Let me let you in on a little secret that I’ve come to believe in wholeheartedly:
Reading makes us better people.
It forces us to focus on the page in front of us in a world filled with distractions. It asks us to step inside the life of a character, to try to understand and empathize with them. It pushes us to experience emotions, responsibilities, actions that may seem new or foreign to us.
In this spirit, I’ve put together a wide-spanning list of excellent reads for the beginning of 2021 and beyond. Whether you’re looking to learn about cutting edge research on female sexuality, how the soil can reverse climate change, attend a masterclass on reading and writing, or explore female friendship with a dose of escapism, there is something here for you. And as you read, I want to hear about it! Tag me in your Instagram stories as you pick up one (or all) of these books. Happy reading xx
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain – Full disclosure: I am currently about halfway through this book, and cannot put it down. George Saunders is a master, and I cannot get enough of how he combines his skilled storytelling with analytical readings of short stories by the Russian masters who came before him (think Tolstoy and Chekhov). If this sounds quite random to you, rest assured, I felt that way when I first heard about it, too. The subtitle for this book is “In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life,” and Saunders’ book truly does feel like a class that emcompasses all of life and it’s emotions, as examined by the written word and the way that human beings share stories. It is astonishingly beautiful to read, and there’s a great dose of humor interwoven in there as well.
Come As You Are – One of the best pieces of sex advice I’ve ever been given is “You don’t have to talk about sex to have sex, but you do have to talk about sex to have good sex.” Can I get an amen? I also believe that by talking about sex more openly, we can begin to dispel some of the shame and misinformation that the topic is so often shrouded in. This book, which came highly recommended to me by multiple women, is all about female sexuality, and how it is not only fundamentally unique in and of itself, but varies significantly from woman to woman. Bottom line: our own body’s sexual response is right for us, even if it seems different from the women around us. There should be no judgment there (of ourselves or others). This is an incredibly well-researched book, and I love that it combines both emotional and anatomical perspectives and discusses the “complications of every day life” and how that context actively influences our desire and our sex lives.
A Happy Pocket Full of Money – This has been the number ONE book on my list to read in 2021, as my own business coach recommended to me. It’s about money, but not in the sense of tactical investment advice or how to manage your accounts. It’s about the energetics of money, as a reflection of the value you bring to the world and how you see yourself. It’s about how we approach our everyday lives and the beliefs of integrity that we bring there, which in turn influences and elevates our money consciousness. A must-read for anyone looking to uplevel their money mindset in this new year.
Altars in the Street – What do a Buddhist private eye, the inner city, and a spiritual awakening have in common? Read this book to find out.
Kidding. I’ll give you more than that. I was initially drawn to this book, which is a few decades old at this point, because I love memoir, am consistently intrigued by Buddhism, and am actively seeking out reading that educates me more on systemic racism. This book explores the racism and crime in the inner city in an incredibly compassionate way, and offers wisdom for all of us as we seek to make our country better and worthy of all its inhabitants.
Miss Benson’s Beetle – Perhaps the most heartwarming novel I’ve read of late, and in the vein of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society or Where’d You Go Bernadette? This light-hearted and highly humorous story is at its heart about the sacred power of female friendship, and the characters are wildly loveable. The two main characters might be seen as underdogs, as women who have lived the lives expected of them… until their paths merge. And adventure ensues. Also, if you want to make someone’s day, this book is an excellent surprise gift 🙂
The Soil Will Save Us – One of my secret favorite topics? Agriculture in America. It may sound niche, but I actually believe it to be one of the keys to the greater health of our planet and our population at large. Small stuff, really. This book dives deep on how we can heal our land by healing our soil, which in turn will help us to reverse global warming. It’s a really interesting convergence of the studies of food, farming, sustainability, and health, and offers a less-than clickbaity and yet highly rational way to look at reversing the damage that we’ve done to our planet.
Word Wise – When was the last time you paid attention, close attention, to how you speak and share? The phrases that you use? The subtext to your conversations? Whether you write books for a living, use Instagram, or simply engage in conversation with other humans, this book provides some serious food for thought around language in our modern world. All of the lessons are broken down into bite-sized pieces, and a healthy dose of humorous references are included too (think Donald Trump’s tweets).
The Travelers – This multi-generation-spanning novel covers the well-detailed inner lives of two families, one white family and one black family, and how they diverge and converge over the lifetimes of their members. A word up top: this is not a novel that you can phone it in for. Because it spans so many characters’ lives (from the 1950s to present day), there is a multitude of names and storylines that you need to keep straight at any given time. That’s all to say… it’s quite worth it, and paints a striking picture of families, of race in America, and how these ideas have evolved (and not evolved) over the past few decades.
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