(Winter 2019) 30+ Book Recommendations from Readers
I like to read.
Usually people can figure this out pretty quickly because I also (shocker!) like to write. I’m a firm believer that you can’t really have one without the other. Just like I couldn’t be a yoga teacher if I didn’t actually, you know, do the yogas. I’ve always been a reader. When I was little, my mom would treat me with books for good behavior. I was the kind of kid that would go to midnight releases of the new Harry Potter books, an event that I am deeply saddened no future children will get to enjoy. I recall life events with the book I was reading at the time. To sum things up: I REALLY LIKE TO READ A LOT.
A big part of my daily routine is reading before bed. I used to blast Netflix before bed but realized that I wasn’t sleeping particularly well, and it was also taking me forever to fall asleep at night. The other day I posted about my reading habits on Instagram and asked for recommendations from the crowd and… you guys showed UP. I’ve asked for book recommendations from my IG account a few times before and, I have to admit, I have yet to be disappointed by a single recommendation. This isn’t surprising at all, but the suggestions that I got were thought-provoking, intense, witty, and hilarious. Just like the fine humans that read this blog. It seemed obvious that these should be compiled into one big post for us all to enjoy together. Voila! A mega list of books suggested by dozens of smart, incredible, inspiring women on the internet. I can’t wait to start reading.
While there are links in here to purchase the books, I encourage you to do what’s right for your lifestyle via checking out from the library, buying used, or getting an electronic copy. Since I try to live minimally as much as possible, I prefer to buy my books for Kindle because otherwise there would be no room in my house for my husband, brother, or dog. I like using the bedtime light setting on my Kindle to block the blue light from my screen, which can in turn mess up with how your body process melatonin. Melatonin is one of the things that helps your body fall asleep, that’s why things like blue light blocking glasses are so popular right now.
(One quick thing - ton of these books are available for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. The subscription is a monthly fee that then allows you to rent as many books within Kindle Unlimited as you want each month. I read faster than I eat donuts, so this has been a huge money saver for me. Not sponsored, just a hot tip!)
The Library Book - “Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.”
The Universe Has Your Back - “In her latest book, The Universe Has Your Back, New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. Each story and lesson in the book guides readers to release the blocks to what they most long for: happiness, security and clear direction. The lessons help readers relinquish the need to control so they can relax into a sense of certainty and freedom. Readers will learn to stop chasing life and truly live.”
Dare to Lead - “Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same question: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture? In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BSstyle that millions of readers have come to expect and love.”
Anything Harry Potter - I think you get the point here.
A Man Called Ove - “A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).”
The Collected Schizophrenias - “An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the “collected schizophrenias” but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life.”
Just the Essentials - “In Just the Essentials, Grigore offers a 21st-century guide to these ancient oils, offering a fresh, fun, and authoritative overview of what they are and how they can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life. From plant-based medicine to all-natural skincare to safer and cleaner household products to aromatherapy, this handy and entertaining guide provides detailed advice for a wide array of oils, safety guidelines, and a range of do-it-yourself recipes to get started.”
Girl Logic - “The fact is, whether you're obsessing over his last text or the most important meeting of your career, your Girl Logic serves a purpose: It helps push you, question what you want, and clarify what will make you a happier, better person. Girl Logic can be every confident woman's secret weapon, and this book shows you how to wield it.”
It Didn’t Start With You - “Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.It Didn’t Start With You is a transformative approach to resolving longstanding difficulties that in many cases, traditional therapy, drugs, or other interventions have not had the capacity to touch.”
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea - “Full of hilarious, never-before-told stories, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? is an intimate portrait of a president, a book about how to get stuff done, and the story of how one woman challenged, again and again, what a "White House official" is supposed to look like. Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and beyond, including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon). Told in a smart, original voice and topped off with a couple of really good cat stories, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? is a promising debut from a savvy political star.”
Educated - “Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her 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. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.” (A TON of you recommended this one!)
The Radium Girls - “Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Bad Blood - “In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup "unicorn" promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes's worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn't work.”
You Are a Badass - “In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you've never made before.”
Little Fires Everywhere - “Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.”
The Soul of an Octopus - “Another New York Times bestseller from the author of The Good Good Pig, this “fascinating…touching…informative…entertaining” (Daily Beast) book explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus—a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature—and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.”
Sex Object - “Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation. In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, this literary memoir is sure to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work and enthrall those who are just finding it.”
Small Great Things - “With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.”
Shoe Dog - “In this instant and tenacious bestseller, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight “offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh” (Booklist, starred review), illuminating his company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.”
Rebecca - “The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives--presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave. First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.”
Fate and Furies - “Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.”
All About Love - “As Bell Hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question “What is love?” her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society’s failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the “100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life.” All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.”
Motherless Daughters - “Although a mother's mortality is inevitable no book has discussed the profound lasting and far reaching effects of this loss until Motherless Daughters, which became an instant classic. More than twenty years later, it is still the go-to book that women of all ages look to for comfort, help, and understanding when their mother dies. Building on interviews with hundreds of mother loss survivors, Edelman's personal story of losing her mother, and recent research in grief and psychology, Motherless Daughters reveals the shared experiences and core identity issues of motherless women.”
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness - “For readers who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness--if we let it--can save us all.”
Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side - “Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.” That’s how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures—they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.”
How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide - “Searing, sobering, and urgently needed, How to Be Less Stupid About Race is a truth bomb and call to action for everyone who wants to challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression. If you like Issa Rae, Justin Simien, Angela Davis, and Morgan Jerkins, then this deeply relevant, bold, and incisive book is for you.”
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body - “In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.”
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race - “In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race'. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.”
Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets - “Hard-hitting, intelligent, incisive, yet bursting with humor and pop-culture savvy, Reclaiming Our Space is a survey of Black feminism’s past, present, and future, and it explains why intersectional movement building will save us all.”
Black As Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Liberation - “The Democratic Party and the church—two institutions that rest on their spotty legacies on behalf of the disenfranchised—cannot save us. Arguing that Blacks have always been considered non-citizens in the United States, Samudzi and Anderson make the case for a new program of transformative politics for African Americans, one rooted in an anarchist framework. This is not a feel-good-and-make-peace book. With the passion of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, the raw truth of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, and the revolutionary fervor of Emma Goldman’s timeless essays, As Black as Resistance shakes us from our slumber and energizes us for the road ahead.”
Thick: And Other Essays - “In these eight piercing explorations on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—embraces her venerated role as a purveyor of wit, wisdom, and Black Twitter snark about all that is right and much that is wrong with this thing we call society.”
Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools - “Called a book "for everyone who cares about children" by the Washington Post, Morris’s illumination of these critical issues is "timely and important" (Booklist) at a moment when Black girls are the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system. Praised by voices as wide-ranging as Gloria Steinem and Roland Martin, and highlighted for the audiences of Elle and Jet right alongside those of EdWeekand the Leonard Lopate Show, Pushout is a book that "will stay with you long after you turn the final page" (Bookish).”
Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements - “A manifesto from one of America's most influential activists which disrupts political, economic, and social norms by reimagining the Black Radical Tradition.”
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More - “With unflinching honesty and moving prose, Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America, offering readers accessible language while imparting vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood population. Though undoubtedly an account of one woman’s quest for self at all costs, Redefining Realness is a powerful vision of possibility and self-realization, pushing us all toward greater acceptance of one another—and of ourselves—showing as never before how to be unapologetic and real.”
Yoga Wisdom - "Here, Spence has gathered the wisdom of eighty-five acclaimed yogis to enable readers to live their life to the fullest. Real and raw wisdom from global leaders in the yoga community—from classic yoga superstars to today’s rock-your-daily-asana hipsters—will motivate you to live a life beyond your wildest dreams. Filled with universal insights, intimate, comforting stories, and spiritually practical tips, Yoga Wisdom is here to help keep you on the road to truth, authenticity, and balance in all aspects of your life.
Permission to Leap - “You know that there is more available to you. Life is calling for you to be more in the world. And while you've taken a few baby steps to find out more, the thought of jumping without a parachute terrifies you. You can feel yourself torn between the comfort that you know and that invisible whisper inviting you into the expansive and vast unknown. The doubts and 'what if's are paralyzing you on the fence of indecision. You look left to the comfort and right to the possibility. And left. And right. Which side do you choose? 'Permission to Leap' will guide you through the process of leaping from the day you commit to the day you land softly on the other side. Because the world needs you to leap sooner than later.”
Small Fry - “Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of childhood and growing up. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide, marveling at the particular magic of growing up in this family, in this place and time, while grappling with her feelings of illegitimacy and shame. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling story by an insightful new literary voice.”
Well, I think this list should keep us occupied for… at least a year.
If you have any books on your list that you’re excited to read or ones that you’ve loved recently, drop them below!
Books > most people,
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