My Top Recommended Books of the Year

good books to read from library

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

Some of my fondest memories from growing up revolve around books. My mom has always loved to read and we started making weekly trips to the library when I was very young. In fact, we not only went to our local library in Northeast Philadelphia, but we also traveled to nearby neighborhoods to visit their libraries.

I can still close my eyes and conjure up the details of at least four different library buildings that were in our rotation.

My mom always had a stack of books in the dining room she was working her way through, and she read out loud to us every night. We had a big old wooden barrel in the living room that was filled with kids books and we could pick out anything we wanted for my mom to read to us. We were always surrounded by books!

As I got older I developed my own relationship with books and reading. I have a very vivid memory of standing in front of the library stacks in the young adult section of the library and thinking to myself in despair, “I’ve already read all of these books.” (Which wasn’t really true!)

When I was particularly engrossed in a book during middle and high school I would set myself up in a cozy chair in our front room and read in the almost dark house until way past the time everyone else went to bed. I’ve always had trouble putting down a good book!

If you walked into my living room today you might immediately notice my coffee table. It’s currently covered in stacks of books. A few of them are my own, but the majority of the books I read come from my neighborhood library. I make a visit there at least once or twice a week to pick up my holds. Luckily, it’s within a five-minute stroll from my house.

The fact that I can walk into a public building and check out any book I want, for free, never ceases to amaze me. What a gift it is to live in this ridiculously rich country of ours.

All of this means I read a lot of books! It’s the way I relax and unwind, seek inspiration and new ideas, visit other worlds, and learn about the innumerable ways people exist in this world.

As we head into winter, the season of more reading hours (yay!), I thought I’d share some of my top recommended books that have passed through my hands this past year in the hopes of introducing you to something you might want to put on your reading list!

cool books to read

Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

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I Need a Good Book to Read!

How many times have you thought this to yourself or said it aloud to a fellow book lover? I personally feel nervous if I don’t have at least a few books queued up in my to-read pile.

Click on the book cover photo to go right to the listing in Amazon to find out more and read reviews from other gardeners.

FICTION

The Leavers, by Lisa Ko

One of the most important parts of reading for me is the ability to see the world from the perspective of people who are very different than me. That’s why I consistently try to seek out books written by people of color, immigrants, and others who can share points of view that are often unrepresented in media. This book definitely falls into that category. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin

I thought the premise of this book was so unique. Four young siblings visit a fortune teller when to learn the date they will each die. How each of their lives unfolds in the succeeding years is fascinating and grapples with the question of how much control you have over your own life and death. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

 

The Power, by Naomi Alderman

I have to admit, the fierce feminist in me took some pleasure in this book, although it isn’t quite what it seems from first glance. Women all of a sudden develop the power to release electric jolts from their fingers, which instantly flips the balance of power between men and women. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran

A story about a first generation American and a new immigrant to the US and how their lives intersect as a result of their love for the same young boy. This book gives human faces and stories to some of the most intense issues we’re dealing with in our society right now – immigration, racism, women’s place and power in society, and white privilege. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

DUDE BOOKS

When my husband read this blog post, he called out to me from the other room, “You need more dude books.” So, here are a few books my husband enjoyed this year.

The Overstory, by Richard Powers 

Mark is an arborist. He loves trees! I put this on my library hold list for him and he asked me at least once a week whether his book came in yet. He’s reading it as I write this post. I hope to read it when he’s finished. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

 

Wool, by Hugh Howey

A dystopic novel where an entire society lives underground in a silo, with a bad a** female protagonist. This is the first book in a three-part series that my husband and I both enjoyed. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

GARDENING

Vegetables Love Flowers, by Lisa Mason Ziegler

My favorite gardening book of this year is a holistic view into why and how mixing flowers in with our vegetables benefits us, our plants, and the animals and insects that are a part of our garden ecosystems. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

Veggie Garden Remix, by Niki Jabbour

A book after my own heart! I love experimenting with fun new vegetables and varieties and this book gave me some great ideas of alternatives to try out next season. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

You can read about more gardening books I love in this post.

YOUNG ADULT

There are so many amazing young adult novels representing many different perspectives of what it’s like to be a young person around the world. I like to stick my nose in a YA novel every once in a while!

 

Far From the Tree, by Robin Benway

Three siblings who were adopted into different families find one another and begin the process of getting to know each other and grapple with their shared history. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas

A timely novel that tells the story of how police violence towards black people affects several families and their community. This was recently released as a movie as well, although I haven’t seen it yet. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

LIFE

Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

My brother introduced me to this book and I absolutely loved it. I’ll be reading it again next year. The two authors developed a class at Stanford that teaches students how to apply design thinking to create a career and life that brings them joy. I wish I could travel back in time and hand this book to my 20-year-old self. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

HOME

 

New Minimalism, by Cary Telander Fortin & Kyle Louise Quilici

I read this book while on vacation at the end of the summer and it got me fired up to come back and do a major purge of my entire house. Many things got sold on Craiglist and put on the curb in the months following! Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

HEALTH

The Elimination Diet, by Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten

The Chinese medicine practitioner I see gave me this book and suggested I try an elimination diet to figure out some health issues. I followed this plan for three months and felt so much better! I’ve discovered I definitely have some food sensitivities, although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what they are. Click on the photo for more info.

 

 

 

I feel so grateful to all of the amazing writers in the world who put their pens to paper (or fingers to keyboards!) to share their life experiences, the characters they create, and the lessons they’ve learned in life.

A love of reading is one of the greatest gifts my family bestowed upon me. I truly cannot imagine my life without books. The many, many, many hours I’ve spent reading throughout my life have helped me grow into a more thoughtful, compassionate, and aware person.

Now it’s your turn! I’d love for you to share a top recommended book with me in the comments.

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Comments

  • Charlotte Little

    Megan, my currently favorite book is Bringing Nature Home (updated and expanded edition) – How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, by Douglas Tallamy. An eloquent and compelling argument for how native wildlife depend on native plants. It has changed my thinking about gardening.

  • Joyce Hessefort

    Thank you for sharing. I’m definitely going to borrow many of these recommendations. Who are the authors of New Minimalism. I couldn’t read that part of the cover very well. Thank you Megan.

    • I added the authors to the post, plus you can click on any cover image and be taken to the book on Amazon.

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