I don’t know about you but when I manage to sit down and read for pleasure, which I usually only manage to do in January, I have a long list of wants: I want to be intellectually stimulated, emotionally challenged and also taken up and away by a good story. I also like to learn about new and interesting people and immerse myself in the lives of others through reading. So, in this spirit I offer you my eclectic readings for the holiday season.
Buddhism for the Unbelievably Busy by Meshel Laurie
If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me they were busy – I’d be rich. It seems that busyness has become a badge of honour many of us wear. Our lives seem more and more hectic and many people I work with need reminders to stop and smell the metaphorical roses. It is true that the pressure to perform is real and for managers and leaders they often get sucked into, what I call superhero syndrome where they begin to believe it is they must control everything, be at every meeting, have the perfect answer at the perfect time for every situation, be all things for all people…. You get my drift. I wonder too when we say we are busy is it just a mindless, habitual response we have fallen into. Shorthand for saying we are stressed out, tired, overwhelmed? If you find yourself saying you are busy and feeling busy then this book might be for you. Meshel’s book is not about coping with unbelievable busyness. It’s a book about making it stop.
The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb
‘I need a wife’ – It’s a common joke among women juggling work and family. But it’s not actually a joke. Having a spouse who takes care of things at home is a blessing both practically and economically on the work front. And it’s an advantage enjoyed – even in our modern society, Annabel argues, by vastly more men than women. The Wife Drought is about women, men, family and work. Written in Crabb’s inimitable style, it’s full of candid and funny stories from her work in and around politics and the media, historical nuggets about the role of ‘The Wife’ in Australia, and intriguing research about the attitudes that pulse beneath the surface of egalitarian Australia. Refreshingly, Crabb’s call is for a ceasefire in the gender wars. Rather than a shout of rage, The Wife Drought is the thoughtful, engaging catalyst for a conversation that’s long overdue.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
I have seen the promos at the cinema for this movie and haven’t managed to see it yet, but am planning to read the book. Wonder tells the story of Auggie, an ordinary 10-year-old boy, born with a facial abnormality. Auggie has been home schooled all his life and now for the first time he is being sent to “real school” and he is dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?
Depends What you mean by Extremist – by John Saffran
No one turns up where they’re not wanted quite like John Safran and that why I like him. Quirky, irreverent and smart as a tack John never ceases to both amuse and provide insightful commentary on society and culture. In this disorienting adventure John tells his story as he gets among our diverse community of white nationalists, ISIS supporters, anarchists and more, digging away at the contradictions that many would prefer be left unexamined. Populated by an extraordinary cast of ‘ordinary’ Australians, Depends What You Mean by Extremists, is a startling, confronting portrait of contemporary Australia.
The Book of Joy by His Holiness The Dalia Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu
The book captures the conversations, machinations and dynamics that emerged when two of the most influential men of our time met to reflect and discuss Joy. With chapter headings titled: Why are you not morose? Nothing beautiful comes without some suffering, Acceptance: the only place where change can begin and Compassion: something we want to become, this book challenges us to live a life of gratitude, courage and compassion.