Reading as a form of meditation

In his new work, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama together with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu (a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who fought against the apartheid in the 1980s) explores how mindfulness in a world so chaotic can lead to a more permanently joyful life. Revealing the reason he is able to be mindful every day is by sleeping for nine hours and meditating for five hours every day – four hours when he rises and one before bed. These are the two most joyful and enlightened humans on earth, so when they have something to say it`s probably worth our attention.

To meditate is to be still for an extended period of time in order to reach a calm and relaxed state where all your concentration and senses are focused on one single task: emptying the mind of all exterior stimulation in order to reach a higher conscience. One could easily relate this to reading, so why not read more as a way to achieve mindfulness? It`s been scientifically proven that the habit of reading leads to greater attention to details, better problem solving skills and open mindedness.

Last year was not a big reading year for me, and the year before that. Truth of the matter is that with adulthood some habits are hard to keep, and as my high school literature teacher once put it: some days you get home and just want to shut your brain down for a while. If doing something completely useless like watching TV helps, then why not? This perfectly explains our modern addiction to that black square on the wall.

Since habits have to be broken and I want to catch up on my reading this year, I decided to compile a sort of Oprah Winfrey book club style list, which I am more then happy to share!

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. – J. K. Rowling

To kick off my list the book I am reading now is Harper Lee`s Go Set a Watchman, published May 2016. She actually finished writing it in 1960 as a sequel to How to Kill a Mockingbird, but the manuscript remained tucked away all this time until it was finally published, to readers`s delight.

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I feel the author takes more risks with language and dialogue, but as much as I missed Scout Finch and Jem`s adventures, just like in her first novel, this one drags a bit in some parts before it picks up pace. I don`t like it when the author takes forever to introduce the plot making the story drag along without purpose. Otherwise I think it`s a promising and definitely more mature book,  now with a going on thirty Scout Finch facing grown up dramas on love and family.

Drum rolls… the runner up and soon to be premiered movie starred by Jessica Chastain and (swoon) Daniel Brühl:

 

The Zookeeper`s Wife, by Diane Ackerman, September 2008

A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands

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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, September 2016

Two spiritual giants. Five days. One timeless question

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crises, by J.D. Vance, June 2016

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF “6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP’S WIN” – tells the real story of what it is like to live in the forgotten “rusty belt” region of our nation

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The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, April 2016

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year

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Miss Peregrine`s School for Peculiar Children ( a trilogy), by Ransom Riggs, June 2013

“A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work together brilliantly to create an unforgettable story.”—John Green, New York Times best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars

 

The Circle, by Dave Eggers, April 2014

Exhilarating novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of Heroes of the Frontier, and soon to be a Major Motion Picture starred by Emma Watson, our eternal Hermione Granger

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The Underground Railroad: A Novel, by Colson Whitehead, August 2016

National Book Award Winner and #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South –  Also one of Oprah Winfrey`s book club pick.

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The Bill Hodges Trilogy (Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award), Finders Keepers and End of Watch: A Novel), Stephan King, January 2015

It`s Stephen King, need I say more? 

 

Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick, November 2016

An “honest, effortlessly funny, and alternatively relatable” (Harper’s Bazaar) collection of autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect, and Trolls, “Scrappy Little Nobody lets readers feel like they have spent an afternoon chatting with their closest friend” (Booklist).

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Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel, by Lauren Graham, March 2014

From Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, comes a witty, charming, and hilariously relatable debut novel about a struggling young actress trying to get ahead―and keep it together―in New York City.

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Girls in White Dresses, by Jennifer Close, May 2012

National Bestseller and Goodreads recommended novel by Jennifer Close

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The Goldfinch: A Novel, by Donna Tart, May 2013

A Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction, The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate

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Finally, like any other book club this will require commitment to read every day. Take inspiration from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and wake up a little earlier to read for an hour, and then for two more before bed if necessary. It will be challenging but breaking that habit and reconnecting with the book worm inside will make it all worth it, besides, for a writer the habit of constant reading should be second nature, right up there with eating and sleeping.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, recommendations are also very welcome.

FF

 

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