Better Books: Great Reads for a Fresh Start in 2017

There’s nothing like the start of a new year to inspire you to take fresh steps toward becoming your best self. But getting to that “new you” status can be difficult without some motivation, encouragement and practical tips. Whether you want to excel at your job, improve your health or be a better friend, colleague or parent, there are plenty of wonderful books out there to help you. Here are eight we’ll be reading to make it better in 2017.

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg

Smarter Faster Better

Charles Duhigg is well known for his bestselling book, “The Power of Habit,” which discussed how habits are formed and how we can change and create better habits in our life. In his latest book, Duhigg addresses the ways that productivity that can lead to success. From looking at data in a different way to processing information to be more efficient, Duhigg explores the science behind productivity to help us all do more with the time and resources we have.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth

Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance

Many people believe that talent is one of the key ingredients for success. However, psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that talent is not the most important factor, grit is. “Grit” is described as persistence and perseverance, and that long-term commitment to difficulty is what leads to achievement over innate genius or natural skill sets. If there is a major project or goal you want to achieve, hard work and passion are more important than any talent you may or may not have.

Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide)

Sarah Knight

Get Your Sh*T Together

We all have to-do lists that seem to be growing every day and yet it is easy to find ourselves spending so much of our time and energy worried about things that don’t matter. In her first book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck,” Sarah Knight discussed how to mentally declutter in order to make room for the things that matter. In this book, Knight tells you how to get organized and stay focused on the things that truly matter to you.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Brené Brown

Daring Greatly

Vulnerability is often seen as a major character weakness. However, Brené Brown argues (quite effectively) that it actually takes a significant amount of strength and bravery to be vulnerable with the people around us. Vulnerability is subversive and dangerous, but the ability to allow ourselves to give in to it and facilitate it leads to stronger relationships and greater rewards in every area of our lives. Brown presents guidelines for becoming a better friend, better parent and better boss by creating spaces that allow for openness, honesty and vulnerability between the people in our lives.

First Bite: How We Learn to Eat

Bee Wilson

First Bite

Most food-centric books picked up toward the beginning of a new year are diet books: what to eat and not eat, instructions on how to cut sugar or carbs or gluten or whatever the latest food evil is. Not “First Bite.” This one approaches food from another angle. Wilson explores the roots of taste and habits and discusses why we eat the way we eat. Wilson talks to a number of people including neuroscientists, nutritionists and psychologists to dig deeper into how our palates are formed and how we can change and adjust to be healthier and make better food choices.

Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza

Colin Atrophy Hagendorf

Slice Harvester

In 2009, Colin Hagendorf set out to eat and review every single slice of pizza available in Manhattan on his blog, Slice Harvester. He started to gain attention and notoriety, but his personal life was falling apart. This memoir delves into everything from his addictions to his family to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And as you watch him get his life together, you may find some inspiration to similarly right your own path.

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual

Luvvie Ajayi

I'm Judging You

Luvvie Ajayi is a hilarious media and pop culture critic who is probably best known for her television recaps. In this collection of essays, Ajayi lovingly and hilariously points out many of the major online faux pas that people tend to fall into online and on social media. The book is broken up into four sections: Life, Culture, Social Media and Fame, and in each she seeks to show how we can all be better people both online and offline. No matter how adept you are at social media, everyone has room for improvement and Ajayi’s humor helps you recognize that without getting offended.

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain

Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair

Talking about race can be difficult and scary, and being a black woman in America sometimes means that you become that black friend who has to answer those questions. Phoebe Robinson has often found herself in that position, and she explores that as well as a number of other topics, from the difficulties of casting calls to why Lisa Bonet is a goddess, to the NFL and why they need to do better. The essays in this book are fun and filled with pop culture references—it’s like an episode of Gilmore Girls in every chapter—but she is also frank about her life as a black woman in America today.

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