Ah, summer. The season of sunshine is finally upon us. While summer is great for swimming and lounging on a beach, it’s also a great season for reading. There’s nothing better than grabbing a good book — you know, the kind of book you can’t seem to put down, the one that wraps its words around your brain until its all you can think about — and soaking up the sun’s rays. Reading also puts your mind in a relaxed state; so, what better than to read a book with a theme of mindfulness? Here is a list of some popular books with themes of mindfulness. Not only will you be getting a tan while reading, but you’ll be reminded to maintain your presence and your peace.
- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
i want to remain so
rooted to the ground
– Rupi Kaur
Whenever someone asks me to describe Kaur’s masterpiece, I use the following two words: raw and beautiful. Milk and Honey is jam-packed with emotion in each of its poems, no matter if the poem is two stanzas long or ten. Kaur does an amazing job of acknowledging her thoughts and feelings not just in the present moment of her life, but in her childhood, as well. She takes her reader on a journey through all of the pain she has ever felt, from abuse in her childhood to a tragic love story in young adulthood, Kaur doesn’t hold anything back. She writes about her emotions in four chapters: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. That is why this is such a great book to remind us all of the importance of being mindful; if we don’t recognize the pain we have felt both in the past and in the present moment, we will never be able to move on and begin to heal as Kaur does. We will never feel that sense of peace and serenity if we are not open with ourselves and others about our honest emotions. Even with Kaur’s unique situations, she still manages to make her words and feelings universal. If you’re struggling to cope with your emotions this summer, pick up Milk and Honey — it will give you peace of mind, soul, and presence.
2. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
“You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
If you’ve ever seen Thirteen Going on Thirty, you probably have high expectations for your thirties (“thirty and flirty and thriving,” am I right?). Unfortunately for Elizabeth Gilbert, a journalist and writer based in the concrete jungle, her thirties are met with an unhappy marriage, destructive divorce, crushing depression, and utter heartbreak. Elizabeth realizes that in order to heal both her body, mind, and spirituality, she must take her life into her own hands. She decides to take a year off and travel to three different countries, healing different parts of her in each nation. Much like Kaur’s Milk and Honey, Eat, Pray, Love is split into three sections and named as such. In Eat, Elizabeth travels to Italy to indulge herself in all her physical pleasures. Pray brings her to India, where she meditates under a guru, practicing mindful silences. And finally, Bali is the center of Love, in which Elizabeth discovers what it truly means to be in love and to feel love. Throughout her journey, Elizabeth keeps a journal to record her feelings. Eat, Pray, Love is a great example of someone maintaining mindfulness in even the darkest of times. Whether it be writing down your feelings in a journal or practicing mindful breathing and meditative techniques, Eat, Pray, Love showcases true mindfulness in everyday life with splashes of humor, love, and raw emotion.
3. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
“If you can’t discover what’s keeping you in, the will to get out soon becomes confused and ineffectual.” – Daniel Quinn
In this unconventional tale, an unnamed narrator is taught by a telepathic gorilla about the way of life and the destructive ways of man. I know, I know, this sounds a little odd, but hear me out — it’ll give you a new perspective on how you think about the world around you long before you even turn the final page. Ishmael, the wise gorilla who acts as a teacher to this narrator, explains the two different cultures that exist in the world of man: Takers and Leavers. Takers are those who dominate the world and who act as if they own all of the earth they walk on. Leavers are the few who do not take from the earth more than what is necessary for survival; they leave their fate in the hands of their spirituality and live a life full of self-awareness. In the beginning, the narrator isn’t quite sure how to acknowledge or express his feelings towards what Ishmael teaches, but by the end, his newfound awareness of life and its occurrences is refreshing and makes for a great argument for why mindfulness is important. Not only do our actions affect our own lives, but the world around us; if we live as Takers, we will simply destroy ourselves and the earth with our selfish ways. However, if we are mindful and acknowledge our feelings with one another and act with calm mannerisms, the world can be a much more peaceful place to inhabit.
4. Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka
“I didn’t want another period of instability.” – Sara Majka
There seems to be a common theme between all of these books on this list so far: each book is comprised of various sections, parts or chapters. Sara Majka’s debut novel is no different. In Cities I’ve Never Lived In, there are fourteen short stories with a recently-divorced woman as the narrator being the common thread. While the stories vary from father/daughter relationships to a kidnapped child, all the stories focus on discovering the world, but more importantly, the narrator discovering herself and finding meaning in her life through storytelling after the divorce. The narrator goes back to the root causes of her problems as she travels to various cities and soup kitchens, recognizing how she feels and why she feels that way. This thought-provoking novel combines the elements of physical travel with spiritual clarity in the attempt to work through this mysterious thing we call life. Majka reminds us, much like Gilbert, that even in the darkest of times, if we simply open our eyes and take a deep breath, we can make it through anything, even if we struggle. Mindfulness, although not directly discussed, is certainly woven between the lines of this self-discovery novel.
5. Paper Towns by John Green
“Forever is composed of nows.” – John Green
John Green might be one of my all-time favorite authors. Why, you ask? Because he isn’t afraid to write about what’s real, what’s normal, what’s mundane, and what’s true. While his audience tends to be aimed at angsty teenagers trying to discover their identities, I think adults of all ages can learn a thing or two about mindfulness from Green’s novels. One in particular sticks out in my mind: Paper Towns. In this ever-popular fiction novel, Quentin Jacobsen is your cookie-cutter band geek living in the Floridian suburbs. He spends his days playing video games and ogling the beautiful Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. While they were once childhood friends, they now live two separate, and rather different, lives…that is, until Margo shows up at his bedroom window in the middle of the night. The rest of the novel brings you on an unconventional yet stereotypical teenage rebellion rampage, but Margo teaches the reader an important lesson: to live in the present is what matters the most. To dwell on the past or fearfully anticipate the future places too much stress on the human soul. Furthermore, it’s okay to step away from life for a while when it all becomes too much; sometimes, we simply need a day—or in Margo’s case—a few weeks away from humanity to reflect on our emotions and thoughts, and to evaluate our current situation.
While the summer sun still shines, take at least fifteen minutes during your day to try out one of these novels. Not only will they bring you utter joy, but they will touch your soul and leave you feeling renewed, refreshed, and relaxed.
All images of book covers from Amazon.com.