t forget. If you like memoirs, don’t miss this one. It’s heartfelt, vulnerable, and compulsively readable. I loved it.
Other Books I Enjoyed This Year
Providence by Caroline Kepnes
The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
The Witch Elm by Tana French
Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro
And Now a Little Something for the Stats Nerds
Fiction vs. Nonfiction: These numbers don’t surprise me. I’ve always read a bit more fiction than nonfiction.
Formats: Though I really do enjoy audiobooks, my number is so low this year because I’ve been opting for podcasts instead. I got a Kindle Paperwhite this past year, so the high number of ebooks has a lot to do with how much I enjoy that device.
Books I Own vs. the Library: Since I work for libraries, the library number is always high. One of my goals for 2019 is to read more of my own books, though. I’d like to see that number be 50% or higher next year.
That’s it from me this year. In case you missed it, my reading goals for 2019 can be seen here. If you like what you see on this site, please make sure to share it. Thanks for reading!
A few years ago, I chose all kinds of reading goals for myself. I didn’t complete any of them, felt like a failure, and decided not to set any goals for the next couple of years. But even though I’m happy with my reading life, I know it can get even better, so I’m back to the goal-setting this year. There’s a caveat, though: I love reading, am a mood reader, and refuse to make it feel like work, so these goals are more like loose guidelines. I’d like to see these goals happen, but if they don’t, that’s okay too, as long as I tried.
Goal #1: Read more books by people of color.
Less than 10% of the books I read this year were written by a person of color. I’d like that number to be much higher for two reasons. The first is that reading helps develop empathy and understanding toward people who don’t look like me. The second reason is that people of color aren’t always provided with the same opportunities white writers are given, so it’s important to seek out and support their work.
Goal #2: Read more books in translation.
I only read two books in translation in all of 2018. Two. That’s a shame since there is a plethora of great literature throughout the world that I’ve been ignoring. This goes along with goal #1, but I’d like to read more about different cultures and experience new-to-me settings. If you have suggestions for this goal, I’d love to hear them.
Goal #3: READ THE BOOKS I ALREADY OWN.
This goal is in all caps because I’m yelling at myself; it’s that important to me. I love working in libraries, but the one problem is that I’m regularly checking out new books. I read book reviews online, decide I need to read a book immediately, place a hold, and check it out so it can sit in a tote bag with 15 other new releases. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t have hundreds (yes, hundreds) of unread books at home. I’m immensely grateful for the books I have, and I need to follow through and acknowledge that privilege by actually reading them. I have plenty of titles by people of color and even a few in translation, so working on this goal will help me with my other goals, as well.
Goal #4: Read 75 books.
Reading 50-60 books a year is my reading sweet spot. That’s my natural range, but I think I could read even more if I were consistently mindful of how I spend my time. I know I could read more if I scrolled Instagram less and read on my phone instead. I could read more if I remembered to put my Kindle in my purse every day. There are times when I’m tired and don’t want to think, and the mindless scrolling is perfect for those times. But I rely on it too often and know I can make better use of the hours I’m given in a day.
Those are my four goals loose guidelines for 2019. Do you set reading goals? If so, what are some of yours? I’d love to hear them.
For me, December means Christmas, time with family, copious amounts of hot chocolate, and lots and lots of book lists. I like seeing what books people have read and enjoyed in a year, so “best of” lists are always exciting. As I read through the lists that interested me, I thought it would be fun to go back through my Goodreads log and see what my favorite books have been in the past, so today I’m sharing my top five books from the last eight years. An asterisk denotes a lifetime favorite.
2010: Stoner by John Williams* My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer* Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical edited by Hannah Faith Notess A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
2011: Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor* Cathedral by Raymond Carver Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick The Poetry of Rilke by Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. by Edward Snow)*
2012: The Secret History by Donna Tartt* Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor* Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt Glaciers by Alexis Smith*
2013: Night Film by Marisha Pessl* Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
2014: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt* An Untamed State by Roxane Gay Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
2015: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides* This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett Gilead by Marilynne Robinson*
2016: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara* Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
2017: The Mothers by Brit Bennett Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty The Nix by Nathan Hill Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Are any of these books on your favorites list? What books have stood out to you over the past few years? I’d love to hear about them.
I love a good book list, and as someone who works with teens, one of my favorites is the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Looking over this list made me wonder what books would be good for reluctant adult readers. If I was to present a non-reader with a book, which one would I choose for the best chance to ensure their enjoyment? Today I’m sharing 8 titles for different types of people. I’d love to hear your recommendations too.
FOR THE PERSON WHO LIKES A LOT OF DRAMA: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies is perfect for the person who claims they hate drama, but not-so-secretly loves it. There’s a large cast of characters, gossip, intrigue galore, and a suspicious death. Plus, fans can binge the excellent HBO series if they haven’t already.
FOR THE PERSON WHO LOVES TO LAUGH: Calypso by David Sedaris
While you can’t go wrong with any Sedaris books, I think Calypso might be my favorite. In this collection of essays, Sedaris tells readers all about his new beach house called the Sea Section. I laughed out loud several times while reading about his family’s adventures there. Sedaris is indeed at his best and funniest in this book.
FOR THE PERSON WHO IS ALWAYS IMPROVING: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
If you know someone who’s always looking for ways to better themselves, hand them this book. Duhigg explores habits and how people have used them to stop gambling, lose weight, win football games, and more. I was fascinated by the stories in this book and have tried to put Duhigg’s advice to work in my own life.
FOR THE MUSIC-LOVER: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
When I read this book, I knew of Carrie Brownstein because I’d seen a few episodes of Portlandia, the TV show she starred in alongside Fred Armisen. I’d never listened to her band Sleater-Kinney, yet I was captivated by her story from start to finish. Brownstein is a great writer, so I think music fans will relish the stories of her musical journey, the riot-grrrl era, and the Pacific Northwest music scene in the early ’90s whether or not they’re a fan of her music.
FOR THE PERSON WHO CAN’T RESIST THOSE BUZZFEED QUIZZES: Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
Anne Bogel is known for her bookish blog and excellent podcast about the reading life, but in this book, she tackles a new topic: personality types. This book is less than 250 pages, and in it, Bogel presents brief overviews of personality categorization tools such as the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and more. This is a great starting point for a person wanting to know more about what exactly it is that makes us who we are.
FOR THE PERSON WHO ENJOYS FASCINATING TRUE STORIES: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
Before reading Going Clear, I knew virtually nothing about Scientology. I was familiar with it because of stars like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but the inner workings and belief systems were unknown to me. In this book, Lawrence Wright does a deep dive into the church and what he uncovers is absolutely fascinating. This is the perfect read for those who like digging into truth that’s stranger than fiction.
FOR THE PERSON WHO’S ALWAYS ASKING FOR ADVICE: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life by Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
If you know someone who can’t quite make up her mind, throw this book into a gift bag and hand it to her. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of advice Cheryl Strayed offered to readers of the Rumpus when she wrote their Dear Sugar column. This isn’t a traditional self-help book with steps laid out or specific action plans; instead, Strayed offers gentle words of encouragement and wisdom to those needing someone to listen.
FOR THE PERSON WHO CARES ABOUT FEMINISM AND POP CULTURE: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is a brilliant writer and cultural critic, and her work in this book is no exception. Gay tends to write about serious topics, yet her essays in Bad Feminist can be quite funny. I was even entertained and mesmerized by her essay about a Scrabble tournament. Short pieces like essays are a great way to hook reluctant readers, I think, especially when the essays are as excellent as the ones in this collection.
What books would you recommend to reluctant readers? Was there a particular book that turned you into a book lover?