It is officially the end of Ramadan but also the beginning of the remaining half of the year. It is June people and December is only now six months away. Our Muslim kith and kin went into a cleansing period, the month to be as best as one can free of sin, the month of charity devoid of all things that should make you do things that are not good for humanity, hatred, gossip, lies and all things that are not spiritual. It has come to an end and time to celebrate ‘Eid el Fitr and also time to look back at how well you did during Ramadan and sustain the lessons from this holy month. It is also a period of deep reflection for all of us as we go into the remaining half of the year. In a world increasingly beset by some of the most bizarre and scary happenings, it is time for soul searching and deep thinking in the midst of our celebration. Here are five books to start you off this mid-year of 2018.
1)The Art of Stillness by Rico Iyer
The writer of this wonderful book is essentially a travel writer for many years. Most recently, he has turned his attention from mobility to stillness. In this book he describes what technology overload has done to our sense of well-being, wonder and wellness. He personally retreats many times each year to the Benedictine Hermitage where he has learned to find adventurous in going nowhere. He says” We’ve lost our Sundays, our weekends, our nights off-our holy days, as some would have it, our bosses, our junk mails, our parents can find us wherever we are at any time of day or night. More and more of us feel like an emergency room physician, permanently on call, required to find the prescription to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.” Should you need a break from all the technological clutter and noise of the world, this is the book for you. Take a break. Learn to do nothing for some time. It quiets the mind.
2)Rising Strong by Brene Brown
The author’s Ted Talk on the power of vulnerability is the fourth most watched Ted Talk of all time. Her book is a chronicle of “what it takes to get back up (when we fall) and how owning our stories of struggle gives us the power to write a new ending” Grounded in research, the book is deeply inspiring and gives us necessary self- reflection on how we must dare greatly and fail often if we are to achieve anything.
3)Feeling Good; the new mood therapy.
This is such an important book for such time as this. With suicide appearing in different countries across the world and taking Centre stage, humanity must not give up on happiness, self-healing and support. This recommended book written by acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. David Burns outlines the remarkably scientifically proven techniques that will immediately lift your spirits and help develop a positive outlook on life. The good news is that guilt, anxiety, pessimism, procrastination and other black holes of depression can be cured without drugs. Some of his tips for happiness and feeling good include, recognizing what causes your mood swings, nipping negative feelings in the bud, dealing with guilt, overcoming addiction to love and approval, building self-esteem, feeling good every day and handling hostility and criticism.
4) A Train in Winter.
This is a non fiction account of 230 women who became members of the resistance during World War 2 and were collectively imprisoned in Birkenau. An important untold story. They found ways to care for each other in the harshest of periods and built resilience. Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen’s founder has said about the book and about humanity that “For us who live in a time where we are not connected to a cause resulting in life or death consequences, this story can be incredibly humbling and inspiring” Replace place with time in that quote as there are many people in those positions. However, the point is well made for if you are not in a place where any action you take has dire consequences you may not understand. Bottom-line is that wherever you are you can do something to alleviate another’s pain. Take action.
5) Why I wake early by Mary Oliver
This book encourages us to wake up early, smell the coffee, pray and exercise. Waking up early especially if you sleep early will also give you the opportunity to read heartwarming poetry like Mary Oliver’s. A nature lover, she salutes the sun in her closing poem in this anthology.” Watch now how I start the day in happiness, in kindness” How profound!