Admittedly, a bit late, but, in my defense, I was participating in the whole Bloganuary challenge, so did not get the jumpstart on this post that I would have wanted. Either way, with the start of a new year and the resolutions people make to improve or change, thought I would recommend a few books with that intention that I have read that helped in making and following through on the whole self improvement thing.
First off, change is hard. It takes specific intention, choice, and action. It is not easy or simple, or at least not in the way people think. Thus, sometimes a new perspective or understanding of habits and how people actually manage to make long lasting changes. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear does a deep dive into the psychology and methodology of change, making habits (both positive and negative), and how/why we create habits. He discusses the avenues people take to develop certain habits and structures, and, more significantly, gives a guided process on how to go about making permanent changes and developing more wanted and healthy habits in our lives. It is a great starting point for anyone wanting to make improvements and changes in their lives, especially if they have had difficulty or uncertainty in the past.
Second, one of the major resolutions and changes people want to make deals with health specifically exercising, dieting, and weight loss. With that in mind, the next book to pick up is Eat It! The Most Sustainable Diet and Workout Ever Made: Burn Fat, Get Strong, and Enjoy Your Favorite Foods Guilt Free by Jordan Syatt and Michael Vacanti. Obviously, dieting books and advice have garnered a certain level of consideration and concern with the many false promises and extremely unhealthy suggestions. This book doesn’t promise a six pack, quick and easy results, the capacity to eat anything as much as you want, or a specific look if you follow the advice found in this text. However, Syatt and Vacanti are not trying to sell a product or a process. They are very honest about what their regiment and advice is which is simply that you will be healthy and physically able if you follow their philosophy and simple plan. The book isn’t meant to be prescriptive in the traditional sense; instead, it is meant to alter the approach to exercising and dieting with the intention of divorcing guilt and shame and anxiety from the two to simply make it part of a person’s everyday existence. Not saying it will be easy to make those changes, but this is one of the few dieting and exercise books that reads as though grounded in reality and is actually possible to follow through with.
Next, to aid in all aspects of life and to give new perspectives, the next book on the list is Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. Normally, these kind of books annoy the shit out of me. You know the ones. Books that promise some kind of new age belief or action that will completely change your life based on heavily misunderstanding Eastern philosophy and/or practices. Now, this book does have some exploration of Eastern practices along with looks into other research of various countries across the globe, but it isn’t trying to repackage them for easier Western consumption. In actuality, there is legitimate review and criticism of these practices and the research done on them by the author. Further, there is a full admittance that while learning to properly breathe and regulate and enhance one’s cardiovascular system for a multitude of reasons, it is not some holistic cure all that others have suggested. It is merely one aspect of overall health, an admittedly and understandably important one, but still just a part of the whole.
Finally, the last recommended book has more to do with the mind and soul than the body. Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi is a series of letter between the author and her father in which she discusses current events (pandemic, American elections, social and political divisions, etc.) in the context of her father’s personal history and their shared love and belief in the power of reading. Nafisi states how her father would read books considered heretical or dangerous and outright banned in their home country and passed on that love of literature and exploration of controversial ideas to her. She believes that books have great power and significance in society and that reading them aid in developing sympathy and empathy in individuals and people at large. Basically, it is a treatise and plea on the power of story and why we should continue to read voraciously and dangerously.
Those are my recommendations for jumpstarting your year and reading goals. Hope you find them useful or at least engaging reads. And feel free to drop some of your own suggestions to read through below.