Life is hectic and tumultuous, and it can be difficult to find a moment for reflection. This week’s new books take a stand and make an argument for acceptance and love: learning to love your body and mind, delving into your family’s fascinating fight against an oppressive system or trying to find peace in the aftermath of a tragedy caused by your own flesh and blood. You’ll want to add these books to your shelves and bring them up at your next book club gathering.


1. Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson ($16): If you’re stuck in “maybe tomorrow” or “self-judgment” mode, this one’s for you. Down-to-earth actress Hudson shares tips for practicing a healthier lifestyle loving what you’ve got now. Sick of the soundbites that answered the constant questions about her diet and exercise regimen, Hudson goes deeper, candidly showing us that even the rich and famous can feel insecure. She delves into that fine balancing act between encouraging self-improvement and refusing to wait for acceptance, realizing that perfection is a pipe dream and change is lifelong and incremental.


Movement, intuition, eating and mindfulness combine to produce Hudson’s signature winning smile. For those of us who can’t get enough of online quizzes, the book offers a series of questionnaires and interactive exercises to plan the next move in your personalized journey. As Hudson says, nothing is one-size-fits-all, and “it’s the details that make the difference.” Nobody can reach elusive perfection, but Kate gives us a mantra for a modern world: “Pretty Happy is Pretty Great.” (Photos via Gustavo Caballero + Rob Kim)


2. The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights With One African American Family by Gail Lumet Buckley ($18): In Gail Lumet Buckley’s tome, the former wife of honorary Oscar-winning director Sidney Lumet and daughter of Lena Horne, powerhouse vocalist and civil rights activist, chronicles her family’s history from the Reconstruction era through to her parents’ struggle and her own experiences. Buckley’s family, starting with Moses Calhoun, who became a wealthy businessman in Atlanta post-Emancipation, was caught in the intersection of class privilege and racial oppression. They formed an uneasy elite, encouraged not to rock the boat and acknowledge the suffering around them. Gail’s mother rebelled against this directive, refusing to perform for segregated audiences during the Second World War (or audiences where black servicemen were seated behind white German POWs) and assisting First Lady (and badass) Eleanor Roosevelt in passing anti-lynching laws. This book explores Gail’s family’s achievements and the realities of their failures, and is both an intimate family tale and a broader look into the changing face of American race relations. It might break your heart, and strengthen your resolve.

3. A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold ($17): As the popularity of movies like We Need To Talk About Kevin suggests, many of us have been fascinated by stories of how to deal with a horrific event when that horror is caused by a member of your own family. This nightmare became reality for Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, who in 1999 with Eric Harris perpetrated the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, an event which arguably pushed school shootings into modern consciousness.

In A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, Klebold, who has become a tireless activist for mental health awareness, takes a brutally honest but compassionate look at the questions she’s asked herself every day since then, in the hopes that it will help others notice signs and take action. The book includes excerpts from her own journals, the writings of her son and talks with experts in the field of mental health. Klebold helps us understand that “why?” is a powerful, but not always answerable question, and that “how?” (how can I help, how do I continue to love) is a necessary and equally powerful response. As a bonus, all proceeds from the book will be donated to research and charitable foundations dedicated to mental health issues.

What writing gives you strength? Tag us on your next passionate read @britandco.