Check out the 15 best books we read this year (like actually, go check them out)


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It’s been a year. There’s been good stuff, great stuff, strange stuff, and stuff that makes me want to cry at the mere thought of it. But happy, sad, bored, or totally energized and ready to learn, books are trusty (and, TBH unparalleled) source distraction or inspiration or any other kind of escapism you might be jonesing for at a given moment.

In 2018, Well+Good staffers and Well+Good Council members read a lot of great material that filled hours of self-care Sundays, nourished our souls, and—quite simply—made us happy. Below, check out the tomes we couldn’t put down this year, and add ’em to your TBR stack, stat.

Leaf through the 15 books the Well+Good family loved in 2018.

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You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, by Alexandra Kleeman

“I loved reading this gorgeously strange novel. To me, it seems like the author is digging at the root of what it means to be a woman in 2018. And as a result, the story follows you around, wherever you go. It’s insidious and so, so satisfying to consume. (In fact, it kind of feels like it’s consuming you—but you’ll have to read it to see what I mean.)”

—Kells McPhillips, news writer

From Atoms to Angels, by Paul D. Walsh-Roberts

“Change is all around us, and no aspect of our lives remain untouched…. I found this book full of practical insights and tools. It’s thought-provoking and challenging, yet clear and liberating.”

Elle Macpherson, Well+Good Council member

Role Models, by John Waters

“Waters is one of my favorite directors and cultural icons; I try to see, hear, and read everything he creates. Somehow this tome flew right past my radar, but this year I got around to reading it. The book is full of beautiful short vignettes about friends, historical figures, and the other influences that helped define the eccentric and bizarre Waters universe. His textual portraits are hilarious, graphic, and sentimental. It made me want to be immortalized by Waters, and it also (hopefully) taught me to be a better and more honest writer.”

—Tamim Alnuweiri, assistant style editor

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

“I’m still in the middle of this book, but for good reason: I picked it up at the SFO airport after several friends mentioned it was my kinda read. When I stopped off to see my parents in San Diego, my dad picked it up and (for the first time) read it cover to cover in a week.

“He began to share each chapter with me and how fascinating he found [Nike co-founder] Phil’s perseverance, along with his childhood story and relationship with his dad. It’s given me a surprising new way to connect with my dad. I was pleasantly surprised that he picked it up and wanted to chat about each page. We’ve all got much to learn from Phil and his adventures in shaping a whole new way to run the world.”

Candice Kumai, Well+Good Council member

The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll

“This was my favorite book of the year, hands-down. The murder mystery by the best-selling author of Luckiest Girl Alive is about a group of friends—and frenemies—who are on a reality TV show about high-achieving female entrepreneurs. (Spoiler alert: Someone ends up dead.) The main character is the founder of a SoulCycle-esque company, and there is so much hilarious, cheeky shade thrown around about the wellness industry.”

—Emily Laurence, senior writer

Outrageous Openness, by Tosha Silver

“This is such a refreshing, fun, and easy-to-read spiritual book. It reminded me of the grace that comes when you let go and remember to have faith in your journey and the joy and ease that comes from trust in this process.”

Kelsey Patel, Well+Good Council member

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

“My cousin turned me on to this fantasy series, which starts out as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but gets way sexier (and more feminist!). The protagonist is complex, nuanced, and funny as hell. And the love scenes…well, maybe don’t read it in public, because—holy hell—things get hot.”

—Jessie Van Amburg, senior food and health editor

Educated, by Tara Westover

“Despite being raised in an unstable family that discouraged education (her parents kept her out of the school system), Tara earns her place in Cambridge University and Harvard University. While there are many thought-provoking aspects of the memoir, it primarily got me more curious about how much of who we turn out to be is nature versus nurture. This beautifully written book is deeply moving and provides rich food for thought!”

Sophia Gushée, Well+Good Council member

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan

“I literally could not put down any books in this trilogy (the second and third books are China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, respectively). Author Kevin Kwan takes you into a whole other world of high society and the elite. Already trying to plan a trip to Singapore….”

—Celine Cortes, audience development associate

Heart Talk, by Cleo Wade

“I’m gifting this book to everyone I know for Christmas! It’s a quick and easy read, but more importantly, it’s such a beautiful text you can pick up and read daily for inspiration and self-care of the mind and spirit.”

McKel Hill, Well+Good Council member

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man, by Thomas Page McBee

Amateur is tender and profoundly personal; subtle yet deeply insightful. It’s a well-written, stunning exploration of the intersections of queerness and fitness, masculinity and life. I’m moved by how self-reflective the author is and impressed by the deep nuance in the text.”

—Gabrielle Kassel, contributor

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, by Priya Parker

This book’s title caught my attention and its contents exceeded my expectations. It contains exciting ideas and real-world applications that confirmed my instincts about the value of bringing people together. It also challenged me to continue to improve the opportunities to connect people within the wellness industry in ever-surprising ways with even stronger outcomes.

Susie Ellis, Well+Good Council member

The Body Keeps the Scoreby Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

“It’s an understatement to say this book absolutely rocked my world this year. It’s all about the “body” side of the mind-body equation—and the underrated wisdom of all of your non-brain parts. That’s totally humbling and fascinating and weirdly inspiring for a book about trauma! Using the author’s decades of medical research, the book lays out a new way of understanding pain, disease, and mental health.”

—Erin Hanafy, editor-at-large

Severance, by Ling Ma

“This piece of fiction feels unsettlingly relevant for our times—though it’s hard to categorize. Is it a critique of American consumerism? A horrifying zombie story? Commentary on the monotony of office life? It’s all of that, as witnessed through the eyes of protagonist Candace Chen, one of few survivors of a deadly global epidemic. It’s a pleasure to read, but the difficult questions it raises have stayed with me since the last page.”

—Annie Tomlin, Well+Good Council editor

Nutritional Healing with Chinese Medicine, by Ellen Goldsmith

“Asian cooks are familiar with the idea that food can be used medicine. Over hundreds of years, a repertoire of recipes has been created to specifically treat a variety of symptoms and medical disorders. This thoughtful book by an American practitioner of Chinese medicine translates Asian dietary theory into a system that uses common ingredients and produces food that is easy to cook in an American kitchen. The recipes are sumptuous to look at, fun to eat, and will bring your body back into balance. As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I can honestly say that this is the book I’ve been waiting for! My own copy is always on hand, and I’ve given it to many of my patients when they ask for advice about how to eat in a way that nourishes the body and soul.”

Jill Blakeway, Well+Good Council member

Want more reading material? Here are 10 wellness books that’ll change your life, and cookbooks your vegan kitchen needs.

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