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Congratulations! You’ve found one of my favorite features on Flaxseeds & Fairtales: my Book List!
Welcome to the awesome, little corner of my blog where I list out all the books I’ve read since 2017. In a day and age, where there is way too much watching TV, looking at smart phones, and playing video games going on, it’s super important for our health, happiness, and well-being to spend time with a good book! I believe that books are an important part of finding your healthy, happily ever after because:
- Research shows that reading is relaxing and helps dissolve stress. As we all know, stress inhibits our health, so a good book may be just what you need at the end of a long day. A 2009 study from Sussex University showed that reading may reduce stress by up to 68 percent!
- Reading increases your brain power. Just like lifting weights increase your physical power, studies show that reading regularly improves memory fuction by giving your brain a workout. Reading can slow age-related decline in memory and brain function.
- Reading teaches you about life, love, health, and happiness. Everytime you read, you’re learning something new!
- Reading has been linked to improved focus and concentration (just like meditation– doing a bit of both each day will do wonders for your health and productivity!)
- Reading transports you into another world and sparks your creativity. Creativity = healthy!
- Reading helps you sleep better. The blue light from computer and TV screens stimulates the brain and keeps you awake. The National Sleep Foundation recommends reading as a “calming activity” before bed.
Sources: 8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book, 10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day, Science Shows Reading Will Give You A Better Night’s Sleep Than Watching Netflix Before Bed
From meditation books to health books to novels to fairytales, every book I read teaches me a little something about how to live my best life (yes, even the books that I didn’t like). I started this Book List to keep track of the books I’ve been reading, share my favorite ones with you, and encourage you to make reading a daily healthy habit.
Our ability to read is something that we all take for granted sometimes. When I was struggling with chronic facial nerve pain, I wasn’t able to read books because reading gave me a sharp pain near my left eye and I couldn’t see straight. You never realize how special the gift of reading is until it’s taken away from you. As I recovered, I slowly started reading again and began keeping track of the books I’d read in a notebook. This section of the blog is my new “notebook”, where I get to share my reading adventures with you. I hope this inspires you to make reading part of your healthy, happily ever after!
The books are organized in the chronological order in which I read them. I list out the title and author of each book, my personal rating (on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being terrible, 5 being okay, and 10 being amazing), and a short 3-4 sentence review. For your convenience, I’ve also made each book title a clickable Amazon link, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the titles listed. Enjoy!
F&F Book List
- My Not So Perfect Life by: Sophie Kinsella
- Rating: 8.5/10
- This charming and funny chick lit novel is a delightful guilty pleasure with some surprising life lessons. The story follows Katie Brenner, a young woman who longs for more out of life and seeks refuge in not-so-true Instagram posts. I love this book so much that I featured it as a Friday Favorite– read more about it here.
- Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program by: Sharon Salzberg
- Rating: 10/10
- This was the first book I ever read on meditation. It’s a simple, straight-forward, and interesting read that could change your life (it changed mine!) Salzberg covers all the basics of meditation and the book even comes with a CD so you can start right away!
- Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health by: Alejandro Junger
- Rating: 10/10
- Another life-changing book for me. This book was my first step toward discovering the underlying health issues that were responsible for my chronic nerve pain condition. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to understand more about their own health. Plus, Junger somehow manages to make a book about the gut (possibly the world’s most un-sexy topic) fascinating and even funny at times. A must read!
- Mindfulness in Plain English by: Bhante Gunaratana
- Rating: 8/10
- This is a good book for beginning meditators or anyone looking to enhance their meditation practice. This book does a great job at explaining the mechanics of meditation and how to do it properly without using any jargon or difficult to understand turns of phrase. The downside to the book is that I didn’t find it super practical (more descriptive than actionable, plus no guided meditations, which makes getting started difficult for new meditators) and, at times, the exposition was a bit boring. If you’re brand new to meditation, I recommend reading a more practical guide like Real Happiness first and then using this book to refine your practice.
- You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress, and Restore Well-Being—An Eight-Week Program by: Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman
- Rating: 9/10
- This is a great book for anyone experiencing chronic pain or health issues. I went through the 8-week program, after suffering from chronic nerve pain for over a year, and it made a world of difference. It comes with a CD and an actionable step-by-step plan for getting started. Burch and Penman both have health issues, which makes the book very relatable to those suffering from pain or illness— they understand what you’re going through and they want to help. I still use many of the meditations on the CD today.
- The Night Circus by: Erin Morgenstern
- Rating: 10/10
- A magical fairytale for adults– this captivating book will sweep you off your feet. This is hands down one of the best-written romance novels I’ve ever read. Set in an enthralling world where magic is real and love is passsionate, “The Night Circus” is a daring and scintillating read filled with colorful characters and dangerous duels. A brand new take on happily ever after.
- Buddha in Blue Jeans: An Extremely Short Simple Zen Guide to Sitting Quietly by: Tai Sheridan
- Rating: 10/10
- I bought this book to learn more about Zen meditation. Despite the title, this book isn’t overtly religious in any way and is basically just a short, clever little book about the value of sitting quietly. While calling this a book might be a stretch (it’s only 30 pages long), it’s written in a beautifully simplistic way that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. Note: I’ve read that this book is available as a free PDF download, but I purchased it because I wanted to have the paper version.
- The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by: His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams
- Rating: 10/10
- Everyone in the world should read this book. I truly believe that the world would be a more compassionate, accepting, and joyful place, if everyone had a copy of this life-changing book. Filled with wisdom on every page, this spectacular book details an unprecedented trip the Archbishop took to visit the Dalai Lama and the lessons they learned together. A truly magical read and the inspiration behind F&F’s Philanthropy efforts.
- The Worst Witch books by: Jill Murphy
- Rating: 8/10
- After watching The Worst Witch series on Netflix, I couldn’t resist reading the books. This is a collection of seven magical children’s books. Yes, these are children’s books, but they’re intelligent, creative, and funny enough for adults to indulge in. Set in a magical world, the books follow Mildred Hubble, a clumsy, but kind young witch who’s just trying her best. These fun, relaxing little books are the perfect before bed read!
- Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change by: Pema Chodron
- Rating: 9/10
- This is a beautiful book. Pema Chodron effortlessly weaves both the beauty and difficulty of dealing with change into the perfect tapestry of acceptance. This book is a little more spiritual than I expected it to be, but Chodron still lists out a few meditation practices throughout the book that you can follow on your journey toward accepting change.
- Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy: Inspiring Stories for Making the Most of Each Moment by: Ajahn Brahm
- Rating: 9.5/10
- THIS. BOOK. ROCKS. Ajahn Brahm is as funny as he is wise. He’s like that awesome guy everyone wants to be friends with, but with the knowledge and compassion of a Buddhist monk. This book comprises of 108 delightful stories for making the most of each moment. Each story is an interesting nugget of wisdom—I couldn’t put this book down. I rated this book slightly below a 10 because there were a few stories I didn’t love, but considering there’s 108 stories in here, it’s still well worth a read! Note: There’s a free PDF version of this book available through Wisdom Publications, if you don’t mind reading online.