Books to start the year on a positive note

With the year we’ve all had, I think we could all use something uplifting as we head into the new year. Whether you read to learn something new, escape into a fictional world, or are just starting to read for fun, you’ll find something positive to read in this list.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes

This is one of my favorite books of all time because it is both uplifting and honest. Depending on where you are in life, this memoir can help you reframe your mindset around careers or relationships. It all starts when the author’s sister observes that she “says ‘no’ to everything.” Even though she said it in passing, it stuck with Rhimes and she decided to spend the whole year saying “yes” to things that scared her. You may recognize Rhimes as the creator of hit shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and Private Practice. Her writing is incredible and I couldn’t put this book down.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

In this memoir the author shares “the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live.” It’s a personal story, but one that has been uplifting to women everywhere. It’s reached people in every stage of their lives and families. Doyle is a philanthropist who was already a New York Times best selling author before she released Untamed, so it is no surprise that her words have had such an impact.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Clune

Escape into another world with a character we know all too well. Someone who is by-the-book, keeps his head down, and does his job. Except his job just happens to be a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Linus Baker is tasked with determining if magical children will bring the end of the world, but ultimately, this is a story of family found along the way.

The Gift Of Forgiveness by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt

Have you ever struggled with letting go of the past? In this book, Schwarzenegger Pratt reflects on her own experiences with forgiveness, while also talking to people who have learned how to live with acceptance after experiencing tragedies like kidnap and losing partners following murder.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This novel is one that will tug on the heartstrings. Our main character, Eleanor, is an introvert and likes it that way. She has no reason to spend any time outside of work with anyone besides herself, as she is a little awkward. But when she meets Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from her office, things start to change. The pair save an elederly gentleman named Ssmmy, and the ordeal might just start to show Eleanor that friendship is possible.

Talking to Strangers by Malcom Galdwell

Here’s a perfect way to learn about other people while staying 6 feet apart: read about them! If you’ve ever wondered why it is so hard to walk in other people’s shoes, then you should check out this book. Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. Entrench yourself even more in the stories by listening to the audiobook, where you can hear the actual interviews that the author conducted.


Jenna Chapman

Jenna Chapman is a Stockbridge High School graduate who loves curling up with a book or listening to an audiobook on evening walks around her neighborhood in Chicago. You can find more reading suggestions on the book blog her and her partner have on

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