Whether it’s adopting a new diet or hitting the gym, January is usually filled with self-improvement attempts before everyone runs out of steam on their New Year’s resolutions. While these attempts at external change are admirable, they are often too short-lived to bring about real change. Luckily, there’s another kind of improvement you can look for in the new year: internal change.
If you want to gain empathy this year, look no further. Books are the easiest way to change perspective by sitting in someone else’s shoes for about 300 glorious pages. This month’s book club picks will specifically help you explore different points of view that will linger long after 2022. Although on the surface the following three books have very little in common, they are all intensely unique stories that loudly entertain and quietly inspire.
“Coming Home” by Yaa Gyasi
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, the 2017 release of Yaa Gyasi is a powerful fictional novel following eight generations that illustrates the harrowing realities of the transatlantic slavery system and the devastating effects that continue after its end.
The story begins in Ghana with the story of two stepsisters who have never met. Effia marries a man in a castle while Esi is held captive in the basement of that same castle and sold as a slave. The book goes on to follow the descendants of Effia and Esi through seven more generations, with each chapter showing a thumbnail of a new character.
Each chapter alone brings a full story arc, filled with devastation and triumphs like any other great story. However, the full experience emerges when all chapters are read in order and the threads and parallels between each generation can be fully examined. The poignant messages that emerge, coupled with the engaging stories themselves, make “Homegoing” an interesting read for everyone.
“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb
What better time to reflect than the New Year? Accomplished writer and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb will inspire you to do that and more with her compassionate memoir.
“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” switches between the intimate stories of Gottlieb’s clients and his own story of turning to therapy after a crushing breakup. This deeply moving novel will suck the reader in from the first page, fully investing them in the lives of Gottlieb’s clients, including a grumpy Hollywood producer and a young woman with cancer. It’s an utterly heartwarming read that will leave you wanting more after the last page ends. Another benefit of this inside look at the life of a therapist is that it may even inspire you to become one yourself.
“It’s Ending With Us” by Colleen Hoover
Although it was released in 2016, “It Ends with Us” has recently received a new wave of buzz as its TikTok fame propelled it to the top of the Amazon book charts. Filled with moving moments of contrasting joy and sadness, it’s a captivating love read that will take you on an emotional journey.
Lily, 23, has overcome a lot in her life. Despite her difficult childhood, she moved to Boston with the dream of starting her own flower shop. She soon meets a charming neurosurgeon named Ryle who, despite their obvious bond, makes it clear that he is strongly against relationships. When their connection persists, however, her mind begins to change. But things get complicated when Lily’s first love, Atlas, returns to the scene.
It is best to embark on this book knowing as little as possible about it. However, please research the trigger warnings for this book before reading it as it covers important issues.