I’m usually the first one to put my hands up and declare how I’m not a big fan of reading, nor do I do much of it. However getting to a point where you can feel some of your brain cells greying then dying off works, in the same way a sharp kick does, at helping you realise you need to be using a larger part of your intellect on a daily basis. Last month I had a reasonable Amazon haul, which resulted in me adding a fair few reads onto my (dusty) bookshelves. The first thing you’ll notice is that they’re all non-fiction – I’ve never been a novel reader and I’ve learnt not to force myself onto them, we just don’t swing together well. I do however get along well with books bordering along the lines of self-help or self-improvement (I prefer self-improvement), they have taught me a fair few things, and generally open my mind a little more to the world and my own self-awareness. I won’t go on about the inner workings of my mind any longer – here’s what I picked up.
The Mindfulness Journal by Corinne Sweet: This one is pretty self-explanatory as to what it’s about – “exercises to help you find peace and calm wherever you are”. Beautifully designed and equally beautifully written and laid out. Most short half-to-two-thirds-of-a-page exercises come with an airy illustration all set in the same relaxing blue – not only does this make the book enjoyable to flick through, it eases the reader into the exercises, and doesn’t hit you with blocks of hard to read text (which someone striving for mindfulness would struggle with). The ideas themselves are simple and easy to follow – great for mindfulness rookies like myself. Corinne explains the benefits of mindfulness briefly and expertly in the first few pages, and the format of the book makes it ever so easy to dip in and out, finding whatever is going to help you in whatever moment you find yourself in. If you’re curious about being more mindful (as I am) this book is a great introduction to what it means to be so.
Search Inside Yourself by Chade Meng Tan: Another mindfulness read (can you tell I’m having a moment), this one a little more in-depth, and about the practicalities of mindfulness. Chade was a Google engineer and this book tells us the journey of how he came to share his ‘secrets’ with his Google employees, where many of their lives where changed. Although I haven’t got far into this yet, it is already a thought-provoking read – expect modern science, logical explanations and o concentrate (and some note-taking if you want to get the most out of it).
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: Stepping away from mindfulness (how many times have I typed mindfulness already…), the reason I bought this book was and is because of the dusty-paint-clouded cover – it’s gorgeous. The words inside have turned out to be pretty good too. Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert talks frankly about living as a creative and explores motivations of creative work and the paralyzing nature of fear in what we do (and quite a bit more). The first few chapters have come to simple conclusions, perhaps ones I have already known, however the personal stories she shares make for an interesting read and is great fun at provoking self-reflection; even if you wouldn’t label yourself as a creative, this read is a gateway into seeing how to live, work and play creatively.
Better Than Before – Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin: Out of all four, this is definitely the closest to a full-on self-help book. After reading The Happiness Project (I’ve actually read it twice – it’s one of my favourites), I fell for Gretchen’s straight-forward approach to improving your life. This book focuses on the formation and maintenance of habits – an often overlooked part of our lives, especially important if you’re trying to change your life. It’s opening my eyes to how habits that often aren’t categorized in our brain as habits can often be the downfall of new commitments, goals and what we want for ourselves. Another practical read, definitely one for the do-ers of the world – the do-ers of the world who want a deeper understanding of why they can’t workout or even wake up at the crack of dawn (this is me, by the way), and then a solution to change that (it turns out I don’t really want to do either of those things).
Have you book-hauled lately? What are you reading, or looking forward to getting lost in when you have your next bath? (I can only read in the bath).