10 Books To Spice Up Your Reading resolution

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2020 was a wild year; Unnoticeable viruses, locust attacks and lethargic lockdowns. You probably spent most of it glued to your shiny screens. It is time to give them a break.

But what will you do without your soul(ahem…) smartphones?

Reading books is a great option, and here I have come up with a list of 10 books to spice 2021 up. From building habits to parenting, this list covers various facets of life.

I am providing these suggestions after reading these books myself.

Hope you enjoy it! Let’s begin the list with,

Full disclaimer: I have added separate buying links next to the title. If you wish to purchase the books through these links, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. This helps me to run Sapienthoughts. Thank you for your support!

1.This is water by David Foster Wallace (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – A guide to living a meaning full life

Number of Pages: 137

Recommended for: Everybody

Brief summary:

This is one of those short but priceless books. It helps us realize that we often consider ourselves to be the centre of the universe. Our needs and feelings are the most urgent. 

We are often blinded by close-mindedness, and we are not even aware that we act like jerks, most of the time. 

This mindset does not make our life any meaningful and only breeds hatred. Wallace provides an alternative,

A mindset where we are self-aware and can choose what we give our attention to. This gives the power to construct better narratives out of our life experiences. 

Overall, this book is a short but humbling read. 

Favourite lines from the book:

“You can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line – maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband, who’s dying of bone cancer…”

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”

2.Digital minimalism by Cal Newport (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – Digital Wellbeing

Number of Pages: 304

Recommended for: People who spend a large portion of their life on screens.

Brief summary:

The amount of time we spend on our phones is alarming, and a study conducted by VIVO in December 2019 shows us that we spend 1/3rd of waking hours on our shiny screens. [cite]

This book proposes a new philosophy where you spend your online time on a few activities which support things you value and happily miss out on everything else. 

He begins by addressing the hyper-connected world we live in and stresses on the importance of solitude. 

Then, Newport dives into the details of how the tech industry depends on users attention for money and how smartphones are pocket-sized slot machines. He explains about the two pillars that technology is built upon – Intermittent positive reinforcement and social approval.

Newport provides three philosophies to take control of your digital life. He also suggests a specific set of practices you can follow to reduce your screen time and do things you value.

This book doesn’t make you quit social media or promote mindless abstinence. It provides you with a philosophy which helps you distinguish between the essentials and distractions. 

Digital minimalism is a philosophy which helps you identify the tools to enhance things you value in life from meaningless distractions.

Overall, it’s a great book to educate yourself about the workings of addictive apps and helps you reduce your screen time.

Favourite lines from the book:

Digital minimalism definitively does not reject the innovations of the internet age, but instead rejects the way so many people currently engage with these tools.

Face-to-face conversation is the most human–and humanizing–thing we do. Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.

3.Tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – A collection of essays on empathy, relationships, writing, parenting and overcoming adversity

Number of Pages: 252

Recommended for: Everybody, especially women.

Brief summary:

This book is a collection of essays where people request for life advice on complex problems. This book is inspiring and often soul-crushing due to the authenticity of those situations.

The topics of questions include recovering from childhood abuse, homosexuality, child-rearing, love, dealing with the death of a loved one, writing and a lot more. And Cheryl does her best to help them back.

The level of empathy you gain by reading this book is immeasurable. And the book inspires and women deeper than men. I recommend every woman to read this.

Because we often face those problems. And this book helps you figure out solutions for yourself or help others figure theirs. 

What makes this a worthy read is the empathetic and kind tone of the author. She writes as if she is consoling her friend in real life. 

A must-read.

Favourite lines from the book:

I have a friend who is 20 years older than me who was raped three different times over the course of her life … I asked her how she recovered from them, how she continued having healthy sexual relationships with men. She told me that at a certain point we get to decide who it is we allow to influence us. She said “I could allow myself to be influenced by three men who screwed me against my will or I could allow myself to be influenced by Van Gogh. I chose Van Gogh.”

The narratives we create in order to justify our actions and choices become in so many ways who we are. They are the things we say back to ourselves to explain our complicated lives.

4.Atomic habits by James Clear (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – Habit building.

Number of Pages: 256

Recommended for: People who are struggling to build good habits and avoid bad ones.

Brief summary:

You probably heard of this one. Claiming Atomic habits to be a life-changing book isn’t an exaggeration. 

In this book, James explains the four different stages of building habits – cue, craving, response and reward. And he goes into details of each of them with enough examples to understand this.

In addition to explaining these concepts, he gives practical advice to implement them. By reading this book, you can set specific goals, create an action plan and most importantly be consistent with them. Because

Consistency triumphs massive irregular efforts.

Atomic habits is your go-to book for building good habits and eliminating bad ones. 

A great choice to supercharge your new year resolutions.

Favourite lines from the book:

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.

Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

5.Models attract women through honesty by Mark Manson (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – Dating and Personal development.

Number of Pages: 262

Recommended for: Dating men, especially men between 20 – 30.

Brief summary:

I cannot recommend this book enough. This book doesn’t provide you with cheesy pick-up lines or steps x-y-z to make a woman love you. This book teaches you to attract women by being your authentic self.

Mark begins by educating about women psychology, the power of vulnerability and rejection. Once you have laid the foundation of the dating sphere, it dives into the three fundamentals of honest attraction. 

  1. Honest Living
  2. Honest Action
  3. Honest Communication

He advises neither to be a nice guy nor an alpha male but to be yourself. And by being yourself, you attract women. You might be thinking,

But I am not that interesting. What can I do?

This is where the personal development part of the book comes into play. It takes a holistic approach and provides ideas to improve your looks, body language, personal wellbeing and intellect. 

For a bit of context, the author has dated lots of women which eventually led to meet his wife. So he doesn’t tell all this simply by sitting in front of a computer screen. This guy knows what he is talking about.

Overall, this is one of the best books on dating you can ever read. Even if you aren’t into dating, it’s still a great book that teaches to be your authentic self.

Favourite lines from the book:

A big misconception men have is that they need to behave in a way that makes EVERY woman like them. This is counter-productive, because by altering your behaviour to fit whatever she wants means you are hiding your truth, not being vulnerable and therefore are being needy and unattractive.

The recipe for a healthy and happy relationship is one where both partners take responsibility for their own emotions and their choice to commit to the other.

6.Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – Philosophy

Number of Pages: 240

Recommended for: Everybody.

Brief summary:

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from 161 – 180 AD. Meditations is a personal journal which Marcus maintained for self-reflection. Due to its immense value, it was later published into several languages.

The book begins with stoic insights into the lives of people he lived with. From there it proceeds to ideas of self-reflection. From money to death almost everything can be found here.

If this book can be summarized into a single sentence, it’s this – Ancient wisdom for modern life. It teaches you to be calm amidst chaos and uncertainty. It provides new perspectives on life and makes you a brain a calmer place.

Because our brains are always at war. We are always worried or anxious about something, be it the past or the future. 

I cannot stress enough how much this book helps deal with our emotions and thoughts.

Favourite lines from the book:

What else did you expect from helping someone out? Isn’t it enough that you’ve done what your nature demands? You want a salary for it too? 

Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it’s unendurable . . . then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well. 

7.Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – Philosophy, Autobiography

Number of Pages: 200

Recommended for: Everybody.

Brief summary:

Viktor Frankl was one of those few survivors of concentration camps. The amount of suffering this man went through is beyond comprehension. 

The book begins with his experiences in the concentration camp, where captives were forced to work in harsh conditions with little to no food. He narrates his occurrences till his release from those camps.

This marks the beginning of the second part of the book, the philosophical part. Frankl teaches his readers to find meaning through suffering. He provides three ways to find meaning,

  1. By creating a work or doing a deed.
  2. By experiencing something or encountering someone.
  3. By the attitude, we take toward unavoidable suffering.

He also explains the nature meaning and how it varies from moment to moment rather than being constant.

Overall, this book improves your empathy and inspires you to find meaning in suffering.

Favourite lines from the book:

It is we ourselves who must answer the questions that life asks of us, and to these questions, we can respond only by being responsible for our existence.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

8.Summerhill a radical approach to child-rearing by A.S.Neil (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Non-fiction – Parenting, Child Psychology

Number of Pages: 392

Recommended for: All parents, especially for those who have their kid on the way and parents with children of ages between 1 – 5.

Brief summary:

Imagine a school where you are not forced to study, and teachers never give any homework. Seems like a dream? Now, what if you are allowed to play all day long if you wish to? Feels like icecream with a cherry on top?

Well that’s Summerhill.

No one at Summerhill forces you to study. Why? Mathematics and languages are uninteresting to kids. And without interest, nothing useful happens. 

And this school isn’t fiction. It’s a real school in England. By 2021 the school celebrates its centenary year a.k.a 100 successful years of functioning.

A.S.Neil (the author) pioneered this. Neil believes that freedom of children helps in holistic development rather than authoritarian discipline. 

Freedom equals individual freedom, not social freedom. This means that a child gets to determine whether or not he can study mathematics, but he cannot play in a class where students are learning. The child’s freedom is limited to himself, and he is not allowed to interfere with the freedom of others.

Neil educates us why suppression, punishment and authority breed neurotic children. And insists on allowing a child to live out his interests from thumb sucking to genital play.

He requests parents to be on the child’s side at all times and wants parents to raise the child in an environment of least suppression. This helps him to rise into a happy individual. 

None of this advice is silly. Neil has 100 years of happy kids to serve as proof.

Overall, reading this book shifts your perspective on child growth.

Favourite lines from the book:

Compelled respect always implies fear.

When we consider a child’s natural interest in things, we begin to realize the dangers of both reward and punishment. Rewards and punishment tend to pressure a child into interest. But true interest is the life force of the whole personality, and such interest is completely spontaneous.

It’s been tense up until this point with non-fiction books. So let us find some fiction books to relax ourselves.

9.The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald (India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Fiction – Materialism

Number of Pages: 218

Recommended for: Everybody

Brief summary:

Nick Carraway the protagonist moves to midwest after the world war I to start a career in bonds. There he meets Mr Gatsby(a super-rich dude) and they become friends.  

This story centres around the materialistic nature of people that surround Gatsby, his romantic adventures and his friendship with Nick.

Overall, It’s a great read and revealing any more than that would be a spoiler.

Favourite lines from the book:

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” 

10.The Stranger by Albert Camus(India/ US/ UK)

Genre: Fiction – Existentialism

Number of Pages: 159

Recommended for: Readers who are interested in existentialism philosophy (especially beginners).

Brief summary:

Meursault (the protagonist) is a kind of guy who is indifferent to everything. The author does a good job of capturing his indifference in the first lines of the book.

“Mother died today. Or maybe it was yesterday, I don’t know.”

Readers get a taste of Meursault’s indifference and existentialist nature towards society and life. 

Overall, a great book that takes you through life with a different mindset.

Favourite lines from the book:

Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.

Wrapping up:

These are some of the best books I relished in the past year. I thought these books could be a great way to start 2021. 

However, if you are looking for a guide to speed up your reading, build a reading habit or to compare the pros and cons between a kindle and a paperback, I recommend you to check this post – All you need to know about reading books

Happy reading!

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