Books and Programs to Kick off the year
It's not often I get the opportunity to book talk to a large audience, so when I was asked to recommend some new books that highlight "fresh starts" on CBC Radio I jumped at the opportunity.
I've included a couple of self-help books, of course, but I also explored a little wider and deeper to include fiction, biography and memoir titles too. I've presented the books I talked about in tyhe order I spoke about then on the radio.
Idea Exchange is more than books, so I've included some upcoming free on-line programs to help start your year right:
James Clear takes some simple concepts to help you actually attain your goals for the year. He bases his approach on the daily small improvements we can easily make that can lead to larger accomplishments. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement, he says, and the book is full of practical advice we can use day-to-day.
Grafton, Scott T.
Neuroscientist Grafton takes a complex body-mind idea and distills it down to usable, actionable ideas for you and I. Physical intelligence is usually associated with great athletic ability or feats of extreme survival, but Grafton highlights the power of walking as an every day activity that makes the brain available for acquiring and maintaining physically derived knowledge. As an added bonus, walking in nature (particularly forests) has shown positive effects on both mood and the ability to work out problems we are mulling over.
Becoming Duchess Goldblatt
What's more indicative of our times than a fictional biography about a non-existent duchess? The anonymous author took a job loss in the publishing industry, as an opportunity to start a twitter feed authored by the Duchess Goldblatt. In the process, she picked up several authors and the one-and-only Lyle Lovett as fans with her positive, helpful and generous messages on twitter. This is her story of social media used for good, and not crass nihilism. She does for writing at this time what Audrey Tatou did for film after 9-11, in Amelie. She gives hope for better times ahead.
The book of eels
Multiple award winner for this look at the history of eels. Svensson bonded with his father over fishing for eels, and it spawned this book: a tribute to both eels and his father whose death from cancer preceded the book. Turns out eels have been well studied, but they remain resistant to easy categorization, and proof that not everything in this world is completely knowable, but it is in the searching, that awe for nature can be found.
Mushrooms are having a moment. Beneath our feet, is an incredible world of inter-connectivity, a symbiotic network, that is constantly changing. Sheldrake has both passion and the ability to explore and explain the world literally below us. He quotes Prince and Tom Waits, and brings a serious excitement to his exploration that has consumed him since childhood.
The ballad of big feeling
Braverman explores the relationship between a daughter and her frail and dying mother, who is downsizing her life and getting her affairs in order. Their relationship is fraught with difficulties, and Braverman does a good job teasing out the ways our relationships change with our parents as we age, and the self-worth we project into the world though this all, in challenging times.
Bereft of a beloved spouse and done with a rewarding career as a college professor and novelist, Antonia is adrift. As she tries to figure out what to do with her life now, Alvarez, who writes with knowing warmth, explores how the power of sisterhood and family can overcome grief.