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Our Favorite Books About Starting Fresh

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By Brianna Flaherty

The new year is finally here! Weโ€™re a little more than one week in and itโ€™s already hard to keep the resolution momentum going (especially if youโ€™re a little resolution-averse in the first place ๐Ÿ‘‹) so I put together a motivational reading list to kickstart 2020. Check out some of our friendsโ€™ favorite inspirational reads (disclaimer: we moonlight as a Cheryl Strayed fan club), and letโ€™s start the new year on our collective best foot. Happy reading!

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

The summer before I moved to New York, I read every piece of writing by Nora Ephron that I could find. I love them all, but found Heartburn to be particularly resonant as I made my transition. How did a semi-autobiographical novel about the dissolution of a pregnant narrators marriage help me prepare for a major life change, you ask? Throughout my first read, I found humor in tragedy, self preservation in a time of crisis, the strength in vulnerability, the blending and balance of womanhood and motherhood, and that New York City is the absolute greatest place in the whole wide world. I come back to Ephronโ€™s writing often, but when I need a read that will comfort and empower me, something that will make me laugh and cry and pull my hair out all at once, I return to Heartburn.

-Kelsey D.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

My personal motto is WWCSD (What would Cheryl Strayed do?), in large part due to this collection of advice columns she wrote under the pseudonym โ€œSugarโ€ for The Rumpus. A hybrid of self-help (but for people who canโ€™t help rolling their eyes at self-help ๐Ÿ™‹) and memoir, Tiny Beautiful Things offers poignant, brutally honest, sometimes funny, and often devastating wisdom on topics ranging from career aspirations to financial woes to crippling grief. Itโ€™s a book that inspires you to find the best in everyone around you, including yourself.

-Toni B.

All About Love by bell hooks

I read All About Love when my partner and I were first starting a long-distance relationship. It was a reminder that love is worth it, and love is not always easy, and love certainly doesnโ€™t look like fairytale romances (and it shouldnโ€™t). Hooksโ€™ writing is redemptive and restorative. It encourages you and holds you accountable, empowering you to love activelyโ€”to put in work, to love yourself, to love others. If youโ€™re still looking for a New Yearโ€™s resolution, here it is: practice love.

-Lily F.

Educated by Tara Westover

Educated was recommended to me by a few friends with raving reviews but I didnโ€™t know how good it would be until I found myself glued to the book for two straight days. Taraโ€™s story of balancing her own family values with her desire to learn and see the world through her own eyes is heartbreaking but also incredibly inspiring. Tara embodies what it means to be a self-starter and after reading her story, I feel like no goal is out of reach. I couldnโ€™t stop thinking about this book for a few days and itโ€™s now my go-to recommendation for those who havenโ€™t read it yet.

-Ilona B.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I'll admit to only reluctantly picking up Wild, Cheryl Strayed's memoir about hiking the grueling Pacific Crest Trail: Another story about a woman who does something extreme to change her life? Eh. But there are few memoirs that get so real about what "rock bottom" can look likeโ€”and not glamorize it. And fewer still that beautifully depict such a necessarily and arduously physical version of upending one's life. Wild is essential reading for anyone who needs a (gentle, firm) push to make a change in their lives.

-Kate W.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Leave it to an introvert to obsessively read a book about introversion, but Quietโ€™s gotten me through a lot of tough spots (personal and career-related) ever since a former boss recommended it to me a few years ago. Itโ€™s a book that encourages you to find your power as a introvert in a world that can often feel like it favors the extroverted. Iโ€™ll re-read bits and pieces of it when Iโ€™m diving into something new to remind myself that I can be quiet *and* powerful.ย 

-Rachel C.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Youโ€™ve probably heard of this one, whether youโ€™ve gotten wind of the book, have a friend whoโ€™s been obsessing about โ€œMarie Kondo-ingโ€ their apartment, or seen the award-winning Netflix show (think โ€œHoardersโ€ with heart). But if you havenโ€™t yet unleashed Marieโ€™s method on your space, nowโ€™s the time. The core of her message is about changing your relationship with your belongings; she guides you to spend a moment with each thing you own, and ask yourself if it sparks joy. When you only keep the items that truly spark joy, the resulting space is streamlined, de-stressed, and uniquely yours.

-Sam P.

What's on your 2020 reading list? Share in the comments!

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