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40 Short Books To Read That Will Make Your Commuting Meaningful

40 Short Books To Read That Will Make Your Commuting Meaningful

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” -Chinese proverb

On days we’re filled with dread, or even apathy, we need hope, a little bit of a nudge, maybe some comfort, or a dose of courage, to go conquer the world, if only for a day. Pocket one of these short books to read on your commute, or pop in a book-cd to listen on your drive – for some quiet words of wisdom, or a kick in the pants to help you drive in the direction of your dreams.

These are a few of my favorites that helped me on my journeys. They range from spiritual to self-help, fiction to poetry, in no particular order. See how many of these short books (200 pages or less) you read, and I’d love to know what your favorites are in the comments below.

1. Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

gift from the sea

    Wise, soothing, and graceful. Words that every woman (and man) can relate to, contemplate upon, and learn from. One of my favorites of all time.

     

    2. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

    war of art

      For anyone who ever felt a creative crisis, a writer’s block, or struggles to follow a calling, the author helps us see the power of “Resistance” and how to overcome it.

      3. Code Name: God, by Mani Bhaumik

      code name god

        This one is 225 pages but I thought it deserved a chance on this list. An autobiographical rags to riches story of a Bengali boy who became a Bel Air millionaire. When he inevitably crashes into a midlife crisis, he goes back to his spiritual roots that were planted during his barefoot days, and ties them with the scientific knowledge he gained over the years. Fascinating read.

        4. Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke

        letters to a young poet

          Beautifully written in lyrical prose, by Rilke to a young aspiring poet who asks for his insight. Soulful advice that speaks to the aspiring poet (or writers, painters, anyone who feels a calling) in us all.

          5. Gandhi the Man, by Eknath Easwaran

          gandhi the man

            This is a spiritual look into the actions and teachings of Gandhi who inspired a nation to act out of nonviolence and love. Eknath Easwaran, who is himself a spiritual seeker, and teacher, provides the perfect voice. Truly inspirational.

            6. The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

            the prophet

              A collection of philosophical and spiritual poems about love and marriage, work and worship, joy and sorrow, pain and passion, religion, and self-knowledge, and many other topics. A masterpiece.

              7. The Untethered Soul, by Michael A Singer

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              untethered soul

                Simply written, yet profound. No esoteric words, or confusing concepts. Just practical spirituality. If you haven’t read it, don’t miss it!

                8. One Hundred Days of Solitude, by Jane Dobisz

                one hundred days of solitude

                  This may not be for everyone, but I loved Zen teacher Jane Dobisz’s solitary meditation retreat into the woods in Upstate New York, for one hundred days of winter. Sitting, walking, chanting, bowing, chopping, Repeat. It’s warm, funny at times, completely candid, and glowing with zen-gems thrown in now and then.

                  9. The Stranger, by Albert Camus

                  the stranger

                    This is a strange book to put on this list about an “accidental” murderer who remains detached, disengaged and dispassionate throughout the story as the jailers, judges and lawyers are talking around him. The reason I put it on here is because it makes us think and look at ourselves from an outside perspective. Are we strangers to ourselves?

                    10. 84 Charing Cross Rd, Helene Hanff

                    84 charing cross road

                      I know – I’m a romantic to put this on the list. It’s a true story – a book of letters in fact – of an American writer’s correspondence with a London bookseller. Not exactly life-changing, but sweet, subtle, and a reminder that we all need a touch of romance in our lives.

                      11. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

                      brave new world

                        This is Aldous Huxley’s description of a future Utopia, where the inhabitants are programmed to be content, conditioned to a class system, and are offered psychedelic drugs to fight off depression. What could possibly be wrong with this Dystopia? I mean Utopia? A classic science fiction that’s completely relevant even today.

                        12. How to be an Adult, by David Richo

                        how to be an adult

                          When you read the definition of an Adult according to David Richo, it makes perfect sense. What’s sad is when we realize that most of us are not adults – yet. This is a short book, but full of wisdom and guidance. You won’t regret reading it.

                          13. Peace Is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh

                          peace is every step

                            We know this already: peace is not somewhere out there; we need to create it within ourselves. In our walk, in our talk, in our every choice. Peace is in every step we take and this little book shows you how, subtly, yet simply. It is written by a peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Don’t miss it.

                            14. The One Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka

                            one straw revolution

                              This book is fondly referred to as the “Zen and the Art of Farming”, and even though most of us are not farmers in real life, I’m adding it on this list because of Fukioka’s revolutionary approach to food and farming. It’s not a how-to book, but a thoughtful book, and the gardeners at heart may learn something from it.

                              15. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

                              walden

                                This is another one of my favorite books ever. It’s truly life changing. Read it in small doses so you can savor the depth of Thoreau’s thoughts.

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                                16. Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse

                                siddhartha

                                  This is a novel about a boy named Siddhartha (not the story of the Buddha), set in India. It follows Siddhartha on his journey as a seeker of enlightenment. The ending of the story might come as a surprise, but not unwelcome. An enlightening read.

                                  17. Night, by Elie Wiesel

                                  night

                                    An autobiographical narration of a Nazi death camp survivor. Heart-breakingly poignant. The author agonizes over a God who can allow such horrors, and yet remains hopeful in humanity – to ask the questions, to act when necessary, and to remember so we will never forget. No happy endings, but important questions for all of us. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

                                    18. Silas Marner, by George Eliot

                                    silas marner

                                      This is the portrait of a simple weaver who was betrayed and accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He becomes a loner and a recluse, but what’s fascinating to read is the story of how he slowly softens with the arrival of an abandoned child. An old masterpiece, but a touching tale of the human spirit.

                                      19. Meditation and Its Methods, by Swami Vivekananda

                                      meditation and its methods

                                        This is an introduction to meditation from the famous Swami who brought Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. This book is born out of a compilation of several writings and speeches, and even though it’s not a manual for meditation, it’s a good read for those of us who want to be inspired. Vivekananda’s voice carries command and common sense.

                                        20. Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

                                        tuesdays with morrie

                                          This is a series of Tuesday conversations – warm, intimate, and sometimes funny – between a dying mentor and his student. And what we get from these conversations is Morrie’s deep wisdom, his faith in life and people, and his dignity even in dying. Morrie touched so many of us with his wisdom, and continues to inspire us to live a life of meaning.

                                          21. Franny and Zooey, by J. D. Salinger

                                          franny and zooey

                                            Franny and Zooey are two of the children in the Glass family, an intellectual, neurotic New York family who rail at the world for not behaving reasonably. The brilliance of this book is in Salinger’s fast paced, unpretentious dialogue, even though the dialogue is about an existential, ethical crisis. This book makes us all think about those profound questions of life and living.

                                            22. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

                                            great gatsby

                                              This is a portrait of America in the Twenties, an age when excess and greed was a national obsession. Fitzgerald’s writing is brilliant and poetic, and even though the story was set in the Jazz Age, it is just as relevant in today’s world of excess and greed.

                                              23. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl

                                              mans search for meaning

                                                Dr. Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived Nazi concentration camps, writes a psychological perspective of the prisoners of Auschwitz. In opposition to Freud’s belief that man’s primary drive is pleasure, Dr Frankl’s theory is that each person thrives to find the meaning of his life, and that’s what keeps him going, especially when hit by a tragedy. This is a must read.

                                                24. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

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                                                the lorax

                                                  Can you believe this beloved children’s book was once banned? It’s a story of the devastating consequences of consumption when trees are cut down to satisfy a bottomless pit of greed. Written in the seventies, the Lorax is just as relevant now, in the days of global warming and environmental pollution. Read it to your children, but it’s just as whimsical and inspiring reading it to yourself.

                                                  25. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

                                                  the giving tree

                                                    Another beloved children’s classic based on friendship between a boy and a tree, not much different than a relationship between a mother and her child. A spiritual reader cannot fail to see the lessons of giving, love, and acceptance. A tender and touching story.

                                                    26. Food Rules, by Michael Pollan

                                                    food rules

                                                      A practical “manual” of food rules to help figure out what to eat, what kind of food to eat, and how to eat. A simple, slim volume that includes chapters like “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

                                                      27. American Primitive, by Mary Oliver

                                                      american primitive

                                                        An exquisite collection of poems that won Mary Oliver a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Wild and primitive, yet tender and transcendental, you’ll feel alive when you read this book of poems.

                                                        28. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

                                                        jonathan livingston seagull

                                                          This is a little story about a lone seagull who loves to fly (instead of eat), but faces ridicule and rejection by the rest of the seagull community for his love of soaring to great heights. There’s a powerful message in it for anyone who wants to give up, to have faith in themselves.

                                                          29. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

                                                          of mice and men

                                                            This is the story of an unlikely friendship between George and Lennie who plan to buy a little land, grow all their food, build a shack of their own, and live happily ever after. But their American dream goes horribly wrong. Their own fears, insecurities and miseries bind them tighter and tighter until the dream shatters and leads to a strangely satisfying ending.

                                                            30. 1984, by George Orwell

                                                            1984

                                                              We all feel it in the air – Big Brother is not too far away. George Orwell’s last novel is a chilling classic and is still entirely relevant even after 1984 has come and gone.

                                                              31. The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis

                                                              great divorce

                                                                A powerful little book that gets to the core of human beliefs and choices. Anyone who reads it will glean many little and large truths about good and evil, heaven and hell, sin and temptation. The writing is eloquent, imaginative and fantastical, in a way only Lewis can write.

                                                                32. Thou art that, by Joseph Campbell

                                                                thou art that

                                                                  This is a sampling of Campbell’s writings which can serve as a short, introductory book to his other weightier works. As always, thoughtful, thought provoking ideas and interpretations of religions and rituals, myths and metaphors are offered from the man who urged us to “follow your bliss.”

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                                                                  33. Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath

                                                                  strengths finder

                                                                    This is version 2.0 of what used to be Gallup’s Now Discover Your Strengths. I love the premise of this book to find our strengths and pour our attention into making them work for us, rather than trying to improve upon our weaknesses.

                                                                    34. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

                                                                    four agreements

                                                                      Profound but practical. Four simple agreements with ourselves: to Be Impeccable With Our Words, to Not Take Anything Personally, to Not Make Assumptions, and to Always Do Our Best. This book really prompts us to take a deeper look at our every thought and word. Powerful advice.

                                                                      35. Practicing the Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

                                                                      practicing power of now

                                                                        This is an extension of the original Power of Now for those who are looking for practical guidance on how to practice the Power of Now. Perfect for carrying in your pocket on your commutes. If you haven’t read the original though, I’d recommend reading that first.

                                                                        36. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

                                                                        wizard of oz

                                                                          Imaginative characters, unique settings, endless adventures, lots of lessons for the soul, and a happy ending. What more would we want? No wonder this book became the American fairy tale.

                                                                          37. Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

                                                                          who moved my cheese

                                                                            This is a simple story with a big message. Change is something we all have to deal with, and yet we are not usually comfortable about it. A little over-dramatized but a quick read. Give it a try, especially if you work in a corporate environment.

                                                                            38. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki

                                                                            zen mind

                                                                              A collection of talks by Shunryu Suzuki who was one of the original Zen teachers in America. I love the depth and intensity of each sentence in the book. I do have to add this warning though: this is not exactly a beginner’s Zen book (if you’re very new to Zen teachings, you should probably start off with a different book).

                                                                              39. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                                                                              little prince

                                                                                A whimsical, witty, inter-planetary story of a conversation between a pilot and a prince. While they become friends, we learn lessons of love, truth and friendship. Poignant and tender. It is suitable for children and the child in all of us.

                                                                                40. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman

                                                                                leaves of grass

                                                                                  This short book gives a great taste of Whitman’s poems. Powerful, profound, panoramic. Even as you’re making your way to your glass buildings you’ll feel the leaves of grass dancing in the wind. An American masterpiece.

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Saiisha via NestInTheForest.com

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                                                                                  Last Updated on April 6, 2020

                                                                                  15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

                                                                                  15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

                                                                                  Let me guess.

                                                                                  You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

                                                                                  Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

                                                                                  First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

                                                                                  Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

                                                                                  Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

                                                                                  1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

                                                                                  Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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                                                                                  The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

                                                                                  2. Use Red and Blue More Often

                                                                                  Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

                                                                                  3. Create a Break Agenda

                                                                                  List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

                                                                                  Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

                                                                                  4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

                                                                                  Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

                                                                                  9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
                                                                                  9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
                                                                                  10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
                                                                                  10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
                                                                                  11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

                                                                                  Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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                                                                                  5. Take It Outside!

                                                                                  Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

                                                                                  6. Become Productively Lazy

                                                                                  Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

                                                                                  7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

                                                                                  It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

                                                                                  8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

                                                                                  According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

                                                                                  Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

                                                                                  9. Prepping the Night

                                                                                  Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

                                                                                  Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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                                                                                  10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

                                                                                  Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

                                                                                  Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

                                                                                  11. Set-up Mini Tasks

                                                                                  If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

                                                                                  Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

                                                                                  12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

                                                                                  I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

                                                                                  Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

                                                                                  13. Redecorate Your Room

                                                                                  Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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                                                                                  14. Ready Your Nibbles

                                                                                  You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

                                                                                  Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

                                                                                  15. Schedule Your Chores

                                                                                  Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

                                                                                  For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

                                                                                  More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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