Current reads: January
The important books should be those that leave us wondering, with relief and gratitude, how the author could possibly have known so much about our lives. - The Course of Love
The appointments that we rarely keep are the ones with ourselves. Reading is one of the greatest forms of therapy where we can develop self-knowledge, new frames for thinking, and learn that others are a little more like us than we think. Below are some of my favorite reads this month, ones that are sure to encourage small changes in the way we live - whether it is adopting healthier lifestyles, learning about relationships, or lighting more candles in our home.
While Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries consistently rank highest in the World Happiness Report, Wiking believes that the keys to happiness and inner fulfillment are actually buried all around the globe. Lykke is the Danish word for happiness, and the author has dedicated his life to learn and explore global trends of satisfaction.
His writing mixes interesting facts, case studies, and real-life stories as he takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to inner fulfillment. He covers a wide range of components including how we spend our precious time, how we get to work, our interaction with our neighbors, how we approach meal times, and where we spend our money.
Meik Wiking is a native to Denmark, so naturally, the country is referred to often. But Wiking also includes excellent statistics as to how other places like the U.S. and the U.K. stack up in comparison. While we are often naturally consumed within our own societal ways, it may be difficult to see that perhaps there are better or simpler (and thus, happier) ways to approach our days. Adopt the tiniest of changes, and we can all find a little more lykke in our lives.
One of my favorite topics he shares is the positive effects of lighting candles. While the Danish burn more candles per household than anyone else, I'm single-handedly trying to close that gap over here.
Based out of Copenhagen, Kinfolk is focused on adopting a slow-lifestyle, promoting quality of life, and connecting communities. They have an aesthetically appealing magazine, known for smart design and moody colors, but I became even more interested in the company after reading their book, The Kinfolk Table.
I think there is a great, simple pleasure to be found in a shared meal. In our home, we try to have matlag dinners, drawing on rituals and traditions that bring loved ones to the table. The Kinfolk Table travels to four areas - Brooklyn, Copenhagen, the English countryside, and Portland – and brings us into their homes, lifestyles, and approaches to dining.
It feels deeply personal, and more than once did I examine how I'd like to structure my days.
I hate the term self-help when it comes to reading, much-preferring self-knowledge (something I think to be vital), but alas I am only one person, and the self-help section is probably where you will find this book.
Dr. Marklund lost his parents when both of them were still at a relatively young age. With the knowledge that genetics undoubtedly plays a role in our well-being, he set out to study public health and to research how our lifestyle affects our health and if it can, in turn, counteract undesired genetics.
The reason I particularly liked this book is due to the Swedish concept of lagom that he introduces. He describes lagom as "not too little, not too much" and applies it to many aspects of living – how we eat, how we exercise, and how we sleep. I've since adopted this concept into how I travel, and it's a fantastic feeling when you get things just right - not too much, not too little.
And as an avid believer that small changes lead to big differences, I particularly enjoyed the advice that he shares regarding how we start to make those small, yet fruitful, changes.
Alain de Botton is one of my favorite authors who prompts us to think about how we live. Often people are asked, "how did you meet?" but rarely are they interested in how a couple has managed to stay together. This novel lets you in on the intricacies of a particular couple and explores from different angles in what ways that they (and we, too) are particularly neurotic, deal with disagreement, and make co-habiting, at times, very difficult. I think it's an important (and quite entertaining) read for all relationships, romantic or not.