The new year is here, which means many of us are busy setting our resolutions — and thinking about how to keep them. That’s why we gathered a list of inspiring books to help you crush your goals this year and be your best self. Whether you’re looking to turbocharge your productivity, unleash your inner artist, or feel hopeful about the future of the planet, the insightful, science-backed books below will help get you there.
10 Insightful and Inspiring Books to Complement Your New Year's Resolutions
These illuminating reads will help you kick off the new year right.
To bolster your productivity, read:
Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You
By Ali Abdaal
Dr. Ali Abdaal is known as the world’s most-followed productivity expert, and you’ll be pleased to learn that his revolutionary approach to success isn’t centered on waking up at 4 a.m. or beating yourself up over all the tasks left on your to-do list — it’s about enjoying what you do! Drawing on a wealth of psychological research and his own expertise, Abdaal champions the idea of finding pleasure in your work and fostering effective joy in Feel-Good Productivity. His easy-to-understand guidelines of “to dos” (actions that energize) and “not to dos” (actions that block happiness or stifle productivity) promise to revitalize your relationship with work and set you on the path to a healthier, happier, more productive year.
To start living with less, read:
Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works
By Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
Ready to declutter your living space and reconnect with what matters most this year? Pick up Love People, Use Things, and embrace minimalism in every aspect of your life. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus — better known as The Minimalists — argue that a culture of material obsession and overconsumption has made us all miserable. Instead of pursuing happiness in our stuff, the authors reveal how a life with less leads to greater fulfillment in our values, our creativity, and our relationships with loved ones. Suffused with clear-eyed advice and inspiring stories, this book about intentional living will guide you to a more meaningful existence by shifting your focus away from quantity to quality.
To communicate better, read:
You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters
By Kate Murphy
Think about dinner last night: Was everyone on their phones? Staring ahead at the TV? Deeply distracted? When was the last time you felt fully present during a conversation? If connecting with those around you and improving your relationships is at the top of your New Year to-do list, pick up a copy of You’re Not Listening by New York Times contributor Kate Murphy. Murphy’s book is part manifesto, part how-to guide, and part eye-opening deep dive into the science behind better listening. She even profiles some of society’s best listeners, including a bartender, a radio producer, and a CIA agent!
To connect with your emotional well-being, read:
Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
By Marc Brackett
Marc Brackett is a Yale University professor and the founding director of the Center for Emotional Intelligence. He’s spent more than two decades researching emotion in both children and adults and developing a multitiered system for channeling our feelings into living our best lives. In Permission to Feel, Brackett shares the lessons he’s learned and the strategies he’s cultivated, offering a guiding light for anyone who feels as if they’ve lost control over their emotions. If you’re looking to boost your emotional well-being this year, Brackett’s narrative will help you minimize stress and set a firm emotional foundation on which to thrive.
To feel hope for the future, read:
The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times
By Jane Goodall
Scroll through your news feed or pop on the TV (sidenote: don’t) and it’s easy to feel pessimistic about the state of the world today. And while the new year is synonymous with positivity and cheer, it also brings with it a mounting sense of concern over what lies ahead. In The Book of Hope, world-famous naturalist and activist Jane Goodall encourages us to drop the despair and open our hearts to the promise of a brighter future. Co-written by Douglas Abrams, this New York Times bestseller is the ideal read for finding optimism, strength, and purpose in the new year. In it, Goodall shares rousing stories from her career as a primatologist and reveals the four reasons why she remains hopeful about tomorrow. If you’re tired of feeling downhearted and in need of an uplift, this book will buoy your outlook and inspire you to join the fight for a better world.
To become a stronger leader, read:
Never Enough: A Navy SEAL Commander on Living a Life of Excellence, Agility, and Meaning
By Mike Hayes
You’re unlikely to find a better teacher in leadership than a SEAL team commander. Luckily for you, Mike Hayes, former commander of SEAL Team TWO and director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council, has channeled a lifetime’s worth of life-or-death leadership experiences into lessons anyone can apply in their quest to become a better leader. Never Enough is packed with tried-and-true advice on motivating your team, remaining calm under extreme pressure, and reaching your full potential. Throughout, Hayes stresses the importance of leading with agility, contributing more, and always putting others first.
To unleash your inner artist, read:
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
By Twyla Tharp
We all have an artistic side yearning to be free. In The Creative Habit, world-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp presents 32 exercises designed to awaken your creative impulse and reconnect you with your artistic self. While we’re often led to view artistry as an innate ability that you either have or you don’t, Tharp’s inspirational book reveals that being an artist just takes practice, commitment, and routine. So pick this one up and get creating in the new year!
To break out of that rut, read:
How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
By Katy Milkman
An award-winning Wharton professor and host of the podcast Choiceology, Katy Milkman is an expert in changing human behavior for the better. In her nationally bestselling How to Change, Milkman argues that the key to breaking out of ruts and sustaining good routines is to turn challenging tasks into enjoyable activities. Want to read more? Start with a short, breezy beach read rather than force yourself through a 500-page tome. Looking to up your exercise? Find a workout regimen that aligns with your lifestyle and that you enjoy doing. Through illuminating case studies and with expert advice on overcoming impulsivity, procrastination, and forgetfulness, Milkman’s book will help you make big changes in the new year without making you miserable in the process.
To increase joy, read:
The Happiness Project
By Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin’s yearlong quest to find lasting happiness, is an excellent companion for anyone looking to jump-start their own happiness journey in the new year. After realizing that life was too short to waste time being unhappy, Rubin kicked off a first-person experiment in happiness advice, personally testing out everything from mood-enhancing scientific guidance and pop-sci self-help to eternal wisdom passed down through the centuries. Follow along with Rubin on her joyful experiment, and you might just find this year will be your happiest yet.
To unplug more often, read:
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
By Cal Newport
If there’s one resolution we see with increasing urgency in today’s overloaded world, it’s to put down the phone. Of course, unplugging from our devices is easier said than done. In Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport offers sage guidance on the digital minimalist lifestyle — and because turning off completely isn’t feasible for many of us, Newport provides a realistic plan for minimizing usage and more thoughtfully integrating technology into our daily routines. Newport encourages us to cut out the kind of tech use that distracts, overwhelms, and ultimately hinders our ability to thrive. If committing to digital minimalism seems like a mighty challenge, never fear! One of this book’s best features is its 30-day digital declutter process, which is sure to reset your relationship with technology and start your new year right.