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Recommendations for Mindful Reading

Last year my stepdaughter took a class at her college’s January interim term called “Mindful Reading.” The class time and homework over the one-month minimester were dedicated to reading whatever books the students desired, discussing them and writing about them. That and a million other things about her college experience make me want to go back to school and do it all over again!

I can’t go back to school right now but I have been able to focus on more mindful reading. I have enjoyed reading at home by the fire on rainy winter days and love to read on airplanes. I’ve been to eight cities so far in 2020, allowing for a lot of thought-provoking books and some fun ones too. I’ve picked up books at the read-and-return stores in airports, ordered from Amazon, received great gift books and passed a few along. Here are some of my latest reads and recommendations:

  1. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell: A thoughtful albeit somewhat depressing perspective on our failure to understand and make sense of the people we don’t know. Podcast fans may prefer his Revisionist History Podcast.
  2. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee: For a girl who keeps fresh flower bouquets in the house all the time, this book by designer Ingrid Fetell Lee really resonated. She demonstrates how the spaces and objects we interact with in our lives can positively impact our mood and increase our joy.
  3. Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi: At our house, cookbooks are read like novels. This book’s Middle Eastern-inspired and veg-heavy recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less and with no more than 10 ingredients. Last night I made the roasted asparagus with almonds, crispy caper and dill—delicious.
  4. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett: This most recent book from Patchett is a multigenerational family drama centered around the lost inheritance of a mansion in suburban Philadelphia. It’s a great escape that will make your own family quirks seem far less dysfunctional.
  5. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler: Scott Fitzgerald fans are in for a treat to learn more about his wild and wonderful Southern belle, Zelda, and how she inspired and supported his writing. Their partying, antics and shenanigans kept them in the headlines and helped increase interest in his work from the media, the public and Hollywood.
  6. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman: Recommended to me last week by a client, this book arrived over the weekend and drew me in immediately. Neuroscientist David Eagleman explores the mysteries of the brain and makes complicated science and difficult concepts related to the subconscious understandable and fun.
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