Top 5 Books to Read in the New Year

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My last post had a lot to do about physical health, but I’ve learned especially in this past year that it’s just as important, if not more, to dedicate time to mental health and overall well-being as well. One of my favorite hobbies has always been reading. If you’re a friend of mine, you know that by now. Call me a nerd, but I attribute so much of who I am now to reading as much as I did when I was a kid. Reading helps me to center myself, and in the long run, it’s benefitted me so much more than one could ever imagine. Especially in today’s world, the ability to communicate really either hinders you or pushes you forward in life. Having an extensive vocabulary and knowing how to state what you’re truly trying to say can set you apart from others. Small rant aside, I’ve read (or am in the middle of reading) 5 really great books that I’d highly encourage you all to check into, especially going into the new year where resolutions and life changes ring so prominently.

(Shoutout to my bestie for doing some hand-modeling for me for this blog.)

1. The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness 

 Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

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This book fell into my lap as a result of my undergraduate senior capstone class. At the start of the semester, we were handed a list of management self-help books to pick from, and had to create a presentation based on one of our choosing. As I skimmed the list, so many of them seemed unappealing to me- I’m definitely very unconventional when it comes to business and what I believe to be the best way to conquer the professional world. But then I came across one, “The Power of Nice.” A strange title to be in a list of management books, I thought. But, this book ended up changing everything for me. In today’s society, we’re so often taught the only way to get ahead in life is to be as cutthroat as possible. We learn at a young age that tearing down others is the equivalent to building ourselves up. This book is one of few that I’ve found in my 22 years of life that shares the same viewpoint as I do- that this attitude is not necessary to succeed. Within the 10 chapters of this book, Thaler and Koval explain that there is evidence that kind people not only make more money, but live longer, are healthier and luckier in love. The book is riddled with examples of successful businessmen and women getting ahead in life due to their kindness and connections made with others. I won’t give it all away, but if you are with me in thinking that there has to be a better way to get ahead in life instead of constantly trying to sabotage others, then this book might be right up your alley!

2. milk and honey

rupi kaur

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Ah, the power of social media. My stumbling upon this book was a direct result of Twitter shares and retweets. Sometime last year this book gained popularity and stirred quite the buzz, and for good reason. When I say there is some juicy stuff in this book, there is some juicy stuff. I’m not usually one for poetry, but with the connections that Kaur makes in a little over 200 pages, it’s no wonder the book is a NYT Bestseller. A lot of the content about love and loss hit me like a ton of bricks, and I know I’m not alone in this feeling. One of the greatest parts about this book is that it’s broken into sections, going through all the feelings of hurt and heartbreak, but then ending with a section called “the healing,” leaving you with a sense of hope and knowing that all of these emotions are just a normal part of human life. Sometimes it’s just good to know that we’re not alone in our feelings. If you’ve somehow managed to not read milk and honey yet, I highly, highly recommend it. Kaur has also recently released his newest text, The Sun and Her Flowers, which, with any luck, is waiting for me on my front step back home in Auburn!!

3. LAGOM: The Sweedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life

Niki Brantmark

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This book came as a gift from my brother’s incredibly generous girlfriend, who was born and raised in Sweden, and who had recently taken a trip home to visit family. A book outlining the Swedish lifestyle, I absolutely loved reading this. The layout of the book itself, the text, illustration and photos, are a perfect representation of lagom itself, meaning “not too little, not too much.” The key to Swedish lifestyle is that moderation is best, and this book illustrates how to carry this philosophy out in every aspect of your life- your personal life, your family and relationships and in the wider world itself. I think I enjoyed reading this book so much because I was blown away by how much I center my life on this concept of moderation already. One of the chapter’s, for example, talks about how the Sweeds hold a very delicate work-life balance, working harder and more diligently during working hours, but heading home at the end of the day, without the guilt that I feel so many Americans have with leaving right at 5 p.m. It also discusses the importance of taking a lunch break and conversing with coworkers, friends and family, and so many other important ideals that we overlook here in the states. Reading Brantmark’s text really was like a reawakening of sorts to me, showing me ways that I could improve my life to be more lagom, and essentially, live happier and healthier. For a book to read at the start of a new year, Lagom is a particularly great choice.

4. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome life

Jen Sincero

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Another gift from a friend, I love this book, plain and simple. Sincero puts everything in plain terms- what we’re doing wrong in our lives that is limiting our happiness, and how to change all that. This book really makes you think about where you focus your energy, and why we doubt ourselves when we’re full of greatness. She gives great advice about accepting who we are, what we enjoy, what our passions are, and then how to channel these into a successful, happy life. This book basically says, in no simpler terms, that we are our greatest strength, but also our greatest weakness. How we choose to look at the world and view ourselves contributes a ton to how successful we will be, or even how we measure that success. With a dry, sarcastic sense of humor woven about this book (probably part of the reason I like it so much), you’ll come away at the very least a critical thinker about why it is exactly you do what you do each and every day, and how you can start to tweak these actions. There is also a “You are a Badass at Making Money” out on the market for you business-savvy folk, so check that one out, too! Look for the bright green cover.

5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Mark Manson

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My final pick is one that I’m still working through. Could be partially because, with a cover like that, everywhere I go people stop to ask me what I’m reading, and this usually leads to a 10-15 minute long conversation, but who’s to tell?! Just throwin’ shots in the dark here. I came across this book thanks to my fav fav fav travel blogger, Lesley Murphy, who posted a picture of it on her Insta story one day. Now if you know me you know I am a huge fan of Lesley and the life that she has created for herself, traveling the world, exploring new cultures, giving back, helping those in need and talking openly about very real issues. So of course, if she was reading this book, I knew I had to. I haven’t gotten too far into it just yet, but just like You are a Badass, Manson talks very matter-of-factly about life. There is going to be shit in our life. That’s just life. We can’t control that. But what we can control is whether or not, well, we give a f*ck about it. We have the choice on what issues we want to dwell on in our life, or we can make the conscious effort to move on. Self-awareness is key, and what truly makes a happy life is knowing what is really important to us, and being okay with letting the rest roll off our shoulders. Definitely not your typical self-help book, Manson more than once says things like “screw happiness,” and straight up admits that we can’t all be extraordinary, but the pages of this book have so far helped me to re-evaluate what I deem as important in my life.

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These are my top 5, but there are so many other books that I love. What are some of your favorites that I can add to my list? Comment below or shoot me a message!

5 thoughts on “Top 5 Books to Read in the New Year

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