Books to Inspire Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Taylor Smith

It’s the start of 2019 which means one thing — you’re probably assessing your New Year’s resolutions. While a gym membership and a trip to Whole Foods may help you to exercise and eat better, real change begins with a fresh perspective and more all-encompassing lifestyle habits. Here are a just a few books that might help guide the way to a new and improved you.

For Unleashing Your Inner Artist

Former magazine writer and now self-help guru Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic, is an ode to the creative process and kindling the artist within. Ideal for writers, visual artists, teachers, and nearly anyone else looking for help with the creative process, Big Magic chronicles the Eat, Pray, Loveauthor’s guide to “creative living beyond fear.” If the book jacket doesn’t draw you in, the author’s TED Talk on the same subject matter surely will. The book’s six chapters — “Courage,” “Enchantment,” “Permission,” “Persistence,” “Trust,” and “Divinity” — each chronicle the stubborn gladness that comes from seeing an idea through from imagination to execution. Gilbert’s friendly tone harkens back to her many post-college jobs waiting tables, learning how to engage people in conversation, listen, talk, and ultimately learn more about the human condition. It’s this pursuit of “buried treasure” that has propelled Gilbert’s current career as a New York Timesbestseller. The ‘hunt’ for these “strange jewels” lies within all of us. Gilbert encourages readers:

“You want to write a book? Make a song? Direct a movie? Decorate pottery? Learn a dance? Explore a new land? … Do it. Who cares? It’s your birthright as a human being, so do it with a cheerful heart. (I mean, take it seriously, sure — but don’t take it seriously.)”

For Re-Examining Your Patterns in Relationships

Communion: The Female Search for Loveby Bell Hooks, author of the national bestsellers All About Loveand Salvation,argues that while feminism may have changed the look and landscape of many boardrooms and Fortune 500 companies, love at home has not changed all that much. Combining her personal life experiences with scholarly texts and research on the nature of gender and identity, Communionstates that love for women of every age begins with knowledge and self-love of one’s own soul and body. Hooks’ prose touches on the “highly problematic relationship between self and world” that many women suffer from. Add to that the impact of social media on the self-esteem and self-identity of many twentysomething women, and you have the perfect storm of “nothing to show” for newly won political equity. Hooks also explores the importance of female friendships in order to build “circles of love” and trust which are helpful for combating a female fear of “risking things.”

For Applying Mindfulness Techniques

Thich Nhat Hanh is a highly accessible Zen Buddhist teacher and writer whose works are appropriate for a range of ages and inquiring minds. His Mindfulness Essential Seriesfeatures the pocket-sized guides How to Sit, How to Relax, How to Eat, How to Walk,and How to Love. Written with one teaching per page, the Mindfulness Essential Seriesallows readers to digest one teaching per day. Sumi ink drawings by Jason DeAntonis add to the whimsical flavor of these thoughtful guides. The first book in the series, How to Sit,functions as an introduction to Zen meditation practices with Hanh offering up his own visualizations, stories, and breathing practices. How to Walksuggests that “there is no need to arrive somewhere.” Rather, each step coordinated with each in-and-out breath is a reminder of one’s aliveness. This form of concentrated walking is typical of the Zen practice.