A PSALM FOR THE WILD BUILT
By Becky Chambers
After the hectic pace of the end of the year, it is nice to turn to an enjoyable read that soothes the spirit. “A Psalm for the Wild Built” is that kind of story. A novella about a monk and a robot becoming friends sounds unlikely, but it is a unique premise that examines deeper topics like our purpose in life and the nuances of the human soul. Ultimately, it is a gentle story about the importance of conversation when both parties are open to listening and learning. It is a simple concept that has the power to change lives.
EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER
By Linda Holmes
After a month of binging on Christmas romcoms, “Evvie Drake Starts Over” is a breath of fresh air. Yes, it is a romantic comedy, but it is a refreshing take because it doesn’t fall into oversimplification or worn-out romantic cliché. The story revolves around Evvie, a woman who has lost her (not so beloved) husband, and Dean, a former major league baseball player. Neither have the lives they thought they would have and as both overcome their losses, they become more than friends. What sets this novel apart is that the main characters are complex adults who fall in love while trying to navigate life, changing friendships, and standing up to other people’s expectations.
IKIGAI: THE JAPANESE SECRET TO A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE
By Héctor García
and Francesc Miralles
If you are looking for a New Year reboot, here is a book designed to help you step back, slow down, and contemplate the meaning of life. Well-researched, this short book explains the concept of ikigai - living life with purpose - and offers practical advice on achieving it. Through personal interviews with people living in Ogimi, Okinawa, the authors highlight how a sense of purpose and meaning is common in those who have lived to an advanced age. An excellent book to read for a fresh start in 2023.
TAKING THE LEAP: FREEING OURSELVES FROM OLD HABITS AND FEARS
By Pema Chödrön
This is one of those books to come back to time and time again as a reminder to be present. In this quick read, Chödrön explains the Tibetan concept of shenpa - roughly translated as obsession or addiction. Those moments when our best intentions get replaced by angry outbursts or morph into obsessive behaviors and destructive thought patterns. Through practical exercises and meditations, the book teaches how to work with shenpa. Chödrön shows us how to not avoid difficult emotions by leaning into the discomfort and becoming curious about it. Eventually, explaining how to take the internal lessons and apply them to the world around us.
LIFE AFTER LIFE
By Kate Atkinson
What if you could live again and again until you got it right? That is the question posed by this unique and whimsical novel. The story starts in 1910 with Ursula’s birth (and death). And throughout the story, Ursula is reborn and dies multiple times, creating a story that interweaves her personal growth as the world moves toward war. The humor and charm of the novel contrast with the more serious components of tragedy and war. And quietly, the book becomes wonderfully philosophical and deep - a great read to kick off the New Year.
By Catherine Lacey
If you like a darker take on new beginnings, “Pew” may be for you. In a small town in America, a church congregation finds a figure asleep in a pew. The person does not speak and is seemingly genderless, of uncertain age and race. Over the period of a week, the unnamed stranger is passed from one household to another, and the apparently well-meaning townspeople start to confess their fears and secrets. This short book explores the nature of community and identity while building increasing anxiety about what secrets are yet to be unveiled. Truly, thought-provoking and unsettling.