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A full life is a balancing act. The truth is, we never seem to have enough time to read ALL the books we want while juggling work, home, kids…and what even is self-care? But a good read can transport you like nothing else. Beyond intellectual benefits, a story can heal, uplift, provoke, and inspire us to become the best possible version of ourselves.
Making the time to slow down is as essential to our well-being as eating the right foods or visiting the gym. Whether you’re reading a great novel, probing into new psychological concepts, or learning how to prepare a heartwarming meal, a book is guaranteed to change you. Below are an assortment of 38 reads you can pick and choose from that promise to do just that. So sit back, unwind, and indulge in some much-needed YOU-time.
Best in Fiction
1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
You’ve likely heard about the riveting series from HBO starring Amy Adams, but did you know the show was based on a book by Gillian Flynn, the same author who penned Gone Girl? More than your typical mystery novel, Sharp Objects explores the hidden secrets of Camille Preaker, a journalist who remains haunted by memories of her traumatic upbringing.
When sent back to her hometown to report on two missing thirteen-year-old girls, Camille begins to unravel the gruesome psychological puzzle pieces of her own childhood. Through flashbacks and vivid detail, Ms. Flynn deftly explores the connection between survival and coming to terms with one’s past.
2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Everything in the carefully-ordered community of Shaker Heights, Cleveland is meticulously planned out until the arrival of artist and single mother, Mia Warren and her teen daughter.
You know it’s going to be a good read when Reese Witherspoon is brought to tears. “To say I love this book is an understatement,” she blurbed. If you’re looking for a read that hits all those sweet spots, look no further. Little Fires Everywhere has it all: enigmatic secrets, an exploration of motherhood and identity—all told in succulent passages.Get it on Amazon for $16.20
3. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Another one to read before it hits the big screen—this New York Times bestselling novel will have you cringe-laughing throughout. The novel introduces you to Rachel Chu, a New Yorker invited to spend a carefree summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young. Problem is, he forgets to tell her this one essential fact: He’s loaded (like crazy so).
Kevin Kwan’s hilarious debut novel, Crazy Rich Asians, offers an insider’s look at the clash between old money, new money and everything in between.
4. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
“My story begins on a sweltering August night, in a place I will never set eyes upon.” The first sentence of Ms. Wingate’s engrossing novel will leave you wanting more. The book takes place in 1939 and tells the story of Rill Foss, a twelve-year-old girl wrenched from her home alongside her four younger siblings who are subsequently placed in a children’s orphanage.
What makes this book all the more intriguing is the fact that it’s based on (harrowing) real-life events involving a Memphis-based adoption organization that sold poor children to wealthy families across America. It’s a novel that combines historical fact with riveting prose.Get it on Amazon for $15.19
5. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
If (like me) you are a big fan of Gillian Flynn’s work, you’ll be happy to find her same mix of psychological suspense in The Woman in the Window. Soon to be a major motion picture, Finn’s novel explores the life of New York City recluse, Anna Fox, who when gazing out her window one night, witnesses something that shocks her world.
Described as “Unputdownable” by Stephen King (which is as high a compliment as they come), we recommend watching with a stocked fridge and locked doors.Get it on Amazon for $15.67
6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A page-turning novel that offers political and social commentary wrapped in a compelling narrative. The Hate U Give gives us a glimpse into the life of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who finds herself uneasily shifting between two distinct worlds: the poor neighborhood she comes from and the fancy prep school she attends.
After her childhood best friend, Khalil, is fatally shot at the hands of a police officer, Starr and her community are left reeling from the aftermath. With her latest novel, Angie Thomas, who was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi offers an important and devastating depiction of our times.Get it on Amazon for $11.39
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
If you’re a lover of historical fiction, this deeply charming novel will sweep you off your feet.
Set amid the Second World War in 1946, Ms. Shaffer’s #1 New York Times bestseller is one of those rare delights you won’t want to put down.
We are introduced to writer Juliet Ashton and the mysterious, eccentric man she corresponds with from the island of Guernsey, a connection that will prove to end up changing the course of her life.Get it on Amazon for $7.18
8. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Anyone who struggles with social skills will find this a highly relatable read. Within its pages, we meet Eleanor Oliphant, an out-of-the-ordinary heroine who avoids social interactions at all costs but ends up befriending two unlikely companions along the way.
Named a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will make you feel exactly as its title implies.Get it on Amazon for $9.59
9. We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
That epic love story you’ve been looking for is here, but it’s not what you think. A novel set against the backdrop of the Second World War, We Were the Lucky Ones is about human resilience amid global adversity—Georgia Hunter’s prose is as transporting as it is illuminating.
Three generations of the Kurc family guide us through their struggles to survive in a time of growing hardships and persecution.Get it on Amazon for $9.60
10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Another story that takes place in 1939, Kristin Hanna’s enthralling #1 New York Times bestseller, also holds an impressive 4.4 rating on GoodReads. Her beautifully written account of French sisters Vianne and Isabelle, who find themselves torn between impossible choices, gives us a look into World War II that we normally wouldn’t find elsewhere.
With evocative prose, the novel captures both the heartbreak of survival and the undeniable strength of women under fire.Get it on Amazon for $10.19
11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Our pick for those moments you find yourself nostalgic for a beloved childhood read. Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic is one you’ll likely turn to over and over again throughout the years.
If you haven’t read it, To Kill A Mockingbird is social commentary about ravaging injustice told through the lens of a young girl coming of age in the deeply prejudiced South of the ’60s.Get it on Amazon for $8.99
12. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Known for her roles in shows like Downton Abbey and The Tudors, actress and debut novelist, Catherine Steadman, surprises us with a read full of suspense and arresting prose.
Something in the Water follows newly weds Erin and Mark on their honeymoon to the island of Bora Bora. Once there, the couple’s dreamy vacation turns into a nightmare after coming across something astonishing during their scuba diving trip. It’s a read that challenges readers to question their own ideals and assumptions.Get it on Amazon for $16.20
13. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
You’ve probably heard of the popular Hulu TV version, but The Handmaid’s Tale is more than just a classic, it’s a tour de force that has since led to larger conversations about women’s rights. The Canadian author introduces us to Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead where women are valued only for their reproductive capacity.
Everything Offred once knew is now gone; her husband and daughter, her freedom. Margaret Atwood’s inspired work acts as a warning for our times—deftly taking us into a fictional world that remains (frighteningly) true to history.Get it on Amazon for $9.57
14. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
A book that spans eight decades and four generations, Pachinko isn’t your typical lightweight novel, yet that shouldn’t deter you. Roxane Gay has described Min Jin Lee’s work as deeply engrossing and one of the best books she read last year.
In a sprawling account of 1930s Korea, Lee tells the story of a young woman who after being abandoned and left pregnant by her lover, is forced to enter into a marriage of convenience that leads her to a new life in Japan. It’s a sweeping narrative about love, family, and cultural struggle that will keep you riveted for days.Get it on Amazon for $9.59
15. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
In the mood for a twisty, addictive psychological thriller? We’ve got you covered with Greer Hendricks chilling new novel. For those who are fans of Gone Girl, you’ll be mesmerized by this tangled (albeit scary) love triangle.
As the name suggests, The Wife Between Us is about marriage and betrayal, and as explained within its pages: “When you read this book, you will make many assumptions…Read between the lies.”Get it on Amazon for $14.57
16. In the Light of the Garden by Heather Burch
Heather Burch’s charming novel is one you’ll want to curl up on the sofa with. We meet 31-year-old Charity Baxter, who is full of longing and remorse after inheriting her beloved grandparents’ Florida estate. Haunted by her grief and difficult childhood, Charity soon learns she will have to come to terms with her past is she is to live in the present.
Boasting a GoodReads rating of over 4.0, In the Light of the Garden is an enchanting read that heartily delves into family secrets and the swaying power of forgiveness.Get it on Amazon for $10.99
17. I Will Never Leave You by S.M. Thayer
This is not your tale of happily ever after. While banking heiress Trish and husband, James, appear to have everything they could ever wish for, the reality is far more dysfunctional.
Thayer’s suspenseful debut is anything but dull—inside lies deception, maternal longing, and more importantly, a dangerous obsession. I Will Never Leave You is as intriguing as it is disconcerting (would we have it any other way?).Get it on Amazon for $9.99
18. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Turn off all your phone notifications and let yourself be submerged in Kristin Hannah’s daring new novel. The Great Alone is the coming of age story of thirteen-year-old Lenni, who along with her mother, is forced to follow her father’s impulsive decision to move to Alaska in the turbulent 1970s.
A story about human frailty and resistance, Hanna’s intimate family drama is one you’ll stay up all night reading.Get it on Amazon for $15.94
19. Night by Elie Wiesel
One of the most memorable books I’ve read to date, Night stays with you long after putting it down. Addressing the horrors of his survival, Elie Wiesel’s profound, heart wrenching autobiography takes us through his experience as a teen in Nazi death camps.
Far from merely exposing us to this terrifying sadism, we’re gifted with the author’s interiority—bearing witness to both the anguish and the humanity of those who lost their lives.Get it on Amazon for $5.90
20. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Similarly to Night, what we are offered here is more than a memoir. Man’s Search for Meaning is an answer to a question that continues to resonate: can we find meaning in a world full of adversity and suffering?
Based on his own experience in Nazi death camps as well as those of others, psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, shows us spiritual survival isn’t only possible, it’s undeniable. Through his influential writing, we discover that while suffering is inevitable, the way we cope and move forward is ultimately what gives us purpose.Get it on Amazon for $9.89
21. Educated by Tara Westover
Isolated from mainstream society in the far off mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover learned to stockpile fruits and prepare stewed herbs for her mother while growing up. What she didn’t do, however, was go to school.
Educated is both moving and unnerving as we witness Tara’s quest to become self-taught while growing up in a survivalist family. Along the same vein as The Glass Castle, Westover examines the self-reinvention that eventually led her to Cambridge and Harvard.Get it on Amazon for $16.80
22. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler
Are you ready for this emotional tear-jerker? Because this is one of those reads that has it all: warmth, wittiness, courage in the face of grief. Similar to Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, it’s a book of indelible courage.
Everything Happens for a Reason is more than a reflection from a thirty-five-year-old’s stage IV cancer diagnosis, it’s a probing look at our own mortality and the ways we contend with uncertainty. Kate Bowler walks us through this experience seamlessly, even as she contemplates existence itself.Get it on Amazon for $14.40
Best in Non-Fiction
23. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Before you roll your eyes, let me say this: Dale Carnegie’s book is one of the most important reads you’ll come across. Why? Because it’s all about communicating successfully—and let’s face it, having good people skills is a handy tool to have in one’s arsenal.
How to Win Friends and Influence People teaches us the art of persuasion but it also offers us time-tested advice for improving our own likeability.Get it on Amazon for $9.60
24. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
I remember picking this up weeks after first meeting my significant other years ago and thinking there was no way couples could be summed up so neatly. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only was I mistaken, I have since read this book on a yearly basis.
Gary Chapman could not be more right in that keeping relationships fresh, like laundry, takes some finesse to, say the least. The 5 Love Languages offers practical and actionable ways for understanding your better half. Whether you’re in the glow of a new relationship or already several decades in, learning to speak your partner’s love language can only be a good thing.Get it on Amazon for $9.35
25. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
If you’ve ever sat in a pile of your own clothes while looking for the remote, this is your book! Thanks to the detailed guidance of Japanese cleaning consultant, Marie Kondo, decluttering your piles of crumpled receipts is now within grasp.
In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, we learn to retain only those items that bring us joy. After all, living your best life means being able to see your living room floor.Get it on Amazon for $9.69
26. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
A fascinating book that encapsulates three decades of research on the ways trauma shapes both our body and brain. Based on Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s work with war veterans, trauma survivors, and their families, The Body Keeps the Score is like nothing else you’ve read.
Exploring innovative treatments like meditation, yoga and neurofeedback, van der Kolk shows us that it is possible to find new ways of recovery and eventually heal from our traumatic experiences.Get it on Amazon for $12.23
27. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven
If the constant deluge of bad news is getting to be a bit much, this volume of captivating personal anecdotes will make you feel all kinds of inspired. The book is based on core tenets Admiral William H. McRaven addressed in a commencement speech, where he recounted wisdom gleaned from his time as a Navy Seal.
Far from being summed up as a feel-good read, Make Your Bed is full of encouraging words that will inspire you to overcome challenges and to use your experiences as fuel for changing the world.Get it on Amazon for $10.80
28. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
From the very intro, Rachel Hollis tells it to us straight: we, and only we, are responsible for who we become and how happy we are. Boom. It’s a message we’ve likely heard a million times in a million different ways the difference is, you kinda, sorta, actually believe her.
Girl, Wash Your Face is refreshingly unflinching and unpacks all the falsehoods that make us feel unworthy. Written with delightful honesty and humor, Hollis offers practical strategies for overcoming insecurity, and reminds us that messiness, too, can be a beautiful thing.Get it on Amazon for $13.79
29. Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff
What if we could live a life without fear or constraint? The answer, according to Bob Goff is radically simple: love difficult people without limits. Everybody, Always is one of those rare gems that explores some of the hardest lessons we’ll ever learn—loving both friends and strangers alike without inhibition.
And in a world that is all too keen on deflating our hopes, this book’s unwavering optimism will give you a much-needed boost.Get it on Amazon for $10.19
30. Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines
A good life is one where your loved ones are near and your tummy is full, and no one knows this better than Joanna Gaines, who wrote this sumptuous book on the art of food and togetherness. Inside Magnolia Table, you’ll find 125 recipes and a celebration of family favorites and American classics like Chicken Pot Pie, Peach Caprese, and White Cheddar Bisque.
Gaine’s cookbook will have you longing for your childhood dinners and inspire your own creative genius in the kitchen.Get it on Amazon for $17.99
31. The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and Foolproof Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Coco Morante
For the ultimate Instant Pot aficionado—all of your culinary dreams are now possible thanks to Coco Morante’s savory cookbook.
From wholesome to decadent, The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook offers classic recipes like whole roasted chicken with mushroom sauce and New York cheesecake. But it also doesn’t shy away from modern takes such as buttery cauliflower mashed potatoes and pork adobo (I’m drooling as I write this).Get it on Amazon for $12.52
32. The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet by Jen Fisch
Finding recipes that are quick and simple is my superpower—needless to say, nothing makes me happier than creating easy, delicious meals from whatever ingredients I stumble upon (which has led to some interesting concoctions, but I digress).
The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook offers us 130 recipes that require no more than 5-ingredients (Garlic Butter Shrimp, Broccoli-Cheese Soup) and can be cooked in 30 minutes or less. Yummy, no-stress-cooking? Count me in.Get it on Amazon for $8.99
33. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Speaking of childhood nostalgia! Dr. Seuss’s wonderfully whimsical books can get anyone out of a funk. Oh, the Places You’ll Go is not your average children’s tale (oh no). Starting a new job? Taking a trip into the unknown? Read and go forth!
Through rhymes and riddles, Seuss’s message is never lost: life is full of ups and downs but it will all be okay in the end.Get it on Amazon for $12.76
34. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
Leading expert on shame, Brené Brown, wants us to stop feeling unworthy. In her illuminating book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she asks us to embrace our imperfections and cultivate both self-compassion and courage.
Her ten guideposts explore our limiting beliefs and encourages us to lead a fuller life. Brené’s message is clear: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”Get it on Amazon for $10.99
35. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Even as we embrace our imperfections, stepping into our own vulnerability is our clearest path to meaningful connection, says thought leader, Brené Brown. Daring Greatly examines the uncertainty often hindering us from engaging with the world.
Based on her twelve years of research, Dr. Brown teaches us that rather than weakness, vulnerability and courage go hand in hand.Get it on Amazon for $12.32
36. I’ve Been Thinking by Maria Shriver
Powerhouse Maria Shriver knows what it means to juggle multiple roles. A New York Times bestselling author and NBC News Special Anchor, Shriver is the epitome of lean in culture. What she offers us with her latest book, however, is quite the opposite.
I’ve Been Thinking is a reflection on living—full of inspiring quotes, prayers, and reflections that are meant to evoke intimate self-awareness.Get it on Amazon for $12.84
37. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
Here’s one fact: Bill Gates has claimed this as one of the most important books he’s ever read (that ain’t nothing). This is the intellectually stimulating deep-dive read you’ve been waiting for.
Factfulness explores the ten instincts that distort our perspective of global progress. Full of inspiring and revelatory anecdotes, we learn that the ways we view the world can ultimately shape how we respond to it.Get it on Amazon for $15
38. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
In this bold concept by world-renowned Stanford psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., we are introduced to this simple yet revolutionary idea: the power of mindset. In her decades of research, Dweck discovered that the way we think about our talents and abilities profoundly influences our success.
For those of us feeling stuck, Mindset is meant to help us adopt a deeper growth mindset, with the ultimate purpose of transforming our lives.Get it on Amazon for $8.79