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Books That Will Give You a Head Start on Your 2023 Reading Goal

Studies show that most New Years Resolutions are abandoned by February. It’s not because we stopped caring. It’s usually because we didn’t have a plan.

The books in this list will not only give you a head start on your 2023 reading goals because you can read them fast – although you can! – they’ll also motivate you to read more: you’ll like them so much that you keep the pages turning and queue the next one up before you’ve finished the first. Some of them even teach how to set goals you’ll achieve!


Psychologist Hal Hershfield discusses goal-setting mentalities in this nonfiction book, and he does so by giving practical advice on how to visualize our futures, taking our future selves out of the distant future and into the present. It would be a great place to start off the new year, but the book doesn’t release until June—just in time for a halfway mark pick-me-up! Go ahead and pre-order so it’ll be within reach when you’re ready for it!


For the parents among us, Greg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski bring the skills and mindsets of Fred Rogers into practical application. The tools of curiosity, creativity, and collaboration benefit every child, and the authors here illustrate how to establish these skills in children. Like most self-help books, this work can take a long time to read if you really digest what’s happening on the page, but more often than not for me, the application of the content is what takes the time. I usually devour books like this that straddle data and implementation, and this one is sure to kickstart your reading goal, too.


Comedienne Lindy West critiques some of the world’s favorite films in her collection of essays, Shit, Actually, starting with the romcom that is inexplicably everyone’s favorite, Love, Actually. She doesn’t stop there, though. She talks about The Fugitive, Shawshank, and other beloved films across all genres. It’s a quick read because it’s alternately scathing and praising, but always incisive and hilarious.


Comedian Tom Segura’s memoir will give you a head start on your 2023 reading goal because you won’t be able to put it down. I listened to the audiobook of I’d Like to Play Alone Please because I love to hear a joke told in the comedian’s own voice, and this book did not disappoint. My favorite parts were when he got so tickled at his own joke that the laughter broke through. But seriously, you’ll roar through this book.

Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.