It’s the middle of January — how are you doing adhering to your resolutions? If you’re like me, sometimes it takes a good book to inspire change. Below are seven books I find myself recommending often. They’re the ones I keep by my bedside when I need a reminder, a boost or a blueprint for action. Some are decades old, yet their classic advice is what keeps them viable today.
If you want to be productive
"Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen: More than a decade and a half since it was first published, "Getting Things Done" is still considered one of the best productivity books on the market. Devoid of gimmicks, the book teaches you how to handle the numerous open loops in your life, turning tasks both large and small into actionable items. Best of all, it’s a method that works seamlessly between your professional and personal life.
If you want to clean and simplify
"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo: Made famous by its unconventional advice and quirky author, Kondo’s book has taken the organizing/decluttering world by storm, and for good reason. Her methods may seem extreme, but millions of adherents admit that it actually works. Nearly a year after tidying my life, I find myself hearkening back to the method (such as the vertical folding of clothes) while only slightly cursing the extremes (such as getting rid of some favorite holiday decorations). If you’ve already read "The Life-Changing Magic," Kondo’s recent book, "Spark Joy," goes into more specifics.
If you want to become an expert in your field
"Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise" by Anders Ericsson: We’ve all heard of the 10,000-hour rule that debunks the idea of innate talent. Ericsson’s research goes a step further, tracking down what makes successful chess champions, violinists and even amateur golfers. His principles for deliberate practice are especially helpful for anyone wanting to improve a specific skill.
If you want to eat better
"In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan: There are so many opinions about food these days. From paleo to vegan to gluten-free, it’s easy to get dietary whiplash or just give up all together and head to McDonald's. Pollan isn’t out to set you up with any prescribed diet — he just wants you to eat the real stuff. His basic rule is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” and he spends the books explaining why.
If you want to write (or write better)
"Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg: Even though it celebrated its 30-year anniversary last year, "Writing Down the Bones" is still considered the reference guide for creative writers. However, it’s not just for freshman English majors. Goldberg weaves her writerly magic in a way that gets you itching to start your own narrative. It’s excellent for anyone interested in recording their own history, dabbling in memoir, or finally getting that novel out of their head and onto paper.
If you want to keep your brain limber
"399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young" by Nancy Linde: This book has become a family favorite, not just for the aging brains among us, but for the kids as well. Organized as a series of word and memory games from easy to challenging, this book will keep you entertained and on your toes. If you’re someone who likes a fun challenge but finds crossword puzzles or Sudoku a little too dry, this is the book for you.
If you want to enhance your spirituality
Read the canonical scriptures: I’m not writing this tongue-and-cheek. Read the biblical text, study Isaiah or church history and follow the readings assigned by your church Sunday School class. Study by topic. Delve into the stories. Switch things up by reading a different translation of the Bible, such as reading the New International Version if the King James Version is your usual go-to, or a different layout, such as "The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition" edited by Grant Hardy. In his recent fireside, President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, challenged the young adults to study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ through the chapter headings and the Bible Dictionary in the LDS Church's edition of the King James Bible. We can all follow that advice and become active partakers of spiritual knowledge.