6 Books About Fresh Starts That Aren’t “Eat, Pray, Love”
It’s natural to treat the beginning of fall as a fresh start — new season, new fashion, new fall foods to enjoy. So what better time to make some major life changes (what else is there to do when the temperatures drop anyway)? If you’re feeling motivated to seriously shake things up, but you need a shot of support to get you going, try reading these six tomes about starting over. They’re sure to inspire, no matter what time of year.
The title story in this short story collection starts with safe, cautious Nell begrudgingly embracing her recent breakup with her total bore of a boyfriend by spending a weekend alone in the City of Love. Usually reserved, practical, and risk adverse, Nell suddenly finds herself zipping past Paris landmarks on the back of a motorbike driven by a handsome Parisian, falling in love with freedom and adventure in the process.
Josie decides to quit her dentistry career in Cleveland and loads her two quirky kids, Paul and Ana, into an RV headed for the Alaskan wilderness. She’s looking for an indefinite holiday from modern life and all the heartbreak, betrayal, and disappointment that comes with it. She gets that and much more. Eggers treats the family with the same bemused care that we expect from the hilariously wry writer as the trio flees wildfires, eats hot dogs cooked on bonfires, and breaks into (more than one!) cabin during their journey.
This inventive, gripping novel explores the universal fascination we have with the butterfly effect, which is how a single moment or decision can affect the course of an entire lifetime. We meet Ursula Todd on the day of her birth and death in 1910, as she passes on before she takes her first breath because the doctor is late to deliver her. From there, we follow Ursula through infinite lifetimes, witnessing how fleeting moments and offhand decisions change the course of the rest of her days.
Bravo fans will especially dig this smart, insightful memoir from Alyssa Shelasky as she examines her relationship — and its eventual decline — with Top Chef charmer Spike Mendelsohn. A DC transplant, journalist, and food novice engaged to a chef, Shelasky decides to start a blog to chronicle her “messy affairs in and out of the kitchen,” as she learns to cook to connect with her fiancé. What results is a relatable, self-aware memoir that deftly explores themes of romance, passion, heartbreak, independence, ambition, and friendship — all told through the lens of food.
It’s easy to make bad choices when you’re under immense pressure and feeling helpless. Such is the case when Dez Spaulding finds herself abandoning her dreams of becoming an artist in New York City to move back to her hometown of Cascade, MA to care for her ailing father and ultimately ending up in a marriage of convenience. Once her father passes away, Dez’s artistic ambitions start to blossom again. It’s something her husband finds cute until Dez meets a handsome Jewish painter with whom she shares an immediate connection. But once a man is murdered and her lover gets accused by paranoid townspeople, Dez makes decisions that most women in 1935 wouldn’t dare dream of.
Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers living in Lagos, Nigeria and vow to stay together even when Ifem moves to the United States to attend college. But after a series of heartbreaking events, the pair lose touch; Ifem blossoms as a blogger covering race and immigration in America while Obinze falls in with the wrong crowd living in London. Ifem settles into her success and finds love (and, in the process, herself) with a series of long-term relationships with men she truly loves. Of course, Obinze is always in the background. It’s a seriously stunning story of the many ways we can transform our lives — and ourselves — when we need or want to.