5 Books You Must Read This Year

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not spend enough time reading. Yet when I make the time, and get into a good habit, I reap the rewards. It’s something I really look forward to on holidays – long, interrupted dates with my kindle. Whilst Harry Potter was one of my first literary loves, these days I tend to crush harder on books that are expansive and challenge my ways of thinking.

These 5 books are ones that have all impacted me in one way or another. They are all very different, yet when I closed the final pages of each of them, I knew I was better for it. Some are addictive reads that will have you devouring the pages, whereas others are slower, requiring your mental and emotional investment. Not only are they entertaining, these books will challenge your thoughts and assumptions about your life, your impact, and your place in the world.

1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“Surrender to what ‘is’. Say ‘yes’ to life—and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”

This has been a favourite of mine for years. In fact, when I first came across it, I went round telling everyone near me just how life changing it was. This book must be read with intention; its lessons are often painfully truthful and just what you need to hear. This book takes you on a journey to find your truest self and helps you disconnect from the relentless chatter of your mind. In essence, The Power of Now emphasises the importance of being present in the now and gives you actionable strategies to start living every minute as it unfolds – after all, life is just a series of present moments, and these present moments are all we truly ever have. If there was one book I would recommend every single person read, this would be it!

2. Then It Fell Apart by Moby
“What do you do when you realise you have everything you think you’ve ever wanted but still feel completely empty? What do you do when it all starts to fall apart?”

Moby’s second book ROCKS. It is raw. It is real. It is authentic. And I loved every single page. It is written in a funny, self-deprecating way which had me half-horrified, half-giggling the entire way through. In his book, Moby is completely honest about his relationship and struggle with drugs and alcohol. It’s fascinating to see the detrimental impact that fame had on him, and how much it can affect a person. Not often do we acknowledge how lonely and isolating fame can be. Everything on the outside can be amazing and you can have achieved everything you ever dreamed of, yet on the inside you can still be so sad and lost. I think this issue rings true for so many people, and I give huge kudos to Moby for addressing it. This book discusses so many relevant issues – addiction, mental health and societal pressures, to name a few. Yet despite how badly Moby was treating his body, mind and loved ones, the whole time he remained a passionate, dedicated vegan and animal rights activist. For me, it’s fascinating to see that you can have no regard for yourself and those around you, but still live and fight for the animals – every single day.

3. How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger
“Imagine if terrorists created a bio agent that spread mercilessly claiming the lives of nearly 400,000 Americans every year. That is the equivalent of one person every 83 seconds, every hour around the clock, year after year. The pandemic would be front page news, all day, every day with Marshall the army and march our finest medical minds into a room to figure out how to find a cure for this bio terror plague.”

Our #1 killer is a different type of terrorism – heart disease. As a child, Michael watched his heart-diseased grandma, who on the very brink of death, return to full health and live another 20 years. Her cure was a plant-based diet, an absolute miracle to the family and all the doctors who had sent her home with a bunch of pills to die. This launched Dr. Greger on a lifelong mission to explore and promote the healing power of foods. This book explores hundreds of studies and shows you what to eat to prevent the top 15 causes of death. The basic truth is that doctors, for the most part, are extremely proficient at treating the symptoms of illnesses, yet they are woeful at preventing chronic disease. I have utmost respect for this man – he has made it his mission to unwind the bias inherent in peer reviewed nutrition literature in order to present the true facts about our diets. If you’re into science-based nutrition, this is the read for you!

4. Back, After the Break by Osher Günsberg
“I’ve learned what rock bottom is…it’s only then that you’re able to take responsibility for the decisions that have put you there, and start the long and painful climb out of the muck in a direction you’ve never gone before.”

Osher Günsberg’s memoir reveals all as he opens up about his life, struggles and battle with mental illness. Similarly to Moby’s Then It Fell Apart, this book emphasises how, whilst everything appears fantastic from the outside, the internal truth can be quite the opposite. Growing up seeing ‘Andrew G’ on TV, I have distinct memories of him announcing Guy Sebastian as the winner of our first ever Australian Idol. To me, I saw a funny, charming, attractive man. Little did I know that this was a man who had struggled with anxiety, panic attacks and depression since his youth. This is a tale full of love. It explores Osher’s journey as he pieces his life back together after ending up unemployed, divorced and suicidal. My favourite part? He’s been plant-based through it all. Long live the vegans!

5. A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield
“When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy.”

A Path with Heart
is a guidebook about living with compassion, presence, and spirituality. This book made my list because it is so accessible. I love that Kornfield acknowledges just how challenging it can be to bring spiritual living into our hectic, modern day world, and I think this is a reason it has had such success – he uses everyday scenarios to convey his teachings learned from Buddhist discipline and mindfulness. He shows us how we can bring these practices into our modern day lives and shows us how we can apply them in little ways that will change our daily reality. I would even go as far to say that this book is a bible or a directory, because he touches on so many relevant issues – addiction, mental health, sexuality, relationships and compassion. You’ll want to take your time turning the pages of this one - it is an incredibly wise and gentle book, perfect for those of you willing to open your heart and learn.

Dara HayesComment