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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
"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!