a pair of coloured mandalas from my mandala meditation colouring book

Books to Inspire Your Year

Monthly Favourites

Happy Monday! In my 2016 Goal Setting post, I expressed that one of my goals for the new year is to curate my media. And a big chunk of that media is books. I read a LOT, but over the last year, I found that I wasn’t reading a great many things that had some big impact on me or left me feeling inspired. I want to read more books that improve my quality of life.

I want to feel inspired every day, and inspiration doesn’t always come to you; sometimes you have to go to it. 2016 has, thus far, been off to a brilliant start. Erik and I just finished reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (a somewhat sad achievement, because we’ve slowly been working our way through it over the last year and it has become a source of inspiration and comfort during that time) and I’m now beginning to make my way through Guns, Germs, and Steel. If you’re also in the market for some inspirational reading material, here are some books to get you started.

1) Mandala Meditation Coloring Book

While this isn’t technically a book that one reads, I was so excited about it that I just had to share. 

2015 was the year of adult colouring. Nearly every bookstore I visited during the holiday season had giant tables devoted to adult colouring books and a variety of colouring accoutrements. And let me tell you, I drank the Kool-aid. I am now the proud owner of three colouring books, but this Mandala Meditation one quickly became my favourite.

I’ve always loved mandalas. Just to look at one is a peaceful experience, as your eyes trace the intricate patterns. Traditionally, they’ve been used as a tool for spiritual guidance, to help the viewer find a sacred or meditative state. And, super cool, they represent the cosmos, symbolizing a “microcosm of the universe” (Wiki’s words, not mine). But even if you aren’t thinking about all of these things while you’re colouring, it’s easy to get lost in the act of systematically colouring each component of the mandala.

I like to pick a colour scheme by choosing a few markers or pencil crayons that I want to use, and then work from the inside out, choosing one component of the mandala to colour, and working my way around the circle before moving to next outer ring. Let me know if you end up trying it out!

2) The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is Gretchen Rubin’s story of how she planned a year of becoming a happier person. For each month of the year, she chose an aspect of her life that she wanted to improve, and then set specific attainable goals to tackle that month that she felt would help facilitate this improvement. 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I bought when I was feeling particularly down, during a time in my life when my depression was at its worst. Oddly, during that time, I couldn’t bring myself to read it, and since then, I’ve been saving it in case another such time crops up and I feel like I truly need it. However, I’ve been hearing about it with odd frequency lately, from a few friends and family members. So, while I’m not feeling too shabby at the moment, it still feels like an appropriate time to read it. I love a good action plan. I love structure. And I love seeing somebody create a sweet ass plan and carry it out. I’m excited to read this. 

3) A Short History of Nearly Everything

I am a big fan of origin stories. The beginnings of an adventure always seem to be the most exciting for me. And there doesn’t seem to be an adventure more epic than the evolution of the universe. 

Bill Bryson’s writing style is so charming and funny. He discusses a broad range of subjects including the origins of the universe, scientific history, physics, and other subjects that might be considered dry or difficult, in a simplified, easy-to-understand, and entertaining way. There have been many moments where I’ve laughed out loud and had to whip out a highlighter for the funniest or most mindblowing bits. 

4) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This is one of the books that I’m currently reading. In my 2016 Goals post, I also mentioned that I wanted to declutter my life a little bit. I can be a bit of a collector at times, and I hope this book will help me learn to more easily let go of things that are no longer serving me. I’ve heard lots of great things about this book, and I’m excited to see the impact it has on how I tidy. I’ve already culled my bookshelves, organized my socks and underwear drawers, and accumulated 3 garbage bags of things to take to my next clothing swap! 

5) Guns, Germs, and Steel

Look! Another origin story! While “A Short History of Nearly Everything” covers the more scientific aspects of history, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” tackles the more human side of our history, beginning with our origins in Africa, to where we are today. This book has been on my radar for years, and Erik has been recommending it to me for nearly as long; now that I’m finally reading it, I’m thinking, “Man, why didn’t I get to this sooner?” 

6) Brave Enough

Brave Enough is a book of quotes from Cheryl Strayed’s other books. Strayed explains in the introduction to the book that she’s always been somebody who collected quotes and this collection has been an important part of her life. So she compiled this book of her own quotes, most of which I found really inspiring and awesome. Cheryl Strayed seems to have a very cool, unique world-view, and Brave Enough has made me excited to read some of her other non-fiction works, specifically, “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things”. 

I hope the you’ll find something to inspire and uplift you here. And if you have any suggestions for inspirational reading material, I would love your recommendations. More soon! xxoo

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