BOOK CLUB: 5 Non-Fiction Books That Inspire Mindfulness & Gratitude

November 19, 2021

As our American friends countdown to Thanksgiving (it falls on November 25th this year), we thought this month’s Book Club is a great opportunity to honour the important holiday by focusing on mindfulness and gratitude.

 

While Thanksgiving traditionally gives thanks for the annual harvest, many celebrate with a roast turkey, all the trimmings, pecan pie, and the appreciation for the people and things they’re surrounded by. However, it’s also important to recognise and commemorate the Native Americans who lost their lives at the hands of foreign settlers.

 

As we enter the season of indulgence, (and after the last couple of years), there’s more than ever plenty of things to celebrate and be grateful for. Use this time to take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, count your blessings and tune into the present moment, remembering not to take the little joys in life for granted.

 

The five books we’ve chosen for this month’s Book Club are all written from first-hand experiences, captivating the reader and offering nuanced examples of mindfulness and gratitude in action. 

 

It’s often a struggle to tune out the many distractions in our lives and focus on the present moment and what’s most important to us. While the following list nods to the Thanksgiving season, each fantastically written book is appropriate all year round by inspiring gratitude practice and thankfulness into our daily lives as well as encouraging us to handle the tough times with grace, acceptance, and surrender.

 

 

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changes Two Lives, Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin Ganda & Liz Welch

 

Based upon a true story and one letter that changed two lives forever. 12-year-old Pennsylvania native, Caitlin, begins a long-distance friendship with a Zimbabwean boy, Martin, due to a school assignment.

 

The pen pals fast become friends as they learn of the other’s life and the vast differences growing up in their respective countries. As Caitlin discovers Martin’s struggles to get an education (despite being incredibly smart), she sets out to do more to help him and his family than just write letters.

 

A very moving story of growth, diversity, prejudice, and discipline. It focuses on the strength of true friendship, love, and the inherent goodness of humanity, regardless of status or wealth. Throughout the correspondence, the reader follows Caitlin’s journey of personal growth as she comes to understand what is truly important in life.

 

This emotional, uplifting book inspires kindness by demonstrating how one simple act can change another’s life entirely. An amazing story that will certainly prompt us to look beyond our own lives and wonder about the world at large and our place within it.

 

Gratitude, Oliver Sacks 

 

Famous neurologist, Oliver Sacks, wrote a collection of four philosophical essays during the last few months of his life. He profoundly and gracefully explores his own feelings on life, aging, confronting sickness, and coming to terms with his own death.

 

Sacks’ musings are so unflinchingly honest that it sometimes hurts. This collection of essays is filled with beautiful and forceful quotes of a life well-lived that will stay with you for a long time after – maybe even some to be shared with your loved ones while tucking into your Thanksgiving dinner.

 

These essays are an eloquent and powerful meditation on the gift of life as well as an ode to the uniqueness of humans, encouraging the reader’s own thoughts on all they are thankful for. A short read that can be gobbled up in between servings of mash potato.

 

Here For It, R. Eric Thomas

 

Author, R. Eric Thomas, didn’t know he was different until the world kept pointing it out to him. In this collection of essays, Thomas explores each chapter of his life, from his rich, white, suburban high school, his conservative black church and his Ivy League college to living with his first boyfriend, accidentally becoming famous on the internet and finding the balance of being both gay and Christian (plus much more!).

 

Riddled with intense humour and balanced with sobering, deeply moving words, this memoir will have you going through all motions as it’s one that will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with self-acceptance or wished to shine a little brighter – all of us to some degree, right?

 

Here For It is a book you’ll find yourself revisiting in the years to come, re-envisioning what ‘normal’ means and reminding us we can always create a more positive future for ourselves and the ones we love.

 

I Want To Thank You, Gina Hamadey

 

Gina Hamadey found herself completely disconnected from the world around her after spending too many hours scrolling social media. To rid herself of the online fatigue, she decided to spend the next 12 months of her daily commute writing 365 thank you notes to friends, family members, neighbours and strangers, which shifted her perspective entirely.

 

Throughout her year-long journey of discovery, she found that actively practicing gratitude made her reconnect with her loved ones, heal complicated relationships and become more present, joyful and overall, a happier person.

 

This book is compelling and well-researched, including interviews with experts on relationships, gratitude, and more. It will inspire you to jump-start your journey of joy by focusing outward and recognising those who contribute to all the delights in your life, whether it be your friends and family members or local shopkeepers, career mentors, healthcare workers, and favourite authors. ‘Tis the season to be thankful after all!

 

The Comfort Book, Matt Haig

 

Years ago, now best-selling author, Matt Haig, began writing notes to his future self. The notes were intended gifts to offer hope to help himself find sunshine through dark periods and moments. 

 

Each of Haig’s contemplations presents a fresh perspective on the highs and lows of life. The body of work is like one big comforting hug, reminding us to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the unpredictability of life. 

 

The Comfort Book is compiled of small chapters offering reassurance and encouragement with interludes comprising of thoughts, poems, and lists of favourite movies and music. A beautiful gift to the reader, helping us understand ourselves and reminding us that true growth occurs during our most testing times. The power of words will leaves the reader feeling valued and supported while inspiring us to be more mindful, not just of ourselves and the activities we choose to engage in, but also of those around us - both strangers and familiar faces. 

 

 

For Thanksgiving-themed books to read with children, check out September’s Book Club: 10 Children’s Books That Teach Gratitude.

Emily Davies
Book Club

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