2016 is the year of reading books. Less Netlix-snoozing and more creased pages. We decided it. Didn’t you get the memo?
Our culture editor has challenged you to a monthly book club, and we have asked you countless times on Instagram to share the book you’re currently reading. I’ve sifted through the comments over and over again to compile a list of the most popular books suggested by you, The Everygirl readers. The data would suggest–to nobody’s surprise–that our readers are intelligent, entrepreneurial, career-driven women with an innate sense of wanderlust and creativity. Talk about #squadgoals if there ever were any.
What I found most interesting was what captivated Everygirl readers—and all the tips on how to read more and actuallly find compelling books. Many of you fit reading in by listening to audiobooks during a commute while others who crave the feeling of actual book pages suggest hitting up the local library to save money. We even received a comment turning us on to Emma Watson’s feminist book club.
Some of the books on this list you may have seen time and time again and just never picked up—well, this is your wakeup call. You might be late to the party, but we assure you, you will not be disappointed. Others you may have never heard of—and that’s exciting. With each book listed you’ll also find its official synopsis, as well as a similar book you may have read. Happy reading, ladies!
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. And every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to watch the same couple eating breakfast on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough and now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Read it if you liked… Gone Girl
FROM THE PUBLISHER: When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen-years-old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and takes the rest as it comes.
At the dawn of the Jazz Age, unimagined attention, success, and celebrity will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous―sometimes infamous―husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too?
Read it if you liked… Circling The Sun
FROM THE PUBLISHER: She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television is an introvert? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?
This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes began and after—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play as she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self.
Read it if you liked… Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
FROM THE PUBLISHER: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s more useful to communicate mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anyone—her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger makes her question what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
Read it if you liked… All The Light We Cannot See
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Talking about money sucks, but so does being broke. In Rich Bitch, money expert and financial journalist Nicole Lapin lays out a 12-Step plan in which she shares her experience, mistakes and all, getting her finances in order. The book reads not as a lecture, just help from a friend. And even though money is typically an off limits conversation, nothing is off limits here.
Lapin rethinks every piece of financial wisdom you’ve ever heard and puts her own fresh, modern, sassy spin on it. Sure, there are some hard and fast rules about finance, but when it comes to your money, the only person who can spend it is you. Should you invest in a 401(k)? Maybe not. Should you splurge on that morning latte? Likely yes. Instead of nickel and diming yourself, Nicole’s advice focuses on investing in yourself so you don’t have to stress over the little things. But in order to do that, you have to be able to speak the language of money.
Read it if you liked… I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Night is a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel’s survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical, as well as personal, questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.
Read it if you liked… The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room by room or little by little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category by category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she has a three month waiting list).
Read it if you liked… The Complete Book of Home Organization: 200+ Tips and Projects
FROM THE PUBLISHER: At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than may seem. Every story has two sides and every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets.
At the core, Lauren Groff presents the story of a marriage over the course of twenty-four years. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.
Read it if you liked… When Breath Becomes Air
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy.
But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process, Brown writes, which teaches us the most about who we are.
Read it if you liked… You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
10. The Paris Wife
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard drinking, fast living, and free loving life of Jazz Age Paris.
As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her role of wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
Read it if you liked… Orphan Train
11. Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Vicki Robin shows readers how to gain control of their money and finally begin to make a life rather than just make a living. With updated resources, an easy-to-use index, and anecdotes and examples particularly relevant to today, this book tells you how to get out of debt and develop savings, re-order material priorities and live well for less, and resolve inner conflicts between values and lifestyle.
Read it if you liked… The Total Money Makeover
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. Readers are asked to embrace curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.
Balancing soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic is a must read for anyone wanting to live a creative life.
Read it if you liked… The Gifts of Imperfection
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Sophia Amoruso spent her teen years hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school—a job she took for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Flash forward ten years to today, and she’s the founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, a $250-million-plus fashion retailer with more than four hundred employees.
Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers. #GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly.
Read it if you liked… Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—”Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt.
Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman and a world in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.
Read it if you liked… To Kill a Mockingbird
15. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture on how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest change can make the biggest difference.
Read it if you liked… Better than Before