Mindful Living Book List
I’ve been saying for ages I should compile a ‘part 2’ to follow on from My Top Ten Mindful Reading List, and here it is.
This list includes some books that have had a significant impact on me in terms of increasing my ability to live more mindfully. They’re not in any particular order, and some might appeal to you more than others.
I’ve included a quote from each author to give you a flavour of their work. If you’ve read any of these – or have other suggestions – I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
(I don’t have a picture of all the covers as I got some out of the library, and donated others after I’d finished reading).
‘The Art Of Stillness – Adventures In Going Nowhere’ by Pico Iyer
A lovely short book, full of distilled wisdom that stopped me in my tracks and really helped to change my mindset about always trying to ‘get somewhere’. I drew on his wisdom in my monthly tips a little while back Foundations for Mindful Living
“Nowhere has to become somewhere we visit in the corners of our lives, by taking a daily run or going fishing or just sitting quietly” ~ Pico Iyer
The Enchanted Life: Unlocking The Magic Of The Everyday by Sharon Blackie
This book reflects much of what I’ve discovered over time through my own mindfulness practice: that we can contact a sense of wonder and enchantment even in the most mundane of circumstances, if we’re looking through a particular lens.
Sharon looks beneath the mindfulness cliches to consider what it really means to be alive as a human being, and to discover ‘beyond “happy ever after”…a place of strong, compassionate maturity… where we have learned to be true to what really matters in life’.
“What if we found different myths to live by, and what if those myths taught us to truly value what we have, rather than always striving for more?” ~ Sharon Blackie
In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore
If you’re curious what slower living might look like, you’ll find some ideas here. The post I wrote about Slow Meditation was inspired by this book. Carl writes from a warm, personal point of view about how easy it is to get sucked into fast living, and considers how we might start to reverse that.
“We’re living the fast life instead of the good life” ~ Carl Honore
Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson
Though technically not ‘about’ mindfulness, this is one of best books on being mindful in life that I’ve ever read. Patricia really gets to the heart of how we can be more fully human, challenging as that can be at times. It’s another nice short book, with lots of practical tips to try out.
My favourite bit is her invitation to transform the embarrassment of screwing something up into a ‘ta-dah!’ moment (like a clown who looks for applause when he falls over).
“We need to start a revolution to celebrate the good that can come from seeing mistakes as natural” ~ Patricia Ryan Madson
Awakening The Body by Reggie Ray
I believe embodiment is crucial to mindful living (as I explained here). One of the sources I’ve learned the most about this from is Reggie Ray. This book is a good starting point if you’re curious about body awareness, as it’s an interesting read even without doing the accompanying meditations (in my own practice, I tend to just listen to the shorter versions of the first few meditations, which are available on his website).
The style of meditation that Reggie Ray shares is somatic meditation, and I reflected on some of the benefits of this in the post Relaxing As Letting Go.
“Compulsive thinking is a kind of tension” ~ Reggie Ray
Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin
Another one that’s not officially ‘about’ mindfulness, this book presents simple living as very mindful living. It’s incredibly resonant with the current shift towards living more sustainably.
In particular, the book explores the power of increased self-awareness, and how we might respond to the challenge of inhabiting a consumer culture that doesn’t support our well-being very effectively.
“We live almost completely immersed in a socially constructed reality that so fully absorbs our energy and attention that virtually none remains to experience the wonder of our existence” ~ Duane Elgin
The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
This is a fictional novel, but I’ve included it here as it made a lasting impact on my ability to appreciate the natural world that we rely on. Poignant, atmospheric and very thought-provoking, it really made me consider how much we take for granted.
“Sometimes death is proof of life. Sometimes decay points out a certain verve” ~ Karen Thompson Walker
The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
This is ancient wisdom, given a playful twist. I definitely recognised some of the traps of contemporary culture described here that I’ve been snared by. Personally I love the Taoist message of simplicity over ambition, and this book is an accessible way in.
“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret… Life Is Fun” ~ Benjamin Hoff
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
I came to this book when I was mid-declutter, and wanting to reduce the about of plastic I send to landfill. What I discovered here inspired me to take my waste-reduction changes much further than I could have envisaged. I haven’t adopted all the suggestions in this book, but it’s great for a kickstart if you want to shop more mindfully, and become a lower-waste household.
As a bonus, I’ve been surprised by how much happiness these changes have also brought me, as a tangible sense of increased well being.
“The less we have, the richer life becomes” ~ Bea Johnson
Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
I’ve included this for anyone who’s trying to live more mindfully for environmental reasons. It’s not so much a ‘how to’ book as a ‘how to respond’ – to some of the challenges we find ourselves facing at this particular point in human history.
The authors’ take on the hero’s call to adventure is an uplifting counterbalance to the doom and gloom about climate change that can feel overwhelming.
“Recognising that we can choose the story we live from can be liberating; finding a good story to take part in adds to our sense of purpose and aliveness” ~ Joanna Macy/Chris Johnstone
If you’re on a path towards living more mindfully, you might also like:
My Coaching Programme by Skype
Other things I’ve written about mindful living: