As the end of the year draws near and you start planning for 2020, make some time to build a reading list. Reading provides a myriad of benefits beyond just increasing your knowledge; it can also help you develop your critical thinking skills, improve your memory, help you sleep better, and more.

Because there are so many reasons why reading is beneficial, we want to help you build a list that’ll make 2020 an entertaining and educational year for you. We reached out to our faculty in the School of Arts & Sciences to see what’s on their reading list for 2020. Check out their recommendations below, and follow along with us on GoodReads to keep track of your progress.

Our Top 5 Recommendations

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez
Steve Lopez is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times on the hunt for his next column when he sees Nathaniel Ayers playing a violin in LA’s Skid Row. He’s drawn by Ayers’s music, but before long, Lopez finds himself on a mission to learn Ayers’s story and help the homeless man find some stability off the streets. A masterfully written true story, The Soloist is a profoundly human, deeply challenging read.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
Technology throughout human history has profoundly influenced our brains—but what does that mean for us in the digital age? Carr tackles this question in The Shallows, diving into neuroscience and arguing that while past technologies like the book have improved or optimized our cognitive function, the shifting pixels of the internet are stunting our attention spans and promoting distraction.

ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life by Stacy Sims, PhD
Women are not small men, but most conventional nutrition and fitness training plans are designed based on studies of, well, men. Exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Stacy T. Sims, PhD, steps in the gap with science-backed fueling and training knowledge specifically for female physiology. A guidebook with chapters to demystify how the menstrual cycle, menopause, and pregnancy influence women’s ability to train and recover, Roar is a game-changing text for the world of fitness. 

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
Creativity is not a gift granted to the few—it’s a muscle, or as Tharp puts it, a habit. Creativity doesn’t just happen; it’s intentionally fostered. And anyone can be creative. The Creative Habit draws from lessons Tharp has learned over her career and provides 30 exercises you can use to get out of a creative rut or spark creativity you may not even know you have.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone
The codebreaker you’ve never heard of, Elizebeth Friedman stumbled into codebreaking when she was hired to examine Shakespeare manuscripts at an estate outside Chicago. Flash forward, and she was cracking Nazi codes during a part of World War II when the war was being won and lost on the ability to securely communicate over wires. The Woman Who Smashed Codes is Fagone’s literary narrative of the woman who may as well be an icon for the then-fledgling National Security Agency.

Additional Recommendations from Faculty

If you’ve already read the suggestions above or want a bigger list to take with you into the new year, below are more titles submitted by faculty for you to explore.

As you get going with your list, don’t forget that you can follow along with us on GoodReads in 2020 to keep track of the books on your reading list, track your progress, and reference our recommendations all in one place.

Happy reading!

The top five recommendations and their descriptions were created by Meredith Sell, a contributing author. 

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