I think one of my resolutions every year is to read more. Last year, thanks to grad school, I read more than I ever had—and I loved it! I felt rejuvenated and inspired because I chose to make time for me to read for pleasure, not just homework, and I chose books in different genres, writing styles, and authors from across the board. I tried my best to expand my horizons and challenge myself to read books I wouldn’t normally take off of a shelf.
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That said, here are 10 books to add to your reading list this year:
If you haven’t already read it, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo is my number one pick for 2018. Seriously, START HERE. I read this book a few months ago, and then immediately made my mom read it. Then we both spent time going through our closets and going through clutter. I felt energized after, and realized a lot of the “stuff” I had been holding onto actually was emotionally and mentally weighing me down.
While all of her advice was great, I found her most helpful tip to be about letting go of sentimental things. Check out our post here on how to use the KonMari Method as a twenty-something.
Sometimes we all need a little break from our day-to-day and this book is a great way to do it. Penny’s murder-mystery is set in Canada and follows Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of Quebec, as he solves mysterious murders that pop up all over. Still Life is set in a charming little town called Three Pines, and its charm does not disappoint–quirky townspeople, interesting art, and a shocking murder. The best part? You can follow Gamache for a long time because Louise Penny wrote a series! There are at least 13 and counting as of now so you can get your fill of twists and turns and surprises for pages on end.
Be prepared to feel things as you read this novel. Homegoing follows the story of two half-sisters whose lives could not be more different, though they share so many similarities: heartache, pain, violence, loss of family, loss of self. This novel is gorgeously written, and tragic. I felt profound sadness as I read, which inspired me as a writer who wishes to connect to an audience in the same way with my own writing. The words Gyasi weaves are important, and the stories she portrays are even more so.
Though technically this book is YA, it is for everyone. Maddie is an 18-year-old girl who has lived her whole life in the bubble of her house thanks to a rare autoimmune disease. She’s on the verge of adulthood without ever having really lived. That is, until Olly moves in next door. He’s handsome, he’s mysterious, and he is about to show her what she’s missing out on. While this is somewhat of a love story, it is truly a coming-of-age novel where our strong, brave, smart protagonist learns what life is really about. Bonus? The novel was adapted into a beautiful movie. A must-see after you read!
These next five books are on my want-to-read list for this year. Each have been recommended to me by women in my life who inspire and encourage me.
My dear friend who is in graduate school to become a librarian read this and immediately recommended it to me. It’s a novel that feels timely to what we face as a nation of individuals who want to be part a community. As we face continued turmoil and seek truth, I think it’s important to have hard conversations that help open our eyes to different perspectives and expand our horizons.
Ultimately, we need more empathy in the world and one of the ways we can do that is by reading books that put us in other people’s shoes. This book is a call for our communities to stand up together and have our voices heard that enough is enough. This novel is said to be an excellent example of the different topics we are experiencing in the news, in our communities, and in our homes.
My mother recommended this book because she loved the story and she knows I’m a sucker for anything about great relationships. It’s about an older, brilliant mathematician and his caregiver and her son. Ogawa captures the intertwined lives of the two and the attachment of the caregiver’s young son to the quirky older gentleman while weaving in elements of Japanese culture. Some stories help us to hold onto our belief in the innate goodness of the human spirit and Okawa’s novel does just that.
Have you ever wondered if you have made a quick decision, or thought too long and missed your opportunity? This book was also recommended to me by mother who has spent her career making decisions and agonizing over them. I inherited that trait and often analyze decisions until they’re skin and bones.
She felt that this book was the most eye-opening analysis about how we make decisions. We make decisions throughout our lives, where to live, what to order for dinner, how to choose a job or a mate. Having the confidence to make decisions, big or small, at the right pace, with enough information and the knowledge that we need is a life skill that everyone should have. As I’m coming to the end of my graduate experience and beginning the next chapter of my journey, I fully plan to read this book to help me make decisions for my future career opportunities.
Goodreads, my favorite list-making and book-hoarding app, recommended this to me. I have to admit, I am someone who judges a book by its cover, especially when the cover is simple and beautiful. The cover and title caught my eye last year so I added it to my “to-read” list on Goodreads. Low and behold, it was voted winner of Best Fiction of 2017 in the Goodreads’ Choice Awards. According to Goodreads, this novel “explores family bonds, race relations, and what we ultimately owe to those we love.”
I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now, especially after three important women and readers in my life told me to! A Gentleman in Moscow is a very complex story because of the history, the interactions of the characters, and the elements of their lives.
The main character is serving a prison sentence that is a bit unusual. He cannot leave his hotel room. Serving a life sentence, the gentleman went in his 30s to the hotel and has not left since of his life. The intriguing parts, however, are not just the sentence but the relationship he builds and the way he lives his everyday life. He was once a very wealthy count, used to luxury hotels, but with his prison sentence he was forced to move in a tiny room in the servant’s quarters of the hotel. It’s interesting what becomes important to him, the relationships he develops and maintains, and in all of his turmoil he never loses his dignity or principles.
I’ve been wanting to read this book and just received a copy as a gift. A family friend read this after reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith–a novel I just crossed off my own reading list a few months ago. She felt that both novels paired well together so I cannot wait to read Manhattan Beach. This novel takes place in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. It captures a transformative time in the lives of American men and women in the twentieth century. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I believe I’ll feel the same way about Manhattan Beach.
I want to hear from you; what books do you think I should add to my reading list this year?