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25 Items To Add To Your Summer Must-Read Book List

25 Items To Add To Your Summer Must-Read Book List

Summer’s around the corner and we’re all too busy fussing about where to go and what to pack, all we need now is the very necessary summer must-read. Think of this list as a display window of an online bookshop; you could indulge in some not-so-guilty pleasure contemporary fiction, pick up a classic that you never have the time for in your day-to-day or even a self-help book that can possibly make your summer a life changing experience. Here are 25 books to help you make the best of your time (and of course, help you take the perfect Instagram picture with your book and smoothie by the pool to make all your friends jealous)

Summer Must-Read for the Contemporary Lovers

1. Every Day by David Levithan

    The thing about this story is it keeps you questioning. It’s the thoughtful and captivating journey of A, who has an indeterminate gender, family and even an indeterminate name, as he finds himself waking up in a new body in a new life each and every day. Soon enough, things change when A meets Rhiannon and so arises the question: can you be loved by a single person, if you’re a different person every day. This book goes beyond romance and makes us long for a true human connection.

    2. One Day by David Nicholls

      On the theme of days, this book is about Emma and Dexter who meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. It’s a realistic love story making it a whole lot less of a cliché than most. It captures the effect of time on people and relationships; the strains and the struggles and the longing and the nostalgia. It’s told through snapshots of both their lives on one day over the course of twenty years and with this one, there seems to be no middle ground as it’s a conundrum in itself.

      3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

        This is the story of Bee, the 15-year-old daughter of Bernadette Fox, a notorious, fearlessly opinionated and revolutionary architect. It begins when Bernadette disappears and Bee – through emails and secret correspondence – begins her search for her. This book is original, satirical, sharp and ultimately about self-discovery and acceptance.

        4. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

          This book unlike many is charming. It takes place in 1999 just before the turn of the millennium and is Lincoln O’Neill, the new “internet security officer” who comes across the hilarious emails between Beth Fermont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder discussing all the details of their personal lives. Despite the job description stating he should probably be turning those emails in, he can’t help but be captivated and keep reading, until he realises he might be falling for Beth. It’s light and sweet, definitely lifts spirits for the summer.

          5. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

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            This haunting and tender story of the brief lives of the Lisbon sisters is all about the enigmatic and the magical. Twenty years later, they remain in the minds of the boys who worshipped them and the book is them recalling their shared memories of the slow and unexpected disintegration of the family next door. The suburban vibes and the warm hues that are so well described make reading this book an experience you can’t miss out on.

            Summer Must-Read for the Classicists 

            6. 1984 by George Orwell

              Written in 1948, 1984 is essentially Orwell’s prophecy of the future. It presents a chilling dystopia that is so powerful and convincing from start to finish because it captivates the imagination and has withstood the test of time making it timeless. Orwell’s complex depiction of the future requires multiple readings to take it all in but you could definitely appreciate the genius on the first time.

              7. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

                This book is an examination of how we live and a guide on how to live better. It’s a story of love, fear, growth, discovery and acceptance and brings up all of life’s fundamental questions making it very exhilarating but both touching and sublime. If you’d like a challenge filled with speculations and confusions, this could be the one for you.

                8. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

                  Dream-like modern classic about Randle Patrick McMurphy who walks into the world of a mental hospital and takes over, attempting to challenge the “dictatorship of Nurse Ratched”. This novel revolves around defiance and the struggle between two relentless opponents and will give you hope that maybe, just maybe, there’s a possibility to rise above  the machine and The Man and find your humanity again.

                  9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

                    F. Scott’s aim was to write “something new — something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned” and so he did. This book is an encapsulation of the Jazz Age with Jay Gatsby – a self-made, self-invented millionaire – leading it all and embodying all of America’s obsessions of the time: money, ambition, greed and the promise of new beginnings. It’s the American Dream in action along with all its contradictions and obstinate hope.

                    10. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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                      This story in a nutshell is about Celie, a poor African-American girl living in Georgia who overcomes poverty, sexual oppression, racial oppression and separation from family to become a strong woman. It’s told through diary entries which makes it very personal and despite the portrayal of the abuse that could be a little overwhelming, it almost brings a reality check and could be a very introspective experience.

                      Summer Must-Read for the Travellers 

                      11. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

                        Many worry being seen with this book will make people think it’s a book about the relentless rants of a neurotic 34 year-old-woman, but it’s beyond that. It’s a memoir about Elizabeth’s enlightenment and self-discovery as she travels to examine three different aspects of her nature: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and balance between enjoyment and divine transcendence in Bali. This journey to seek answers and a sense of serenity encourages us to do the same and go on a journey that will help us find some sense of happiness and balance.

                        12. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

                          This book commands you to live deliberately, have no fear and live with no compromise. It’s about the riveting story of Chris McCandless, a young man who left his family, friends and abandoned most of his possessions to go to Alaska. The essence of the novel is that it makes you want to live more, to truly understand the meaning of Reality.

                          13. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

                            This is the story of a one thousand and one hundred mile solo hike that broke down a young woman shaken by catastrophe and built her back up again. And it has it all: tragedy, drugs, lust, infidelity, nature, humour and adventure keeping you interested. Some might say that this book is what “Eat, Pray, Love” aimed to be.

                            14. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson

                              This book is a classic of travel literature and is hilarious with a touch of heartache. Bill Bryson discovers a continent that was doubly lost; once to itself as it was blighted by greed, pollution and television and once again to him because he had become a stranger in his own land as he had left Des Moines as soon as he was old enough. It’s very poignant but I have to warn you, it could make you call your travel agent.

                              15. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

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                                On The Road is about Jack’s years of travelling in the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady. They roam the country on a quest for self-discovery and experience and Kerouac’s patriotism and compassion combine to make this inspirational piece of freedom and longing. Just like The Lost Continent, this could make you feel the urge to research hippie culture, quite your job and just drive.

                                Non-Fictionists 

                                16. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

                                  This is the story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic and most importantly the ways in which we can fight back. Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese, 70 pounds of sugar, 8,500 milligrams of salt a day and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year. This book is an eye-opener and has a very empowering narrative.

                                  17. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

                                    We’ve all taken one of those online tests titled “Are you a PSYCHOPATH?”, well know you can know for sure. They say that one out of every hundred people is a psychopath and this bestselling novel is an exploration of the world of those who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive and delusional. How can this be any more appealing?

                                    18. Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits by Kevin Roose

                                      Every year, thousands of eager college graduates are hired by the world’s financial giants, where they’re taught he secrets of making ridiculous amounts of money in addition to a guide on how to dress, talk, date and drink. This book is an insight into the world of Kevin Roose and all his young bankers that are exposed to the workload, the bonuses and the drugs that are the essence of Wall Street life.

                                      19. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

                                        This is the book that can make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change. Malala’s tale is remarkable as it’s about family, culture and – the trigger of her peaceful protest – her entitlement to an education. This will remind you how much we take for granted and will allow you to see life through a very different perspective whilst keeping you informed of the world around you.

                                        20. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

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                                          Eating Animals explores the many stories we use to justify our eating habits and marked by Foer’s profound moral ferocity, this book can truly make you question the things he’s investigating: “Why do we eat animals? And would we eat them if we knew how they got on our dinner plates?” This book can challenge people’s beliefs when it comes to their eating habits and in that discomfort, you could find a very interesting experience.

                                          Self Help Books 

                                          21. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

                                            Kahneman will engage you in a lively conversation about how we think and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. Many practical insights into the mechanics of decision-making are shared along with techniques to guard us against the mental glitches that often get us in a pickle. Essentially, this book will change the way you think about thinking! Who wouldnt want that.

                                            22. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

                                              Many would wish this book had been around when they had graduated for college and had someone buy it for them and say “Here. This will help.” Rather than it being viewed as the ultimate guide to being a grown-up, it’s there for reference. Taking your time when reading it over summer would make it a very fun read while giving you a list of your own life hacks on the go.

                                              23. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

                                                This book is considered the manifesto for the digital age. It’s a guide that will put you directly in touch with your artistic side with its graphic look. It’s a quick and funny how-to that points out that no work is ever completely original and that the obsession with being original will only smother your creativity. It’s a good message to keep in mind before endeavouring any art projects and could get you fuelled up for your own summer art project.

                                                24. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

                                                  The Power of Habit shows that harnessing this new science of understanding how habits work will be the key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive and being more successful, ultimately transforming our businesses, our communities and our lives. This strikes as very tempting because it presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential and is great to read before starting a brand new year again filled with changes. Who said December was the only month for resolutions.

                                                  25. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

                                                    Quiet is for all you readers out there who undermine the value of introverts, you’re missing out on lots, my friends. This is very passionately argued, impressively researched and filled with personal anecdotes that – collectively – can permanently change how we see introverts and how they see themselves as it can help you confront things about yourself that you always kind of knew but glossed over with more appeasing explanations.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Reading via wallpapersus.com

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                                                    How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                    How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                                    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                                                    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                                    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                                    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                                    1. The Inner Critic

                                                    This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                                                    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                                    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                                    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                                    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                    He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                                    Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                    2. The Worrier

                                                    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                    He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                                                    Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                                    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                                    He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                                    He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                    He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                                    4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                    His motivation can be:

                                                    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                                    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                    How can you control these squatters?

                                                    How to Master Your Mind

                                                    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                                    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                                    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                    For the Inner Critic

                                                    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                                    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                                                    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                    • He riles up the Worrier.
                                                    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                    • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                    • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                    • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                                                    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                    Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                    For the Worrier

                                                    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                                    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                    • Muscles tense

                                                    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                                    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                                                    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                                    For example:

                                                    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                                    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                                    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                    • Muscles tension

                                                    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                    Breathe in through your nose:

                                                    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                    • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                    Breathe out through your nose:

                                                    • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                    • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                                    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                                                    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                                    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                    For the Sleep Depriver

                                                    (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                                    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                                    • Shut down your thinking.
                                                    • Calm your feelings.
                                                    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                                    Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                                                    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                                    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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