Quality of Life Books
We love water, but do you wonder why? We flock to the ocean and lakes to sit quietly taking it all in. We need water daily to survive. We love to splash and float in water. “The Blue Mind story seeks to reconnect people to nature in ways that make them feel good, and shows them how water can help them become better versions of themselves.”
Water is life and it touches us physically, emotionally and intellectually. Water can give us a sense of weightlessness, floating, calm, and fully protected. Wallace makes a strong case supported by scientists that our many connections to water are important to a happy and healthy life.
Our planet, when viewed from outer space, looks like a blue marble. Our world, blue with water, is something to cherish. His book reminds us of how connected we are to each other and nature.
DESIGNING YOUR LIFE
Have you ever been curious about what would be the most joyful life for you? What gives you joy? What does not give you joy? How can you build a well-lived life?
This is a wayfinding process. As the authors state: “Wayfinding is the ancient art of figuring out where you are going when you don’t actually know your destination.”
This book guides your exploration as you hone in on the actions to build your life. Learn how to handle gravity problems — the ones that are good at getting us stuck from moving forward. Create your dashboard and identify actions for a life that makes sense.
Bill Burnet and Dave Evans are Standford University Professors of the hugely successful course “Designing Your Life.” “A well-designed life is a life that makes sense. It’s a life in which who you are, what you believe, and what you do all line up together.”
It is as if we are all able to attend the hugely successful Stanford University course where Burnett and Evans share their insights, technology,, and tools. Is it time to begin designing your life?
Dr. Qing Li shares the science behind our deep need to be connected to nature. Japan is a forest civilization and 2/3 of the country is covered in forest, even it is one of the most densely populated countries. Over the years, Japan has become aware of the need to stay connected with nature even while living in cities.
In the 1980s the Japanese National Health Program added Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku) for wellness. A Forest Bath is a 2-hour slow walk on a lovely forest path with no cell phones and no talking — while taking everything in through all your senses. A Forest Bath brings you into the present moment and de-stresses you. Many in Japan practice Shrinrin-Yoku regularly. Studies show that Forest Bathing can reduce blood pressure, lower stress, lift depression, improve energy, and more.
Learn how to practice Forest Bathing and how to bring the forest indoors.
Two books on how to live in harmony with our planet are: 1) Diet for a Small Planet, published in 1971, and 2) Hopes Edge The Next Diet for a Small Planet, published in 1975. Both books remain powerfully relevant today. As Frances states “Changing the way we eat will not change the world, but it may begin to changes us, and then we can be part of the changing world.”
The book, Diet for a Small Planet, digs deep into our food system to understand what drives wasteful and destructive processes and how they relate to hunger around the world. She discovered the hidden “rules” and processes that result in a food system that can harm health, leave any hunger and hurts the planet. The book then shares how we can transform this awareness into actions. Frances invites us to a personal revolution that is good for people and the planet.
Hope’s Edge The Next Diet for a Small Planet is the story of the journey of Frances and her daughter Anna Lappe as they travel around the world looking for glimmers of hope. They were seeking knowledge on how people are transcending consumerism to the benefit of people and the planet. It is chocked full of inspirational stories about how we can produce, enjoy, and share food in alignment with nature. It truly gives us hope.
HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING VEGETARIAN
Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food By Mark Bittman
As a home cook, I struggled to prepare vegetarian meals. I love vegetables but making a complete delicious meal was a challenge. Once I had Mark Bittman’s book, that all melted away. Mark’s book has everything! If you like to entertain, Mark’s book has 76 appetizer recipes. There are recipes for salads, soups, vegetables, fruits, pasta, noodles, grains, beans, tofu and other high protein foods, dairy, bread, and desserts. The recipes are straightforward, unfussy, and fabulous tasting.
Some of my favorites are Pizza with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella, Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Vegetable Stock (never buy it anymore), and Hot and Sour Soup. Guided by Mark Bittman’s book, I became a confident-cook.
Dominique Crenn takes us on her life journey from early childhood adoption to a loving, well-to-do French family to the unique creative chef she is today. Her experiences with family dinner parties gave her insights into how the local ingredients brought together with art can be otherworldly (glamorous and fun). Dominique takes you along on her bold journey from France to San Francisco and as she worked her way through the ups and downs of the culinary world.
Dominque has a way of diving in headfirst while staying connected to her journey and vision.
She has a deep awareness of the connection of food to our health and the environment. She shares a simple message: “that people should eat and consider where food on their plate comes from.” More importantly, she brings this into her kitchen with vegetable-forward meals from local and sustainable sources. Her chapter on “The Ethical Kitchen” includes ideas for how we can all eat healthier and sustainable for the planet.
In her restaurant, Atelier Crenn, all the dimensions of her personality come together. They create an adventure that flows with life. The restaurant does not even have its name outside. The adventure begins as you search for this small restaurant and find the side door to enter. Once inside and seated, the menu is a poem that hints at what the multi-course meal will be while never directly stating the courses. The poetry is to draw you in and connect with nature and joy. Each dish in this vegetable-forward tasting menu is with local ingredients from local farms and fisheries. The atmosphere is a deep, elegant connection with nature and your senses.
The book is an engaging and candid view of what drove Dominque Crenn to become an award-winning chef.
THE FUTURE WE CHOOSE
The Future We Choose makes it clear that two dates are essential to keep top of mind: 2030 and 2050. By 2050 we must have stopped emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the planet can naturally absorb through the ecosystems. To do this we must begin a significant reduction in the 2020s and reduce by 50% by 2030. So the next decade is key to mitigate the worst of the climate changes. As we take a moment to wrap our minds around this — this decade, this means now.
Christiana and Tom take us through a quick tour of the terrible consequences. They ask the question where are you? The majority of people understand and “acknowledge the evidence but take no action because they don’t know what to do, or. because it is far easier not to think about climate change. It is scary and overwhelming.” It is this global majority that can make a difference and needs to act.
The book shares 10 actions that we can take to move toward meeting the reduction targets. One of them is seeing yourself as a citizen – not a consumer. Changing this point of view lets you step back and think. Is this something I really need? Is this good for my quality of life and the planet? Changing your point of view, opens new doors and enables you to take new actions.
The Future We Choose is both scary and optimistic and suggests ambitious ways to make a difference.
THE LITTLE BOOK OF KINDNESS
It is time for all of us to have a kindness epiphany! One day Bernadette decided to go on a year-long journey of kindness. She had been overwhelmed by the troubles of the world. She pondered the big problems such as the environment, wars, famine, and little problems. It seemed there was nothing she could do to make a difference. Then by chance, she changed her life.
Let us share this moment in her own words: “I was in the queue at our local post office. In front of me in the queue was a young man. He got to the counter and I overheard him say he’d forgotten his money, and that he’d been hoping to post his driving license application. So, without thinking, I said, ‘I’ll pay for it.’ It cost me a bit of loose change for a stamp, no big deal. He said, ‘Thanks very much’ and went on his way. I thought about what had just happened. I thought maybe what I had done was cheered him up a bit. I realized it definitely cheered me up because I had very easily been able to make a tiny difference to another person.” This is when Bernadette decided to do a kind thing for a stranger every day for a year!
The Little Book of Kindness is inspiring and chock full of kindness ideas. She completed her feat of kindness acts for a year. It changed her for the better and made a difference to others. Explore her chapters in order or dive into one that intrigues you. Some of the chapters are: be kind to yourself, be kind to strangers, be kind to those you love, be kind to the environment, be kind online, and so on. We agree with Bernadette that being kind makes you happier and healthier. Enjoy!
THE MIRACLE OF MINDFULNESS
Reading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh is like receiving letters from a wise friend about how to introduce mindfulness into your busy, stressful life. The book evolved from letters that Nhat Hanh wrote to Brother Quang to encourage workers during a dark time in Vietnam. These personal and direct letters became this accessible introduction to meditation. While originally published in 1975, today its messages and practices continue to inspire people around the world.
The book has been translated from the original Vietnamese and has readers on every continent in the world. Hanh has written more than 100 books, which have sold millions of copies in the United States alone.
Treat yourself with this book. Then begin your mindfulness journey guided by this Zen master. Try the many practical exercises from deep breathing to washing dishes; to helping a child with homework; to contemplating interconnectedness; to liberating yourself from narrow views;to just a simple smile. Let your meditation practice bring you to greater understanding and peacefulness.
THE MODERN COOKS YEAR
More Than 250 Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes to See You Through the Seasons By Anna Jones
If you are interested in vegetarian and seasonal meals, then this book is for you! Anna Jones’ lovely book wanders through the seasons with food from starters, mains, and desserts. She helps you plan your year through the chapters: herald of spring, the first warm days of summer, autumn, and winter. It is an accessible culinary adventure with recipes that put vegetables front and center.
Anna has a way of knowing what will please the taste buds in alignment with the seasons. Her recipes use creative combinations from her experiences. For example, I love lemon cake, but her lemon and cardamom upside-down cake takes it to another level. The book shines with unexpected and wonderful flavor combinations. Anna’s book makes cooking vegetarian an at-home culinary experience. I highly recommend it!
THE RABBIT LISTENED
We found the perfect book for 2020 for children and adults. It is a tender and gentle story of grief and empathy when something goes wrong. The Rabbit Listened by Cory Doerrfeld is heartwarming and the lovely prose and illustrations are guides for helping someone in a difficult time. So cuddle up with a hot chocolate and this book for a moment of reflection. Then listen to someone who needs your help.
THE SCIENCE OF YOGA
Have you ever wondered why yoga is so popular or why it makes you feel good? Well, then this book is for you. The Science of Yoga, The Risks and Rewards by William J Broad is a well researched and informative read that explains yoga’s healing potential. Yoga is one of the fastest-growing health and fitness activities around the world. This book helps you understand the 13 different types of yoga and how they developed over the years (the good and the bad).
The first couple of pages of the chronology from 2500 BC to 2011 is a history fly by with fascinating facts, and sets the broad context. The book then explores yoga with chapters on Health, Fit Perfection, Moods, Risk of Injury, Healing, Divine Sex, and Muse. I think you will find The Science of Yoga is informative and entertaining, and will motivate you to try yoga or expand your practice.
As a treat for yourself, curl up with this riveting true-life tale. Once you do, we are sure you will want to add sun salutations to your day!
THE SECRET NETWORK OF NATURE
Nature is a connected network of life that we rarely notice. Peter Wohlleben shares many examples of this interconnected-ness so we can begin to see nature in all its beautiful complexity. Based on science he leads us through life cycles where salmon, rivers, and trees support each other. We learn how wolves, bears, and fish need each other in Yellowstone National Park. To our surprise trees take loving care of their young. In one chapter he explores our role in nature.
Peter opens our eyes and we will never look at nature the same again. It is magical and deserves our understanding and care.
On page 186 he shares scientific knowledge on trees and how they care for their families. “Beeches, as well as Douglas first and other socially-oriented species, love their families. If that sounds exaggerated it’s worth taking a moment to listen to the Canadian scientist Dr. Suzanne Simard. She discovered that mother trees can sense through their roots whether the seedlings at their feet are their own children or the offspring of other trees of their own species. They support only their own children, by providing them with sugar through connected root systems – effectively by suckling them. But that is not all. To help the young trees, the parents step back underground, leaving the little ones more room, water and nutrients.”
THE STORY OF MORE
If I could retitle this book, I would call it, Does This Make Sense to You? Hope shares a wealth of information in concise, eye-opening chapters that make you question things we all take for granted. When reading Chapter 2 on food, I kept asking myself, does this make sense? Learning how our food is produced and wasted is shocking. It does not make sense to me!
One example is the farming of salmon. It takes 15 pounds of fish to create 3 pounds of fish meal to feed and grow a one pound salmon. Once again, I find myself saying, this does not make sense.
In the chapter Throwing It All Away, we learn: “Every day, almost one billion people go hungry, while a different billion people intentionally foul enough food to feed them. We gamble our forests, freshwater, and fuel on food that we have no intention of eating and we lose every single time.”
The Story of More is a pleasure to read even though it is shocking. A must-read for anyone that wants a quick way to become informed on our impact on the planet.
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