I used to love reading to escape my world. Now I’m obsessed with reading because I want to understand our world. For many of us, summer is almost over, but while the warm, carefree air lingers, here are my 5 favorite books to relax on the beach with and prepare you for a new season. Throughout the pages, you’ll learn a lot about the world you live in, the person you want to become, and how interconnected our well-being is to other beings.
1. Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer – I cannot stress my love for this book enough (I’m currently reading it for the second time). Whether you eat chicken, cows, pigs, fish, or only plants, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the connection humans have to food. It weaves history, studies, facts, and personal tales all into a narrative that explores why humans eat animals and the implications it has on our earth, ethics, health, and culture. It was the first book I read written by Jonathan Safran Foer and, holy shit I am in love with his mind and his ability to use language in a powerful way.
2. The Mindfulness Revolution, edited by Barry Boyce and the editors of Shambhala Sun – As the front of the book states, “Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditation Teachers on the power of mindfulness in daily life.” This book is the perfect beach book. Between hearing the waves crashing on the beach and learning about a practice as soothing as mindfulness, I was put in such a zen, peaceful state of mind when I read it. Mindfulness is something that has helped my anxiety immensely, and this book not only explains what it is and the latest studies that suggest its benefits, it guides and teaches you how to practice.
3. The Blue Zones Solution, by Dan Buettner – Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Fellow who traveled the world to interview and study the healthiest, longest-living communities. His research findings and experiences are all told in this book, with tips on how each reader can incorporate the various healthy habits into his or her life. The end of the book even provides recipes from these communities, so you know how to eat like the healthiest people on earth, too.
4. How Not to Die, by Dr. Michael Greger – This is a pretty big book to bring to the beach, but it’s worth it. Dr. Michael Greger analyzes the top causes of premature death in America, and explains scientific studies that reveal how diet is related to disease in an interesting, easy-to-understand way. Whether you peruse through the pages, or read the entire thing from beginning to end, this book will motivate and teach you how to live a healthier life. Even though this book was an instant New York Times bestseller, this doctor isn’t in it for the money – all profits were donated to his nonprofit charity, NutritionFacts.org. His website and book is a good resource for anyone confused about nutrition and wanting to gain clarity on the latest scientific research findings regarding health and disease.
5. The Art of Happiness, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler – Another perfect beach read that will trance you into a peaceful state of mind. This book combines a psychiatrist’s education with the Dalai Lama’s teachings, in order to explain how to experience a more fulfilled, happy life. It is healing, hopeful, and realistic. I read it a few years ago, and it changed the way I view problems that arise in my life. Life is not meant to be void of problems; quite the opposite. It is up to each individual to learn and grow from these problems, and understand how to maintain a sense of conscious calm no matter what’s occurring around her.
When you begin to understand how the world and your mind works, you begin to understand the things you can or cannot change, and become empowered to design your life so that you’re living it to the fullest.
So get your ass to a beach already and READ READ READ =]