Got goals for 2018? Yeah, we thought so. For gentle motivation, practical guidance and fresh ideas on how to make this the best year yet, check out the inspiring books below.
FIX YOUR FINANCES
January is the ideal time to size up your fiscal situation. If the prospect of looking at your checking account puts you in a panic, then pick up a copy of Chelsea Fagan’s The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money. This handy manual is packed with concise, clear advice on fundamentals like maintaining a personal budget and building credit. Fagan, a journalist and successful blogger, strikes a breezy, cordial tone on the page. Untangling knotty topics such as investing and retirement planning, she delivers a crash course in economics that’s informative and—yes!—enjoyable.
Featuring invaluable insights from a wide range of financial experts, The Financial Diet also includes economical recipes, tips for getting more mileage out of your wardrobe and smart suggestions for stretching that paycheck. “Saving money isn’t about depriving yourself,” Fagan says. “It’s about deciding you love Future You as much as you love Today You.” With a nifty layout by designer Lauren Ver Hage, this appealing book can help you make 2018 the year of spending—and saving—wisely.
BE YOUR BEST SELF
Does your 2018 to-do list include learning to love yourself? If the answer is yes, then here’s your next need-to-read title: Sarah Knight’s inspiring You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want. An author with attitude (her 2015 book was titled The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck), Knight uses humor and a bold, cut-to-the-chase style to lay out strategies for avoiding what she calls Lowest Common Denominator Living—a follow-the-crowd mindset that smothers individuality.
Knight instead champions learning to identify—and successfully express—your needs and letting go of the expectations of others. And the concept of perfection that permeates our culture? Knight can show you how to tune it out and turn your weaknesses into assets. A self-esteem essential, You Do You will empower you to take risks and take charge of every aspect of your life. Self-love (not to mention like) can’t be achieved overnight, but Knight’s book will get you started.
REFINE YOUR CHARM
French femmes—self-possessed and effortlessly elegant—are the envy of women around the world. What gives them that extra edge? According to bestselling author Jamie Cat Callan, it’s charm, a quality the French appear to have perfected. In Parisian Charm School, Callan shows you how to cultivate the trait through a transformative take on life that includes practical steps for nurturing your own unique appeal.
In chapters enlivened by warm personal anecdotes and inspiring quotes, Callan provides assignments that will nudge you out of your routine and get you engaged with others. She offers instruction in charm-related undertakings, like how to plan a world-class dinner party (and command attention at said fête) and how to flirt effectively (yes, it’s possible to do this without sacrificing your dignity). She also recommends easy wardrobe adjustments with advice on wearing the bold colors you’ve always loved but may have been too much of a wallflower to try. Stepping out of your comfort zone will put you on the path to attaining Parisian allure. “Trust your heart,” Callan counsels. “Say yes. And bring the flowers.” Très charmant!
PICK UP A HABIT
Meditation: It’s one of those polarizing practices that seems to have as many detractors as devotees. ABC News anchor Dan Harris was a longtime doubter of the discipline—until he experienced a panic attack on live TV. In an effort to manage his anxiety, he turned to meditation, and it was a choice that transformed his life. Harris chronicled his conversion experience in his bestselling 2014 memoir, 10% Happier. In his new book, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, co-authored with meditation teacher Jeff Warren and journalist Carlye Adler, Harris aims to find out why so many folks are resistant to the ritual. Hopping aboard the 10% Happier tour bus with the free-spirited Warren as his sidekick, Harris tours 18 states and talks to people from all walks of life about what keeps them from taking the meditation plunge. The reasons range from lack of time to boredom with the routine. Harris counters these and other impediments with practical advice on starting—and sticking with—a meditation regimen, and he offers easy techniques for neophytes. Harris’ book will revise your ideas about the ancient exercise and help you feel more focused in the months to come.
CHEAT ON YOUR DIET
Taking a more mindful approach to nutrition is a post-holiday objective many of us set for ourselves. Whether you’re trying to break a serial snacking habit or focus on long-term weight loss, you should take a look at Aaron Carroll’s The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully. In this informative, accessible book, Carroll, a doctor and healthcare expert, sifts through the research, advice and straight-up hype surrounding diets to reveal that some of the foods we view as off-limits aren’t as awful as we think.
According to Carroll, we can once again make room on our plates for red meat, eggs, dairy and bread. He discusses these and other controversial culinary categories in the book, stressing the significance of moderation along the way. “More important than what you’re eating is how you’re eating it—especially how often and how much,” he says. The book has plenty of sensible tips for maintaining a healthy diet, such as cooking nutritious dishes at home and making each meal a communal affair. After all, Carroll says, food is meant to be enjoyed. Here’s to a delicious new year!
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.