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A few years ago, I was looking over my Goodreads “READ” list (Let’s be friends!) and I realized that a majority of what I’ve read over the years are young adult, fantasy, and children’s books. There is nothing wrong with enjoying these genres, but I believe I’m hindering my personal growth by not branching out.
It is no secret that reading increases your comprehension and intelligence. However, what you read also makes an impact. Reading 50 young adult novels isn’t going to expand your vocabulary. You need to step outside your comfort zone. My 2018 reading list is built around pushing my reading limits.
If one of your goals for the year involves bolstering your vocabulary or reading more books, this 12 month guide can help you.
January | Minimalism
Intentional living and minimalism are all the rage these days. I have been purging odds and ends for the last two years in an attempt to remove clutter. There is a rumor that clutter actually causes anxiety. Whether you think minimalism is hogwash or you’ve been “finding joy” in your belongings since the trend began, minimalism might give you new perspective. Check these out to see if minimalism is something worth pursuing in your life:
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
- The Power Of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential by Leo Babauta
- The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
February | Romance
Whether you’re single or in a relationship (who cares, right?), February is a month of indulging. After reading about minimalism and possibly changing your entire life philosophy, grab some love for yourself in the form of a book. Make a cup of coffee, snuggle in with your pet, and savor a trashy romance novel (or a really great one). Below are some easy and tougher reads. Take your pick!
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
- Don’t Ask Me Now by Emma Darcy (a Harlequin romance)
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
March | Money
By March, we’ve usually fallen away from our resolutions and goals for the year. It’s a good time to reset and renew your conviction to take control of your money and live your life with financial security. Some of these books changed my life because it changed my money mindset.
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
- The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley
- You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
- The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach
April | Career
Very few people are happy in their jobs. While reading books about professionalism and career progression aren’t going to make your job better, they might change how you act and react to work situations. Or you might be inspired to change your life. April is a great month to make big leaps!
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
- The Art of Success: What No One Ever Taught You (But You Still Need to Know) by James Melouney
- Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy
- Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
- The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle
May | Historical Fiction
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because it can immerse you into any time period and theme. Romance in the Wild West? Check. War in Russia? Check. The Golden Age of New York City? YES. You can have all your desires filled with this genre alone. Here are some recommendations, or just hit up Goodreads and check out their historical fiction lists.
- The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
- Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy #1) by Ken Follett
June | Famous Classics
There are hundreds of classics out there worth your time. You could go back hundreds of years to read The Iliad or Dante’s Inferno, but if that’s too heavy for a summer read, you could shoot for something shorter and lighter, like The Great Gatsby or The Awakening. Below I’ve offered suggestions from both types:
- The Aeneid by Virgil
- The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
July | Fantasy
Fantasy is my all-time favorite genre. Ever since I was a child, dragons, fairies, wizards, and magicians have held my heart. Would you believe I have never read the Harry Potter series though? Don’t knock the fantasy realm until you’ve tried it, and if you’ve only read Harry Potter, I beg you to push further. There is so much more to be discovered.
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- The Paper Magician Trilogy by Charlie Holmberg
- The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
August | Educational Non-Fiction
Non-fiction… Oh, how I loathe thee. Non-fiction is something I have shied away from for years, and I believe it to be the reason my vocabulary is so limited. Because I want to feel more intelligent and possibly BE more intelligent, several books on my 2018 reading list are educational non-fiction. Holding my own in a conversation is important to me. Do yourself a favor and read a book that makes you think and challenge your belief system. White Trash (listed below) taught me more than I ever thought possible.
- A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
- White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
- The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
September | Humor/Comedy
As much as I love to laugh, I haven’t read much comedy. It’s so much easier to watch comedy than to read it. Still, some authors capture humor through words, and you can find yourself laughing out loud when reading. September is a time of transition, so laughter is vital to making it through a month where fall begins and the weather can turn cold.
- I Am America by Stephen Colbert
- Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions by Christian Lander
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- Love Among the Walnuts by Jean Ferris
October | Thriller/Horror
I am the ultimate scaredy cat when it comes to horror plots. I can’t read about them or watch them on television. Even stories a typical person wouldn’t find scary would terrify me. Still, it is good to branch out, and October is the perfect time to read a thriller or mystery novel. One piece of advice – read these books before the sun goes down – preferably in the morning.
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
- The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
November | Memoir/Biography
I just finished reading one of Ellen Degeneres’ books called Seriously… I’m Kidding, and loved it. I never thought memoirs or biographies sounded intriguing, but over time, they’ve found their way into my heart. We can learn a lot from other people’s experiences and ideas, and reading the history of their lives is a great way to start gleaning that information.
- Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox
- Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee
- The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts by Tom Farley Jr.
December | Young Adult
You really can’t beat young adult books. There are so many great ones to choose from and they’re super quick and easy to read. Of course, this list is tiny compared to the unlimited amount of young adult books available. Don’t be afraid to read some of the older stuff too. You don’t always have to go straight to John Green, though he is wonderful.
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
- Jason’s Gold by Will Hobbs
- Stealing Freedom by Elisa Carbone
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Holes by Louis Sachar
The titles listed here are just recommendations. You can absolutely scour Goodreads for more material.
Use this reading guide to push yourself when choosing new books to read. I have been pleasantly surprised when reading outside of my comfort zone, and I am making it a goal to read different genres. What books do you recommend as part of this list?