Restart your life with these 12 nonfiction titles

Restart your life with these 12 nonfiction titles

When I graduated from college and entered the workforce, I assumed my school days were behind me. I was wrong. One of the shocks of my adult life was discovering how much the rhythms of our entire culture revolve around the school calendar—even for those of us who aren’t students, or parents to students, or professionally connected to education.

Perhaps that’s why September feels like such a natural time for new beginnings. If you’re interested in adopting a new habit, adopting a new routine, or giving yourself a fresh start in some aspect of your life, now is a great time—and these 12 nonfiction books will help you do exactly that.

This book list also provides a peek into the habits I’m hoping to continue or kick start this fall, like taking care of my body and streamlining my workflow. I’d love to hear what your intentions are for fall, and the good books that will support you in this season. As always, please tell us all about it in comments.

12 nonfiction titles to restart your life

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restart your life books
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Author:
This epigraph is singing my song: “Habits gradually change the face of one’s life as time changes one’s physical face; & one does not know it” —Virginia Woolf. In his second volume of Daily Rituals, Mason Currey shares the routines of 143 women artists, highlighting how they skirted convention and made space for their craft. Read it straight through, or peruse each artist's daily rhythms at leisure. Learn how Octavia Butler wrote, when Nina Simone rehearsed, and where Frida Kahlo painted. Take inspiration where you find it, and return to its pages again and again when you're feeling stalled or stymied in your work. More info →
This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live

This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live

Maybe you just moved to a new city, or maybe you’ve lived in the same house for 30 years. Either way, the start of a new school year is a great time to invest in your community; here’s a book to get you started. The premise of this fabulous research-based and story-driven nonfiction read is that when it comes to loving the place you live, YOU have a lot more power than you probably realize. People who love their communities don't just live in great places, they're also extremely proactive about the ways they engage in their communities. Practical, actionable, and bound to make a difference in your everyday life. More info →
In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs

Author:
Emma Straub says, “I want to rip out every page of this glorious book and hang them on my wall so that I can be surrounded by these incredible women all day long.” While the thought of ripping out pages makes me cringe, I understand Emma’s sentiment. This gorgeous book is full of inspiration for creative businesswomen. Every interview features diverse, influential women who embody the entrepreneurial spirit, plus stunning photos of their creative workspaces. More info →
Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive

Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive

Before I get overwhelmed with fall sports practices and back-to-school events filling our family calendar, I’m turning to my friend Jessia N. Turner for advice. In Stretched Too Thin, Jessica offers compassionate insights and actionable steps for moms to thrive in busy seasons. This practical handbook just came out in paperback, so grab your copy, toss it in your bag, and sneak in a few pages between cross country meets or dance rehearsals. This book would also be a great just-because gift for your friends who feel stretched too thin. More info →
The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions

Author:
Emily writes for the chronically hesitant, the second-guessers, and anyone who struggles with decision fatigue. I love her podcast The Next Right Thing, and am grateful for her guidance in book format—and such a pretty book at that. Whether you are in a season of transition or simply trying to smooth the rough edges of your daily routines, Emily has sage advice for you. Her practical steps and encouragement will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. More info →
Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff

As summer comes to a close, I’ve been rearranging my bookshelves. I like my space to reflect the current season, which means potential Summer Reading Guide titles no longer need prime real estate. It isn’t easy to say goodbye to books or redecorate a room, so I turn to Myquillyn's know-how and practical guidance. She taught me that a "cozy minimalist" is someone who knows how to balance things—who may tend toward the minimal, but still wants her space to be cozy, layered, and welcoming. She wants to get the most amount of style with the least amount of stuff. Cut down on clutter and make your home warm and comforting this fall with Myquillyn’s tips. More info →
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Author:
In Atomic Habits, Clear argues that if you're struggling to change your habits, the problem isn’t you; the problem is your system. Learn how to improve your system and reach your goals with Clear’s easy-to-follow guide. He includes true stories from athletes and artists, plus realistic strategies for success. Refresh your routine this fall and make "the science of small habits" work for you. More info →
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

My friend described this book as "life-altering," and I can see why. I scooped it up for myself after hearing Emily Nagoski discuss burnout on this podcast. In addition to explaining the unique causes of women’s stress and burnout, sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski share tips for breaking the “stress cycle” and fighting back against societal pressures. In turns angering, uplifting, and fascinating, Burnout combines practical advice with science-backed research in order to help women find true wellness. More info →
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body.

Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body.

This book is so much more than a yoga how-to guide. Jessamyn Stanley shares her personal journey, discusses diversity and inclusion in yoga, and encourages everyone—no matter their appearance, age, or ability—to make the most of their time on the mat. Featuring beautiful photos and easy-to-follow directions, this book takes a fresh approach to an ancient practice. Check this one out and make space for your mental, spiritual, and physical health this season. More info →
Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction

Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction

Author:
According to recent neuroscientific research, our brain has two modes: hyperfocus, which helps us accomplish tasks, and scatterfocus, which helps us make creative connections. Chris Bailey wrote the practical guide to unlocking both modes, resulting in greater concentration and productivity. Hyperfocus is an excellent roadmap for limiting distractions and living with intention, and it just came out in paperback. More info →
Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder

Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder

As the founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Sujani encourages girls to take risks and innovate. In her popular TED talk, Sujani says "I need each of you to tell every young woman you know to be comfortable with imperfection." Building on her speech, Sujani’s book empowers women of all ages to be bold, to fail, and to claim their voices. Pick up Brave, Not Perfect for your mother-daughter book club, your friend who just started a new job, or your whole family—because everyone should create space for women to be brave. More info →
The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose

The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose

Author:
"Whatever your calling, it's already rooted within you, and those roots can be trampled or tugged at but never removed. They grow stronger only when tended, nurtured, and most important, shared with others." In ten chapters, Oprah shares personal stories and lessons about finding your purpose and living it. This is a beautiful coffee table book with over 100 photos, and the audiobook version is filled with special guest narrators like Brené Brown, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Trevor Noah. You can’t go wrong with either format. More info →

What habits do you intend to implement this fall? In what aspects of your life could you use a fresh start? What books would you add to this list? Tell us all about it in comments!

P.S. 15 books for new routines and fresh starts, and 20 life-changing nonfiction books you can finish in a day. Also, the tough love guide to planning ahead (if you’re not naturally a planner).

29 comments | Comment

29 comments

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  1. Monica Wilson says:

    My book club is reading a Christian book called The Common Rule, which highlights four daily habits and four weekly habits to develop. Many of these deal with important considerations in this world of technology and busyness, developing good habits of embracing the good (friendship, prayer, rest) and of resisting the bad (our phones and ever present media). Good food for thought and habit building!

  2. I love this idea of the new January. I have long been more stirred to do fall cleaning instead of spring as a way to prep the house for our being more enclosed and sheltered within it. I also love the idea of setting new intentions, it feels more do-able than New Year resolutions to consider what I want to accomplish by end of year! This fall, I am setting an intention to live with more freedom and abandon, to allow silliness into my life as I continue to shed my corporate self to live as an entrepreneur and nomad.

  3. Grace says:

    I currently have Burnout checked out from the library! I can’t wait to read it because I am OBSESSED with Emily Nagoski’s other book Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life. I recommend it to every woman always and honestly everyone should read it. It is one of the most straight forward, validating, fantastic nonfiction books I have read and it has the potential to do so much good.

    • Alyse says:

      I also love Come As You Are and was about to recommend it as well! I bought Burnout after reading it and will be starting it soon.

  4. Meagan says:

    Everything about fall and this season feels like a new beginning to me, especially this year. I spent the entire summer having a never ending miscarriage and I cannot wait for this season to be done with. I had so many plans and a really fun summer bucket list planned and instead I spent it in hospitals, doctors offices and on my couch unable to work or leave the house. Easily the worst summer of my life. So, I booked a trip to Scotland in September with my husband just to get away and reclaim some of our life back, and I am super excited to mark a fresh start and fresh perspective with this dream trip of ours. I am writing a historical fiction about a woman I used to be a senior companion to who lived through the Second World War in Glasgow. I’m going to spend an entire day on my own in the city (while husband golfs) walking in her footsteps, visiting her home, school and workplace, just immersing myself in her part of the world as much as I can. I cannot begin to explain how much I’m looking forward to turning a horrible situation around and instead focusing on another dream of mine that’s a little more within my control to accomplish. This book list couldn’t have come at a better time for me, and I’ve put all the books on hold at my library (which always has the books you mention, another thing to be grateful for!). So, thank you for this list and the inspiration to treat September as a time to restart my life.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, Meagan. I’m so sorry for your loss, am sending you the warmest fall wishes. May this new season be a good one. (Scotland in September sounds like an amazing way to begin. I’m jealous!)

  5. I just signed up for Jon Acuff’s SeptemberJanuary challenge, because I know I need help in this area. So much to do, and I’d like to say “so little time,” but that’s not really the case. It’s more that I need to make good use of the time I have. One thing that’s helping me is trying to do something good rather than trying to figure out the best thing to do. I’ve wasted SO MUCH time trying to get things done perfectly, when I could have done things pretty well. Still have a long way to go, so I’m grateful for this list!

  6. Janna says:

    I’m reading Introverted Mom with a small online book club.

    I’d love some suggestions similar to Burnout for kids. And thanks for the recommendation of Brave, Not Perfect. Looking forward to reading and discussing this with my oldest daughter.

  7. Guest says:

    Essentialism by Greg McKeown. An amazing book and a great reminder that the ideal isn’t maximum or minimum but focusing on what is essential.

  8. Karen says:

    I second the recommendation for Atomic Habits. Provides practical ways to implement many of the concepts in The Power Of Habits by Charles Duhigg.

  9. Diana says:

    I really enjoyed This is Where You Belong, I should reread that one! I’ve lived in the same city my whole life besides college and while I did pick to live here as an adult, it’s always nice to love it more! I just got Atomic Habits from the library too, hoping to fine tune some habits and routines now that school is back in session and our lives are a lot more structured!

  10. Sue K. says:

    Yes, I celebrate the start of the New Year in September, because Autumn is my favorite season, so why not begin the year with the best season? Winter is my second favorite because I read the most during the coldest months. I have a long stack of fiction I’m in the middle of reading, so I’ll probably tackle Cozy Minimalist Home first. Thanks for the list, Anne!

  11. Suzanne says:

    When repairs are finished on our house from last year’s hurricane (I thought that would be in two weeks, but now there’s another hurricane on the way…), I’m going to have a lot of decluttering, moving, redecorating, and generally re-thinking the way we do things in our house.

    I’ve already read Cozy Minimalist Home; I really like her process and plan on using it as much as possible. The Next Right Thing has been on my shelf, waiting until the time was right. (That would be now, lol.) And I’ll probably do a quick re-read of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Now I’m interested in Every Body Yoga, because I’ve got to have a little something just for me in all that, too.

  12. Sarah Cass says:

    OOLA. If you want to reset your life, I recommend picking up one of those books (there’s 3 out currently, the original Oola:Find Balance, then two more: Oola for Women and Oola for Christians). In the 2 years since I read Oola for Women (the first time) my life has literally completely changed. I’ve never read another book like it.

      • Sarah Cass says:

        The stories in it are by women. It’s really inspiring. The men are the writers of the original oola book and they work these women’s stories into the original lessons to enhance them. Don’t let the two men as the authors dissuade you. Seriously.

  13. Nancy says:

    “The Next Right Thing ” is genius. I loved it. I will definitely check out “This is where you Belong”. I love the re-set that fall brings. It’s bitter sweet when summer ends, but the desire to start fresh gets me out of my funk.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    September does feel like a time of new beginnings. “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

  15. Gitana says:

    Love all of these and will definitely be adding the Cozy Minimalist Home to my Goodreads. I’m currently reading 12 Rules to Life: An Antidote to Chaos and loving it right now so I’d definitely add that to this list 🙂 Very thought-provoking and makes me want to take charge of my life for sure.
    xx

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