When the calendar flipped from 2022 to 2023, one of my goals was to read 15 books over the next 12 months. Reading keeps me off screens, improves my writing skills, and simply makes me happy. (I’m still guilty, though, of reaching for my phone before my book — I’m working to break that habit.)
Now, 15 books may seem like a modest goal to avid readers, but I wanted to ensure I could accomplish it. And, so far, I’ve been reading at a slow and steady pace.
But, as the weather warms up and the pools start opening, I know my time spent reading is about to increase — after all, there’s no better place to read than at the Beach Club, where the sun is shining, towels are fluffy and fresh, and my tea tumbler is filled with iced tea.
To help you get prepped for Beach Club season, we rounded up a list of book recommendations from our team members to inspire you this summer.
Health and Wellness Reads
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Many people know me as a runner, so it might not be surprising that I’d recommend Murakami’s book for a summer read. I devoured the pages in a weekend this past winter for many reasons: the content, the delivery, the inspirational stories, and the meditative way the author shares his disciplined running journey.
If you are an aspiring runner, a dedicated and calloused-foot one like myself, or simply a lover of any movement for the pure joy of it, I think you’ll enjoy this read. Murakami has a brilliantly expressive style of writing that he showcases through his essays. He shares with us how running amplifies his life and supports his profession as a writer. It’s a validating read for any of us who know how much physical activity truly uplifts us in our life purpose.
My suggestions? Grab your running shoes, pop the audio book into your ears, and set out for your next long run (or walk) with Murakami. — Barbara Powell, MA NBC-HWC, Life Time Mind Coach
Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live by Becca Levy, PhD
I read Levy’s engaging take on our ageist culture last summer, and it reminded me to avoid giving into stereotypes when challenged by my 5-year-old grandson to a race. By telling him that “Grandpas don’t run,” I was confirming a beliefs system that Levy’s research has shown may shorten our lifespans.
A professor of public health and psychology at Yale, Levy has spent her career documenting how our perception of aging affects our health, and she makes a strong case throughout the book for maintaining an upbeat view of growing old. I was particularly impressed with the results of a 2018 study showing that participants who entered their senior years with more negative views of aging harbored higher levels of C-reactive protein, a well-documented marker of stress. The inflammatory effects of chronic stress, she points out, have long been linked to health issues and shorter lifespans.
Despite her years of researching the issue, Levy admits that she occasionally falls into the same ageist traps as the rest of us. After hobbling through a 5K race, she returned home convinced her middle-aged body was beginning to fail. Turns out, she had simply pulled a muscle after neglecting to stretch before the race.
“I had instinctively attributed my injury to something other than skipping a warm-up,” she writes. “Instead, I had blamed my age: My mind had made connections that I don’t consciously believe — that your body falls apart as you age.”
I keep Levy’s wisdom in mind these days whenever my grandson wants to race. I want him to know I’m game, and I even let him win sometimes. — Craig Cox, Deputy Editor at Experience Life
Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
I recommend reading the Inner Game of Tennis, no matter what sport you play. Although this book is written for tennis players, the concepts can easily be applied to pickleball or any sport, really. This classic book is packed with simple strategies that will help you achieve a better state of “flow” while enhancing your ability to coach. It’s a short, yet powerful, read. — David Dutrieuille, National Pickleball Director at Life Time
(To learn more from the Inner Game of Tennis author W. Timothy Gallwey, check out this article from Experience Life: “Work Your Inner Game, Find Your Mental Focus”)
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD
As a fitness and nutrition professional, I’ve seen firsthand how significantly sleep affects every health and wellness goal, whether it be vitality, muscle gain, improved lab tests, or fat loss. Unfortunately, most people underestimate its impact, continuing to try to out-train or out-diet a perpetual lack of quality sleep.
The beauty of this book is that the information is compelling and outlines the science, but it also provides the practical tips needed to change your sleep and transform your health. — Samantha McKinney, RD, CPT, National Program Manager for the Life Time’s Digital Weight-Loss and Training Programs
Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
I enjoyed this short, but powerful series of essays that ground us in what it means to live life. This is a lively examination of life, death, and everything in between. — James O’Reilly, President of Life Time Work
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
As a writer, I was blown away by how deftly Matt Haig takes on the idea of regret in this novel, and brilliantly demonstrates that every choice we make in life is the right choice, whether it leads to the desired outcome or not. I think many of us imagine that in every situation there is a right and wrong decision, that certain choices will put us on a path to happiness and others on a path to despair, and we have trouble showing ourselves compassion when we feel we’ve made a wrong choice.
But what if the good life is the life we’re living right here, right now, regrets and all? It’s easy to intellectualize that idea, it’s another thing entirely to believe it, but this book made a believer of me. Within the first few pages, the central character takes her own life, but instead of dying, goes to a library in the afterlife where every book represents a different path she could have taken. Unlike us, she gets to live out her regrets, but the book’s ending, and her conclusion, is one we can all relate to. — Julie Dulude, Life Time Creative Director
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I recently finished The Nightingale, a novel set in France during World War II featuring two sisters who resist the Nazi forces by hiding children and leading the escape of allied pilots while growing their relationship with each other.
The sisters are extremely different people, but they eventually bonded together to lead a resistance movement and guided those allied airmen out of France using the codename “Nightingale.”
I have always gravitated toward WWII history, and this book highlights not only the impact of the Holocaust, but it also explores the changing nature of love and the challenges of gender inequality during wartime. These two sisters defied the cultural expectations of women, demonstrating the boldness and willingness to fight for gender equality in their own ways. — Erin Hickey, LifeSpa Category Director
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
I love historical fiction, and The Giver of Stars is one of my favorite recent reads. It’s based on a true Depression-era story about a group of women who worked to increase literacy and education in rural Kentucky by starting a “Packhorse Library” — part of an initiative by Eleanor Roosevelt. The women face all kinds of challenges as they deliver books on horseback to families in harsh mountainous landscapes and deal with backlash from community members and leaders who are resistance to change — but they remain committed to the job.
This book has all the elements of a great story for me: adventure, friendship, strength, historical lessons that still apply today, and even a little bit of romance! After all, what’s better than a book about the power of books? — Emily Ewen, Senior Writer and Content Editor at Life Time
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
When I visited the Hawaiian island of Oahu in March 2021, I was entranced by its beauty. I felt so close to nature; it was like I’d pulled back a curtain and stepped out of my world of dinging notifications, plain office spaces, and never-ending chores and into one of gorgeous beaches, lush vegetation, and cascading waterfalls. It was a dream I didn’t want to leave and have ached to return to ever since.
A year and a half later, Sharks in the Time of Saviors brought me back to Hawaii through the eyes of 7-year-old Nainoa Flores, who is saved from drowning in the Pacific Ocean by a shiver of sharks. The story that ensues follows Nainoa and his family members as they individually wrestle with the meaning behind and implications of his miraculous rescue, as well as his later development of inexplicable healing abilities.
Hawaii in Washburn’s novel is so much more than what I experienced of the archipelago when I visited. It is the dreamscape in my memory, and it is also more raw, more complex, and more magical. And even though I largely picked up the book for its setting, I was just as intrigued by its characters, all of whom contained their own multitudes. If you’re looking for an escape this summer, I cannot recommend this book highly enough; it’s one of the best I’ve read in a while. — Molly Tynjala, Associate Editor at Experience Life
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Friendship, success, and fame are at the heart of this novel, but you don’t have to be a gamer to find its pioneering story of video game design intriguing. Its morally complex questions of responsibility, rebirth, and fairness are relevant to anyone and are skillfully woven throughout as Zevin turns out life lessons (and some great 1990’s nostalgia) with each flick of the narrative joystick.
It’s a different kind of love story, one of creative partnership set in a dazzling world and marked by resentment. Consider for yourself the title — the video gaming concept of bonus lives — and ask yourself what you would do with the redemption offered by infinite tomorrows. — Lindsey Frey Palmquist, Life Time Associate Creative Director