A Novel Idea- Class Is in Session: Books That Teach and Inspire Us

Learning should be a lifelong task, not just one left to the back-to-school crowd. And what better way to expand your mind and improve your skills than reading? There’s plenty to learn in any genre, as this group of book selections will prove. So treat yourself – and school yourself! – with one of these new titles that are sure to inspire you to reach a little higher and dream a little bigger.

By Barbara Bellesi

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Staying Sharp cover

“Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom”  • Henry Emmons, MD and David Alter, Ph.D. (Touchstone)

Good news: You can work to improve your memory and brain health at any age! The authors, who have clocked over 55 years of combined experience in neuroscience and psychiatry, offer nine lessons proven to maintain and increase your mental acuity. You won’t need a Ph.D. yourself to understand this book, which presents theories and exercises in a clear-cut manner so you can put yourself – and your brain – on the road to health.

Art of Memoir

“The Art of Memoir” • Mary Karr (HarperCollins)


Karr’s 1995 memoir “The Liars’ Club” spent a year at the top of The New York Times bestseller list and is largely noted as the inspiration for the resulting frenzy of published memoirs. The author is a master of this literary form, having taught and mentored students at Syracuse for 30 years. This book, which features writer anecdotes and excerpts of some of Karr’s favorite memoirs, allows us to peer inside the head of a literary genius. Aspiring writers will especially savor the opportunity for a glimpse into Karr’s technique, but readers in general will also appreciate this reflection on story and memory.

Little Victories_Gay

“Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living” • Jason Gay (Doubleday)


Popular Wall Street Journal sports columnist and prolific magazine writer Jason Gay has written this gem of a book, which reminds us that achievements need not be enormous to have a positive impact on our lives. According to Gay, happiness and success don’t have to be long-term goals; we can celebrate the little victories that come with everyday living. His book also reminds us to laugh a little – or maybe a lot – at ourselves as we try to navigate this crazy journey we call life.

Talent for Humanity

“Talent for Humanity: Stories of Creativity, Compassion and Courage to Inspire You on Your Journey” • Edited by Patrick Gaffney (Greenleaf Book Group)


Talent for Humanity is an international non-profit whose mission is to improve the human experience through entertainment and the arts. The book focuses on seven individuals who have explored their own compassion and creativity around the world, from the Olympic Games in Sochi to a Native American reservation in Montana. Even if you are more of an armchair traveler than weekend warrior, you will still be inspired by these amazing people to explore your talents and forge your own path to fulfillment and happiness.

The New Single_Cover_FINAL

“The New Single: Finding, Fixing, and Falling Back in Love with Yourself After a Break-up or Divorce” Tamsen Fadal (St. Martin’s Griffin)


Emmy-winning TV host and journalist Tamsen Fadal’s divorce landed her on the infamous Page Six of the New York Post. It’s hard to wallow when your job is to appear before millions of viewers, so Fadal got up, brushed herself off, and rebooted her life into something better than ever. “The New Single” is her testament to the fact that not only can you survive heartbreak, but you can also remake yourself into a stronger, more confident person.

Tamsen Fadal_Author Photo

The “New Single” Helps Create a New You After Heartbreak

Tamsen Fadal’s father once gave her some really great advice: “It’s far better to be alone than it is to be lonely with someone else.” The Emmy-winning news anchor wouldn’t truly understand her dad’s words until after her very public divorce from Matt Titus, with whom she had run a matchmaking service and co-authored relationship books. So she set out to make things right for herself again.

“The New Single” is Fadal’s newest book about rebuilding self-confidence after a painful separation, with a focus on the first 90 days. “There’s no science to it but, for me, 90 days was not so long that I couldn’t get there and not so short that it didn’t make it become a habit,” Fadal explains.

Fadal took it day by day, and encourages her readers to do the same. “It’s difficult. There’s no easy cure to it,” she says. “I did make sure every day, though, that I had a goal and that’s what got me through everything,” explaining that even little goals – such as eating healthy or meeting a friend for coffee – are the key to recovery after heartbreak. 

For many, moving on after a divorce or breakup often means finding someone new, which Fadal supports, although she stresses that’s not what “The New Single” is about. “It’s not about dating and finding somebody new. It’s about making sure you find yourself and keep yourself,” she says.

I Am Malala

“He Named Me Malala”

On October 12, 2012, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. Her crime? Going to school. Malala miraculously survived her injuries continued her crusade for women’s education. On July 12, 2013 – her 16th birthday – Malala spoke at the United Nations in support of education for women, a day that became known as “Malala Day.” 

She told her story in her memoir, “I Am Malala,” and was recognized in 2013 as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. In 2014, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. This fall, David Guggenheim’s documentary, “He Called Me Malala,” is set to be released, allowing us further insight into the brave young woman who taught us not to take education for granted.

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