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Amazing Lesser-Known Books of 2012 that You Should Read

Amazing Lesser-Known Books of 2012 that You Should Read

The books that most people gravitate toward these days are generally the ones that are publicized the most. Though word of mouth is all well and good when it comes to discussing great reads with a few friends, it’s the media moguls who tend to dictate which books will be promoted to the masses, and which will be tucked into relative obscurity.  The New York Times Best-Seller list is the primary resource for ideas about what to read next, with Oprah’s Book Club coming in at a close second… and though they’re both decent resources when it comes to finding something new to delve into, their recommendations tend to be based on how many people have read a book, rather than the quality of the story itself.

If you’re an avid reader, but want to shy away from the overly-lauded pieces that everyone else on the planet has inhaled, consider some of the titles listed below. They’re some of the best books of 2012, and though they haven’t received quite as much media attention as those on the NYT list, they are most certainly worth looking into. No pun intended, I swear.

Fiction

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- A Novel

    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel, by Rachel Joyce

    Every so often, we come across an antihero who is so awkwardly endearing that we just want to scoop him out of the book and invite him in for tea. Harold Fry is such a character, and this tale about his impromptu journey across England is both surreal enough to be believable, and genuine enough that the reader can relate to it. Fry is amazingly human, and his adventure takes us on a life-changing journey through the labyrinths of our own hearts.

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    Non-Fiction

    Quiet- The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

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

      If you or a close friend of yours would be described as an introvert, you might have more than a passing interest in this book. Often made fun of for being “too shy” or “too quiet”, introverts tend to pull away from the spotlight and prefer solitude over hyper-socializing, which is anathema to most modern societal expectations. This book is a fascinating study regarding the power and potential of introverts VS the extroverts that seem to be so idealized by American culture. There are tips on how to negotiate introvert/extrovert relationships, and fabulous, encouraging success stories about famous introverts who have changed the world.

      Sci Fi/Fantasy

      The Pattern Scars, by Caitlin Sweet

        The Pattern Scars, by Caitlin Sweet

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        Winner of the Canadian Bookie award for best Science Fiction, Fantasy or Speculative Fiction, this novel follows the story of a young woman named Nola, who was born into abject poverty, but managed to escape it with the help of those who recognized (and later, manipulated) her gift of prophecy. This isn’t a “unicorns and pixie dust” sort of fantasy book: it draws the reader through seedy interactions with brothel workers, psychopaths, and murderers, and intersperses blood magic and murder with devastating betrayals. The novel is dark and luminous at turns, and you never know if the next page will bring unimaginable heartbreak and terror, or dream-inspiring beauty.

        Graphic Novel

        Freakangels Box Set by Warren Ellis

          Freakangels Box Set by Warren Ellis

          The Freakangels web comic by the ever-brilliant (and oft-terrifying) Warren Ellis was published as a box set last month, and if you’re a fan of any of his work, this is a must-read. Written by Ellis and illustrated by Paul Duffield, the story revolves around twelve Londoners with startling psychic abilities: they accidentally flooded the world when they used their powers in unison a few years ago, and are now struggling to survive in the ruins of Whitechapel as something ominous creeps ever-closer…

          Cookbook

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          Food in Jars- Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, by Marisa McLellan

            Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, by Marisa McLellan

            The self-sufficiency revolution is gaining in speed around the world, with people re-acquainting themselves with knowledge and abilities that haven’t been cool since their great-grandparents’ time. Interest in homesteading is at an all-time high, and one of the most popular practices these days is canning one’s own food—preserving everything from fruits and vegetables to soups, seasonings, and even desserts. This book guides you through small-batch canning throughout the year for maximum production with minimum stress.

            Children’s Lit

            The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver

              The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver

              Anyone who has a younger sibling has likely wished that they were different, somehow: maybe less annoying, or more fun to hang out with, or even less inclined to break things and blame it on us. If we were to wake up one morning to discover that a Spindler (read: huge, evil spider with hands) has stolen our little brother’s soul for the Queen of the underworld, would we fight to get it back so he’d be normal and whole again? Even if that meant he was going to be his usual, annoying self?

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              (This book is geared towards ages 8 and up, but it’s also great for younger people with high reading abilities)

              These are just a few of the many gorgeous books that were published in 2012. If your preferred genre wasn’t represented here, or if you’re looking for even more books to explore in the New Year, head on over to Goodreads for recommendations tailored just for you.

              What was your favourite read of 2012? Let us know!

              Featured photo credit:  Vintage old books on wooden deck via Shutterstock

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              How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

              How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

              Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

              But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

              Sight – Visual Stimulation

              The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

              1. Maximize your exposure to light.

              Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

              Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

              2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

              Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

              Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

              Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

              3. Take note of your environment.

              Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

              By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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              Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

              What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

              4. Engage in conversation.

              Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

              Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

              Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

              Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

              5. Listen to upbeat music.

              Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

              Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

              Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

              If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

              6. Work your nose.

              Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

              If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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              Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

              Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

              If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

              7. Have a good breakfast.

              Start off with the most important meal of the day.

              Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

              Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

              Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

              20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

              8. Drink lots of water.

              Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

              So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

              How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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              Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

              3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

              9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

              Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

              Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

              Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

              25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

              Touch – Tactile Stimulation

              Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

              10. Splash cold water on your face.

              Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

              This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

              5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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              11. Use acupressure.

              Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

              Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

              12. Get moving.

              Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

              And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

              You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

              Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

              Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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