Your 12-step reading list to get you through January

Weirdly enough, an entire year came and went, and now it’s maybe time to reexamine our goals, create new inspirations, and think about new beginnings. Even if the whole idea of a “new year, new you” seems kinda contrived, the month of January still invites some internalization, and who knows? Maybe you’ll want to make some big changes in your life.

In order to help you with your new journey into 2015 (and there is always, always a new journey), here are 12 books that deal with transformations, starting over, and the self. Because above all, you can totally take this time to focus on you.

1. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

A story of inner and outermost strength, as well as friendship, war, and family, How I Live Now is an inspirational read that is astonishingly riveting. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or scared about the looming future, this book is meant for your eyes and brain.

2. The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller

Andy Miller’s adventures with books is awesomely funny, personal, and truly helpful. If you’re gearing up for a lit-heavy 2015, here’s some real-talk with books. Covering everything from Middlemarch to A Confederacy of Dunces, Andy Miller will fill you in on books that made him feel the most.

3. Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

On the exterior, Zen is a story about a man and his son taking a motorcycle trip across America, but the true depth of the novel transcends linear narrative. When you want to think about personal growth, fears, discovery, existence, start with Robert M Pirsig’s book to get you going.

4. Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Hilary Boyd’s Thursdays in the Park is about Jeanie, who has been married to the very disinterested George for over 30 years. That’s a long time. Especially when your romance has completely fizzled out. Enter Ray, who hangs out at the park. He’s basically everything Jeanie’s husband is not, and she finds herself totally falling in love. Kinda corny, sugary-sweet, and definitely meant to be a Lifetime classic, Thursdays in the Park is just the book you need when you’re thinking about changing your love life around.

5. The Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that life is all kinds of crazy-weird and it never really stays consistent. Bad things happen, and when they do —you learn how to cope. Anna, the protagonist of The Mouse-Proof Kitchen, prepares for an entirely new life when she finds out she’s pregnant. However, her vision of what motherhood will look like totally shifts when her baby is born disabled. This story is about how a woman, her baby, and her partner learn how to re-navigate a life they didn’t think was possible.

6. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche

After you graduate from college, you will soon (sadly) realize that you don’t get to keep all your friends. Especially if you move to a new city and fall in love with a new person. And making NEW friends? It’s hard. Protagonist Rachel Bertsche moves to Chicago to be with her boyfriend, but discovers she has no friends who live near her. So she does her very best to change that.

7. Friendship by Emily Gould

Friendship is a story about two best friends who are seriously struggling in New York (shocker, I know). Amy Schein, former It-Girl-Blogger, is writing for an underwhelming website, while Bev Tunney is newly pregnant and very underemployed. Things need to change, and they need to change ASAP—but will this turbulence affect and Amy and Bev?

8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Maybe you read The Grapes of Wrath in high-school, and maybe you hated it. Maybe you thought it was too long and winding. Maybe you never wanted to read another word by Steinbeck again. Well, I think you should read it again. Hear me out: Grapes of Wrath, which is about a family’s migration from Oklahoma to California in the ’30s, the Great Depression, and the fall of so many American farmers’ lives, is a stunning depiction of the human psyche when you have to uproot your entire life, your identity, and move away from what you know.

9. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection of short stories not really specifically about anything at all. Our relationships with others and with ourselves are the main themes in July’s work, so if you’re looking for a text that will motivate you to reconnect with your writing, or your mom, or your best friend, this is a perfect read.

10. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

Downtown Owl is totally one of Chuck Klosterman’s most underrated works. While he’s not exactly known for his fiction (his essays on pop culture are beyond awesome), this book about a small, snowy fictional (maybe not even real in the figurative sense) town in North Dakota will make you ugly-laugh for eternity. The points of views vary from chapter to chapter, but all the characters in the book elicit a definite kind of hilarious loneliness within us all—one that we should always aim to tackle head-on.

11. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

If you’re thinking about cutting meat or animal products out of your life, read this book. Actually, just read it in general. I’m not a vegetarian; I eat meat a couple times a week, and I still really enjoyed this book. Eating Animals is an education in the livestock we breed and consume in America, and what kind of impact that has on everyone.

12. Bridget Jones’s Diary (series) by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones is ALWAYS on top of her resolutions and goals. Except she never really follows through with them (which is why she is my spirit animal forever). Her life may be a hot mess, but she always knows exactly what not to do, which makes her story all the more relatable.

Images via, Barnes & Noble

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