December 19, 2013

20 Amazing Books to Read, Starting Now.


Snuggle up with a good book (or a nice e-reader) and get lost in a different world.

I’ve loved reading ever since I was a small child and when I was growing up, my favorite places to go were the library and the bookstore. I’m constantly on the hunt for new, exciting reading material and I don’t limit myself to any one type of book. If it’s good, I’ll read it. Nothing is off limits because a great author can make any topic exciting and compelling.

I urge you to take some quiet time to relax and enjoy more books or to try reading something different from your usual preferred genre.

I’ve created an excellent list to help you out. There’s something for everyone—fiction, non-fiction, memoir, humor, food, thrillers, romance and even young adult.

1. The Signature of All Things—Elizabeth Gilbert.

Don’t limit Gilbert to Eat, Pray, Love. She’s a brilliant novelist and a master storyteller. This magnificently rich novel is filled with adventure and vivid imagery. I loved it so much that I got into a funk when it was over because I hated to see it end.

2. Crescent—Diana Abu-Jaber.

A fairy-tale, a love story, a war story and a story about lots of delicious food. Set in Los Angeles and the Middle East, this book will make you fall in love and it will make you hungry. Simply enchanting.

3. Holy Cow!: An Indian Adventure—Sarah MacDonald.

A memoir about an Australian journalist who moves to India for true love and decides to explore the country and the many religious beliefs it is home to. Fascinating, hilarious and enlightening.

4. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants—Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell is one of those writers who can truly make anything interesting and his way of presenting facts and telling stories will force you to unexpectedly rethink how you view the world. Challenge your perceptions about disadvantages in his latest.

5. Dad is Fat—Jim Gaffigan.

Comedian and father of five Gaffigan has written a must-read for anyone with kids. Also makes a great gift for parents.

6. Sharp Objects: A Novel—Gillian Flynn.

Flynn is famous for her thriller Gone Girl, but check out her earlier novel, a darker, creepier tale of a serial killer targeting children in a small, Missouri town and the reporter with a haunted past who comes home to cover the story. Terrifying, but I could not put it down.

7. The Magicians—Lev Grossman.

It’s like Harry Potter crossed with Narnia for grown-ups with lots of sex, drinking, drugs, tattoos and violence. Pure genius.

8. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passions and Purpose—Tony Hsieh.

Written by the CEO and founder of Zappos, this is no ordinary business book. It’s a great story. Uplifting, inspiring and innovative.

9. Damn You, Autocorrect!  Awesomely Embarrassing Text Messages You Didn’t Mean to Send—Jillian Madison.

I woke my daughter up from laughing at this book. I also may or may not have actually peed my pants because I laughed so hard.

10. Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD and Find the Key to Happiness—Brian Leaf.

A funny memoir, packed with wisdom, quirky anecdotes and tons of pop culture references as one man journeys toward enlightenment and sometimes the bathroom.

11. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity—Katherine Boo.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Boo brings humanity and soul to the people who dwell in the unimaginable squalor of the slums of Mumbai. This book, which reads like a novel, is beautifully written and will stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover.

12. Chaos Walking Series—Patrick Ness.

These books, not quite your typical, young adult, dystopian novels, were recommend to me by a college professor. If you liked The Hunger Games, this series must be next on your list.

13. Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife—Peggy Vincent.

Vincent, mother of three herself, writes this memoir about her nearly fifty years as a midwife in the Bay Area. Her stories are fascinating, outrageous, joyful and heartbreaking and will change the way you think about childbirth.

14. Life After Life: A Novel—Kate Atkinson.

A complex, dreamy, literary novel about a woman born in 1910 who dies repeatedly and is reborn back into her own life, each time living longer and longer as the second World War draws near. Soon it becomes apparent that this woman, Ursula, may be able to change the destiny of the world.

15. The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family—Josh Hanagarne.

A true, feel-good book. Hanagarne, a librarian at the Salt Lake City Library who suffers from the most severe form of Tourette’s, writes about his struggles to overcome his condition through books, love, weight-lifting, extreme exercise, family and faith. You’ll love it.

16. Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat: A Memoir—Victoria Fedden.

What happens when the ultimate good girl goes to work at a strip club in an attempt to make over her life and herself after the worst break-up of all time? Hilarity ensues and life lessons are learned in this true story by yours truly.

17. Life of Pi—Yann Martel.

A gorgeous novel that will make you question everything and feel better for doing so. This is one of my all-time favorite books. Mystical and awe-inspiring.

18. One Hundred Years of Solitude—Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

This is the best book I have ever read. Period. Nobel Prizer winner, Garcia Marquez creates an family epic of magical realism set in an enchanted village in the Colombian jungle.

19. Coming Clean: A Memoir—Kimberly Rae Miller.

The daughter of hoarders comes to terms with her upbringing in this beautiful, redemptive and brutally honest memoir. The best part is that this is ultimately a story of forgiveness and loving one’s family members when that’s not always the easiest thing to do. Fans of The Glass Castle will really enjoy this.

20. How to Cook Everything—Mark Bittman.

This is the only cookbook you’ll ever need. The simplicity of the recipes and prose is downright poetic and the food is good. Really good. As a bonus, get this book with The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, by Page and Dornenburg. I could flip through both of these books for hours and they make perfect holiday gifts for foodies, novice chefs or yourself, of course.

I could honestly go on and on, but I’d rather hear from you! Please use the comments to share your opinions and ideas and of course your favorite reads.

Relephant Reads:

7 Sensational American Buddhist Books You Must Read.

Free Read-Aloud Holiday Books To Give Parents a Much-Deserved Break.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Pexels

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