8 Books I Recommend—May 2023

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”
– James Baldwin

Here are 6 nonfiction books + 2 novels I recommend from what I read in May.

[See previously recommended books here]


1.  Spare
by Prince Harry

Spare by Prince Harry

Although at first glance I have little in common with the British royal family, this memoir by Prince Harry brings us closer. His vulnerability reminds me that we are all connected on a basic human level, even though our struggles may look different (I have never been or ever will be chased by paparazzi night and day). Prince Harry’s stories are fascinating, albeit often sad, about life as a prince and as a human being. I realize his is only one perspective and there are several sides to any story, but I did enjoy reading his side.

2. Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff
Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward With Your Life
by Matt Paxton

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff

The title of this book caught my eye at the library. Then when flipping through and seeing this chapter, “Sort Through Pictures and Documents,” I checked it out. I’m currently on a summer-long project of getting my photos under control (again). I won’t take all of Paxton’s advice (he suggests discarding 90% of your photos, yikes!), but I will take some of his advice, such as digitizing the photos I care about, even if it’s just taking a photo of a photo with my phone. This book contains lots of great advice about decluttering in general (not just photos) so I highly recommend it. 

3. The Science of Stuck
Breaking Through Inertia to Find Your Path Forward
by Britt Frank

The Science of Stuck

We all get stuck sometimes in life, whether it be in an unhealthy relationship or a boring job or just a bad habit. This book is a fascinating (and very organized!) look at the science behind what keeps us stuck, and what works best to break out of it. One takeaway for me is to identify the perks of staying stuck, one of the first steps toward change.

4. Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image
Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are
by Hillary L. McBride

Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image

I haven’t met many women (or men either) who aren’t self-conscious about some aspect of their appearance, whether it’s their hair or their stomach or their weight, etc. This book helps us realize we are so much more than the sum of our body parts. While it’s centered around body image conversations in mother/daughter relationships, it far exceeds those parameters.

“What if every time you or another woman in your life said ‘I don’t look like the women on TV, or in the magazines’ you truly thought, ‘Good’?”

5. Poverty, by America
by Matthew Desmond

Poverty, by America

Data shows that despite the United States being one of the richest countries on earth, we also have more poverty than equally democratic countries. Sociologist Matthew Desmond dives into why. In this book he both lays out the problems but also provides some imaginative solutions. There are no easy fixes. But we can do much better to alleviate poverty versus perpetuate it.

[Read my book review here of Poverty, by America]

6. Why We’re Polarized
by Ezra Klein

Why We're Polarized

Ugh. We know we’re polarized in America. But we do we know why? Ezra Klein will change the way you interpret politics. I didn’t feel more hopeful after reading this book, but I did feel more informed. Hopefully that counts as a move in the right direction. This is an excellent book with fascinating content, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or could really care less.


7. Fresh Water for Flowers
by Valérie Perrin

Fresh Water for Flowers

This novel chronicles the life of Violette Toussaint, a cemetery caretaker in France. Written with a flair for beautiful prose and insightful philosophy, this book takes you on a journey through highs and lows of betrayal and loss. You’ll find yourself pulling for Violette to find lasting happiness somewhere.

8. Lessons in Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry

This novel, while more lighthearted in tone than Fresh Water for Flowers, is just as relevant in addressing inequality, set in the early 1960s in the United States. Elizabeth Zott is a chemist-turned-TV cooking host. Both funny and serious, the plot provides interesting twists for Elizabeth and her genius young daughter. The 400 pages flew by. 


  • Write for Life
    Creative Tools for Every Writer
    by Julia Cameron
  • The Love of My Life
    by Rosie Walsh
  • The Road Less Traveled
    by M. Scott Peck
  • The Enneagram of Emotional Intelligence
    A Journey to Personal and Professional Success
    by Scott Allender
  • The Wrong End of the Table
    A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in
    by Ayser Salman
  • The Mindful Body
    Thinking Our way to Chronic Health
    by Ellen J. Langer

What’s a good book you’ve read lately? Please share in the comments.

sharing at these linkups

17 thoughts on “8 Books I Recommend—May 2023

  1. Aritha

    What’s a good book you’ve read lately? Eh… I highly recommend: ‘The Tape Retirement (so you can retire 15 years earlier).’ (of course, in Dutch). It should really be translated. This book, written by Gerhard Hormann reads like a Plan B for anyone with a pension gap. Because no one wants to wait until their old age to start enjoying life. In a lighthearted manner, the author demonstrates that you don’t have to be rich at all to be able to retire and you don’t need a million in the bank to schedule your last day of work at the age of 54.

    I am reading Englisch books too. But Also children’s books. Do you love them too?

  2. Michele Morin

    I’m just finishing up my review of Tell Me the Dream Again by Tasha Jun. It’s part of my effort to understand (a little more?) the stories of people who are different from me. Beautifully written!

  3. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    Which book would I be most likely to read? Probably the one about feeling stuck, I seem to have that problem a lot. I do not follow much about the royals but I am interested in Prince Harry’s story too. You make it sound humanly worth reading, not always the case with celebrity memoirs.

  4. Harry Katz

    You’ve had a productive month, Lisa! Poverty by America and The Science of Stuck look interesting.

    I read Why We’re Polarized back in November 2021. I agree with you: an excellent book that won’t make you more hopeful. It’s unfortunate that’s the state the country is in these days.

  5. Jean Wise

    What a great list. I always find some new title here to borrow. Let us know how that enneagram book. I quit reading them as they seemed repetitive. would love to read one with new info. Have a joyous weekend!!

  6. Kathy Martin

    Interesting assortment of books! I can’t quite decide if I want to read Spare or not. I am a fan of the Royal Family and I’m not sure I want his viewpoint. Lessons in Chemistry also sounds good. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  7. Paula Short

    Lisa, I’ve been thinking about reading the book about Prince Harry. I’m glad you reviewed it.
    Thanks so much for sharing your reviews with Sweet Tea & Friends this month my friend.

  8. Stacie @SincerelyStacie

    I have Spare on audio and pop in and out. I’m liking it, but when a library hold comes in I switch to that. I have Lessons in Chemistry on my summer reading list so I can get it read before the show adaptation comes out in October.

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