We should all be reading more these days. Because regular readers are more informed, less stressed and more empathetic than those who don't read. Books provide a specific type of insight; a life-guiding wisdom that helps you ask or answer life's big questions.
Think of it this way: your mind is a tool, and like all tools, it needs to be sharpened. And reading does just that. It’s been scientifically proven that just like consistent cardio workouts improve your overall fitness, reading regularly strengthens memory function by boosting brain power. That’s because reading is more demanding on the mind than processing images or talking. In short: it takes more concentration. “We are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine,” says Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University and author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension.”
Because you don’t passively read something—it takes actual engagement and concentration—you can reset and recharge without distraction. After all, within a five-minute span, you may be dividing your time between working on a task, checking social media and maybe chatting with someone (either in person or digitally). This type of hyper-connectivity creates an ADD-like behavior that raises stress levels and lowers our overall productivity. But when you read a book, your attention becomes acutely focused on the story in front of you.
Now that you know you should be reading, the question becomes what to read. Right now, we’re focusing on books that increase our brainpower and reframe our mindset for success. Think of it as spring cleaning for your psyche. Herewith, a handful of titles worth your time.
Emotion By Design
Nike’s former Chief Marketing Officer, Greg Hoffman, put together a book that’s one part memoir and one part guidebook for anyone looking to be more creative and push boundaries. He shares his three favorite guiding principles: Creativity is a Team Sport, Dare to be Remembered and Leave a Legacy, Not Just a Memory.
$30, by Greg Hoffman
The Comfort Crisis
Michael Easter is a professor, a contributing editor at Men’s Health and a columnist for Outside magazine. He spent months in the Arctic reporting on this book which investigates how modern comforts and conveniences are tied to some of our most pressing problems—obesity, chronic disease, depression, and even feeling a lack of meaning—and how engaging with a handful of evolutionary discomforts can dramatically improve our wellbeing. The award-winning journalist speaks with mind-body conditioning trailblazers, off-the-grid visionaries and disruptive genius researchers who are unlocking the life-enhancing secrets of a counterintuitive solution: discomfort.
$18.89, by Michael Easter
The High Five Habit
Don’t let the title fool you. This is not a book about high-fiving everyone else in your life and cheering on other people. This is about turning that encouragement around on yourself and making it into a reliable daily habit. Using her signature science-backed wisdom, along with real-life results, Robbins teaches you how to make believing in yourself a habit so that you operate with the confidence that your goals and dreams demand. It’s presented as an actual tool that allows you to change your attitude, your mindset, and your behavior in order to get what you want out of your life and career.
$16.61, by Mel Robbins
Think Like a Monk
Jay Shetty is an award-winning storyteller, podcaster, and a former monk who has a knack for making wisdom go viral. In this quick-reading book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk in the Vedic tradition to show us how we can clear the mental roadblocks that are often standing in the way of our own potential. Combining both time-honored ancient wisdom and his own personal experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, while accessing the calm and purpose that lie within all of us. You’ll finish this book completely inspired and ready to take on what you’ve been putting off.
$15, by Jay Shetty
The Focus Project
Are you stretched too thin by trying to do too much? Do you feel like there’s no time for relaxation or deep thinking? Maybe you’re completing thousands of tasks without achieving your goals. If any of this sounds familiar (or maybe it’s all three), then this book is for you. It’s designed to provide answers and solutions to the challenge of focusing in an increasingly unfocused world. Combining street science and institutional research alongside his own personal focus project, Eric Qualman delivers practical advice on tackling the important things instead of just a bunch of things.
$13.99, by Eric Qualman
* Want to Read More? The Harvard Business Review outlines 8 practical ways to read more books this year.