When other than summer is downtime spent with a good book better known?
Some recent chart-topping and noteworthy titles in psychology, self-development, consciousness, the brain and mental illness follow.
Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly deals with a topic close to my own heart — the intertwining of courage and vulnerability, and how this plays out in relationships and leadership.
Here’s one for contemplation: Waking Up in Heaven by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski details travails of nine minutes of unconsciousness.
Similar? You decide: Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, MD (who at first glance appears to be Bill Nye the Science Guy). An account of his near-death experience while in a coma from bacterial meningitis, it apparently is so compelling a read that the Dalai Lama recently invited Dr. Alexander to participate in a symposium.
A whimsical title that keeps popping up in advertisements, if not bestseller lists, is Bill Pennington’s On Par: The Everyday Golfer’s Survival Guide. It is about the larger game of golf, but billed as “Part Instruction, Part Therapy.”
Worth a try is Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robinson, one of always many out there valiantly imploring us to achieve our potential. I like it for the title’s nod to alchemy.
Tired of thinking? (Perhaps why you picked up a summertime read in the first place?) Try an Editor’s Choice from the New York Times, Mario Livio’s Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein — Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe. This should have you feeling better about your brain!
If you’re into fiction — and heartbreak — The House at Belle Fontaine looks quite good — small stories that, according to New York TImes book reviewer Emily Cooke “trace the emotional terrain of faltering relationships.”
Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World by none other than Dr. Phil McGraw — about how to “win in the real world,” regardless of innumerable challenges (including the less-than-sincere motivations of some around you).
It is worth throwing in the genre of poetry, as well, especially that of Frank Bidart — Metaphysical Dog looks back at how his art, unusual characters and memory shaped his life.
Finally, not a book, but certainly worth the read, is an essay by Patrick McGrath on the back page of the June 30, 2013 New York Times Book Review titled Method to the Madness: Exploring the ‘dark art’ of writing about psychological dysfunction. McGrath reminds us of all the classic titles out there besides Plath’s The Bell Jar that have delved into this realm of the human condition: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; most all of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, but with particular comment on his excellent short story The Cask of Amontillado; Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fantastic The Yellow Wallpaper; and a nod to the little-known early American Gothic novel (but on many English majors’ required reading lists), Wieland, by Charles Brockden Brown.