December Book Club: Our New Year’s Reading List

2018 is nearly upon us, and in the coming tides of the usual post-holiday detox, we’re turning our thoughts to health and wellness. With several months of colder temperatures and fleeting daylight ahead, it’s the perfect time of year to cozy up with a book and focus on a happy and mindful new year.

The following books make for perfect January reading material; each in its own way delves into the human quest for a healthy and fulfilling life, and will help to start the year off right.

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations On Voice
by Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams’ mother left shelves of journals to her daughter with the simple instruction that they were not to be opened until after her death. Tempest Williams opened these journals upon her mother’s passing and discovered that they did not contain the daily recordings of the woman’s life and thoughts — they were, in fact, completely blank. Trying to recover from this second wave of loss via lyrical non-fiction, Tempest Williams, an environmentalist, meditates on the power of a woman’s voice and matriarchal familial bonds, as well as our tenable relationship with the natural world. An empowering read.

by Maggie Nelson

Bluets has been notoriously hard to classify since its initial publication in 2009; is it poetry? Is it non-fiction? Is it a fragmented memoir or essay? The brilliance of Nelson’s cult favourite, however, is that it really needs no classification. Written during a period of heartbreak and painful solitude that coincided with a friend’s devastating accident, the book explores Nelson’s obsession with the colour blue in two hundred and forty numbered micro chapters (or are they poems?). In a cerebral but lyrical approach, Nelson delves into colour theory, history, literature, pop culture, and her own life to mine the nature of blue and its presence in her world as she grapples with heartache, loneliness, and loss.

How Should A Person Be?
by Sheila Heti

Another work that’s somewhat hard to classify, Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be is toted as a novel but functions as a genre-defying work of metafiction. Following the writer’s journey in the wake of a failed marriage and creative stasis, the book explores Heti’s friendship with an enigmatic painter and her affair with a magnetic artist, all while she struggles to complete the now-infamous script for her play All Our Happy Days Are Stupid. This book is the perfect read for January, as the new year brings the urge to reinvent oneself, and we find ourselves asking the core question of Heti’s work — how, indeed, should a person be?

A Field Guide To Getting Lost
by Rebecca Solnit

Activist and writer Rebecca Solnit has produced an array of non-fiction books that explore contemporary issues through the lens of history, art, politics, and the environment. A Field Guide To Getting Lost follows in that informative but accessible tradition, this time examining the idea of what it means to be lost, to lose, and to experience loss in many forms. As always, her approach is expansive, and here she writes about everything from mapmaking to grunge experimental films to Renaissance painting. Peppered throughout are deeply personal anecdotes from Solnit’s own life as she herself questions what it means to navigate the art of letting go and finding a new route.

So Sad Today
by Melissa Broder

Melissa Broder is one of those rare Internet sensations whose success is owing as much to style and substance as to the viral fame of the Twitterverse. The writer, who initially founded the handle @sosadtoday as a means of coping with crippling anxiety attacks while working in a stressful PR job, Tweeted anonymously for years before revealing her identity. Broder’s signature dark wit and facetious doom-and-gloom approach to mental health issues challenge the stigma that so often surrounds the subject. This collection of anecdotal essays is filled with her trademark humour — often uncomfortable, usually crass, defiantly bold, and, somehow, refreshingly uplifting.

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
by Matt Holloway, Michelle Davis, and Thug Kitchen, LLC

Planning on adding veganism to your list of New Year’s resolutions? This cookbook debuted as a #1 New York Times Bestseller in 2014, and with environmental and ethical concerns at the forefront of today’s political arena, today it feels more relevant than ever. This fun, funny, and delicious collection of recipes is an accessible approach to veganism and challenges the stereotype of the granola-loving, PETA-paint-throwing hippie. Think of this as a collection of your favourite pub foods, reimagined with plant-based ingredients that can be enjoyed without guilt. This playfully foul-mouthed book is your new tool for healthy weekend meals to keep your body well fed and your spirits high, all winter long.

The Year Of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion

As one of America’s most prolific twentieth-century writers, Joan Didion has produced a staggering canon of plays, screenplays, novels, and memoirs. Perhaps her most vulnerable and personal work, however, is The Year Of Magical Thinking. Detailing the loss of her husband (screenwriter John Gregory Dunne) in 2003 and the sudden (and ultimately fatal) illness of her daughter in the same week, this book is one of the seminal works on grief and coping, and its stage adaption has been widely performed and acclaimed. And while this may sound like a depressing start to the new year, this book isn’t just about death; in her usual reportorial detached voice, Didion explores life and love by way of the hopeful school of magical thinking.

The Greenhouse Cookbook: Plant-Based Eating and DIY Juicing
by Emma Knight, Hana James, Deeva Green, and Lee Reitelman

Greenhouse Juice Co. is one of Toronto’s most on-trend juice brands, and here co-founders Emma Knight and Hana James enlist the help of chefs and teachers (and Greenhouse product development consultants) Deeva Green and Lee Reitelman to bring us this national bestseller. The collection contains one hundred plant-based, easy recipes that are both nutritious and satisfying. Fifty can be eaten with a fork, spoon, or fingers; the other fifty can be served in a glass. Beat the winter doldrums with a nourishing, colorful diet, one that will give you the energy to make the most of the season.

The Telomere Effect
by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel

Elizabeth Blackburn received a Nobel Prize in Psychology or Medicine along with two colleagues in 2009 for their groundbreaking discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that replenishes telomeres, which “protect our genetic heritage.” These serve as a biological indicator by which the aging process can be examined in a new light. In The Telomere Effect, Blackburn and co-author Elissa Epel (director of UCSF’s Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center) put that research in perspective, detailing how factors such as sleep quality, diet, exercise, stress, mental health, relationships, and our physical and social environments can impact our telomeres. The perfect read for those looking to make healthier lifestyle choices after the excess of the holiday season.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
by Mark Manson

Finally, what better way to cap off a collection of books about living well than a book about throwing out the rules? This book has enjoyed a healthy tenure as both an international and New York Times Bestseller and has sold over a million copies — and it’s not hard to understand why. Here Manson encourages the reader to throw away our stale and unproductive ideas about positive thinking (“F*ck positivity,” he bluntly writes). The book reads like a reality check for a generation raised on participation medals; with a healthy dose of humour and perspective, Manson encourages us to cope with life’s hardships not with rose coloured glasses, but by staring the truth in the face and finding new and realistic ways to handle challenges.


From all of us at KHACHILIFE: happy reading! Here’s to a healthy and happy 2018.