In the past month, I set a new goal of reading for at least one hour every day. Since I graduated from college, I’ve felt a lull in my learning process. Working two part-time jobs and trying to meet weekly deadlines have left me craving the pizazz of being a student. COVID-19 also forced me to navigate the pitfalls of working from home. I felt like I was falling into a bad routine: wake up, scroll through social media, work until lunch, watch a YouTube video, work until dinner, watch my favorite TV show, fall asleep, repeat. These habits, which were supposed to make me feel less stressed, left me feeling even more empty and drained.
If you relate to this routine, picture swapping an hour on social media or watching TV with reading a good book. I know this idea may not be convincing at first, so allow me to pitch the idea to you. What if I told you that you will feel more productive, passionate about life, and focused on yourself after reading for at least one hour a day? You can focus on any genre in the world, from the fantastic realms of science-fiction to the nonfiction biographies of historical figures. Also, all of the yucky side effects of social media–anxiety, depression, FOMO–will have less power over your life.
I can’t emphasize this enough: don’t let other people live rent-free in your head! Focus on yourself. Stay curious. Read what interests you. Read what inspires you. Without further ado, here are five books I enjoyed reading in the last month.
1. “People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn
A People’s History of the United States has sold more than two million copy in thirty-plus years. It has also been featured in The Sopranos, The Simsons, and Good Will Hunting. Zinn’s main purpose for writing the book was to present American history from the point of view of those whose voices were historically omitted.
In this book, Zinn discusses a side of American history that is rarely touched upon in traditional history books. This is not a triumphalist narrative of American history, but rather a book that implores Americans to examine its history of class conflict, racial injustice, and sexual inequality. Our nation must examine and admit our flaws in order to move forward, making appropriate changes along the way with the goal of greater freedom and justice for all.
If you’d like to juxtapose Zinn’s book with a different perspective, consider reading The Oxford History of the United States. We should never rely on one text in representing the United States’ overall history. I encourage you to read multiple books in order to gain a clearer understanding.
2. “Tuesday’s with Morrie” by Mitch Albom
Tuesday’s with Morrie will help you see life from a bigger perspective. The book is based around Mitch Albom’s weekly Tuesday meetings with Morrie Schwartz. In his final days battling ALS, a progressive nervous system disease, Morrie shares valuable lessons pertaining life, love, and purpose. This book is beautiful, thoughtful, and impactful. You will walk away with a greater appreciation of life and all the wonderful people who fill yours.
3. “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
Gone With the Wind has been an American classic for over eighty years. Margaret Mitchell’s best-seller is a fictitious tale of an Old South socialite, Scarlett O’Hara, who lives through the American Civil War.
In describing her book, Margarett Mitchell wrote, “If Gone With the Wind has a theme it is that of survival. What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong, and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don’t. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality ‘gumption.’ So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn’t.”
If you are looking for a character bound by kindness, morals, or intelligence, Scarlett will not be your cup of tea. However, her reckless relationship with infamous Rhett Butler is magnetic. I couldn’t put this 1,000-page book down.
4. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie was a pioneer in the self-improvement genre. Published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best-selling books of all time–over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide. Since the last self-help book I read was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I decided to go in a different direction and give this book a try. Carnegie’s book dissects how to handle people, make people like you, persuade people to your way of thinking, and become a better leader. Spoiler alert: we all need to work on our patience, humility, and active listening. Also, a smile goes a long way!
5. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle
Untamed is a personal story about Glennon Doyle’s writes about her journey to self-discovery. She reminds us about the importance of being true to ourselves, trusting our inner voice, and following our own inner compass. One of my favorite quotes from this book is “We forgot how to know when we learned how to please. That is why we live hungry.” No matter who you are, the world deserves to know your authentic self. If you are looking for a light read or a conversation starter, pick up this book.
To make reading a habit, order twelve books and assign each upcoming month a particular book. Then, set aside one hour each day to read, whether it’s when you first wake up or before you go to bed. You’ll start your day feeling refreshed and end your day more able to relax and unwind.
Similar to the way your body requires TLC through healthy diet and exercise, your mind deserves nourishment in the form of inspiration or knowledge. The best way to acquire both? Start by reading a great book.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my reading list. If you enjoyed this article, check out my other article on 10 Best Books to Read During Coronavirus Quarantine.