My love for books is typically around fiction. I love entering various worlds that are entirely different from my own. From Murakami to Eggers, Hesse to Lahiri, there's nothing more special than being buried in a gripping plot, watching time slip past its pages.
Usually, nonfiction doesn't do that for me. I often feel like I'm being lectured, or the point (especially in social sciences/psychology) is being drilled over and over again in a redundant abyss. Example? The Power of Habit is a 286 page book that I can summarize in one sentence: replace bad habits with good ones.
Yet as I was packing up my books for my move out West (!!!!) I realized I've read a fair-share of excellent nonfiction over the last year. And dare I say they've pulled me in as deeply as say, The Hunger Games trilogy (which, let's not argue, is SO good).
So, here are the books. And why I love them. And why you might love them too. Happy reading :)
The Braindead Megaphone, George Saunders
A collection of short essays, Saunders strikes an amazing balance of dry humor and important political discussions as he takes his readers from Nepal to Dubai, the Mexican border, and back. This was his first stab at nonfiction, and it was quite remarkable. (FWIW, one of my favorite novels by Saunders is Tenth of December, and he also recently wrote a pretty fascinating essay on Trump supporters in The New Yorker).
Running With the Mind of Meditation, Sakyong Mipham
Running has become my constant in life; it comes more naturally to me than breathing. On the other hand, meditation is so f*cking hard. Sit still? Count breaths? Don't think about what's for dinner? Still, I've been trying to make meditation a habit in my life, and this book has helped. For runners who want to get better at meditation using the disciple running also demands, this is for you. Here is one of my favorite quotes: "To be gentle is to understand that life is a journey deserving constant attentiveness. Therefore it is gentleness that allows us to finish a marathon... Gentleness is "just doing it" in such a way that we can do it again and again."
Skyfaring, Mark Vanhoenacker
It's no secret I'm terrified of flying. Yet instead of reading statistics on how safe flying is, or fear of flying books, I tried reading this beautiful memoir by a British Airways pilot. It's a poetic journey of his life in the sky, and at no point does he talk about safety concerns or near-death experiences. Rather, he speaks about the magic of flight: seeing multiple sunrises in a day, the incredible ability to cross cultures, language, and life through the air, and how we humans can travel silently and peacefully over incredibly mountain ranges, deserts, and oceans. I also wrote Vanhoenacker, who is now my email buddy/helps calm me down before flights ...
10% Happier, Dan Harris
This is another great book on meditation, if that's your thing. Unexpectedly, the author's story of his life as a newscaster was equally, if not even more exciting, than his journey to meditation. (Thanks Rich for sending me a copy!)
Work Rules!, Laszlo Bock
The work-geek in me really loved this book. Over the past few years I've discovered how much I love management, people ops, and optimizing people and work cultures to create the most in-office impact. For anyone in a management/HR role, or if you're simply interested in how humans work, def read this!
Cabin Porn, Steven Leckart & Zach Klein
After falling in love with the Cabin Porn tumblr, the guys behind the blog published a book with stunning photos and heartwarming stories. Think of this as THE ultimate coffee-table book. I ordered it for myself when I was in Nepal last fall, so I would come home to something to curl up with as I recovered from the typical week-long jet lag.