I adore reading. Always have. As a kid, I’d spend hours at my neighborhood library, hidden between the bookshelves until my mother would call the librarian and ask her to send me home for dinner.

I used to fall asleep holding Magic Tree House books when I was eight, and a dozen of my favorite books (I call them "re-reads") remain among the possessions I value most.

Reading has shaped me, unshaped me, entertained me, and taught me. And I find it incredibly reassuring that I can always, always heal or figure things out through words and books. 

Being in my 20s, I’ve noticed that most of my peers are really “trying” (for lack of a better term). We just can’t seem to beat the rat race that is trying to prove that we have the most fun, or that we’re on our way to being “successful” or having it “figured out,” or whatever. I’m sure if you’re in your 20s, or have been; you get what I mean..

The way I’ve always seen it, however, is that I’m unattached with endless opportunity on the horizon. I have SO much more to see, do and experience before I can even glance at the ladder of success and start plotting my climb. 

So when I have an hour to kill, or if I get stood up, or fired, or I fall in love (or out), or feel lost, or I turn to my phone, or feel anxious, or am just downright bored, I read. 

I read books, articles, newspapers, billboards, quotes from influencers (the real kind, like Nelson Mandela, not some fashion icon on Instagram). I read people, food labels, magazines, menus, fiction, and non-fiction. You name it, and I’ve probably gone out of my way that day to get my hands on it.

I don’t consider myself to be some brainiac because of this. But one thing I do know is that reading alone has taken me many, many places, physically and mentally. 

Put it this way — a book you read this weekend could change the way you think for the next five decades. It could have an irrevocable impact on your entire quality of life. There is a quote that goes something like, "I don't remember every meal I've eaten or every book I've read, but they are all still a part of me."

There are SO many books out there that contain the knowledge of lifetimes of work and research. If you sit and read even just one of them in a week, you're gleaning the wisdom of decades in a matter of hours. It's a pretty empowering thing.

The most common question I get from this website and on social media is what book I’m reading, so I thought I'd post this. I love getting recommendations too, so if there's something you think I'd like, I'd love to hear it. I credit the following books with having shaped who I am, and I anticipate adding to this list as time goes on. I didn't include anything I didn't feel impacted by in some significant way.


  • A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

  • The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

  • Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

  • Upstream by Mary Oliver

  • What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

  • World Walk by Steven Newman

  • The Heart of the World by Ian Baker

  • Indestructible by Allison Fallon

Emma CunninghamComment