A list of five books which can influence and help in our mental well-being. Dive into my favorite books for being well which have helped me a lot in 2019 and hopefully help you too.
“I’m too busy to read! I’ve gazillion things on my plate; where do I squeeze in the time to read?!” If that’s how you feel, I hear you and get you completely. But in the past couple of years, I’ve realized that if we feel overwhelmed with work, family, or just busy with many tasks, that is when we should find time to read!
In this post, I’ve shared five of my favorite books, which I read in 2019. These books are the ones which I enjoyed thoroughly and from which I learned a lot. So much so that I’ve started writing up posts summarizing inspired actions, and worksheets/journals from them.
I hope if not already, you can make time to read in this new year, and it helps you be well!
How can books affect our well-being in these busy times?
A few books have consolidated knowledge to attend to the specific problems of being overwhelmed, emotionally, or physically drained. They can help us gain perspective(s), streamline activities, feel less busy in life and less cluttered in the head. Ranging from physical well-being to handling stress, diet, emotional and inter-personal challenges, there are some real gems available to us – which I certainly think we should read!
I’ve been reading a lot lately and vouch for their enormous power to influence our well-being.
Advantages of reading as a parent or a professional
Work or parenting can be demanding and might leave us with no energy or the will to read. But if we try to bring reading into our routine, the rewards are many.
(a) Increased focus – With reducing attention spans due to gadgets all around, I’ve found books to anchor my thoughts and provide a sense of focus.
(b) Today, books address most of the issues we face at home and work. Biggest benefit? Reading these books can normalize how you feel.
(c) Meditative – The calm from reading is next to meditation and, therefore, can help achieve emotional well being.
(d) Good books can be life-changing! It takes only one new perspective to address any challenge that we might be facing. Reading has helped me introspect which has been a pleasant and unbelievable experience.
How to find time to read? Busy with work, child, or both?
(a) Start Slow: Read during a commute, after lunch/before bed for 10-15 minutes.
(c) If you have a child, you may use his nap times during weekends to read; that’s what works best for me and might work for you too.
(d) Choose a few best ones and be very selective; if you’ve limited time, invest time in choosing the ones which interest you the most – glancing through the books at bookstores, reading online reviews can help you select better.
(e) Blinkist can help (not an affiliate) – To select the books better, the app Blinkist can be useful. It has “blinks” or “highlights” from a selected bunch of non-fiction books. How I use the app is to read the synopses on Blinkist, and if I like a book, I order it then. Also, during walks, sometimes I listen to the blinks from my favorite books.
(f) Audiobooks – I tried Audiobooks, but for me, the paper has another feel altogether, mainly because I underline, make notes, go back to refer many times over. But if you are short on time, you may give it a try. Better than not reading at all, right?
Affiliate Disclosure: “This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links in this post.”
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1. How Women Rise
A coach at work recommended this book to me when I faced an interpersonal conflict during a project. Although the book lists twelve habits known to deter us from advancing professionally, to me, those traits can prevent us from growing personally, too!
This book felt like a mirror that was representative of our handling of life’s challenges in general. This book can help women (and men) introspect and grow as a person.
The authors highlight and meticulously treat the traits which can hold us back in interaction with other people. A few points that have stuck with me are (a) how we keep ruminating over issues, and (b) how perfection is a trap that prevents us from proceeding in life. Please read it if you ever felt stuck at home or work.
2. How to make disease disappear
If you’re trying to heal yourself from a chronic disease or have been too busy to take care of yourself and now want to take the responsibility of your well being, this book is a good starting point. You might already be aware of most of the points which the author makes. However, the following items make this book stand out:
(a) Ironically it is written by a practicing doctor trained in curing diseases through medicines, but he recommends us to prevent the disease and dodge medication if possible.
(b) Well organized and clutter-free, to the point book with examples and scientific reasons behind ill effects of stress and a sedentary lifestyle.
(c) The author has provided worksheets for each recommendation that he makes to guide us through a healthier way of living.
(d) The tone of the book doesn’t get preachy, the author doesn’t put himself on a pedestal, and stays relatable.
3. Burnout: The Secret to Unlock the Stress Cycle
With a title like this, I wouldn’t have bought the book because it sounds negative, and it is hard to accept that we are burning out. But thanks to a dear friend who recommended this real gem to me! It is a must-read for anyone who has felt stressed at home or work.
This book is an excellent read because of the following:
(a) It makes us aware of how many women face and respond to stress. This awareness can help us feel less odd (and therefore act upon our worry or stress).
(b) It gives specific and tangible ways to address burnout, e.g., exercising, talking to others, etc.
(c) It helps one radically accept that one might be burning out.
(d) The authors share examples (a lot of them!) for us to see and understand where other women stand. The authors also describe their own experiences with stress/stressors and how they manage those.
I simply loved the book and strongly recommend it!
4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is a phenomenal book; I’d highly recommend it for those of us who usually find ourselves “too busy,” “hanging in there,” “overwhelmed,” or “somehow managing.”
Essentialism is one of the few books which helped me find calm during times when I was gasping for breath in an endless cycle of daily timelines. The book starts with a profound quote by Lin Yutang: “The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.”
Key Message of Essentialism for a Stress-free life: “The way of the essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better.”…” It means pursuing it [of less] in a disciplined way.” In a nutshell, I took the following message from the book: To lead a meaningful life, we should continuously identify the important from the many other trivial things. Once we have the important identified, we must execute it.
Again, you will find tangible recommendations to simplify lives and lead a stress-free life. I’ve shared a post on inspired actions and takeaways here: “Essentialism for a stress free life”. I hope you find it useful.
5. The Art of the Good Life
Rolf Dobelli’s 2018 book – “The Art of the Good Life” is suitable for present times, where we all might tend to take ourselves, our careers, and raising kids too seriously. I’ve done book-inspired actions, and takeaways post on this book, which you may find useful.
This book may help you to take a step back and gain a birds-eye view of your life. The book has 52 chapters – each stating a mental model, starting with an example to make the idea clearly, and ending with tangible pieces of advice. These mental models range from several evident to a few profound ones. It certainly helps to keep these models in our repertoire to grow, as well as assist in periods of stress.
The takeaways for me from the book are quite a few. However, the ones which I could convert to actions are
(a) Managing expectations methodically,
(b) Investing in our mental strength,
(c) Perform Black-Box thinking to analyze and introspect better,
(d) Pledging (e.g. committing to overcoming a particular habit).
I hope the list is of use. Which book did you like the most in 2019, and do you have reading targets for 2020? Please share in the comments below.
Happy Reading! I hope we gain a discipline for reading in this new year, and in turn, be well in lives!