Last year I decided to read more books. Unfortunately I am very slow at reading and it wasn’t very motivating to be stuck in the same book for an eternity. Because I own a smartphone, like many of you do too, it gets very frustrating that you are basically online 24/7 and the thirst for new notifications is real. E-books would make me too ADHD and restless, because I knew that I could check the newest tweets after every paragraph if I wanted to. So I decided that since my commute is about 40 minutes one way, I am no longer allowed to stare at my phone. Either stare out of the train or bus window and just be… Or read a book. Commute = No Phone Zone. Because seriously, nothing happens 8AM on Instagram that couldn’t wait a little.
I made carrying a book with me a new habit, and pulled it out of my purse whenever in commute. Still being a slow reader, I might not get further than two pages in 5 minutes but who cares? In few months I got very attached to this new habit and I am reading a little bit faster now. And I can spark a few new conversations with people thanks to reading more.
I can’t believe that I am actually saying this but reading a real physical book made me so happy about the fact that there was no pop-up ads, fake news propaganda, click-bait articles or notifications of any kind. I know, obviously not, but I didn’t realize how over-connected I was with the world when it was totally unnecessary.
So here is my favorite books I read last year and you should, too!
1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A book about not just living in the moment but being in the moment. At 250 pages you would think the book is a quick read and while it might be, the information it has is rather a lot and you should really pause and think between the chapters. The book also suggests for you to pause occasionally to really absorb the info it just gave you. When I read the book I was going through a time that was emotionally very draining. The way the book describes pain and how you are not your mind and your thoughts really helped get through the issues I had.
In the end when we learn to be in the moment and accept who we are, we start to build different kind of energy around us. Usually a positive energy. I simply found a lot of courage from the book and I feel like I should read it again if my own insecurities and anxiety ever get worse the way they did when I accidentally found this book the first time.
In the book there is this tiny test. You could try it right now. Close your eyes and say out loud or in your mind “What will be my next thought…” And then just patiently wait for the next thought. And that moment when you are waiting for the thought is when you truly are in the moment and experiencing stillness.
When to read: If you are feeling lost or have just started a new chapter in life and are facing new challenges.
2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
I was trying to kill time during my layover at Arlanda Airport and noticed this book at one of the bookstores. It had been just a month since I had decided to ban red meat from my diet and as the cover had a quote “Everyone eating meat should read this book” I decided to buy it and see what it was all about. A on-and-off vegetarian/vegan soon-to-be dad is the author and he is suddenly faced with the question of how should he raise his kid. Is the kid going to eat meat? He decides to investigate the meat industry and his own reasons why does he eat what he eats.
The book will describe factory farming in detail. I never have had any interest looking at the videos about animal cruelty happening inside the farms and I wasn’t prepared for the detailed descriptions in this book to be so… detailed. I had to pause during the chapters. “Ok, the next chapter is about chickens… Ok I’ll need like one week before I’m ready to read that if it is as horrendous as the chapter about pigs.” I found myself thinking these thoughts. Yet the author won’t make you feel guilty about your own eating habits, he is just talking about his own research. Take it or leave it -kind of way.
He also mentions his Jewish grandma who had to flee Europe during WWII. The grandma describes how she had to starve for days before finding proper food. She finally makes it to a shelter where she is offered food. Being Jewish the food has to be kosher for her. She is served pork but refuses to eat it even if she is starving. The author, her son, asks why did she not eat it even though it could’ve saved her life. The grandma responds: “If nothing matters, there is nothing to save.” As soon as I was done reading the book, within the next few weeks I had eliminated animal products from my diet.
When to read: When you are done binge-watching Modern Family or another show alike and don’t feel like there is any cool documentaries on Netflix. Or when somebody from your friend group is turning vegetarian or vegan.
3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The original classic from 1937. The book is almost 100 years old but has lasted time very well. A person might want to pick the book if they wish to get rich, start a business, be millionaires etc as the book describes this 13-step method of becoming all those things. The book slightly repeats itself from chapter to chapter but the passion and depth that can be felt on every single page of the book is enormous.
This book makes a perfect morning commute read, as it pumps you up with motivation and energy. With all the details and stories the book introduces the main goal is to build the reader’s self-confidence. You can do everything if you just have faith (and the tools, that this book will help you also get) And if you are tired of motivational quotes that Facebook keeps on showing you on your feed, read this book and you can unfollow all those ‘inspirational quote pages’. And… I’m off to perfect my vision board!
When to read: When you wish to expand your inspiration source away from Facebook. And if you have never read a self-help book, this is the godfather.
4. Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr
Now that you have unfollowed the inspirational quotes, you can take this book and start making your own affirmations. Not a very long read in itself and mostly written for an insecure teenage girl, this book however, is a nice addition to your bookshelf. After you are done reading a short autobiography on Miranda Kerr’s life you have the affirmations. Miranda’s personal selection of positive and empowering affirmations is for you when you feel hopeless or need some simple motivation.
So instead of opening Facebook you are advised to open a random page of the book and read the affirmation, maybe even repeat it out loud. Miranda says that she has post-it notes all around her house so that she will randomly read an affirmation, like before she leaves the house there is a note on the door to tell you something like “I am immune to others’ opinions.” or for example “Every thought I think, is creating my future.” You get the point. And if you want to skip the story part she seems to sell the affirmations in a card format too so just get that and have them at your work, wallet, bathroom and so on.
When to read: When you want to cheer yourself up and read something from cover to cover in an hour.
5. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
I know, Marie Kondo makes perhaps every single “Must Read Books” -list but she is just so cute and amazing with her advice. (And I want to include her here because I’m probably raving about hygge in my next entry like this so….) So if you STILL haven’t heard of her, she is the Japanese lady who is telling you to throw everything away. “One of my clients told me that I inspired her so much that she got rid of everything that no longer sparked joy in her life, even her husband.” And I was like damn… But after reading her book I can understand why that would happen.
By the way I am a huge fan of throwing away everything that I don’t need so this book was a very satisfying read. That’s why I skipped the first book and just got to the second one that is more in-depth and perfect for an organizing freak. But in the end the message is that life is just too short for things that no longer spark joy. Whatever it is physical items or emotions. Learn to let go.
When to read: If you are planning to break up with your SO, to quit your job, or to move to a new apartment.