I’ve been a bookworm all my life. I love how deeply I find myself connecting to different characters and how even years later, a good story can still leave an imprint on my heart. As many of you know (and as I shared in my blog post about rediscovering your inner bookworm), fictional novels have always been my preference. I know many people tend to be dismissive of literary fiction as being beneficial but it’s really cool to see that there’s a lot of research out there saying otherwise. In fact, recent research in neuroscience suggests that reading literary fiction helps people develop empathy, critical thinking skills and theory of mind. Not to mention that reading of any kind can significantly benefit your life in many ways.
I share this because there’s no way I’m giving up on reading fictional books this year and I’m not suggesting that you do either! However, when you’re in search of a book with a bit more substance it’s great to mix things up and dive into memoirs, non-fiction and self improvement books.
With all this in mind, I’m excited to share this list of 12 books that will inspire you, teach you something new, give you a fresh perspective, or all of the above! From design tips to help your home feel more joyful to guidelines for creating habits that stick, each book has something unique to offer to help you live your best life.
Read this if…you want something cozy that will leave you falling back in love with the little everyday wonders of life.
What’s it about? In Enchantment, May explores how reconnecting with our surroundings can help us rediscover our sense of wonder and awe. Her thoughtful insights and tender point of view are the perfect antidote to the winter blues that many of us experience this time of year. Coincidentally, May also wrote a book called Wintering (highly recommended by my assistant, KellyAnne!), a reflection on the season itself as well as the challenges and beauty of navigating “life winters.”
Read this if…you’re trying to cultivate new habits that actually stick in 2024.
What’s it about? In Atomic Habits, Clear provides a really helpful and easy-to-understand framework, along with lots of practical tips, to help you create habits you want, break ones you don’t, and make tiny changes that lead to big strides towards your goals.
Read this if…you want to learn how to bring more joy into your home or you need a good excuse to redesign your bedroom for the fifth time.
What’s it about? Joyful is all about the impact of our physical environments on our inner happiness, including the specific design elements that have the biggest effect on our mood and how we can harness those elements to bring more joy into our spaces and our lives. If you often feel a little lost or uncertain when it comes to decorating your home, this would be a great way to get some inspiration!
Read this if…you are curious about how to increase your lifespan and healthspan (aren’t we all?) and you love diving into the nitty gritty details of how our bodies function.
What’s it about? Longevity is a big focus in the wellness world right now, and Dr. Attia is here to share the science behind the biggest health risks and give you what you need to create your own personalized, proactive strategy to live a longer, healthier life.
Note: This book really goes deep into the scientific details, so if that’s not your jam, it might be a good one to listen to as an audiobook so you can focus on the main highlights (or speed it up!).
Read this if…you often feel burnt out or run-down, yet never feel like you’re doing enough.
What’s it about? This book is not about becoming a couch potato or disconnecting from the world entirely. Instead, How to Do Nothing is a friendly guide to slowing down, resisting the pressure to be productive and connected 24/7, and taking back ownership of your attention and your time.
Read this if…you have been feeling disconnected from yourself or you could really use a pep talk.
What’s it about? Through stories from her own life, Doyle gives readers the opportunity to question their own limiting beliefs and reconnect with their desires, instincts, and wisdom. Untamed is a powerful memoir that encourages you to take the time to get to know yourself and leaves you feeling empowered to take control of your life.
Read this if…2024 is the year you’re reconnecting with your inner artist.
What’s it about? In Big Magic, Gilbert offers insights into her own creative process and shares the lessons she’s learned throughout her career that have helped her nurture and tap into her creativity. Even if you don’t have aspirations of writing a novel or becoming an artist, this book can help you connect with your creativity and curiosity in ways that allow you to live a more fulfilling, joyful life.
Read this if…you often find yourself feeling like you never have enough time.
What’s it about? In Four Thousand Weeks, Burkeman challenges society’s obsession with optimization and time management, and provides an alternative perspective that will help you free yourself from endless to-do lists and spend more of your time on the things that mean the most to you.
Read this if…you want to feel pumped up for your next workout.
What’s it about? The Joy of Movement goes into the science behind the positive impacts of movement and exercise that extend way beyond our physical wellbeing. McGonigal’s exploration of the connections between movement and joy provides a fresh way of looking at the benefits of exercise. It might just be the extra dose of motivation you need to wake up early for that yoga class you booked for tomorrow morning.
Read this if…you’re looking for ways to create deeper connections, host memorable parties, and build community.
What’s it about? The Art of Gathering is full of thoughtful tips for organizing (and attending) gatherings, both for work and for play, that lead to deeper conversations, meaningful connections, and memorable experiences. This one feels especially relevant today when loneliness is one of the biggest health crises of our time.
Read this if…you’ve ever wondered why you love to watch sad movies or why sad songs sometimes feel more comforting than happy ones.
What’s it about? In Bittersweet, Cain makes a case for creating space for emotions like longing and sorrow as much as joy and happiness. Through stories and research, she illustrates how embracing the full range of emotions can create a more wholesome, meaningful life.
Read this if…you want to feel a renewed appreciation for life or reset your perspective.
What’s it about? Kalanithi wrote When Breath Becomes Air after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 36, and his memoir is a powerful reflection on mortality and meaning. While you might want to have a box of tissues nearby while reading this book, it will leave you with an uplifting feeling of gratitude.