10 Books You Need to Read This Year

reading list

When I envision my best day it is always the same scene: sitting outside barefoot in a white sundress on our back porch beside Sam. There’s a bright yellow pitcher of homemade mint lemonade propped beside us, and a paper novel open in my lap. Oliver is running circles in the fenced in yard and a tiny human that we haven’t met yet is kicking inside my round belly.

This is the vision that comes to me over and over again when I’m meditating, dreaming about our future, or talking with family members about our plans. It is a picture I can see so clearly that it almost feels as if I’ve already experienced it.

Now, you’re probably thinking at this point, “what kind of post did I just click on?” I promise I’m not getting into any “woo-woo” topics about shamanic energy or my moon cycles. You can go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.

I am opening the post in this way to say that this “best day” of mine isn’t a wild fantasy about living off the coast of Portugal or quitting my day job to become a deep sea fisherman. It is very real and attainable. In fact, I’m almost doing it already, ya know, minus the baby belly and back porch.


This year, like every year before, one of my biggest personal goals is to read more. One way I am doing this is by turning off the TV during the week. Rather than winding down after work with a re-run of The Kardashians and listening to them bicker back and forth about the newest baby-daddy drama, I am choosing to curl up on the couch with a mug of hot peppermint tea, my favorite candle, and a book.

In my opinion, self-care isn’t always about indulging in your favorite dessert, taking a long bath, or putting on a sheet mask. Self-care should be centered around bettering yourself and giving energy to all areas of your life (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual). I believe that books can play an instrumental role in that.

Many of these below have helped me gain perspective on my life and determine exactly what I value most. This is why, I assume, that my vision of my “best day” is so specific and down to the tiniest details (like the color of my dress). Over the past few years, books have provided me with inspiration, business advice, and a whole lot of confidence that my younger self was lacking.

Although the majority of the books on this list are self-development and great business reads, they aren’t zeroed in on entrepreneurs alone. These are mainly women-focused reads that are meant to inspire and connect with you, and help you refocus your mindset on what you truly want out of life.

get it girl

These 10 books have made a huge impact in my life, and I hope that you love them just as much as I do. *In no particular order:

1. Work Party

“Jaclyn Johnson—the founder and CEO behind Create & Cultivate, the fastest growing online platform and conference for millennial women in business— offers a rallying cry for a new generation of women who are redefining the meaning of work on their own terms: WorkParty. Women who want it all and more, and guess what? They can have it.

Determined to bounce back from a massive blow in her early twenties, Jaclyn overhauled the mess that was her life and by the time she was in her thirties, she had sold a company and launched the much-buzzed about Create & Cultivate platform. She had also advised and invested in multiple million-dollar projects at the same time. So, how did she do it?

In WorkParty, Jaclyn shows how she turned distrust into determination, frustration into fuel, and heartache into hard work—and how you can, too.”


2. Present Over Perfect

“In a culture that values speed, efficiency, image, and busyness, some of us are aching for another way to live: more intentional, more connected. Simpler, slower, richer. Many of us have believed the myth that achievement and success bring us contentment, only to find it’s actually things like connection and meaning, not success and achievement, that provide true peace and genuine happiness.

How to live a rich, engaged, and loving life in the midst of what often feels terribly messy and imperfect. A collection of essays that focuses on the journey from frantic and tired to connected and free. Many of us find ourselves busier than we want to be, missing the sweetest moments along the way. We end up resentful and distracted, full of regret and feeling disconnected.

Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out to a new way of living—full of grace, space, and connection.”



3. Girl, Wash Your Face

“As the founder of a lifestyle website and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle--and how to give yourself grace without giving up.”


4. The Defining Decade

“Our ‘thirty-is-the-new-twenty’ culture tells us that the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. But thirty is not the new twenty.

In this enlightening book, Dr. Meg Jay reveals how many twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation that has trivialized what are actually the most defining years of adulthood.

Drawing from more than ten years of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, Dr. Jay weaves the science of the twentysomething years with compelling, behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves.

She shares what psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, reproductive specialists, human resources executives, and economists know about the unique power of our twenties and how they change our lives. The result is a provocative and sometimes poignant read that shows us why our twenties do matter.”



5. The Rules Do Not Apply

“All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer — ‘the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.’ Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life.

But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.”


6. Sweetbitter

“Twenty-two, and knowing no one, Tess leaves home to begin her adult life in New York City. Thus begins a year that is both enchanting and punishing, in a low-level job at ‘the best restaurant in New York City.’ Grueling hours and a steep culinary learning curve awaken her to the beauty of oysters, the finest Champagnes, the appellations of Burgundy. At the same time, she opens herself to friendships—and love—set against the backdrop of dive bars and late nights. As her appetites sharpen—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess is drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle that will prove to be her most exhilarating and painful lesson of all.

Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and purely adrenalized world of the restaurant—conversations interrupted, phrases overheard, and suggestions below the surface. Evoking the infinite possibility of being young in New York with heart-stopping accuracy, Sweetbitter is ultimately about the power of what remains after disillusionment, and the wisdom that comes from experience, sweet and bitter.”


book club

7. You Are a Badass

“In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you've never made before.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.”


8. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“Best-selling author, Elizabeth Gilbert, digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.

Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the ‘strange jewels’ that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”


online book club

9. Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

“Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in our everyday lives. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything.

It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that we have called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and her life, and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling us upward to the best possible life, and giving us room to breathe, to rest, to break down and break through.

Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak And boredom and broken glass.”


10. #GirlBoss

“Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school—a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay.

Flash forward to today, and she’s the founder of Nasty Gal and the founder and CEO of Girlboss. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers.

#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly.”


book reviews

Photos by Jade Nikkole Photography

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Want more lifestyle inspiration? Read The 5 Skincare Rules I’m Living by this Year and My Everyday Makeup Routine.

What is on your Spring reading list? Comment on the last photo on my Instagram feed and tell me, or tag me in a photo of your favorite book!

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xo Anna Elizabeth

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