God, I love to read. I’ve been on a reading bender for the last few months, devouring about two books a week. It all started when I bought one of the $50 Kindle Fires on Prime and figured out how to rent books from my local library through my Kindle. Mind. Blown. It’s so easy for me to get all sort of books – even new releases. I always have a several compelling books on hold and they just pop up on my device once they’re available. It really does feel like magic.
A world where books magically appear in my life is the best kind of magical world. I’m so thankful I get to live in it.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling this weird compulsion lately to write down everything I read. Because the kindle renting feels so impermanent, I need to have a list of everything I’ve dumped into my brain, especially the books that changed my life in some way. The following four books just felt so important to me as I was reading them that I feel compelled to share them in this forum with my heartiest recommendation.
Here they are:
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is a BFD in the literary world, so I’m not sure why I had been living under a rock for my entire life until my therapist told me about this book during one of our appointments. True to form, I came home from that appointment, downloaded it and promptly devoured it. Then, I read it again. It’s just such a life-affirming book about the importance of finding true meaning in our limited time on this planet. Frankl argued that a lack of meaning in life leads to a variety of poor human behaviors and a general malaise. Looking around at the way people choose to live their lives these days, it’s easy to see just how right he was. This book might not make you want to quit your job to find your life’s meaning, but it will encourage you to figure out exactly what matters to you and align your actions to your life’s meaning. Highly, highly recommend.
On a different side of the ‘meaning of life’ coin, When Breath Becomes Air is Paul Kalanithi struggling to understand the meaning of life as a neurosurgeon diagnosed with terminal cancer. While the book itself is an interesting read, the most beautiful passages, to me, came in the last few pages of the book and in the afterward written by his surviving wife. The book feels unfinished and unedited because Kalanithi passes while he’s in the middle of writing and editing it. It’s a true testament to just how fragile our lives are. It forced me to think about how I’m living my life.
Man, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff feels like it’s exactly everywhere these days. I couldn’t read a post in a blogosphere last year that didn’t mention the title, so I had to give it a read to find out what it’s all about. The writing is engrossing, but the story is even more compelling. My biggest takeaway from this book – and I’m scared to betray my lack of scholarly analysis here – is that it’s important to fearlessly show your warts in a serious relationship. The love between the couple in this book was otherworldly, even though they kept their deepest secrets hidden from one another. I can only imagine how close and transcendent they would’ve become if they’d have let each other in. It’s a good reminder that we not only need to accept the good and bad in the person we love, but that we also need to be courageous enough to let them show the same unconditional love to us.
Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown parades itself as a business book, but I’d argue that it’s a life book. I found myself nodding along to his arguments and fully committed to living my life as an essentialist. It’s easier said than done, especially in the corporate world, but I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Seriously, read this book and let it change how you work with people, how you prioritize what matters to you and how you accept new projects. Definitely worthwhile.