Bookwormin': My Top 10 Books for a Bigger Life.
I often refer to myself as a lifelong learner with a never-ending reading list. I'm fascinated by other people's experiences in this life, and I think we all have something to teach others.
Storytelling is an art, whether it's fiction (I read more than my fair share of dystopian young adult novels...in my late 20s.) or nonfiction (because a long list of facts has never captivated anyone, some of the best storytellers I know are nonfiction writers. Making learning engaging can be tough.). Through our stories, we can change lives, have an impact, create shifts, forge bonds, and heal others (and ourselves).
SO! Inspired by a few others who have provided reads that changed my game, I wanted to stop by really quick and drop off my 10 favorite books for creating a bigger, better life. The topics range from food to fitness to personal development...kind of like the rest of my life. :) They're all here (with Amazon links), so feel free to browse!
1. The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown)
This is where I was first introduced to the concept of "Wholehearted living" :: interacting with the world from a place where we *know* we belong and are worthy. Brene has a wonderfully soothing way of writing- like your favorite aunt telling you a bedtime story with a lifelong lesson. Upon reading this book, I was okay with my quirks for the first time maybe ever, able to recognize and cast off the messages others have given all of us about not being enough. She also gives 10 "guideposts" on the power of living while operating from this place.
2. Daring Greatly (Brene Brown)
In the same grounding style, Brene shows us how vulnerability is what counts in life. If we aren't in the ring (you remember that Theodore Roosevelt speech? "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."), we are stuck playing small, doing a disservice to the world. Courage is where it's at.
3. Movement Matters (Katy Bowman)
In this collection of essays, Katy Bowman (in a super witty and hilarious way) covers a wide range of topics (from foraging to "the nearsightedness epidemic") that explore the complexity of movement and how it's changed in response to our sedentary culture, in which we forgo movement for the sake of convenience. She gives us permission to reclaim space in response to ourselves (which, of course, is my entire mission in life).
4. Lose Weight Here (Drs. Jade & Keoni Teta)
In the most comprehensive breakdown of metabolism I've read to date, the Drs. Teta go on a part myth-busting, part detective, all information-based mission to help us all understand how our bodies work and hack the system. Broken down into parts, we see that our metabolism is neither "a calculator," where we can just operate on simple calories in/calories out math forever, nor "a chemistry set," where we can play with hormones and ignore the calories we're consuming, but "a thermostat" that is adaptive and responsive. Their approach shows us how to take the pressure off of counting every morsel and reclaim our lives again, operating in service to our goals.
5. You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life (Rebekah Borucki)
I might be biased on this one, because Bex is my spirit animal. But this woman taught me how to meditate when I really never thought it was possible to turn my brain off. She provides life-changing meditations for busy people on topics ranging from body acceptance to closing emotional wounds to manifesting abundance every day. She above all shows us that life is about loving, being loved, learning, and teaching, and teaches us how to live this out every day from a place of strength, service, and gratitude.
6. The Alchemist (Paolo Coehlo)
Arguably my favorite woo-woo fiction book, The Alchemist tells the story of a man in search of a treasure beyond his wildest imagination, chronicling the lessons he learns along the way. It's a fable about the power of following our dreams, the blessings of simple truths, listening to our hearts, and learning to read the omens God has left for us. It's also the place I learned that, "the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." How's that for a heart-stirring kick in the pants? <3
7. The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday)
As the subtitle says, this book illustrates the art of turning trials into triumph. It's based in the philosophy of stoicism, where we are taught to endure adversity with perseverance and to overcome destructive emotions/tendencies through self-control and strength. In short, we focus on what we can control and let go of the rest. As one of the great Stoics Marcus Aurelius points out, "the impediment to action advances the action. What stands in the way becomes the way." And Ryan Holiday teaches us how to let this flow. Life-altering strength, team.
8. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Angela Duckworth)
One of my favorite things about this book is Duckworth's Hard Thing Rule (mostly because it shockingly echoes the rules my dad had for my brother and I growing up...Hey Dave, you were ahead of your time! Or could have been a published author.): everyone in the family must do something that's hard (that requires practice, feedback, and modification); everyone must finish what they start (so no quitting a sport in the middle of a season); and the "hard" can't be picked for anyone (we get to choose our challenge). That is one of the best lessons I've ever learned, and to see it illustrated as a formative lesson (Duckworth says, "what goes through your head when you fall down makes all the difference," and it's true) is dope AF. Grit is full of personal stories written in a witty style, making it easy to read, and illuminating to us that suffering is necessary in life, but so is joy, and that grit is both ultimately more important than natural talent and also can be learned by anyone, regardless of circumstances.
9. Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (Michael Moss)
A hugely eye-opening look into the world of food marketing, Salt, Sugar, Fat walks us through how the processed food industry manipulates its products to conform to health trends, not necessarily making them any better for us, and perpetuating our level of illness and ignorance. It's a fascinating peek into how we process marketing information and how it's turned against us, and it will certainly change the way you grocery shop.
10. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend)
None of us has a perfect life, and I'd venture a guess that every single last one of us has encountered a person who did more taking than giving and caused more harm than good. This book helped me to understand the role I played in those relationships, and that setting boundaries, rather than being selfish, is essential to maintaining personal emotional health and, therefore, freedom in genuine relationships. I write a LOT about boundaries, respect, love, and how they all intertwine, and a huge part of it was learning how to recover from boundary injuries (even ones that began in early childhood). This book was fundamental in learning how. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to improve the quality of their relationships- even the healthiest of them.
There ya have it! Like a school summer reading list, but better. I'd love to know if you've read any of the above, what you thought, and drop me your favorites- I'm always looking for new blood.
Until next week!