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They sound scary until you see their covers…
Today I want to introduce you to three little books that have big impact. Each of these authors approaches life’s big questions from different angles. Other than their small size what else do they have in common? All are easy reads, are deeper than they appear to be, make great gifts and have the potential to become a bedside favorite. I keep all three nearby so I can just re-read a page now and again.
The Meaning Of Lifeby Bradley Trevor Greive
Don’t let the title fool you into thinking this is some deep, heavy tome that would better serve as a door stop. Quite the opposite, this spunky little book is compiled of gorgeous and humorous animal photos with a few words of poignant commentary at the bottom of each. This is one of those books that makes you think – but forces you to laugh and enjoy the process, leaving the questions echoing in your mind to marinate on. It’s great for adults, teens, kids – anyone with a sense of humor, an appreciation for animals and a desire to challenge your own thoughts around the meaning of life.
Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Another little green book, also filled with beautiful nature images, but chock full of excerpts from Kabat-Zinn’s original work Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. Each page has a numbered passage, a nugget of wisdom boiled down to it’s most simple meaning. I’ve savored this book for over a year now and never get tired of flipping it open to a random page, which seems to have an immediate calming effect. It’s also an Oprah favorite (apparently she’s given quite a few as gifts and has them in each bedroom for guests). Here’s one short passage to give you a taste:
#34 Dream Reality
We are caught believing in and living in a dream reality, invested in it emotionally, unwilling and unable to see through it because of our own personal attachment to the dream, especially if it seems a good one.
This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace
Some of you may recognize writer/philosopher David Foster Wallace – this book distills what he believed to be his most important life lessons into a profound and humorous manifesto. I love the simplicity of this book on every level – from the plain white cover with just the title and a tiny goldfish in the bottom right corner, to the layout – just one sentence (short or long) per page. It’s a very quick read but powerfully written in a colloquial style that will challenge you from page 1. The major themes are How do we keep from going through life unconsciously, comfortably entrenched in habit? and How do we remove ourselves from the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? Everyone who has ever been frustrated at the tedium of life after college should read this book.