Books mean different things to different people. But, no matter your perception of a book, studies have proven that reading reduces sstress, lowers blood pressure, prevents cognitive decline and enhances our overall well-being. If you haven’t immersed yourself in a good book lately, here’s a list of my personal faves.
MY FAVORITE BOOKS – FICTION
Where the Crawdads Sing
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life’s lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens. —Goodreads
When a German captain requisitions Vianne Mauriac’s home, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive. Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with reckless passion. She meets and falls in love with Gaëtan, who ultimately betrays her, so she joins the Resistance, risking her life to save others.
This is a story of two sisters, separated by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own path toward survival, love, and freedom. -A heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. —Goodreads
All the Light We Cannot See
When Marie-Loure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris where she lives. She and her father flee to her reclusive great uncle’s house by the sea.
In a mining town in Germany, an orphan named Werner and his younger sister become enchanted by a radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Anthony Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. —Goodreads
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living.
Smart, warm, uplifting, it’s the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconcious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart. —Goodreads
MY FAVORITE BOOKS – NONFICTION
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 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. Tara taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, learning for the first time about world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her to Harvard and Cambridge.
Educated is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. It’s a coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it. —Goodreads
Untamed is about how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, and honor our anger and heartbreak.
Sometimes we look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent, even from ourselves. Glennon Doyle buried her discontent beneath addictions, cultural conditioning and institutional allegiances. She decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. —Goodreads
Isabel Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations. Using riveting stories, she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day.
She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics.
Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity. — Goodreads
MY FAVORITE BOOKS – SELF-HELP
The Body Keeps the Score
Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring. He shows how the brain can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to prescription drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives. —Goodreads
“Books are the most vital, intimate, personal, mind-altering, thought-twisting, friend-giving, empathy-strengthening, thrill-riding, emotional, world-shaking technology we will ever have. And in a world where we are increasingly connected via technology, but disconnected by society, books and stories can be the glue that bonds us.”
Blocking at least thirty minutes a day to escape into a good book can make or break our well-being. But, sometimes life happens and reading loses rank. My friend, Kim, who happens to read ten times more books than the average hustling Mom and whose sixth sense seems to know when I’m being literarily lax, is the best book giver ever. When Kim ships a book my way, my psyche gently whispers, “G’head, drop everything and read a while. Kim insists.” So, in honor of my generous book-loving friend, Kim, I hope you take some time to read today. And I hope you make it one of my favorite books. —xo