Whether you’re looking to meet some fictional characters and lose yourself in another person’s world, reevaluate your approach to parenting or learn how to relate better to those around you, this list has the book (or books) for you.

I have personally read each one of these books. While they’re all vastly different, every single one is thought-provoking, inspiring, and worth your time.

The Five Books:

1. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

This fictional masterpiece will grab you from the first page. You’ll climb into Alice’s mind and struggle with her to gain consciousness after a bad fall at the gym. When she finally does so, she realizes ten years have passed since her last memory. You join her in her journey to remember who she is. To re-learn her own life. To see how her important relationships have evolved in ten years.

I took this book along on a girls getaway to the beach. It was the perfect book to get lost in while the waves bubbled up around my feet. I completed the book on the plane on the way home, and was relieved to be sitting near friends. Strangers undoubtedly would’ve thought I was crazy for laughing out loud, and then crying, and then laughing again with a book in my face.

Touching, sweet and lovely, you need this one.

2. The Gift of Failure – Jessica Lahey

An important read for those parenting in today’s culture of “helicopter parenting.”

Lahey pushes parents to be ok with letting go, allowing kids to scrape their knees, get a bad grade or feel the sting of disappointment when their every desire isn’t met. She argues that to not allow these events to take place is to the extreme detriment of our children. If we truly want them to become thriving adults, she says we must allow them to experience the “gift of failure.”

She empowers parents with practical advice as to how to step back and help children engage in both life’s successes and failures. When I first started reading this book, I had the (slightly) smug thought that I didn’t really need it. I’ve never minded saying “no” to any of my kids. And I’ve always known the importance of delayed gratification to their development and instilling in them the value of hard work. However, the more I read, the more I realized there were certain areas I thought I was helping, when really I was depriving them of an important learning opportunity. I also felt refreshed knowing that in some areas, doing “less” can sometimes mean doing “more” for our kids.

3. Educated – Tara Westover

You’ll be captivated by this memoir by Tara Westover, a woman raised by survivalists in the mountains of Idaho. You’ll listen in amazement as you hear about her family’s unconventional approach to education and what it was like to step into a classroom for the very first time at the age of seventeen.

I listened to the audio version of this book, chipping away at it at night when cleaning the kitchen. It made the time fly and I was so enamored learning about Westover’s life, her family’s approach to medical care and their relationships with each other. It was also fascinating to hear Westover’s processing of her childhood and how it shaped her into the person she is today. This is one of those books that make you feel as though you’re on a journey with the author, and you mourn the end of that journey when the book comes to its inevitable end.

4. Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport

Don’t brush this one off for fear that it’s another thing telling you that technology is bad, or that social media is rotting your brain. Newport helps you hone in on how you can use technology to your advantage, utilizing it in a way that reflects your own specific set of values, while eliminating ways you may be using it that does the opposite.

Included in this book is a brief but fascinating overview of the beginning the smart phone, and the psychology of why we may find them essential to our daily lives. He also gives you explicit instructions as to how to carry out a “30 day digital detox.” He says this is a vital step in assessing how you can boost the effectiveness of technology in your life, while eliminating ways it might be in conflict with the things you value most. Since reading this book, I have implemented several of Newport’s ideas. I won’t be turning back any time soon.

5. The Road Back to You – Ian Morgan Cron

By now, you’ve probably heard of the “Enneagram,” a personality typing system that’s been around for thousands of years.

Cron breaks down each Enneagram type (numbers 1-9) one by one. He discusses how someone of each type might relate to others. What their upbringing may have been like. What their core motivation might be. As you hear each description, you’ll smile at the ones that remind you of loved ones. You may tear up hearing your own number described. Or, you might feel totally confused and wonder if any of those are really you. (And that’s completely ok!)!

Regardless, I am confident you’ll have the kindling for an insightful conversation with your spouse or a dear friend, as you ponder Cron’s descriptions and discuss what you think of them.

five books

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Danielle was born and raised on Long Island, NY. She married a handsome country boy from Idaho and together they moved out to Colorado for a new adventure. Ten years later, they have 3 children, ages 6, 4 and 16 months. Though she sometimes misses the beaches and the Italian bakeries back east, her daily view of snowcapped mountains and the piercing blue sky remind her that she wouldn't want to live anywhere else. She reads cookbooks for fun and loves getting creative in the kitchen. A musician at heart, she can't walk by a grand piano without sitting down and playing for as long as those around her will let her. Her favorite thing to do with her little ones is snuggle under a quilt with them and read through a fresh stack of library books. She hopes her life will reflect the things she values most- her faith, family and friends (both the flesh ones and the TV show).