Tag Archives: #Reading

Our Top 10 Hacks to Get the Most out of Your Reading

We know, we know, reading is fairly straightforward and not the most obvious topic to hack. You choose a fabulous  book, open it, read the words and drift off into a wonderful world leaving yours alone…even if just for a moment.

However reading has changed over the past few years with the introduction of eBooks, smart phones, apps, and online news feeds. Suddenly there just isn’t enough time to sit and read, there are a ton of distractions and constant demands for our attention. But do not despair, your friendly Booko team has tried and tested a few little hacks to help you find more time in your busy day to read.

Here goes…

#1 Listen to Your Books

Audiobooks are amazing inventions; not only can you multitask while being engrossed in a book, but if you choose wisely you can have some pretty fabulous people read to you.

Find our favourite audiobooks on this Pinterest board – here’s one of our favourites at the moment:

Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson, PhD.

Verbal Judo is the classic guide to the martial art of the mind and mouth that can help you defuse confrontations and generate cooperation, whether you’re talking to a boss, a spouse, or even a teenager. For more than a generation, Dr. George J. Thompson’s essential handbook has taught people how to communicate more confidently and persuasively in any situation. Verbal Judo shows you how to listen and speak more effectively, engage others through empathy (the most powerful word in the English language), avoid the most common conversational disasters, and use proven strategies to successfully express your point of view — and take the lead in most disputes.

#2 Read your books in tiny pieces

Decide how log you want to read for and then set yourself a timer. If you can only do ten minutes a day, that’s fine…we bet you’ll end up wanting ‘just one more page’ after the timer goes off.

Another way of reading in small chunks is to tear a few pages out of your book and pop these in your bag (I know….yes we actually wrote that it’s okay to tear pages out of a book)… but if this is just too upsetting for you to even comprehend, then we suggest just sticking to a timer.

#3 Read at the gym

It’s okay to multitask every now and then, and your warm up on a stationary bike or cross trainer may be just the place to take your mind off what’s ahead of you… just perhaps not the treadmill though.

#4 When you’re reading online news, don’t read the comments

Make your own mind up as to how you feel towards the news and current events. Reading comments can often lead you to create a confirmation bias or drag you into pointless arguments.

#5 Make your own fabulous reading space

Reading nooks are not just for kids, though they do love them. Create a little space at home that you get to enjoy and feel comfortable in. We’ve compiled a number of different reading nooks on Pinterest, come and take a look here.

Why not take a leaf out of the Danish ethos of Hygge – here’s one of our favourite books on it.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

Embrace Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.” Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day. The Little Book of Hygge introduces you to this cornerstone of Danish life, and offers advice and ideas on incorporating it into your own life, such as: Get comfy. Take a break. Be here now. Turn off the phones. Turn down the lights. Bring out the candles. Build relationships. Spend time with your tribe.

#6 Make apps your friend

When you don’t have time to wander through a book store or library trying to choose a title, just whip out your phone. We use Booko when at a computer and Booko Buddy when we are out and about – it’s available here and it’s free!

Just like Booko, Booko Buddy can quickly and easily look up the price and availability of your favourite books and DVDs. Searches can be performed by title, author, ISBN, keyword or by scanning the barcode. Once you’ve looked up a book or DVD you can pick a vendor and be linked directly to the buy page to complete the transaction. Linking is via Booko so that your purchase still supports the best price comparison engine on the Internet!

You can also create and organise your own lists of books and DVDs, to buy later or to share with a friend.

#7 Take a reading challenge 

Every year the Premier of Victoria runs a reading challenge for children of different ages. Schools can participate, as can individuals. The Premiers’ Reading Challenge encourages children to read a set number of books and record their efforts online. It’s a great way to get young people talking about reading with their friends and pushing themselves to read as many books as they can.

Visit the link here.

#8 Read while you’re waiting 

Whip out your book or reading device when waiting for appointments, a bus, on the tube, and our favourite…at the hairdressers! Teach your children to carry a book with them too so they can always have something to do when they are waiting… in fact one little Booko reader likes to read while she’s walking to school.

#9 Get recommendations for what to read next

There’s nothing better than having someone to debrief with when you’ve finished a book and you emerge from the literary world which is why we love recommendations so much. Asking friends for recommendations for books (or handing them a book that you’ve just finished) is a great way of broadening your range of literature and reading something that you have never picked by yourself.

We have a page on Booko which shows our most clicked-on titles and the titles we recommend. Check them out here and here.

#10 Read because you love to … not because you have to

Okay, so not a ‘hack’ per se, but it’s our best little nugget. Doing something you really love is what it’s all about, so it’s okay to start a book and then put it down because you aren’t enjoying it….just make sure you pick up another.

Enjoy!

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – Booko’s favourite biographies

Who needs fiction when you have biographies? Biographies can make you laugh or cry; they can offer comfort or inspiration – and sometimes all of these at once!  Whether the subjects are famous or ordinary, these stories offer insight into remarkable lives and extraordinary experiences.  Here is a selection of biographies to suit every taste:

Unmasked by Turia Pitt and Bryce Corbett

Turia Pitt was running an ultramarathon in outback Australia when she was caught in a bushfire. This accident seemed set to destroy her successful life as a mining engineer and a model – Turia barely survived her injuries, which included extensive, disfiguring burns.  With fierce determination, great courage, and the support of loving parents and a partner, Turia is not only on the road to recovery, but is achieving ever more impressive feats as a motivational speaker and endurance athlete.  Unmasked describes this new chapter in Turia’s life – how love and determination has helped her recover and thrive, and how we can all apply similar lessons in our own lives.

Lion: a Long Way Home (Young Readers Edition) by Saroo Brierley

Saroo Brierley’s remarkable story has wowed both readers and cinema-goers – in fact, Lion became one of the Highest Grossing Australian Films of All Time only a month after its release . Now children can experience the story all by themselves with this Young Readers’ edition.  Little Saroo was lost on a train in India when he was only five years old.  Far from home, with no money and no language, he had to avoid a lot of danger just to survive.  Eventually he found safety and a new life with adoptive parents in Australia.  While he loves his new parents, he never forgot his earlier life.  His search for his birth family is a fantastic, almost fairy-tale like story about hope, perseverance and technology.

More About Boy: Roald Dahl’s Tales from Childhood by Roald Dahl

Many readers love biographies because they are inspiring – stories like Unmasked and Lion describe triumphs over incredible challenges.  However, biographies can also be entertaining and fun.  More About Boy is an expanded edition of Boy, Roald Dahl’s celebrated autobiography of his childhood.   The drama and naughty humour in the original stories – including Quentin Blake’s illustrations – are still there, and have been enriched with archival material including photos, letters, and previously unpublished stories.  The result is not only very readable, but it also gives better insight into Roald Dahl as a writer.  For Roald Dahl fans of all ages!

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet

Born on a Blue Day is special because it is a first-hand account of autism.  Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant – while his ability in abstract thinking and social interactions are impaired, he has genius-level abilities in mathematics and languages.  Daniel’s combination of autistic behaviours and language expertise is particularly rare – it makes Born on a Blue Day an incredibly articulate, often lyrical, and very informative description of what it’s like to live with autism. Born on a Blue Day charts Daniel’s life from a withdrawn, often frustrating childhood to eventual success in adulthood, gaining financial independence with his own business, sustaining a long-term romantic relationship and achieving fame as a real-life “Rain Man”.

In Order to Live: a North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

North Korea is regularly in the media spotlight but little is known about this closed and secretive country.  For most of us, the only information we can get is through biographies.  Yeonmi Park joins a group of North Korean defectors who have used their life stories to publicise the plight of North Koreans.  As a child, Yeonmi lived a relatively wealthy life until her father was arrested for smuggling.  This fall from grace made the Park family’s lives increasingly dangerous and, once Yeonmi’s father was released from prison, the family attempted to escape to China.  Yeonmi and her mother endured rape and human trafficking in their long and perilous journey, having to trek across China into Mongolia, before missionaries could take them to safety in South Korea.

Dear Quentin: Letters of a Governor General by Quentin Bryce

Dear Quentin is not a biography per se but it does offer fascinating glimpses into the life of Dame Quentin Bryce and into the role of Australian Governor-General.  During her tenure (2008-2014), Quentin Bryce travelled extensively, both across Australia and internationally.  She also wrote prolifically – upwards of 50 letters a week, to people of eminence as well as ordinary citizens.  Dear Quentin is a collection of those letters, both written to and by her. The correspondence shows a warm, intelligent, articulate person meeting her demanding job with humour and dedication. Dear Quentin also celebrates the art of letter-writing, and the delight we feel when we receive one (even if we are too lazy to write them ourselves!) Royalties to this book will go towards research into child health.

Books to read before they’re made into movies

There is something magical about creating your own version of stories before they have been adapted for screen and our imaginations become limited by someone else’s interpretation. Here are our picks of books for you to read before they are made into movies in 2017.

Wonder by R J Palacio

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all? WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

Due to be released in November, Julia Roberts will be playing Auggie’s mother, Owen Wilson stars as his father and Jacob Tremblay as Auggie.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers

When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

The film is released in April and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly and Bill Paxton.

 

The Mountain Between Us by Professor Charles Martin

This is a captivating story where two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home to Jacksonville, Florida for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the weather front. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, Ben offers the seat to Ashley.

Then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness – one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. Their survival becomes increasingly perilous as they must rely on each other to survive.

The movie is to be released later this year and will star Kate Winslett and Idris Elba.

 

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

This is a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a wilfully impoverished, eccentric, and severely misguided family.

The tale of this young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty is beautiful written.

The movie has just been launched so read quickly! The film stars Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

 

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. A passenger lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the prime suspects from a scornful and impatient array of foreign passengers before the murderer decides to strike again.

The long awaited movie will open in November 2017 and has a star studded cast comprising Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

Enjoy!

On writers and publishing

Most of us booklovers have probably dreamt of writing our own masterpieces someday.  That dream may be more achievable than you think – the internet has given us more opportunities to get our work noticed, both in terms of helping us connect with potential mentors, buddies and audiences, and also in terms of self-publishing (physical books, eBooks and online).  Here’s some inspiration, information and motivation to finally get started on “that book you have in you”.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Did you know that this acclaimed novel of a woman’s battling early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was originally self-published?  After receiving no interest from traditional publishers and literary agents, Lisa Genova chose to self-publish, then set about engaging with potential readers through social media.  Her persistence was rewarded with internet buzz and solid sales, and eventually led to an offer from a major publisher.  E.L. James’ 50 Shades trilogy is another famous and successful example of a book that was self-published before gaining attention from traditional publishers.

How to Make a Living with Your Writing by Joanna Penn

This is the manual for Living the Dream – how to support yourself as a full-time writer.  Joanna Penn is an author, speaker, marketer and publisher who has developed a growing business – and a six-figure income – out of her creative output.  In How to Make a Living with Your Writing, she uses her own experience to show how to make money from books, and also how to capitalise on your creativity in other ways, such as by blogging, public speaking, coaching and content marketing.  Also checkout her website, The Creative Penn  for a wealth of (free) tips and resources for aspiring writers.

The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig has built a successful writing career by embracing new formats and media – his works include a blog, eBooks, computer games, scripts, comics as well as novels.  He also writes great writing advice – his tone is sharp and in-your-face and aims to challenge and provoke.  The Kick-Ass Writer starts from the beginning – how to get started, how to build characters and dialogue and develop suspense – and onto how to deal with publishers and agents, and how to promote, connect and market yourself.  It also discusses crowd funding, self-publishing writer’s block and how to handle rejection.  A great resource for helping you become the Kick-Ass Writer you want to be.

Publishing: a Writer’s Memoir by Gail Godwin 

For an insider’s take on writers and their relationships with the publishing industry, you cannot go past Gail Godwin’s memoir.  Gail Godwin has been a writer for five decades, with over 20 published works.  Publishing: a Writer’s Memoir reflects on Gail as a writer: her hunger to be published, her craft, and what it means to be a modern author (there is a great anecdote about branding and self-promotion).  It also reflects on the changing nature of the publishing industry, from a more “gentlemanly”, literary enterprise to big business. Gail Godwin offers fascinating insights to anyone curious about the book industry.

 

From blogger / vlogger to author

Developing great blogs and vlogs (eg YouTube channels) are an increasingly common pathway to a book deal.  Blogs/vlogs are powerful tools that can help you hone your writing skills, develop/promote your brand and connect with potential readers.  Many popular authors – particularly in the humour / food & wellness / lifestyle / parenting categories – first became known through their blogs. Two of my favourite bloggers/vloggers-turned-authors include:

Advanced Style: Older and Wiser by Ari Seth Cohen

Advanced Style started as a blog celebrating stylish, older New Yorkers, and has turned into a worldwide movement.  The colourful portraits in Advanced Style urge us to be bold, take risks and dress how we like, whether we are 15 or 85.  I saw the eponymous documentary a few years’ ago, and not only was there great style on-screen, many of the audience were bold and stylish too.  Advanced Style is joyous and gloriously inspirational.

The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook by Amy and Julie Zhang

Amy and Julie Zhang are popular YouTubers whose Dumpling Sisters videos showcase modern takes on homestyle Chinese dishes. 

The sisters – born in China, raised in New Zealand and now living in the UK – love their food because it’s a reminder of their Chinese background and their childhood, and also because it’s a great way to connect with their friends.  Dishes such as oyster sauce beef and broccoli, and prawn and spinach wontons, are great whether for some quiet me-time or for fun and casual entertaining.

Reading resources that help foster the love of reading

Mad for books?  Have a number of different versions of the same book?  *Refuse* to watch a film adaptation of your favourite book because it will ruin it for you?  You, my friend, are book obsessed.  A bibliophile.  A book addict.

Booko features many resources and guides to help support both children and adults to improve their literacy.  But what about those people that don’t need support, they just need a *support* group?  We’ve uncovered some absolute gems of resources that can not only feed your addiction but also connect with other book lovers from all over the world.

Image from Instagram.com

 

Audiobooks

Audiobooks were once the realm of the older members of society who listened to the Classics from the comfort of their Jason recliners.  Now in the modern world of multi-tasking, we are listening to books while we drive from A to B, fold the washing, make dinner or walk the dog.  In a world where you’re expected to be well versed in the latest books, music and Ted  Talks, audiobooks are a great way to get across some of the new releases or favourite classics while you’re on the move.  We have compiled a great selection that you can choose from here.

Apps

As you can imagine, there are a huge number of apps that can enhance your reading experience.  We’ve explored some of the best ones for you:

This award-winning app is a bookmarking service which is owned by Pinterest.  Web pages can be marked to read later on another device such as an iPad for example.

A speed-reading app for iPhone, this service allows you to speed-read all your favourite articles, allowing you to read faster.

This app is a reader that allows you to read your Ebooks comfortably.  The use of visually pleasing font and ability to just display the text of the book you are reading without distraction, you can adjust the brightness of the screen to make the reading process more enjoyable.

iReadItNow is a great way to manage all the books you are reading or planning to read.  Its a great historical record of your reading life – what you read, how you read it and what resonated with you.

Book Clubs

Book Clubs are a great way to discuss your favourite books with like-minded book addicts. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, there are some great face-to-face and virtual Book Clubs you can join.  If you are a fan of a particular genre, it might make sense to join a book club that suits.

Some of the most popular options are the Goodreads Book Club (Emma Watson has her own Goodreads Feminist Book Club) or some great face-to-face options via your local city.

Experiences

If you’re keen to visit famous bookshops or literary places of interest, there are some great travel options for you to choose from.  The Lonely Planet features a range of literary walking tours around the world which explore the birthplaces of famous authors and significant places that are featured in books.

If beautifully quaint bookshops are more your thing, there is a travel agency that specialises in bookshop travel.  If you are interested in visiting bookshops in a more virtual sense, check out one of our recent blog posts.

10 ways to foster a love of reading for your child

Learning to read, or rather teaching someone else to learn to read can be a daunting task – do you start with phonetics, rhyming, sounds or learn the name of letters? Whatever way you choose, sharing the love of reading needs to be fun, relaxed and exciting. Our favourite book on the topic is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, it’s been a wonderful resource for several of the Booko children. Here are our top 10 tips from the book:

  1. Begin reading to your children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier, and better it is.
  2. Set aside at least one specific time each day for a story and make it part of your daily routine.
  3. Start with picture books that have only a few sentences on the page, then gradually move to books with more text and fewer pictures before building to chapter books.
  4. As you read, keep listeners involved by occasionally asking ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’
  5. If the chapters are long, or you don’t have enough time to finish one each day, find a suspenseful spot at which to stop. Leave your little audience hanging and they will be counting the minutes until the next reading.
  6. Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. Mood is an important factor in listening, make sure you foster a receptive one.
  7. Use expression when reading. Change your tone, adjusting pace and lowering your voice in suspenseful parts makes it all very exciting.
  8. Slow down. The most common mistake is reading too fast. Reading quickly allows no time for mental pictures to be made and more expression to be used.
  9. Bring the author to life. Google the author to find out more about them. This lets them know that books are written by people and not machines.
  10. When children wish to read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard, just as a beginner’s bicycle is better to be too small than too big.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning). The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.

 

Here’s a few of our favourites to help you share the joy of reading aloud:

 

Creature abc by Andrew Zuckerman.

Alphabet books can be valuable for teaching kids the sounds that letters make — but only if they are fun to read! Creature abc is fun; it features amazing animal photographs and an entertaining format. On one page is a letter (e.g. “Aa”) and a photograph of an animal’s body part (e.g. an alligator’s hand). When I read this book, I make the letter’s sound, and my kids guess what animal they will see on the following page.

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox

There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? The search is on in this cozy, sheep-filled story from beloved author Mem Fox and popular Australian cartoonist Judy Horacek. Complete with sleepy rhymes and bright illustrations, this book is sure to delight children of all ages, from the very young to those just beginning to read. Mem has never owned a sheep, let alone a green one, but she does admit to having woolly thoughts from time to time. Judy loves drawing things, especially sheep. This is her first flock.

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This gentle bedtime story, which has lulled generations of children to sleep, is the perfect first book to share at bedtime. In a great green room a little bunny is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things in his room, one by one. Margaret Wise Brown’s comforting, rhythmical text accompanied by the warmth of Clement Hurd’s classic mid-century illustrations make Goodnight Moon a timeless picture book, which is known and loved around the world.

 

I Am So Strong by Mario Ramos

This is a terrific read aloud – it’s a book with some yelling in it, with a handful of  familiar characters like a wolf and Red Riding Hood and three pigs, joined by a couple of dwarfs, and a baby dinosaur and his HUGE mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of all, have fun together!

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

As our friends in the US celebrate Thanksgiving today, we at Team Booko are also reflecting on Thanksgiving and thankfulness in general. Thanksgiving traditions are borne of the harvest festivals of Europe, and of the age-old practice of giving thanks to God at significant events; modern-day Thanksgiving is characterised by travelling home – there are more long-distance travellers at Thanksgiving than at Christmas – and of course, a traditional feast including roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.   Although Thanksgiving seems a quintessentially American holiday, it is celebrated in places as diverse as Canada, Liberia and Norfolk Island, and its messages of gratitude, community and sharing will find resonance in any part of the world.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Helen Sewell

The Thanksgiving Story is a classic picture book about the events leading up to the first Thanksgiving, as seen through the eyes of three children.  Giles, Constance and Demaris Hopkins are travelling on the crowded Mayflower with their parents, bound for a place where they hope to practise their religion freely.  Alice Dalgliesh adds lots of historical detail to enrich a familiar story of early hardships ultimately overcome with the help of the Native Americans, leading to the first successful harvest. A Caldecott Honor book.

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

’Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving is no ordinary story – simply because it is written by Dav Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame).  Dav has taken the classic Christmas poem and given it a Thanksgiving twist.  Eight children are enjoying an excursion to a turkey farm on the eve of Thanksgiving. When they realise that the cute baby turkeys are earmarked for Thanksgiving dinner, some quick thinking is required. Sufficed to say that those children end up with plump feathered guests at their respective (vegetarian) Thanksgiving feasts!  Something funny and a bit different for this tradition-laden day.

1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac

The events surrounding the first Thanksgiving have become mythologised over the past centuries.  1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving invites readers to see through the myths, by showing the events from the perspective of the Wampanoag, one of the Native American tribes who shared that first Thanksgiving feast.  It is richly informative about the Wampanoag’s culture and way of life.  1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving reminds us that history is often subjective, and challenges us to think and question what we know.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

When you are a kid and the grownups keep nagging you to say “thank you” to everything, it can be hard to understand what there is to be thankful about.  The Thankful Book, with its bright colours, simple pictures and gentle text, reminds us of the little things that brightening our days – music that makes us want to dance; friends that make us smile; hair that make us unique.  The Thankful Book is wise and joyous, and sure to spark good conversations about happiness and thankfulness.

The Gratitude Diaries: how a Year Looking on the Bright Side can Transform your Life by Janice Kaplan

“Always look on the bright side of life” can have life-changing effects – just ask Janice Kaplan.  The editor and former journalist made a new year’s resolution to show more gratitude for a year, and it had remarkably positive effects on her physical and mental well-being. Janice Kaplan discovers that not only can a positive attitude influence our sense of fulfilment, it can change our neural pathways and even influence our children’s happiness.  The Gratitude Diaries is a skilful blend of self-help, memoir and popular science that will both entertain and inspire.

What we can learn from the Slow Books movement

source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Are you a booklover who struggles to find time to read?  If, like me, your answer is yes, then the Slow Books movement is for you.

Slow Books is the extension of a philosophy first appearing as Slow Food. It encourages people to rediscover “old-fashioned reading” – sit down and read a book, uninterrupted, for at least 30 minutes each day. Such reading should be deliberate and reflective, not simply trying to finish as many pages as possible.  Slow Books devotees suggest that slow reading reduces stress, as well as improve people’s ability to think, concentrate and empathise.

Slow Books ties in with digital detox; an opportunity to reduce mental clutter and to re-develop our attention spans and comprehension – known negative effects of our increasing reliance upon online reading.   The Internet’s effect upon changes to our cognition is explored in Nicholas Carr’s provocative book The Shallows: how the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember.

Besides Slow Food and Slow Books, the Slow philosophy can also be applied to activities including travel, education and relationships.  Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness offers a compelling overview of the Slow ideal, including how it can be applied to daily life.  This subversive book also spawned a popular TED talk.   The guiding principle of the Slow Movement is the rejection of the “faster is better” mentality ; instead it advocates a mindful approach where we slow down to do something properly – savouring the process along the way.   

And if you need any more encouragement, just remember that a recent study from Yale has found that regular book-readers live almost two years longer than non-readers.

        

How to get started: Ingredients for enjoying books, slowly 
  • Create a comfortable reading spot – beanbag, armchair or in bed?  An internet search on “reading nooks” will reveal gorgeous examples, from cosy to quirky to elegant.  
  • Make time for reading – before it becomes a natural habit, use reminders to help you set aside a regular timeslot.  You can even join a Slow Reading Club if you prefer to read in a social environment.
  • Find a great book – a gripping story that will draw you in and help you forget the passage of time.  Start with a genre you enjoy, or try some current bestsellers such as The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty.

Books as a gateway to a simpler and more fulfilling life

The act of reading a book is a time-honoured way to connect us to the simpler things in life. It helps us make sense of the world in which we live. The age-old habit of sitting down in a quiet place, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee, and opening the pages of a book is in itself conducive to relaxing, learning and, as a result, relieving stress.

But what about going one step further? How about reading books that inspire you to engage in mindfulness and the slow life? Books, ebooks and audio books teach, inspire and help us to find our way to a simpler, more fulfilling life.

One of the surest ways to relieve stress is to opt for a simpler, happier lifestyle; one closer to that led by our previous generations. All of these books help teach us to slow down, to practice stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, minimalism and mindfulness. In other words, to take time out to smell the roses!

Here are a few titles to help you learn and practice methods of reducing stress in your life and reconnect with the simpler things in life.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:dalaiThe Art of Happiness: a Handbook for Living

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is possibly one of the most respected spiritual leaders on our planet. His gentle lifestyle guidance and teachings are directed, not just at practitioners of Buddhism, but the whole world. In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness — in collaboration with psychiatrist Howard Cutler — teaches us there is a path towards happiness. The key is being able to recognise what in our lives causes us to be happy and then, by cultivating the right mental practice, we can achieve a balanced, contented state of mind.

Through stories and meditations, he shows us how to beat daily insecurities, anxieties and stress, leading us gently towards what he describes as “the purpose of life”, that of true happiness.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:mindfulnessThe Miracle of Mindfulness

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic guide to mindfulness is still considered one of the classics in its field, over thirty years after its original publication. Originally written as a letter to a fellow brother suffering under atrocities during the Vietnam War, Buddhist monk Thich uses stories and allegories to urge his brothers to continue on the mindfulness path.

The book has served as an instruction manual for the now widespread practice of meditation and has become recognised as a powerful guide to (in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s words) “show us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth”.

The Miracle of Mindfulness is full of thought exercises, allegories and wonderful examples of how to practice mindfulness in everyday living in commonplace acts such as washing up and drinking tea.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:chickensZen and the Art of Raising Chickens

Clea Danaan’s book Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens is a quirky, entertaining and informative book about how raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment can help get you back to the simpler things in life and reduce stress.

Written to make you smile as much as inform, the author nevertheless points to a few truths about chickens. Namely how their personalities, habits and idiosyncratic ways slow us down to their rhythms. Chapter titles such as “The Sound of One Wing Flapping” and “The Mind of the Chicken is Ungraspable” underline the way their “chickeny” characteristics can make us relax and laugh. Anecdotal evidence is (thankfully) abundantly documented by the author who also shows us the practical, healthy side of raising chickens in your own backyard.

Original and full of wit, yet containing a central truth about how keeping chickens can help ground us in a healthier, less stressful, more mindful lifestyle; Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens inspires and teaches as well as entertains.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:actionMindfulness in Action

Interested in learning more about simplicity and the power of meditation to change lives? Mindfulness in Action takes you to the very core of simplicity and awareness through meditation exercises and teachings. The author uses wisdom and insight to teach us to simply sit still and reconnect with the very concept of being human in our ever faster-paced world.

The book is edited by Carolyn Gimian, a longtime student and expert chronicler of Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings. This remarkable book offers something for everyone, whether a novice or experienced meditator.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:joyThe Joy of Less

The art of minimalism revolves around doing more with less. In this fascinating account, author Francine Jay points to the benefits of decluttering your home or workspace, in a way that brings us back to simpler, more satisfying living.

Not only does the author give tips on how to save money by ridding your space of excess material, she also demonstrates how living with less can be a path to greater happiness and simplicity.

Reading is the ultimate activity in enjoying “quiet moments” that centre our days and help to reduce the stress in our lives. In doing so you are joining the generations of people before you, from mystics, to learned scientists, to poets and professors, to just lovers of a good book, all who have used the written word to learn, relax and relieve stress.

Join them and find out how books can change you to appreciate a slower, more relaxed and fulfilling life.

 

6 books that will change how you see the world

Consider what words of advice, experiences or books you have read that have made a lasting impact on your life.  The best thing about reading when you are going through a challenging time or even just a period of change, is that someone who has been there before can help, if only in a small way.  Here are our recommendations of books that have changed our lives for the better, or tipped our perspective on its head for a moment in time.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:invisiblegorillaThe Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

The funny thing is, we feel like we have a reasonable understanding of how our mind works.  The authors of ‘The Invisible Gorilla’ challenge this when they show just how our mind plays tricks on us and why people succumb to everyday illusions.  The Invisible Gorilla shows how our intuition deceives us and how we can ‘train our brain’ to withstand it’s effects.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:stumblingStumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?  Why does the line at the grocery store always slow down when we join it? In this book, Harvard psychologist Gilbert argues that our ability to remember past happiness is flawed.  Added to this is that our ability to predict what will make us happy is not well developed.  The net result is that our human minds are working against our own happiness.  This book explores how we can best challenge ourselves to seek happiness.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:moneyYour Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

The premise of this book is that every day you go to work to trade the hours of your life for money.  If you spend that money on things you don’t need, you are essentially trading your life for material possessions that don’t add value to your life.  This is a classic financial self-help book that offers a nine-step program for how to live a more meaningful life, showing readers how to get out of debt, save money, reorder priorities, and convert problems into opportunities.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:thinkethAs a Man Thinketh by James Allen

“A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses.” A classic book that has helped thousands for over a century, “As a Man Thinketh” is based on the premise of ‘you are your thoughts’ and provides a guide on how to use your thoughts to the betterment of your life.

 

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:shallowsThe Shallows by Nicholas Carr

This book explores the thinking that the internet, for all its instantaneous information, is making us stupid.  We are losing the ability to think deeply due to the ease with which we can easily source the answers to just about any question we can think of.  “The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:fooledFooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicolas Taleb

From the author of international bestseller The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness is the bestselling account of the hidden role of chance in life and the markets.Everyone wants to succeed in life. But what causes some of us to be more successful than others? Is it really down to skill and strategy – or something altogether more unpredictable? This book is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business and the world.