If I could somehow tell you of these books all at once, I would, because I love these books equally for different reasons. So they are not ranked.
Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.
Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?
Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn
• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout
With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.
I read this book after my first year of law school. I found it to have a lot of insights about how people interact with stress and stressors, and a lot of helpful advice about how to deal with it in healthier ways.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
This book was unexpectedly wonderful; it is sweet and funny and honest and I’m smiling just thinking about it.
How to Lose the Time War by Amal El-Motar and Max Gladstone
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
In the ashes of a dying world, Red finds a letter marked “Burn before reading. Signed, Blue.”
So begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents in a war that stretches through the vast reaches of time and space.
Red belongs to the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue belongs to Garden, a single vast consciousness embedded in all organic matter. Their pasts are bloody and their futures mutually exclusive. They have nothing in common—save that they’re the best, and they’re alone.
Now what began as a battlefield boast grows into a dangerous game, one both Red and Blue are determined to win. Because winning’s what you do in war. Isn’t it?
A tour de force collaboration from two powerhouse writers that spans the whole of time and space.
I don’t know how, but these authors took things I don’t really like (enemies to lovers, time travel romance) and made me like them and made me believe in the happy ending. It also is full of wonderful prose and wordplay of all kinds.
Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh
The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed. . .far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.
At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough. . . .
This war could end them all.
This book has been pending for a while now, and I know of few books that handled a big show down quite like this one does. I also appreciate how the main characters stayed true to the original romance, even as they’ve grown and changed over the progress of the series.
The AI Who loved Me by Alyssa Cole
Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: working from home for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center, and recovering from the incident that sent her into a tailspin. But the life she’s trying to rebuild is plagued by mishaps when Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew, moves in and turns things upside down.
Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd-and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him…and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door-he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine. It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but danger is mounting as they figure out whether he’s capable of the most illogical human behavior of all…falling in love.
This book is an audio original (or something like that); I love audiobooks where each important character gets their own performer, and these were great performers. The story was also wonderful in its romance, funny, and it managed to touch on current concerns without feeling horribly obvious about it.
The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas
As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake…
This is the most recent book in Thomas’s take on Sherlock Holmes, and I loved it so very much. We see Charlotte and those around her in new ways, doing new things, but it doesn’t feel forced, and I cannot wait to read the next book. I am also perfectly happy with this being my only genius detective.
A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper
For Olivia Shaw, the danger of her assignments as a deadly Whisper agent is matched only by that of her hidden status: Liv is one of the caricae, extremely rare women capable of bearing children and therefore controlled by the Syndicate’s government. When her handler sends her into the Quillian Empire, her mission is complicated by stumbling upon a kidnapping in progress.
Liv is drawn deep into political upheaval when her hostage is revealed to be the infamous Red Wolf, Galen De Corvus, brother of the Quillian Empress. Worse yet, he is an altus, more sensitive than most to the pheromones of caricae. If he realizes what she is, he could expose her secret to either government and doom her to a life as breeding stock.
Quillian nobleman turned operative Galen never planned to involve himself with a citizen of the cold, cruel Syn, but Olivia entices him more than she should. As they work together to protect his royal sister from a violent coup, the passionate bond between them proves to be more than mere biology. And Liv must decide if that bond is worth dropping her guard for both an enemy and an altus.
I have had this book on my TBR pile for a really long time, and when I finally read it over my winter break, I loved it so much. It has a lot of my favorite things; rebellious spies, romance, great friendships, and great world building.
In Intimate Detail by Cora Harrington
While many love the idea of wearing special underthings, lingerie can be intimidating. How is it supposed to fit? How do you take care of it all? Is lingerie really for me? In this beautiful and empowering guide, lingerie expert Cora Harrington demystifies intimate apparel, making it accessible to all sizes, ages, and budgets. Covering everything from basic bras and panties to special occasion wear, shapewear, hosiery, corsets, and more, this no-nonsense handbook empowers you to confidently buy, wear, and care for the underpinnings of your dreams.
I didn’t know I was looking for a book like this until I read it. I’d read the author’s blog (which is also great) and this book is just as warm and inviting and knowledgeable as the blog. I find myself consulting it for information even now.
Play it Again Aidan Wayne
When Seattle-based blind YouTuber Dovid Rosenstein finds Sam Doyle’s Let’s Play channel, playitagainsam, he’s instantly captivated by the Irish gamer. Everything about Sam is adorable, from his accent to his personality, and Dovid can’t get enough of his content.
Dovid’s glowing shout-out on Don’t Look Now, his own successful channel, sends Sam’s subscriber numbers skyrocketing overnight. He has more comments than he can read. And while the sudden surge in popularity is anxiety inducing, Sam decides it’s only right to dedicate his next episode to Dovid…which soon leads to a heart-pounding exchange of DMs.
They may have never met in person, but Dovid’s never felt this close to anyone before. What they have feels worth exploring—no matter the distance. But is it possible to already be in love with someone who’s half a world away?
I texted my friend about how great this book was because it has a blind character and feels warm and cuddly. It has it’s issues, but nonetheless, it was a lovely read for someone who wanted a low-angst romance with blind characters in it.
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.
When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.
Like This is How to Lose the Time War, this is a novella, but the author does wonderful work in making you feel the passage of time and the emotions of the main characters, and the world feels very believable. The ending is bittersweet, but I can’t wait to read the sequel.