As a mother of two children under two years old, devoting 17–20 hours a day to childcare, I often felt isolated and shut off from the rest of the world.
Throughout the day, I would lose my temper, releasing pent-up frustration. Trapped in a daily routine dictated by toddler and baby schedules, I felt suffocated. At best, I often breathed sighs of relief that there was a routine to the madness.
In these moments, I realised I was craving connection. As a mother, it’s easy to feel disconnected to the outside world and to anything meaningful. We are plugged into every moment of our children’s lives, meeting their needs unconditionally and that can be fulfilling but when that is all you are doing, the loss of connection to the adult world can dwarf that sweet fulfillment.
How do we momentarily connect with the outside world? Pause for a few minutes to be re-energised and refreshed so that we can be our best selves around our children? For me, the following books had a profound impact on finding connection and meaning in my life again. Either listening to the audio book or reading the kindle version whenever I had a temporary opportunity made the world of difference.
I felt connected to characters and people worlds away, whether fictional or non-fictional. I stepped away from my consuming existence for a short while.
Our need to feel connected to something greater than our everyday existence is an important one and a need that is often overlooked. Everyone has a story of a moment in their life when they felt disconnected — be that the early stages of motherhood, the relationship break-up, the promising job that turned out to be a dead-end or the loss of a loved one.
The next time you feel disconnected from the world, pick up one of these books. They’ll re-affirm your faith in life, in others and most importantly, in yourself.
The Overstory (Fiction) by Richard Powers
Richard Powers’ 12th novel, The Overstory tells the tale of two very different worlds — one of humans and that of non-humans (trees) caught up in the timber wars of the Pacific Northwest. A beautiful novel of humans reconnecting with nature with a select few having access to an invisible yet fascinatingly inventive world.
A complex plot with colourful, rich characters — a revealing and rewarding read that will rekindle your love for nature.
Man’s Search for Meaning (Non-fiction) by Viktor Frankl
This book is great for coming to terms with suffering, making sense of tough situations and finding our purpose in life.
The author, an Auschwitz Nazi death camp survivor, illustrates, that through suffering, we find meaning and the drive to keep going. Our goal in life is not to attain pleasure or power but to ‘discover meaning’ and it is the pursuit of this meaning that provides the purpose of life.
Specifically, the book advocates finding meaning in three different ways: through making ourselves useful to others, through unconditionally loving others and through suffering.
A significant book that continues to shine its wisdom whatever our circumstances.
The Hero With a Thousand Faces (Non-fiction) by Joseph Campbell
A captivating take on mythology and how they explain human nature and the psyche. All cultures have similar mythology and stories that act as metaphors for human psychology and behaviour.
As a race we all ultimately have one story, a monomyth, with elements of creation and destruction. For example, there are many parallels between Greek and Hindu myths centred around similar story lines. The Hero With A Thousand Faces brings together mythology across the full spectrum of human cultures, ancient and modern, ranging from Hindu, Greek, Jewish, Maori, Buddhist, Romans amongst others.
A fascinating examination of the human psyche, including our natural desires to explain our inner world through the power of stories.
The Meaning of Human Existence (Non-fiction)by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward O’ Wilson
Wilson, a fascinating biologist, flags shrewd insights that highlight our inadequate understanding of the world. Almost a brief history on mankind, the story narrates human progress across science and the arts. Our self-obsession is what propels our ability to invent, innovate and achieve almost god-like status. Why do we prefer to live near water? Why would aliens never colonise the world?
The most insightful moments of the book are the ones on religion — whilst religion provides a wonderful sense of community and order in a chaotic world, it amplifies more evils overall through archaic beliefs and the encouragement of behaviours that no longer serve us as a species. Strict codes, ways of being and demands for loyalty instigate religious superiority and encourage discrimination. Blind faith over evidence-based inquiry feeds religious tribalism.
A serious but brilliant book, that will get you thinking about life’s big questions.
Beyond Religion (Non-fiction) by Dalai Lama
One of the greatest political philosophers of all time, the Dalai Lama makes the case for living an ethical life based on a universal set of human values that transcends religious borders. The concept that religion is outdated and humans are evolving to become more spiritual beings is the theme of the book and offers promise of a better, ethical framework for living peacefully.
The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Non-fiction) by Alan Watts
A powerful little book that will literally change your mindset. Those who have read the book report a shift in mindset and the way they look at the world. Based on Eastern philosophies and the Hindu concept of Vedanta, the book discusses how we are all part of a greater consciousness, rather than isolated beings. In fact acting in isolation removes joy, brings discontent and is destructive — we view everyone and everything with hostility, abusing nature and our own people. It leaves us helpless, angry and traumatised. By recognising that we are connected to everyone and everything around us, we act differently, make better decisions, leave the ego at the door and become more self-aware.
Autobiography of a Yogi (Non-fiction) by Paramahansa Yogananda
A spiritual masterpiece and fascinating autobiography by Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the most incredible spiritual masters of our time. The book articulates his journey to ‘self-realisation’ or ‘enlightenment’. A childhood filled with strong mentors and teachers, Paramahansa trained under the strict and disciplined teachings of his highly regarded guru. Through the study of yoga and meditation, he achieves great feats unheard of for humans (and which would conventionally be termed as ‘magic’).
Observing regular miracles and living an extraordinary existence, he sheds light on a whole new type of spiritual existence that is far removed from everyday life. He brought his teachings to the United States where he taught for 30 years, crossing paths with other great spiritual leaders including Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. You may want to read it a few times due to its intensity and detail.
A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I create reading lists/book prescriptions based on your individual needs. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or www.booktherapy.io. You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and book prescriptions.
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