Calling All Bookworms

If you’re like me, then you know nothing beats curling up with a good book on a cool weather day, preferably with a warm drink in hand. This season’s reads will make you laugh out loud, reflect on the way you move through the world, question what it means to be happy, and contemplate the consequences of a racially-divided society. From the engrossing tale of an African American labor and delivery nurse in Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things to the hilarious mishaps that ensue from the pages of Graeme Simpson’s The Rosie Project, these picks are sure to please. So grab your favorite mug and check out what’s on my reading list this winter!

The Best Buddhist Writing 2011 — Melvin McLeod and Editors of the Shambhala Sun

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sit with it patiently and without expectation, and great things will emerge. — YOGA INTERNATIONAL

We trust the reality we see before our eyes and accept its validity until something comes along to disillusion us.

A collection of writings by leaders in the Buddhist tradition, this enlightening, informative, and thought-provoking anthology is a must-read for meditators. With essays from lay practitioners as well as teachers and well-known figures in contemporary Buddhism, it meets readers at the intersection of Buddhist philosophy and modern-day woes.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun — Gretchen Rubin

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.

Rubin’s practical wisdom, humorous anecdotes, and gleanings from some of her greatest teachers come together in this enjoyable read, inviting us to challenge our preconceived notions of happiness and cultivate practices to achieve this all-too-fleeting state of being. Lighthearted and engaging, Rubin’s style pairs well with the research she includes. Reflections that initially seem intuitive are explored to reveal deeper meaning, and will leave you happily engrossed page after page.

Unaccustomed Earth — Jhumpa Lahiri

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Stunning … Gorgeous … Never before has Lahiri mined so perfectly the secrets of the human heart. — USA TODAY

He owned an expensive camera that required thought before you pressed the shutter, and I quickly became his favorite subject.

Author of The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri has a way with words, easing the reader into the worlds of her characters with descriptive flair. In this short story collection, Lahiri brilliantly reveals the troubles and insecurities we hide beneath polished exteriors, and the unique, often unseen ways in which our close relationships create room to grow, retreat, and find comfort in the familiar.

The Rosie Project — Graeme Simpson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Filled with humor and plenty of heart, The Rosie Project is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we’re wired, just want to fit in. — Chicago Tribune

And you have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you.

If you’re looking to get lost in a lighthearted, laugh-out-loud read, you’re in luck. Hilarity ensues when altogether socially inept Don Tillman embarks on the “Wife Project” to find the perfect partner. Enter, Rosie, an imperfect rule-bender who enlists Don’s help on a not-so-small project of her own. Thoroughly funny, heartwarming, and refreshingly insightful, this book quickly draws you in and doesn’t let you go. If you like it as much as I do, you’ll be pleased to hear, there’s a sequel.

How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life — Melissa Hellstern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A breezy but sometimes insightful read, this hybrid mini-biography/female empowerment manual goes down like a soothing tonic for the 21st-century woman attempting to juggle life, career, family and, if there’s time, fashion. — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true.

A timeless icon, Audrey Hepburn lived with grace, style, poise, and elegance. This book has been part of my collection for some time, and it was a joy to reacquaint myself with Audrey’s kindness, sense of humor, and considerable thoughtfulness. To know Audrey, was to love her. If you’re looking for an intimate portrait of a woman whose beauty was surpassed only by her genuine spirit, this one’s for you.

Small Great Things — Jodi Picoult

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today … a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down.

What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn’t fit into? And the only way to survive was to mutilate yourself, carve away your corners, sand yourself down, modify yourself to fit?

Jodi Picoult takes on prejudice, race, and privilege in this gripping novel that will leave you replaying it in your mind long after you’ve put it down. Based on the true story of a labor and delivery nurse, Small Great Things offers an intimate and eye-opening glimpse into the ways our attitudes about race shape our identities, and the advantages, disadvantages, and pressures we face. Provocative and raw, this book belongs on your nightstand.