The new year has arrived! Whether your 2017 was good, bad or somewhere in between, the new year offers a chance for reflection on the past and renewal for the future. New Year’s resolutions are, of course, a perennial way to distill this feeling of renewal into a single goal for the coming year — if it’s just one goal, it seems so much easier to accomplish. But after the excitement of the first week, resolutions can feel daunting, and keeping momentum can feel burdensome.
This year, fight those feelings of discouragement with a book. Reading books that are related to your goal will keep you feeling proactive and in control even if you fall behind on some of your initial benchmarks. Because really, the point of resolutions isn’t to rigidly stick to one goal, but to recognize that we have the power to change at all. Here are 25 titles to turn to if you’re pursuing some of the most common (and valiant!) resolutions around.
Resolution #1: To Improve Your Physical Health
1. “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan – A follow up to his previous research on modern eating, this guidebook offers a thorough and intriguing approach to food that skips the crazy diets and offers useful methods for incorporating real, unprocessed food into an everyday diet.
2. “Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?” by Alex Hutchinson – This is the perfect practical manual for every health and workout question you might need answered. With short chapters and topic summaries, it’s like the Sparknotes for health you never knew existed.
3. “Pretty Happy” by Kate Hudson – Need some fun, healthy “fitspo” to keep you going? Hudson’s colorful, friendly book offers diet and exercise methods coupled with mindfulness techniques to emphasize a holistic (and celebrity-informed) view of health.
4. “Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life” by Kelsey Miller – For a more personal approach, read Miller’s engaging memoir about trading in fad diets and a negative body image for a more realistic and liberating outlook on health.
5. “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall – Told through a captivating journalistic story, Christopher McDougall’s account of the sport of running across human cultures will inspire you on a deeper, inter-connection-with-humanity-through-jogging level.
Resolution #2: To Center Yourself Spiritually
1. “The Book of Joy” by Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama – This collaboration between two of the world’s most prominent faith leaders claims to answer one question: “How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?” The insights the two men share are applicable to anyone, regardless of faith background, who seek answers to the big questions.
2. “You Are Here” by Thich Nhat Hahn – While mindfulness has rightly become a popular trend among college students looking for stress relief, Buddhist Zen monk Thich Nhat Hahn has been living the philosophy for years. “You Are Here” offers an impactful introduction to the power of mindfulness and living in the present moment.
3. “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs – Whether you were raised in a Christian/Jewish faith or not, Jacobs’ account of his year-long experiment to live, literally, according to the Bible hides profound questions about faith in an extremely funny, endearing package.
4. “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle – Any spiritual guru in training can’t skip the purpose-building philosophy in “A New Earth.” The book was an early part of Oprah Winfrey’s public engagement with spirituality — she described it on her show as “a wake up call for the entire planet.”
5. “Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe” by Yumi Sakugawa — If deep philosophy is too heavy (and time-consuming) for now, this illustrated volume delivers the same profound value in a beautiful visual package.
Resolution #3: To Get Serious About Dating
1. “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari – Texting, Tinder, hookups – today’s dating world is full of dizzying conundrums, but you don’t have to face them alone. Comedian Aziz Ansari has already researched and analyzed many of them, along with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, and delivered his findings in this authentic, extremely useful book.
2. “Chemistry” by Weike Wang – This novel finds a grad school chemistry student at a crossroads when she leaves her boyfriend’s proposal unanswered. While the proposal is the initial catalyst, it is what the story teaches us about identity and relationship, not just the question of marriage, that takes the lead.
3. “All the Single Ladies” by Rebecca Traister – Though this book’s title would indicate that it’s meant for non-dating women, Traister’s extensive research offers many interesting anecdotes and viewpoints on the meaning of coupledom through history. The book inspires deep, meaningful reflection on the pros and cons of long-term dating.
4. “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld — What could a classic romance like “Pride and Prejudice” teach us if it was set in modern times? Curtis Sittenfeld lets us find out in this retelling, whose fast pace and social commentary will provoke thought on love and its place in our lives and our social system.
5. “Things You Should Already Know About Dating, You F*cking Idiot” by Ben Schwartz and Laura Moses – This illustrated guide to being a good dating partner had me cracking up at the bookstore (and taking mental notes!). It’s a light, useful book of dating advice for millennials, complete with fun pictures.
Resolution #4: To Kick Butt at Career Prep
1. “The Big Life” by Ann Shoket – While most career books focus on only the job, former “Seventeen” editor Ann Shoket examines the big picture: How can all of your goals (passion, money, love, purpose) coexist peacefully with the realities of working? Written specifically for millenials, the book recognizes the big concerns of today’s youth and outlines solutions for moving forward.
2. “What Color is Your Parachute? 2018” by Richard N. Bolles – Though originally printed in 1970, the reprint of this career manual covers timeless topics and tips on finding and keeping a job, as well as new topics and strategies that are specific to the modern job market.
3. “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant – When you’re just starting your career, it can feel counterintuitive to go against the grain, but Grant argues it’s those chances and risks that bring real success. Read this book for inspiration on charting your own path forward, even (and especially) if it’s unconventional.
4. “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandburg – Already a modern career classic, this book raises ideas, questions and philosophies about how to handle gender (and gender imbalance) in the workplace. Regardless of your viewpoint, it’s sure to get readers, especially female ones, thinking deeper about the career ahead of them.
5. “The Girlboss Workbook” by Sophia Amoruso – Part advice memoir and part journal, the latest iteration of former Nasty Gal creator and CEO Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss brand makes sitting down to make concrete career plans fun.
Resolution #5: To Take More Chances
1. “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown – Brown, a renowned researcher, dives into the idea of vulnerability as not our greatest weakness, but our greatest strength in living true, authentic lives. A research-heavy book that flies by!
2. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert – Most of us won’t be able to take a three-month-long global journey for self-discovery, but reading Gilbert’s insightful memoir about her own is the next best thing. Will inspire dreams of travel on a smaller, more doable scale!
3. “The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rimes – Filled with the humor and heart that make the TV shows (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) she writes so good, this memoir charts Rimes’ year of shedding doubt and transforming her personal life through an outlook shift.
4. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed – While it seems to be, and is, a book about a long hike, Strayed’s emotional memoir teaches bigger lessons about maturing, forgiveness and championing forward after devastating loss.
5. “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon – Creativity has never felt so fun and accessible as Austin Kleon presents it in this simple but effective illustrated guide to living a creative life. Whether you’re a starving artist or a straight-laced accounting major, this book will help you shed your fears and doubts around creative living.
Have a happy new year and may you stick to your resolutions!