Charleston Moms FAVORITES: Best Non-Fiction Books I’ve Read This Year


Welcome to our series Charleston Moms FAVORITES! Our team is excited to share some of the things that are making us happy and bringing us joy these days.

Hello, moms of Charleston!

Finding time to read while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood (in addition to wifehood, a career, household tasks, friendships, personal hygiene, etc.) can be impossible some days. What a waste to spend this precious little time on a crappy read!

I’ve done the legwork and sifted through some great books, some mediocre books, and some terrible ones over this past year. Here are a few non-fiction books that are worth the time and effort, IMO.

The Best Non-Fiction Books I’ve Read This Year

non-fiction books in a pile.Best Book for “What’s Happening to My Body?!”

Hot and Bothered: What No One Tells You About Menopause and How to Feel Like Yourself Again by Jancee Dunn (2023)

Ever since I read this Charleston Moms article last month, I’ve been wondering if I’m perimenopausal. I’m nearly 44, have skipped periods here and there, and sleep terribly for no apparent reason. After reading Hot and Bothered, all signs point towards what I suspected: perimenopause. *sigh*

I appreciate health journalist Dunn’s ability to keep it real. She doesn’t sugarcoat the signs and symptoms that accompany perimenopause and menopause. She’s honest, funny, backed by research, offers practical solutions, and normalizes this rite of passage that most of us don’t know enough about. Her book armed me with the knowledge I was lacking on something we’ll all experience eventually.

If you’re nearing your forties or are already in them, read this book and encourage your girlfriends to do the same.

Best Book for Being a Better Parent

Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Dr. Becky Kennedy (2022)

My mom: “Jenna, you need to stop yelling at the kids so much.”

Me: “No duh.” Then I read this book.

Dr. Kennedy, my mom would like to formally thank you for rehabilitating me as a mother.

Clinical psychologist Kennedy stresses the importance of giving our kids the benefit of the doubt, that they’re intrinsically “good inside,” even when they’re misbehaving and driving us crazy. Although I’m not perfect and still scream with frustration from time to time, I’m more aware of my kids’ behavior as a form of communication. And I’m more aware of how I choose to respond to their communicative behavior.

Kennedy’s approach is strengths-based and empowering and seems like really solid parenting to me. The book outlines her approach and gives some real-life examples with step-by-step instructions on how readers can handle similar situations at home. Kennedy has built an empire around her approach with a huge Instagram following, podcast, workshops, and the Good Inside Membership. Check her out here.

Best Book for Surviving the Terrible Tweens

This Is So Awkward: Modern Puberty Explained by Cara Natterson & Vanessa Kroll Bennett (2023)

Last year, one of my mom friends pleaded with me to really cherish my 5th grader’s sweetness and hugs while I had the chance. “You only have this summer left. Everything will change once he hits middle school,” she advised, dead serious. Her son was a year ahead of mine in school. I shrugged off her comment. Her wisdom went in one ear and out the other.

She wasn’t kidding. I should’ve listened and soaked up all the love when I had the chance.

Middle school and puberty make for some tough times. The physical, hormonal, mental, emotional, and social changes are a lot for both kids and parents to navigate. This Is So Awkward dives into all of the pertinent concerns: acne, menstruation, body maturation, body image, sexual activity, mental health, bullying, gender nonconformity, mood swings, drug and alcohol use, social media, etc.

The topics are explained through scientific research, expert interviews, and cringe-worthy personal stories. It’s entertaining, informative, and offers a smart set of guidelines for opening up the lines of communication between you and your tween/teen, therefore helping them better navigate these tumultuous changes.

PSA: Buy this book ASAP if you’re the parent of a rising middle schooler. Now!

Best Book for Nostalgia if You’re a 90s Girl

If You Would Have Told Me by John Stamos (2023)

Alright, so this book will not be winning a Pulitzer Prize for exceptional literary achievement. This is a pure pleasure read and a true vanity project. But I’m here for it.

I am a big Uncle Jesse fan from way back. I mean, just look at that cover! Those beautiful blue eyes, that five o’clock shadow, the perfect hair, that sultry half-grin. Dammmmn. The man ages like a fine wine. Do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook — John reads it himself. *swoon*

I’m always drawn to autobiographies. Stamos’ book was especially compelling to me because I’ve loved him since Full House first aired in 1987 when I was seven years old. Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been waiting for this book for 37 years!

Stamos recounts his idyllic childhood in California, his climb to fame, the Full House and ER years, drumming for the Beach Boys, and becoming a father for the first time at age 54. He writes with vulnerability about unexpectedly losing Bob Saget, the death of his father, and his divorce from Rebecca Romijn. And he finally clears up what we’ve all been wondering: did Alanis Morisette really write “You Oughta Know” about Dave Coulier?!

What great non-fiction books have you read lately? Leave us your recommendations in the comments!

Check out more in our Charleston Moms FAVORITES series!


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