What are the best books on...

The best books on New Year’s Resolutions

recommended by Five Books Editors

Whether you plan to lose weight, lead a happy life, or save the world in 2016, Five Books has the right book recommendations for you.

Five Books Editors

Save for later

Five Books Editors

Save for later
 

It’s that time of year again, when you want to make resolutions for the year ahead. Below a selection of books to help whatever your planned reformation:

New Year’s Resolutions

#1: Lose Weight

If, following the indulgences of the Christmas holidays, you don’t need to lose any weight, you are in a minority. Most of us are struggling to do up the button on our trousers, and are already planning to lose weight in January. The question is how. This is confusing, because experts seem to disagree and rigorous data is hard to compile. Is it about cutting fat? Cutting dairy? Cutting carbohydrates? The book we’ve selected, The Primal Blueprint, is anti-carbohydrate or ‘Atkins’ in approach, which ultimately you’ll have to make up your own mind about. What we like about it as a diet plan is that it eliminates the need for calorie counting and appetite control: you can eat as much as you want. And it works: you can lose weight quite quickly. We had concerns going into the diet about health effects: The stereotype of Atkins-style diets is lots of red meat and bacon, which are not considered good for you. However, on the meat front, you can stick to chicken, turkey and fish. Also, one thing we found: by eliminating bread and pasta, and snacks like chips, you end up eating tons more vegetables, fruit and nuts to fill the gap. That those are good for you pretty much everyone is agreed on. In any case, the book is full of sensible advice e.g. “Focus on quality sources of animal protein (organic, free-range, or wild sources of meat, fowl and fish), an assortment of colorful vegetables and fresh fruits, and healthy sources of fat (nuts, seeds, their derivative butters, certain oils, avocadoes, etc.).” The book also has lots of quirky caveman advice for better living—e.g. you shouldn’t be woken up by an alarm clock—which are quite fun to think about even if you don’t ultimately buy into them.

New Year’s Resolutions

#2 Get Fit

While research studies are always giving contradictory advice on foods (one minute they cause cancer the next minute they protect against it), there is one thing about which all the evidence seems to point one way: exercise is good for you. It helps you live a longer and more healthy life. As, selfishly, we want Five Books readers to be around for a while, we therefore insist that if you don’t do so already, you start exercising this year. Unfortunately, we don’t have an interview on exercise and fitness yet. (Please write to us if you have recommendations for an interviewee!). In the meantime, fortunately, someone else has recommended Five Books on running, that you can read up on here. We favour running because you can do it anytime, anywhere, outside in the open air, and, critically, it’s a great time to listen to audiobooks. One ploy to get you doing more exercise is to listen to thrillers while running and press pause the moment you stop. You’ll be surprised how quickly you want to run again, or even carry on running longer than planned, just to find out what happens next. Apps can help you reach goals too. We recommend Fitness 22: just choose the app at your level: 5K if you don’t run at all, 10K if you’re reasonably fit and then 21k or 42k if you’d like to run a half or full marathon. With a bit of focus you can do it, you really can!

New Year’s Resolutions

#3: Be Happy

So having followed resolutions nos. 1 and 2, you are thin and full of energy. But are you happy? That’s the next challenge. Now, one or two of our interviewees are skeptical about happiness as an aim, they say it’s more important that your life has meaning. If you feel an existential appraisal is necessary, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning could be a good place to start. But if you are less in the mood for soul-searching and more into practical steps to be a cheerier person, we recommend Sonja Lyubomirsky’s  The How of Happiness. Unlike many self-help books her advice is backed by psychological research. One helpful hint, if you’ve no time to read the book: It’s good to help others. Give that taxi driver an extra big tip, help that person carry a heavy bag up the escalator, and you’ll start feeling happier about the world without even taking time out of your usual routine.

New Year’s Resolutions

#4: Relationships

We’ve all been there: you have someone in your life who means the world to you, and instead of treating them like the center of your universe, you take out all the frustrations of daily life on them instead. It doesn’t have to be like that, and there are plenty of books that can help people use the findings of modern psychology to make their relationships (even) better. As this is a books website—and presumably a lot of readers like stories—we’ve chosen Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. You can either buy it directly or read what’s great about it in our interview on Relationship Therapy, which is full of classic lines like, “The average person’s understanding of relationships is about 100 years behind the time.”

New Year’s Resolutions

#5: Save the World

At Five Books, we believe it’s important not to get sucked in by the daily grind, but to keep one’s eye on the bigger picture. We toyed with the idea of recommending Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics as a way of getting a handle on how we should be living our lives, and it is a wonderful book. But we’re feeling very action-oriented this New Year, and so, instead, are moving straight on to the practical phase. We’re recommending Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains about Paul Farmer, a doctor who went to Haiti to save the world. We’re not saying that you need to be a doctor or go to Haiti but we like the book for giving the reader a sense that one person really can make a difference. That person could be you.

Happy New Year!

From your editors at Five Books

 

Support Five Books

Five Books interviews are expensive to produce. If you've enjoyed this interview, please support us by donating a small amount, or by visiting our site before you make purchases from Amazon. Since we are enrolled in their affiliate program, we receive a small percentage of any product you buy, at no extra cost to you.