Summer is just about half way done which leaves me just enough time to put out my five summer book recommendations! When I finish a book and try to select what to read next, there isn't always a rhyme or reason to my decisions. Oftentimes, I'll finish a terrific book and feel compelled to read several others on the same topic. Other times, I am eager to follow the advice of someone I respect. But lately, I've been gravitating toward works with concepts that I can connect to the last two years of living in a COVID-19 world.
Most of the books on my summer reading list this year touch on lessons to be used during a pandemic. I’ve included a look at how to create and maintain good habits, researchers reversing aging (feels like I aged 10 years over COVID), a classic on how to find the meaning in your life, a blueprint on how to behave in a world we don't understand, and a guide on how to stay sane while under quarantine.
I hope at least one of these books sparks your interest this summer.
Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, by James Clear. Atomic Habits provides a tried-and-true framework for daily improvement, no matter what your goals are. One of the world's best experts on habit formation, James Clear, explains practical tactics for forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and mastering the small actions that lead to amazing results.Atomic Habits is an excellent resource. It's actionable, practical, and written in straightforward, no-nonsense style. One of the primary concepts in Atomic Habits is the idea of automating your life "You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."
Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don't Have To, by David Sinclair. Aging is a seemingly unavoidable fact of life. But what if everything we've been told about aging is incorrect? What if we had the ability to determine our own life span? Dr. David Sinclair, a world specialist on genetics and longevity, unveils a radical new idea for why we age in this ground-breaking book. “Aging is a disease, and that disease is treatable,” he writes. This thought provoking book brings us to the cutting-edge of research—many of which comes from Dr. David Sinclair's own Harvard lab—that shows how we can reduce or even reverse the aging process. The trick is to turn on newly found vitality genes, which are descended from an ancient genetic survival circuit that is both the cause and the key to reversing it.
Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Frankl worked in four camps, including Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Frankl contends that while we cannot avoid suffering, we can choose how to live with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose, based on his personal experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his profession. Frankl's approach, dubbed logotherapy after the Greek word logos ("meaning"), asserts that our major motivation in life is not pleasure, as Freud claimed, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what we find personally meaningful.
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Taleb. In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem; in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what he calls the "antifragile" is one step beyond robust, as it benefits from adversity, uncertainty and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension.Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, and proposing that things be built in an antifragile manner. Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary, Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave-and thrive-in a world we don't understand and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand. He who is not antifragile will perish. Why is the city state better than the nation state, why is debt bad for you, and why is almost everything modern bound to fail? The book covers innovation, health, biology, medicine, life decisions, politics, foreign policy, urban planning, war, personal finance, and economic systems. Throughout, the voice and recipes of the ancient wisdom from Phoenician, Roman, Greek, and Medieval sources are heard loud and clear.
Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World, by Michael John Harris. Sharing is valued in today's society like it has never been before. We have built an ecology of obsessive connection, fueled by our reliance on mobile devices and social media. Many of us today live in strangely crowded isolation: we are continually connected, but only on a superficial level. One of life's most subtle abilities is the ability to be alone, properly alone.True isolation is a valuable resource we can tap into, and it's an essential component of a fulfilling inner life. It encourages introspection, encourages creativity, and enhances our connections with ourselves and, maybe surprisingly, with others. In reality, idle hands can achieve astonishing results. In living bigger and faster, we have forgotten the joys of silence, and undervalued how profoundly it can revolutionize our lives. This book is about discovering stillness inside the city, inside the crowd, inside our busy lives.