Winter is one of my favorite times of the year because I know that I’ll be heading back to Florida for the holidays where there are no snowstorms and there will be plenty of time to curl up under the covers with my favorite companion: a book.
I have a never-ending list of must-reads, which I’m chipping away at slowly but surely. As a gift to you, I’ve compiled a selection of my favorites. Some are women-centric, some are not, but all of them will spice up your life and your bookshelf.
1. Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho
This piece, written in the form of essay-length answers to a variety of questions, is truly eye opening. Coelho, author of The Alchemist (another necessary book to read before you die), presents the reader with a historical event, the siege of Jerusalem in 1099 by the First Crusade, to put the work in context.
A wise man known as the Copt answers the people’s questions about life and the future on the eve of the invasion. Wisdom seeps through every page as the Copt talks about love, beauty, defeat, sex, fear, loyalty and other parts of human life. After reading this, you’ll basically feel like a sage.
2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Kaur is a young poet who’s been through a lot and wrote it all down in the most heart-wrenching, beautiful poetry. This book is divided into four parts, each dedicated to a different phase of her life’s experiences. These deeply personal poems are also accompanied by her drawings. Kaur’s work has saved me through many tough situations in my life—it’s a cathartic read that every woman should have available on her nightstand.
3. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Before this bestselling author wrote The Goldfinch, she created this chilling masterpiece that you won’t be able to put down. Tartt’s first novel tells the story of a group of six young academics at a New England college.
Told through the eyes of Richard Papen, one of the six, the novel explores the themes of evil’s root, as the students successfully plotted to kill one of their friends. It’s a gripping read, not unlike Lord of the Flies, if you were a fan.
The title says it all. Angier answers any and all questions anyone could ever have about the female body in a book that is scientific, yet extremely readable. In a book that both educates and challenges gender stereotypes, Angier reaches into the roots of biology to back her claims. She offers entertaining anecdotes as she describes everything from female psychology based on cultural norms to having the best orgasm. It’s a book of reference that holds a special place on my bookshelf to remind me how beautifully strong we are as females.
5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is a classic that every girl should own a hardcopy of (partly because the cover is just so darn cute). Gilbert takes the reader through a year of her life, one that was full of soul-searching to find her balance. She takes us through a whimsical tour of Italy, making mouths water at each scene, which devoted at least an entire page to the food she was consuming at the time.
Next, she travels to India to study meditation at an ashram and finally she reaches Indonesia to study under a Balinese medicine man. Not only does this book teach the history and culture of each of the three destinations, but also gives the reader insight on life lessons and challenges them to take a second look at how to deal with pain and suffering.
6. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman
I’m actually in the middle of this enthralling autobiography right now. Even if you aren’t a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this book, written by the lead singer himself, offers insight into the punk rock world on the west coast up into the 90s. Kiedis’ childhood helped write his drug-addled future—he first tried heroin at 14 years old. Through a haze of drug, music and sex, Kiedis has a magical story to tell to those who will listen. If you read only one book about music, make it this one.
Which books would you recommend to others? Sound off in the comments below!
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.