Fall Reading List: 10 Books That Could Change Your Life | TheBlissfulPoet.com | books, reading, must reads, good books, book club, reading recommendations

Fall Reading List: Ten Books That Could Change Your Life

Fall Reading List: Ten Books That Could Change Your Life | The Blissful Poet

I love reading. If I had my way, I’d have at least four or five hours per day designated to just reading. Novels, memoirs, poetry collections. Coffee and quiet. No responsibilities but those of my characters. Yes, that would be fine.

Though I haven’t had as much time lately to read as I’d like, I’ve still managed to devour a few satisfying books over the past months. Books that have entertained me and made me think. Books that have given me new perspectives. They’re so good I can’t help but share.

Here are ten of them:

Scary Close by Donald Miller. It might be dramatic to say that an author has changed my life, but guys, Don Miller’s message has actually changed me. I’ve read Blue Like Jazz six times (I try to read it once a year), and everything else he’s written has offered a new perspective for me. Or, at least, a clearer, more breathable one. I was excited to read Scary Close because it’s all about relationships — not everyone’s strong suit. Whether you’re a superstar spouse or a terrible friend, this book will make you think about how you approach relationships. No guilt or condescension. Just hope.

The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessen Boyle. I read this begrudgingly as a sophomore in college for a sociology class I didn’t actually enjoy. I opened the book, figuring I’d read the first chapter and then scan through the rest. About two days later I’d devoured the whole thing. There’s something about the way T.C. Boyle writes that puts you right there in the moment. You’re actually experiencing it, not just reading about it. It’s linguistic magic, about as close to poetry as prose can get. Though I’ve read other books of his since then, none have affected me quite like this. It’ll really make you think about different cultures and how we view each other, as well as how we should view each other. Powerful.

Beautiful in the Mouth by Keetje Kuipers. This is a poetry collection BUT WAIT NO DON’T CHECK OUT ON ME YET. Hear me out. I can’t get enough poetry. It’s also my favorite thing to write. It’s a shame poetry is so misunderstood, because it also has the potential to be so very powerful. This is a poetry collection for the skeptics, for those who appreciate beautiful language but don’t consider themselves avid poetry fans. (I took The Hubs to hear her read from this book, and even he enjoyed it.) There’s only so much goodness one body can hold, she writes, and this body of poems holds a lot of it. (If you want some good, readable, non-Shakespeare poetry, let me know. There’s a lot of great, gritty, shocking, gorgeous stuff out there.)

A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs. Proof that you can’t always know why someone acts the way they do without knowing the innermost parts of their story. What might seem like awkward, asocial, timid, or rebellious behavior might actually be a desperate defense mechanism in the wake of unsafe, damaging relationships. Burroughs’ account of growing up with a mentally unstable father lights this up like the sun.

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes. Okay, everyone needs some good chick lit once in a while. (Don’t hate!) It’s my guilty pleasure. Anyway, this one is so fun, and something about Lucy made me feel like she was me, like my thoughts were her own. Good stories do that. They make you forget yourself for a while, but not in a bad way. They just make you feel less alone.

Your life needs to be enjoyed, not endured. | The Blissful Poet

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. Uh, LOVE. If you’re a writer or if you want to be, get this book and read it. Lerner is a poet who has worked in publishing and is now a literary agent, so there’s a chance she knows what she’s talking about. This book is chock full of excellent advice about writing and promoting your work well, and she also dissects different types of writers (the ambivalent, the wild child, the self-promoter, the natural, etc.). It’s informative, encouraging, and made me want to pick up my pen all over again. “If a wad of rejection letters is all it takes to get you to quit writing,” she writes, “then accept the consequences, but understand that it was you who gave that wad its power.” Don’t give up.

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist. “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now.” That’s this book. It’s a collection of personal stories and essays about living life, not just getting through it. Your life needs to be enjoyed, not endured.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Yeah okay, I know I’ve already talked about this book. But it’s just so good. And if you’re anything like the thousands (millions?) of millennials and beyond who don’t quite know what to do with their lives yet, this will light a spark in your chest and wake you up to what you actually want to do. And if you already know what you want to do but you haven’t done it yet, then let this book talk some courage into you.

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman. My parents gave us this book for Christmas before we got married. I don’t think they were trying to dissuade us or anything (Mom? Right?!), but it was meant to help us consider life outside of the butterflies and giddiness that usually clouds the judgement of those newly in love. The “I Wish I Had Known” chapters in the book include things like “How to solve disagreements without arguing,” “That apologizing is a sign of strength,” and “That we needed a plan for handling our money.” It’s also written by the same man who wrote The Five Love Languages.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I wanted to read this the moment I heard it was a thing. I love being around people, but I’m an introvert to my core. I used to hate that about myself. But not anymore, especially not after being reassured that it’s okay for introverts “to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.” Accepting your personality is so freeing. You are who you are for a reason, so embrace it. Use it. And when you feel out of place, remember what Cain writes in the conclusion: “The secret to life is putting yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.” Amen.

Fall Reading List: Ten Books That Could Change Your Life | The Blissful Poet

If you’re having a bad week, head on out to the library or bookstore and pick up one of these babies. Get lost in someone else’s story for a little while. It might help you appreciate your own.

Got any good reads to recommend? Toss them my way!

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