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Read Your Way to Resolutions

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My New Year’s Resolution was to take more stupid pictures of myself. Clockwise from top right: Running with the Mind of Meditation, The Happiness Project, The Power of Habit, The Great Oom and Yoga Bitch, What I Talk about when I Talk about Running, Drop Dead Healthy.

New Year’s Day was almost a week ago, which means three things: 1. I’m getting embarrassed that my Christmas tree’s still up (but am still too lazy to take it down), 2. Walgreens already has their Valentine’s merchandise on display (Are the people who shop this early for Valentine’s Day really the type to buy their chocolates at a drugstore? And are there really people who shop this early for Valentine’s Day?), and 3. Everyone who made New Year’s Resolutions is starting to question their ability to stick to them … and the people who didn’t are being shamed by their Facebook feeds into recommitting to health and wellness anyway, since it seems everyone else is doing it.

If you want to recharge your resolve, or just set out to improve something in your life, there’s nothing like a book to help you out. I’m not just being a nerd here; I’m being serious. Those quick-read blog lists of “10 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds” or “5 New Superfoods” generally effect me for about the same amount of time it takes to read them (about 45 seconds before I’m distracted by a YouTube video or a picture of a cat or something). The thing about reading a book is that it takes a relatively long time — and that’s a good thing when it comes to creating a new habit in your life. Reading about whatever you’re resolving to do lets you concentrate on your goal in a different way (and in a way that’s relatively easy, since it doesn’t involve putting on running shoes and heading into the cold). It also helps you learn more about what you’re doing so it stays fresh and exciting. It means the habits you’re creating now are more likely to stick.

Here’s my list of a few great books that help support the resolutions I’m hearing a lot about this year:

Running with the Mind of Meditation: I’m reading this one now, because I’m trying to multitask and make my running time work for me in other ways. I can meditate while I run? Two birds, one stone! Actually I’m pretty sure this book is ultimately going to teach me that “multitask” is a dirty word, and, while we’re at it, I shouldn’t be using dead bird metaphors if I want my soul to be at peace. Anyway, I’ll let you know. It’s pretty good so far.

The Happiness Project: This happy lady has a super popular blog where she details her mission to bring more happiness into her life. I haven’t dipped into this yet myself, but it seems like a pretty cool project. She also has a follow-up book, Happier at Home, that focuses totally on the home life, so you already have a build-in sequel of sorts if you like this one.

The Power of Habit: This book I’m throwing in because it pretty much covers everything, and I can claim my list is more comprehensive than it really is. Also because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s interesting in a social science, Blink/Tipping Point kind of way, and the interesting bits have good practical applications to life. Basically it dissects the way humans experience habits, and outlines how we can use that knowledge to mold our current habits, or to create new ones. Pretty fascinating stuff, and handy when you’re trying to carve a new habit into your life.

The Great Oom and Yoga Bitch: The Great Oom is a memoir of (arguably) the man who brought yoga to America. Neat! Yoga Bitch is a super-entertaining, incredibly funny look at serious yoga types through the eyes of a person who only sort of drinks their Kool-Aid. It’s kind of like Eat, Pray, Love, if Elizabeth Gilbert skipped the whole Italy/pasta thing, went straight to the yoga, then went all Seinfeld-y on the ashram.

What I Talk about when I Talk about Running: Some people (ahem, Kevin) hated this book. I loved it. For one thing, Murakami actually limits himself to one plane of existence, which is kind of refreshing. But mostly I liked it because he talks about running as a meditation (I guess that’s sort of a theme for me and for this list), specifically one that helps him be a better writer (I’m kind of into that writing thing, too).

Drop Dead Healthy: If you think all this diet/exercise talk is silly and excessive, this is your book. A.J. Jacobs spends a year trying to get healthy, and he pretty much tries every path offered to get there: The good, the bad, and the really stupid. He’s a smart guy and a funny writer, so the result is the perfect antidote to the calorie counting Apps your friends keep tweeeting and the juice fast your best friend won’t shut up about. Here’s a way to make fun of all that obsession while actually learning a bit about what really works for getting healthy.

Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.











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