With the world the way it is, and the relentless arrival of seismic era defining events, we’re all in of need ways to help us temporarily escape reality. One of the very best is by whiling away some time in the company of a good book. They’ve been proven to reduces stress, aid relaxation and who knows they might even help us learn a thing or two.
Here’s a selection of some of the best books we’ve come across so far this year from rip-roaring memoirs to self-help solutions, there’s something for everyone in our handy little guide.
Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn
This fascinating book explores the extraordinary abandoned places where humans no longer live – or survive in tiny numbers – to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind’s impact on nature is forced to stop. From Chernobyl to the mining regions of Scotland, author Cal Flyn brings together fascinating looks at some of the eeriest places on earth, giving a glimpse into how environmental recovery is possible in the most unlikely circumstances.
It Was All a Dream: Biggy and the World That Made Him by Justin Tinsley
Anyone who grew up in the 90s and listened to hip hop was acutely aware of the supreme talents of Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie had the archetypal rap life, living fast and tragically dying young. This insightful new biography charts his rise to international stardom, and uses extensive interviews with Biggie’s friends and family to flesh out the life beyond the legend.
The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamed
This New York Times bestseller by Mohsin Hamid tells the timely tale of a man who wakes up to find his skin has turned a darker shade. We see how this change effects his relationships with his colleagues and those closes to him. And when the same thing happens to many others in the town we’re posed the question, how would people behave, if they were no longer separated by colour?
The Tree Forager by Adele Nozedar
Given the increasingly empty shelves in the supermarkets these days, it could do us all no harm to learn something about the art of foraging. This fun little book looks specifically at the edible and other practical uses we can find from different parts of trees. Forty are profiled here with a focus on food sources, home remedies, natural inks and even musical instruments we can find lying within trees from the mighty oak to the appetising apple.
Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
The average human lifespan of eighty, means, assuming you live to that age, you’ll see just over four thousand weeks. This handy book by Oliver Burkeman was written to help optimise our days and make the most of the aforementioned 4k. The book draws on wisdom ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, all combining to make a pretty profound guide to time management.
Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald
This searing memoir from Isaac Fitzgerald charts the author’s life in a series of gritty essays. From confronting his troubled childhood head on, to smuggling medical supplies to Burmese insurgents and even a stint acting in porn films, Fitzgerald has certainly had an interesting life. Honest and insightful, the book builds to a message that all of us could do with learning.
Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Meditation by Dr. Jenelle Kim
We all need to find balance and happiness in our lives, which is of course easier said than done, but the wise words in this book by Dr. Jenelle Kim might just set you on the right path. She’s written about Myung Sung, the peaceful art of Korean mindfulness, explaining here the eight keys to the practice and how it can transform the way you live your life. Filled with wisdom and practical tools this one’s an inspiring read.
The Science of Plants by Rachel Poulton
You don’t have to be particularly green fingered to respect the majesty of the plant kingdom. This gorgeous new book featuring stunning photographs and illustrations delves into the diversity of the plant world, investigating their inner workings and the science behind what makes them so wonderful. There’s a wealth of information here, if you’ve ever pondered on how seeds know when to grow, or why leaves change colour, this is the book for you.
Surrounded by Narcissists by Thomas Erikson
You might not realise it, but you’re surrounded by narcissists. People that demand your attention, try to control you and suck you dry of energy like a vampire. But fear not, help is at hand with Thomas Erikson’s thought-provoking work that gives you the tools to identify and handle these harmful sorts. The first half of the book deals with the four different personality types we all come across, with the rest dealing in behavioural examples and real life solutions so you can kick the narcissist(s) in your life to the curb.
Murder by the Seaside by Cecily Gayford
This anthology of crime stories all set by the seaside has been expertly pulled together by Cecily Gayford. There are works from literary luminaries such as Conan Doyle, Anthony Berkeley and Gladys Mitchell. This selection of ten whodunits from the Golden Age will make any reader hanker for the rapidly departing summer sunshine.
Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley
This genre-bending book focuses on New Yorker Lola, who lives with her boyfriend, but isn’t sure if he’s marriage material. One night at a dinner she bumps into one of her old flames, the same things happens the next night, then the next, then… you get it. Turns out Lola has become the experimental mark of a hipster cult, led by her former boss, who are determined to reorder her very perception of the world and the nature of love. Funny and unique, this one is a real page turner.
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