I’m pretty romantic about the idea of a fresh start in the New Year. When the ball drops in Times Square, I get excited about the promise of a clean slate and the opportunity to be better. As an avid reader, this time of year also brings a yearning to devour books about personal power and growth and revisiting some key best practices for a full and joyful life. Today I’m sharing my favorite books to read the beginning of each year. Some are classics, others are more recent, and all have had great impact on my life.
I first read 7 Habits while in the process of launching my business 10 years ago. As I flipped through my old copy, covered in post it notes and highlighter, I was struck with how many of Stephen Covey’s prose continue to influence me as a leader. Everything from his idea of a “circle of influence” and beginning with the end in mind, to his chapter on the importance of “understand first to be understood” is timeless. If you have never read it, or haven’t read it in some time, consider putting it on your list.
I’m not one to prescribe to spiritual gurus, and I don’t think Brene Brown presents herself as one, but if I had to have one, she would be it. I love how she writes, how relatable she is, and her data-backed recommendations. Daring Greatly is one of my favorite books, but the Gifts of Imperfection, which preceded Daring Greatly, changed my life. In “Gifts”, Brene maps out the 10 pillars for a wholehearted and authentic life. As I read it, I felt like she was speaking directly to my soul. I never realized other people thought like me or cared about the things I did. My biggest takeaways? That gratitude is a daily practice. It’s most needed when you are stuck and need to adjust your perspective. Also, her ideas around setting boundaries utterly changed how I managed my relationships with friends, family and made me a better parent.
Joan Didion’s complicated, grueling, and brutally honest memoir of the year following her husband’s sudden death, while simultaneously dealing with her daughters’ life-threatening illness, will stay with you long after you finish reading. Death and grief bring about universal pain but is processed uniquely by all of us. While the book is obviously sad, it is also the story of a beautiful marriage and a call to remember how quickly life can change. It was a reminder that life is fleeting.
I would like to be Christiane Northrup when I grow up. She is effervescent, charming, funny, brilliant, and more comfortable in her skin than I may ever be. I’m a bit younger than her target demographic, but I figure the more I can learn now, the better. She has some pretty out there statements in this book that, at least to me, are easily forgiven by her earnestness and authenticity. Even still, there are some wonderful nuggets for living a joyful, vibrant life at any age. I find her voice so soothing; I listen to many of her books and podcasts while hiking or on a long overnight flight.
This is the book you read when you ready and willing to make a change. Shondra Rimes is a powerhouse and a massive introvert. I felt such a connection to her story. She found herself overworked and not enjoying the amazing life she worked so hard to have. By making the commitment to saying Yes! to the things she usually wouldn’t, she opened up a whole new, more fulfilling world of health and happiness. I particularly loved her story about saying yes to playing with her kids even if she was running out the door to meetings. They only wanted a few minutes with her before they lost interest and went about their day. I took that to heart and think of it every time my kids want a few more minutes of extra reading in bed, or have “one more thing” to tell me before we head off to school. Say Yes! and see what happens.
What are the books that inspire you? Share them in the comments below: