The books that I need to read always seem to find me. I have never been one to make lists of titles I want to read. If I am in a bookshop, I always trust that the right book will become clear to me and most of the time it works. Or I trust that books will cross my path through recommendations or presents. Airport bookshops particularly have thrown great books my way. These 8 books are mostly recent reads from the last 4 years and all have really rocked my world for different reasons.They are all on a similar theme of finding happiness, joy and peace. So in no particular order:
– The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I came across this book via a video that she had made about taking her daughter to school on the bus. She had a sudden realisation that she might be wasting her life and she woke up to the thought that ‘this was it’ and that ‘the days are long but the years are short’. The book is all about her year long quest to find out what really made her happy and she deals with different topics each month like love, friendships, work etc.
It really resonated with me on so many levels – having children particularly can make time feel like sand flowing through your fingers. Reading this book inspired me to be more conscious every day and to make some decisions about changing my work hours to be with my kids, using my Daily Greatness journal to set daily goals and to think about my priorities. It also helped me to begin to think about what really makes me happy.
– An Extraordinary Absence by Jeff Foster
I love Jeff Foster’s work. He is a true mystic and poet and his books are experiential. Reading this book uses language to point to the very thing he is speaking about which is that there is only this moment and that our entire lives exist in the space of now. That our true home exists right in the centre of our ordinary lives and yet we spend so much of our lives seeking something else away from this moment. This book made me feel very safe and very peaceful. I went to a workshop of his last year too and being around him is a very peaceful experience.
‘There is only this. Only what’s happening. To the person, that can sound terribly depressing. And yet when heard in clarity, it’s explosively liberating’
– Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig
This book stopped me in my tracks. It’s extraordinarily beautiful. It’s about Matt Haig’s recovery from a mental breakdown and how he learned to love life and the world again. It’s about all that is beautiful in the world and the things that keep him here. It’s so life affirming and it reminded me how beautiful life is and how there is so much to be grateful for. It’s full of joy.
–Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani
Another extraordinary book. Anita Moorjani writes about having end-stage cancer and then having a near death experience that healed her completely and how she chose to come back into the world to share a message of healing. Its the message of the book that struck me the most- that really all we are here to do is live our lives with joy. That being here and being ourselves and shining as ourselves is the only thing we ever need to do. Its a book about accepting ourselves and loving ourselves and being true to ourselves.
– Stuffocation by James Wallman
This book is basically about the fact that we all have too much material stuff and its making us ill and unhappy. That we all have more ‘things’ than we will ever need and it hasn’t made us liberated- its just made us sick as we spend our lives working more just to keep all this stuff ticking over. He talks about becoming ‘experientialists’ or spending our time and money having experiences rather than accumulating more things.
This book totally resonated with my core. I have never been particularly motivated by material status and things and have spent a lot of time travelling and living out of a rucksack and yet in recent years and especially since having children, I am weighed down by possessions. And I literally feel weighed down by them. This book isn’t just about decluttering, which in itself is great, but is a guidebook for living a different life and I loved it.
– Loving what is by Byron Katie
‘Who would you be without your story’. This book properly rocked my world. Its all about how the stories we tell ourselves about who we are aren’t true and that by questioning them, we can find peace. Katie herself had a spontaneous enlightenment experience after suffering with depression for many many years. She literally woke up one day and all stories had vanished and all that was left was peace and joy. Out of that experience came ‘the work’ which are a series of questions to help you challenge and turn around your stories. For me, the thought that I could basically drop all the stories about myself that weren’t serving me and were basically making me unhappy was life changing. I remember feeling an extraordinary sense of peace after trying ‘the work’. I have an app on my phone that she has created where you can ‘do the work’ whenever you want. I love this book.
– Light is the new black by Rebecca Campbell
I am actually still finishing this book as I write this but its been so revelatory, I had to add it to the list. The book is all about being a light worker and finding what it is that ‘lights you up’ in the world. She talks about how finding this and then embodying it is what we are all here to do. The book is written in very short chapters, most of which are a page or two and the book just shines with energy and light. ‘Follow what lights you up and you’ll light up the world’. It inspired me to make sense of this blog and my instagram page and inspired me to keep going with it. Beautiful, inspirational stuff.
-The Space within by Michael Neill
‘There is a space within you where you are already perfect, whole and complete. It is a space of pure consciousness- the space inside which all thoughts come and go’
I have left one of my favourites until last as I truly love this book and keep going back to it. It is all about ‘finding your way back home’ and is all about what he calls ‘inside out’ living. The whole book puts you in a space of meditation without meditating and its all about how living from the peaceful place within us is all we are here to do. He has a great TED talk called Why aren’t we awesomer where he talks about ‘inside out’ living.
This book feels like a book I would take to a desert island if I could only choose a couple to take with me. It just feels so alive and wise and full of truth and it speaks to that place inside like very few books I have read that are on this theme.
I love how books expand us and challenge us and propel us further on our journey back to our selves and on our journey to a joyful, peaceful life.