Do you have someone on your gift list who could use a dose of inspiration? Or maybe you're the one looking for reading material to provide motivation and reflection as we head into 2016. Either way, these new books might be just the ticket.
YOUR BEST SELF
Before she wrote Wild, Cheryl Strayed worked as an advice columnist, Dear Sugar (she is now reprising the role via podcast with the writer Steve Almond). Readers of that column—and her book Tiny Beautiful Things—know that Strayed has a knack for delivering sage advice with compassion and wit. Her new book, Brave Enough, a tiny hardcover in a cheerful green binding, contains more than 100 quotes from Strayed's work that are as simple and straightforward as they are wise. From advice ("romantic love is not a competitive sport") to prompts that will make you re-evaluate your choices ("Ask yourself: What is the best I can do? And then do that.") this is a collection to contemplate and savor.
SAYING 'YES' TO SUCCESS
The influence of Shonda Rhimes on the entertainment industry over the past 10 years is difficult to overstate. The writer, producer and showrunner is responsible for runaway hits like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." Rhimes' popular shows, which feature diverse casts, are often credited with cracking open a glass ceiling for non-white actors—much as Rhimes herself, who is black, has reached a level of success in the TV business that few women or African Americans had previously attained. In her first book, Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, Rhimes talks about the pressures and pleasures of this role in a frank and personal tone ("If the first network drama with an African-American leading lady in thirty-seven years didn't find an audience, who knows how long it would take for another to come along?"). But she also discusses issues that the average woman can relate to—such as weight loss and the balance of work and home life—from a feminist perspective without holding back, even when her opinions might be controversial (for one, she says that motherhood is not a job, but a role).
NEVERMIND THE END
Neurologist Oliver Sacks spent nearly 50 years treating patients, healing others even as he made a name for himself with his lyrical essays about the mind's many mysteries. He died of cancer on August 30, 2015, just four months after publishing his memoir. His final book, Gratitude, is a short compliation of Sacks' final four essays, which were written in the last two years of his life and previously published in The New York Times. All four focus on aging and coming to terms with mortality with honesty, from Sacks' perspective as a doctor-turned-patient. Sacks has a perspective on the human body and mind that most of us don't, and although his observations are more personal than clinical, his experience does contribute to a point of view that is matter of fact without being soulless. A brief introduction by Sacks' assistant, Kate Edgar, and his partner of eight years, Billy Hayes, gives context to these pieces, which serve as a fitting coda to a memorable body of work.