I’m a huge reader. If I’m not working, eating or sleeping, you will probably find me reading. Only a couple of years ago, science fiction was my go-to genre. Who wouldn’t want to read about other worlds and wonderful adventures? Around the time I dove deep into minimalism, my reading tastes shifted from fiction to non-fiction. I think this was because I no longer found day-dreaming (and not being in the present) fun. Coincidence? Probably not.
The point is, I read a lot. What I read tends to focus on ‘life lesson’ type topics, like mindfulness, simple living, and food. I’ve read four mindful books in particular lately that I absolutely loved. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on them here, in case any of you are looking for some literary inspiration!
For the record, none of the links in this post are affiliate links. I just really like these books and want to share the joy! Also, the fact that I didn’t buy the books myself made me feel icky thinking about including affiliate links. If you don’t want to buy them either, check out your local library – that’s how I got my hands on them!
I promise I am not exaggerating when I say that this might be the best book I have ever read. The Art of Frugal Hedonism is broken down into exceptionally short chapters with snappy titles like “Have an Open Relationship with Recipes” and “Notice When You Have Enough”. It’s basically a ‘how-to’ guide for living a life, working, consuming and needing less. Some of their tips are not for the faint of heart (i.e. foraging for food in the wild and in dumpsters). But most of their advice makes good, practical sense and can be implemented fairly easily. Like, maybe don’t buy the biggest house you can afford? And, treat everything you own with care so it has a good, long life.
All in all, I finished this book with a smile on my face and an immense optimism that a simple life is achievable. How awesome is that?
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story
I am a sucker for a memoir, especially if it is a comeback story. And, 10% Happier is just such a memoir. It follows the rise, fall and rise again of ABC News Anchor Dan Harris. You might know him from that time he had a panic attack on air. 10% Happier chronicles Dan’s journey with anxiety, including his habit of self-medicating with recreational drugs (leading to the aforementioned panic attack), his stint in therapy and finally, his discovery of meditation. Meditation is what he credits with giving him his mind back.
It’s incredibly honest and straightforward – no hippie mumbo jumbo. For the record, there is nothing wrong with mumbo jumbo (I am a yoga teacher, remember?), but Dan describes himself as a skeptic, which is probably an outcome of being an investigative journalist. His story was so compelling to me (in its honesty and realness) that I have since recommitted to a meditation practice as a tool in my anxiety toolbox (with promising results thus far!).
In 2006, the Kingsolver family set themselves an amazing goal. They would only consume food they produced on their farm or was produced locally in their area (Virginia). Their impetus for doing this was realizing the environmental impact their ‘flown-in’ diet was having on the planet. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is not an idealized memoir of how easy it is to produce enough food to feed a family of four all year (i.e. even through winter when nothing grows). It is a brutally honest account of the whole experiment, warts and all. It even includes recipes and fun fact tidbits woven throughout the narrative written by the author’s husband and daughter.
Now, I’m predisposed to like this kind of book because I spent the majority of my B.A. and M.A. learning and researching about how truly messed up our food system is (for our health, for our economies, and for our planet). But, my bias doesn’t make the book any less awesome.
I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, utterly determined to grow some of my own food (even if it’s just a herb garden) and sourcing out local producers in our new city.
Bottom line: if you like food, this is the book for you.
Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness, Lessons from Meditation and Psychotherapy
Part patient biography and part Buddhist philosophy, Dr. Mark Epstein explores what Western psychotherapy can learn from traditional Buddhist practices, specifically, meditation. As it turns out, it could learn a lot! The main premise of the book is that rather than trying to eradicate negative emotions (avoiding things we don’t like), or cling to positive emotions (repeating things we do like), it may be a better strategy to experience them all and then let them go.
In a culture obsessed with instant gratification coupled with self-flagellation when you fail, this is a powerful message.
I’ve noticed lately that it takes a lot more energy for me to stamp down my emotions (good and bad) than it does to fully experience them and let them pass (which they invariably always do). So, personally, I’m inclined to believe Dr. Epstein.
Think about it this way, what sounds easier: pretending you aren’t angry about something your significant other did for HOURS, or giving yourself permission to get angry for a couple minutes and getting over it? I know which scenario I would prefer.
I finished the book thinking I wasn’t as messed up as I thought. If that’s not a ringing endorsement for a wonderful piece of writing, I don’t know what is!
I believe that books (and blogs and other creative outputs), find their way to you exactly when you need them – and that couldn’t be more true of all the above mindful books. They each presented a unique solution to a problem or issue I’ve been tackling and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read them!
I would love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them! Are you reading anything right now that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!
Image Credits: Unsplash, Tiny Ambitions, Google