Looking for a new book to read can be fun, but it can also be a challenge! With cold weather well on its way, now is an excellent time to give your eyes a break from the screen and settle in with a good book. In addition to being significant works of writing and thought, the suggestions below are easy to read and enjoy.
Published in 1943, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith follows the story of a young girl who grows up in Brooklyn surrounded by her extended family and a changing world. Betty Smith’s storytelling allows you to feel what it is like to be a kid, parent, and grandparent all within the same novel. Like life itself, the book is simultaneously funny, sad, and wonderful. If you remember reading this when you were younger, you may be surprised at the depth and complexity of it on a reread.
Similar to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in that it spans a wide swath of time and covers the inner machinations of many different related characters, East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a moving and absorbing novel that explores the lives of two intertwined families over the course of many generations. A multi-layered novel that dissects the role of family, relationships, religion, and place, this is an amazing book to sink into with a blanket and cup of tea! Familiarity with the book of Genesis will add richness to your read, but like all of Steinbeck’s novels and short stories, the book can be understood through many different lenses.
Novels can teach us many real things about life while also helping us escape the monotony of routine. Pema Chodron’s nonfiction book Start Where You Are does this more overtly. This slim but insightful work provides concrete methods for personal growth using Buddhist meditation philosophy and Chodron’s own experiences. Chodron, a Buddhist nun, shares tools and stories that are accessible and time-tested. And you don’t have to read the book from start to finish to learn from it—each chapter explores different themes and teachings. From cultivating compassion to overcoming resistance, Chodron shows how to make sense of and appreciate all that is around us.
Add these books to your winter reading list and when you are done, share them with a friend to inspire good conversation and see different interpretations!