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The Most Soothing Nonfiction Books for Stressful Times

Coping with the current crisis can certainly be challenging, but these nonfiction books may make getting through this ordeal a little easier.
by Michael Benninger | Apr 15 2020

No matter where in the world you live, there’s a good chance the current pandemic is affecting your daily life in more ways than one. Indeed, billions of people around the world are now self-isolating and distancing themselves from their loved ones and their former lifestyles. For many of us, the transition into this new reality has been understandably difficult. Yet while there is certainly a lot to fret about, this is also a good time to reflect on life and emerge from this ordeal with a renewed view of the world and our place in it.

To help you stress a little less, here are some comforting books from Blinkist’s library that you can dive into during these trying times.

Do Pause: You Are Not a To-Do List by Robert Poynton

Countless books have been written about how to be more productive and maximize your waking hours, but Do Pause is the exact opposite, explaining how busyness is actually the source of much anxiety and stress. The author debunks damaging myths surrounding productivity and personal achievement and reveals why it’s important to occasionally escape the daily grind and take a break from our fast-paced world.

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Pema Chödrön

Discover practices that instill serenity in this guide to opening your heart and mind and feeling happier in your own skin. Explore the wonders of meditation, which has been shown to increase happiness, and learn to calm the mind in stressful situations. With accessible techniques for first-time meditators, Start Where You Are explains how to rein in your mind’s darker side and live a more meaningful and joyful life by accepting all emotions, whether positive or negative.

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Now that most of us are spending all of our waking hours inside, we’ve got plenty of time to straighten up our homes and reorganize our living spaces. Joyful highlights the role that design and architecture play in our lives — and our emotions — and offers guidance to help readers embrace the colors, shapes, and styles that surround us.

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

If you’re tired of being stuck inside, The Geography of Bliss can help you escape the confines of your living space and explore some of the happiest places on Earth. Learn about different cultures, discover what makes the citizens of certain countries more joyful than their neighboring nations, and find out what governments can do to make their people more content.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

In this look at the history behind our habitats, the author guides readers — room by room — through the stories of our living spaces and how they came to be. In At Home, discover how bathrooms evolved into their present-day form and why kitchens are arranged like they are in most households. Find out interesting facts about each room, and learn how the definition of “home” has taken on new meaning over time.

Long-Term Thinking for a Short-Sighted World: Restoring Happiness, Balance, and Sanity to Our Lives and Our Planet by Jim Brumm

In many areas of the world, the lack of preparedness for this pandemic is evidence that humans, as a whole, tend to be short-sighted. A similar myopic perspective lies at the root of many of the world’s most significant problems, but Long-Term Thinking for a Short-Sighted World addresses our struggle to see the big picture and reveals the path to thinking clearly about the long-term consequences of our actions.

The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann

From acacias to zinnias, flowers have shaped our culture in innumerable ways, despite the fact that their attractiveness isn’t even intended for us. In The Reason for Flowers, an enlightening book about the evolutionary artwork that sprouts from the ground, you’ll gain insight into how flowers reproduce, discover why insects find them irresistible, and learn why our species is so smitten with them.

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E.P. Seligman

Rooted in academic research and featuring a series of psychological exercises, this exploration of our emotions takes a scientific approach to well-being and introduces a new theory about what truly makes us happy. At the core of Flourish is the revelation that a healthy mindset comprises optimism, motivation, and several other elements, which can work together to help us find the lasting happiness we each deserve.

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré

The world is changing fast and our attempts to maintain pace with society fill us with anxiety and can wear us down, both physically and psychologically. In Praise of Slowness condemns this approach to life and provides an alternative to the rat race that’s wreaking havoc upon society. It teaches that by slowing down and opting out, we can embrace the emerging ethos dubbed the “Slow Movement,” restoring our natural rhythms and allowing us to lead more blissful lives.

How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry

If the current lockdown has you feeling like you’re about to lose it, How to Stay Sane can help you keep your cool and avoid reaching a breaking point by showing you how to use self-observation, “positive” stress, and the power of stories to achieve — and maintain — optimal mental health. By pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and learning to nurture beneficial relationships, you’ll not only understand yourself better, but you’ll also be healthier and happier.

The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness by Emily Esfahani Smith

Many of us tend to look inward when searching for meaning in life, but The Power of Meaning explains why we should actually be focusing on factors outside ourselves in order to find fulfillment. By learning to live in accordance with the four pillars of meaning — belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence — you can find purpose in life, connect with others on a more meaningful level, and transcend traumas from your past.

How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krzanic

As unemployment rates reach record numbers, some of us are considering changing careers when normalcy eventually returns to everyday life. But a decent salary and social status aren’t always enough. How to Find Fulfilling Work defines the concept of fulfilling work and details the steps job-hunters should take to find occupations that bring out the best in them. By working in a field that aligns with your innate skills and desires, you can ultimately achieve true and lasting happiness.

Figuring by Maria Popova

By shining a light on the surprising connections between important individuals from the past, Figuring reveals how the pursuit of beauty and truth have united many of history’s most notable change-makers, including poets, politicians, inventors, and astronauts. The legacies left by these luminaries have transcended time and distance and have influenced each other in dramatic and unforeseen ways. From groundbreaking innovations to major scientific discoveries, the indelible contributions made by these men and women have collectively shaped the world around us.

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

Books open up new worlds and possess the power to change our lives in countless ways. They can also remind us of who we once were, inform us of who we are now, and help us figure out who we’d like to be in the future. I’d Rather Be Reading is a humorous anthology of essays and short stories — penned by an incorrigible bookworm — that offers inspiring advice and anecdotes that like-minded bibliophiles are sure to love.

Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi

Today’s technology can be incredibly helpful, but digital devices also deprive us of boredom, which is a crucial resource that fuels creativity. When we’re constantly scrolling through social media or being entertained by electronics, our minds don’t have time to wander, diminishing our ability to generate new ideas. Bored and Brilliant explains that by limiting our interactions with technology, we can learn to embrace ennui and break the control tech often exerts over us.

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan Watts

Many of the goals we pursue and items we covet ostensibly promise happiness, yet ultimately leave us feeling empty and anxious. In this treatise on consumerism, The Wisdom of Insecurity, the author explains that the concept of security in life is illusory, and money will never be able to buy happiness, much less give life meaning. In order to find true tranquility and contentment, we must accept insecurity as a human condition and bring more awareness to the present moment.

Blinkist offers a deeper dive into all of these titles and makes it easy to explore their key takeaways in as few as 15 minutes. So whether you want to immerse yourself in the lives of others — or use this time to work on personal or professional development — our library includes thousands of books to help you get through this lockdown without losing your head.
Check out the Blinkist app today, or sign up for a free trial and open your eyes to a new world of ideas, books, and authors.

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