Be they self-help, inspiring biographies or just a great read, here are nine books you'll want to track down to start the year off on the right foot.
1. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Set in the early 1800s author Hannah Kent depicts the life of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, an Icelander on death row for the murder of her lover. After being sentenced she’s sent to live with District Officer Jón Jónsson and his family where she is to remain until her execution. Although the book is a work of fiction it draws strongly on real characters and places, which have been painstakingly researched. A truly great read.
2. The Poets’ Daughters: Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge by Katie Waldegrave
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge practically defined the Romantic era in English Literature, but this biographical tale examines the lives of their daughters – best friends who found their lives existed only beneath the success of their fathers. Despite privileged childhoods both Dora and Sara must triumph over tremendous obstacles in order to find their own version of success and ensure their own legacies.
3. A Flash of Lightning by Tony Drury
A terror plot, £6 million missing and a love story all combine in this thriller. It’s Drury’s fourth novel and as an ex-corporate financier, his books borrow from his own wealth of knowledge and have readers immersed in the twisting plot lines.
4. Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
Heminsley examines both the physical and emotional aspects of running and what that means for a woman. The author had a rather ramshackle start to her own running career but six years later, she has run five marathons in two continents. Running isn’t for everyone – but if you think it might be for you then reading this emotional, funny book might just get you out of bed at 6am to give it a go!
5. A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon
After getting over some serious health problems and binning her good-for-nothing unfaithful husband, Gina Bellamy wants to start over. She wants to get rid of everything in her life that isn’t completely necessary and decides that her resolution will be to identify 100 items that really mean something to her – everything else must go. If nothing else this book will give you a little perspective on what’s really important in life.
6. Your Personal Paleo Diet by Chris Kresser
Your Personal Paleo Diet is a great find because it’s completely centred around whole foods – foods your body is already genetically and biologically engineered to eat. This isn’t a new diet, but what Kresser does is encourage you to find what works best for you – a more flexible approach to the traditional Paleo diet. Give it a go!
7. 5:2 Your Life by Emma Cook
Emma Cook takes the philosophy of the 5:2 diet a step further and suggests you follow a similar strategy in other areas of your life including fitness, drinking, money, relationships and even worry. You get two days a week to really work on problem areas and hope that those two days of hard work translate into an overall improvement.
8. Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas
Author of bestselling book The Slap, Tsiolkas’s second novel is just as captivating. Danny Kelly is an incredible swimmer – he’s on a full scholarship to an esteemed private school and swimming is his ticket out of his middle class upbringing. His family has made great sacrifices in order for Danny to realise this dream but things don’t turn out as he hopes and he comes fifth at his first international competition. It’s a poignant tale that you’ll rush through to get to its captivating conclusion.
9. 59 Seconds. Think a little, change a lot by Professor Richard Wiseman
Yes, and here it is, the full-on self help book. But, wait, there’s a catch or two. First, the author is a professor, so that may give you a bit more faith in what he has to say and, secondly, by exposing modern day self help myths and giving you things you can achieve within minutes instead of months or years, you’ll more than likely feel that your money was well spent. A quick, inspiring read.
Erin Woodward is the founder of the The Girly Book Club.