While time during the summer doesn’t always slow down as much as you would like, it does feel like you have a little more room to breathe. There aren’t as many meetings with everyone taking vacation so you can actually take a lunch break. Junior League takes a summer hiatus leaving you with a little more weeknight freedom. The extra daylight makes the day really seem longer. With a few more hours opening up, summer is the perfect time to dig into your self-improvement summer reading list.

Beach reads do not have to be all fluff. There are plenty of great reads for the plane or pool that also expand your mind and support your healthy striving goals. A self-improvement summer reading list can be fun! I also promise none of the books on this list are exercise or diet based. Living a healthier happier life is about so much more than what you put in your mouth or how many reps you do.

(Please note: links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links and I am compensated a very very very small amount if you purchase anything via these links.)

If you want to make new habits and avoid the summer slump pick up one of these four non-fiction summer reads.

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How To Book by Dan Harris: With this follow up to 10% Happier, here is where you actually get instruction on how to meditate. Meditation practice and skills are sprinkled into the story of an interesting road trip, making it a perfect beach read. I made the mistake of doing the audio version while driving, something that in hindsight was probably a bad decision.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kando: Yes, I am late to the party. Yes, I often thought the author a little crazy and questioned the sanity of her childhood. But she makes a lot of really good points. My favorite message: you need to get rid of what you don’t want to learn what you do want.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness In a Changing World by 14th Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu: Who better than to help you cultivate a practice of joy and gratitude in your life than two of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders? This documentation of a week-long interview with these gentlemen is both enlightening and humorous. Plus, you’ll learn that the secrets to living with joy are truly available to anyone.

Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done By Laura Vanderkam: Remember that feeling you had after your last final before summer break in college? You were sooo done but it felt like total freedom, right?  From the author of 168 Hours and I Know How She Does It, this brand-new book is all about how to capture moments of that kind freedom again and make the most of your time spent “on the clock”.

Ready for a novel that both entertains and makes you think? Try one of these fiction summer reads.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This YA novel weaves the normal drama of teen life with the perils of being black in America. Starr Carter, the 16-year-old protagonist, is caught between two lives and the balance is even harder to navigate after the tragic murder of her childhood friend during a traffic stop. You will cry, smile and laugh in this beautifully told tale.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: An Oprah Book Club selection, this powerful novel gives you a small glimpse into the issue of mass incarceration and racism through the eyes of a couple named Roy and Celestial. Their marriage, new and fragile to begin with, is ripped apart when Roy is wrongly imprisoned.  This is the story of what happens when you do all the things you think you are supposed to do but society pulls the rug out from under you anyway.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel: At age 5 Claude yearns to wear a princess dress to preschool. The compromise is a purse/lunch bag. This step outside of the role of “boy” that Claude was prescribed at birth is the first clash with school and the world about gender and identity for the family. A tale of transformation, this is the story of how a family’s world changes when their youngest child begins the brave journey of authenticity as a transgender person.

Put away the magazines at the pool and leave your phone in the other room at night. Instead make a choice to open your mind and heart this summer with a little extra reading time. Whether you make a pick from my suggestions or you have your own self-improvement summer reading list doesn’t matter – just read something that helps you learn a little more about yourself and the world.

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