4 BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE (& YOU SHOULD READ THEM)

Reading is the ultimate form of escaping your own reality without actually running away from it.

Reading allows you to feel as though you’ve left your problems behind, when in actuality, the right book will do nothing more than reiterate the potential, strength, and beauty that you already have. Sometimes a really good book is just there to remind you of everything you already know but may need to hear someone else say.

The right book will be there to help you feel less alone in your own unconscious, your fears, and your dreams because you’ve established a connection with either a character, or the message itself.

THAT’S what a good book does.

I am an avid reader. Give me a cup of green tea or a great latte, a good book (I am SO not a fan of this whole e-reader generation), a quiet remote comfortable location, and you wont hear from me for hours. People have actually handed me books before just to shut me up and make me go away when I was being utterly annoying adorable.

Philosophies, Satires, Thrillers, Mysteries, Undeniable Love – I enjoy it all. Books are my way to escape reality for a few hours a day. They allow me the opportunity to run away from the dramas of life, from the responsibilities of the day, and just think about something else for a minute. They are my breathe of fresh air, my entertainment, and my education. They let me see the world, travel through time, and teach me new ways of being.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

– Stephen King

There are so many books that I could sit down and discuss for hours. So many books that I would recommend to readers or any sort. But there are only a few books that I can open at anytime in life and find new meaning in based on what I have going on at that time.

There are only so many books that have taught me to think, feel and connect on new levels. The impact that these books have had on me not only continue to translate in my own emotional understanding of my life, but have enriched the way I interact with others and the relationships that this has allowed me to form.

So, what do these 4 books that changed my life all have in common?

They all create a unique sense of understanding of life, while being utterly refreshing in story line and genre. They allowed me to feel less alone and more understanding of my own life’s dynamic. Though these stories may be very far fetched from your own life – the underlying meaning is always the same. Be grateful for what you have, and accept what you don’t. Fight for what you want, but understand when you can’t always have it.

These books don’t read like your everyday self help book screaming “positive thoughts!” or “life is all butterflies and rainbows!” at your face. They actually do the complete opposite, and that’s what I adore. They show you that life can be absolute shit, but you can still come out on top; happy and thankful for what you’ve been through and what you will go through.

Here are 4 books that changed my life:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is one of my favorite authors by far. His work is rich, enlightened, and honest. I have so far read every book written by him and though I would recommend each and every one of them – there are only a few that truly stand out in my mind.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven was the very first book I read by Mitch Albom. It was a grade 11 philosophy class and this book was the first step that really got me thinking about life a bit differently.

It discusses the people in your life and how each and every one effects you in one way or another. Helping you understand to appreciate everyone, learn the lessons off everyone, to love, to forgive, and to live.

“ALL ENDINGS ARE ALSO BEGINNINGS. WE JUST DON’T KNOW IT AT THE TIME”.

– THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, MITCH ALBOM

This book is written around a man who never really thought his life was anything. Once dead, it discusses the five people he meets on his way to heaven and what each teach him as a lesson he did not learn or listen to while alive. This books makes both him as a character, and you as the reader realize that people need to appreciate more when they are alive. We need to understand as people that everyone is our lives are there for a reason even if it does not feel that way in the moment.

The good we go through and the bad are what shape our lives, so we need to pay more attention to this in the moment. Open our eyes and see the world around us instead of just going through the motions until we die like most of us sadly do. I saw this was something I did with a simple trick that you should try… Next time you’re driving somewhere or taking some sort of transportation – once you get to your destination really think about how you got there? What did you see around you on your way? Was there music, or any signs for maybe a Garage Sale? The first time I did this after driving I realized the entire ride I was thinking about so much I didn’t think about driving once. I did the motions – I used my turn signal when switching lanes, I checked my blind spots, I stopped at stops signs. But I didn’t pay attention to what was around me, or even the music blaring in the car. I was so in my own head that I missed that entire ride and simply did the motions of driving.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie was one of the last books I read by Mitch Albom. This book circles around the true story of Mitch going to visit his sick University Professor at home everyday on Tuesday to discuss life, and love.

The raw reality of this book had me crying and laughing for most of it. Professor Morrie was a genius, a force to be reckoned with. It felt as though he understood the secret to life and he was sharing it with the readers the entire time. He taught us as readers through Mitch that love concours all. It is an easy concept that is told time and time again, but never gets old to hear.

This book was one of those: “Holy crap, its 4am, I’m still reading, and I have a meeting in like 4hours? How did that happen!”. I could not put this down, it was crazy. After each page, I’d be all: “okay, just one more page and I’m done. I can’t stop here because the thought process isn’t complete and I’ll just forget what I read by tomorrow”. This went on until the book was done.

All of Mitch Albums books make you realize that life really is short. This one in particular follows the memoir of a sick man telling his life story one last time before he dies. Though Morrie was strong until the end, he did not let his pride get the best of him during his final days. Surrounded by love and wisdom, this mans story and lessons will last a lifetime through the lives of every person who reads this book.

“IT’S NOT TO LATE TO… ASK YOURSELF IF YOU REALLY ARE THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE, AND IF NOT, WHO YOU DO WANT TO BE”.

– MORRIE SCHWARTZ, TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE

 

There is no time to be ungrateful and angry at the world. It is better to appreciate what you have, accept what you don’t, and just love. Professor Morrie had a book written after him for a reason. He was smart – he educated the lives of others because he could teach them something new. This book will truly make you look at life differently and help you understand that you need to appreciate everything now and not save it for later.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

A misery memoire that teaches strength, determination, dreaming, and perseverance. Though Jeannette Walls grew up in a unique manor, she grew into a woman of strength and love.

Her father, to say it in the kindest way was a dreamer and a drunk. Though he loved his family and wanted the world for them – it wasn’t something that was ever going to happen for him. A story many people can relate to. In many ways when reading this book I wanted to hate Jeannettes dad. After-all the story is about her, and he does not make her life easy. But instead I fell in love with the mans dreams for life. His dream of building a glass house so they could see the stars every-night. His love for dreaming, giving each kid a star for Christmas because it was a gift they could keep forever and take with them always. You can look at it as a man to drunk and poor to provide for his family – or you can see it as a man who dreamt of bigger things. Who appreciated the world around him and lived off of it.

This book will make you really think – are you a glass half full, or a glass half empty kind of reader. Do you want to be optimistic and love the man you should hate for the good qualities that stand out. Or will you be a realist; a negative-nancy and see it as a man too drunk to take care of his family despite his love for them.

“WHOEVER COINED THE PHRASE ‘A MAN’S GOT TO PLAY THE HAND THAT WAS DEALT HIM’ WAS MOST CERTAINLY ONE PISS-POOR BLUFFER”.

– JEANNETTE WALLS

When reading this, sometimes I forgot that it was a memoir and not fiction – but either way it made me see that I was so lucky growing up and need to thank my family everyday for what they gave me. This story did not make me feel bad for Jeannette in anyway. That woman grew up to be stronger than I will ever be. But it made me realize that no matter what utter shit she went through, Jeannette took her life into her own hands and made it into what it is today. She is married, loved, an accomplished writer. She did not let her upbringing determine her future and that is a concept many people need to learn. Just because your cards show your life to be going one way, never means that you can’t change your path and be better at any given moment.

My life has had its own ups and downs, and everyones own problems are a big deal to them in one way or another. That does not mean it determines our lives and what we are capable of becoming.

Let your history guide you to what you want your future to be.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

This book had me laughing from page one. Not the way you would normally begin describing a self-help book, but the title could have told you that from the start. This book is so unique in the way it talks to its readers. Keeping it funny, yet honest – this book captured my attention from the first page where we got to look at the life of a drunk man who hated himself… Interesting right?

There is no sugar coating things. There is no telling you that life is perfect and everything will be okay. This book is brutally honest, and tells you everything that you already know. That is exactly why I like it so much. There is no lying and going around the bush. The author has no problem telling his readers that they can be dense and well stupid sometimes and they need to change this way of thinking if they want to find a way to be happy with their lives. He clearly points out that as humans we all have problems in our life. A life without problems is not realistic, and it is through problems that we find happiness. We strive to find solutions to problems and without this problem solving we are not happy. Simple right? The only time we are truly miserable is when we take on too many problems. When we take on situations in life that we shouldn’t not care about enough to have to solve those problems. Choose your situations wisely and don’t waste your time.

“OUR VALUES DETERMINE THE NATURE OF OUR PROBLEMS, AND THE NATURE OF OUR PROBLEMS DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES”.

-MARK MANSON, THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK

This book more than once will make you go: “hmm, well this is obvious, but why haven’t I ever thought of it like this before?”.

Most of the time, people aren’t stupid. Though they act it sometimes – we all understand the fundamentals in life. Don’t take everything so seriously. If it won’t affect your life in 5 minutes, 5 months, 5 years, let it go. Blah, Blah, Blah… Unfortunately, understanding it isn’t always enough and sometimes we need that information thrown in our face like a giant creamy pie for it to really sink in. People need to be told over and over again in order for the information to really sink it. We for some reason don’t always believe our own brains because we’ve been told we are wrong so many times before, and this is exactly why the self-help book phenomenon took off so well.

And there you have it… 4 books that truly made me look at life a little differently. Each unique in its own way. Either making me look at how lucky I am in my own circumstances, or making me look at what I should be improving on.

What are some of your favorite, life-changing books and how did they help you? I would love some recommendations to add to my reading list. Reading is growth after-all and I’m only 5’2 (*baa dumm chee*).

To all of my Canadian friends – Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your day off today, be thankful for all the good in your life and find some time to read and relax!

2

Advertisements

TABLE FOR ONE. [TRAVELING SOLO.]

How is it the airport is the only public place it seems to be socially acceptable to drink at any moment of the day without being judged? These are the somewhat alcoholic thoughts that are currently going through my head at 10am on a Thursday morning while staring out a window, wondering why I thought travelling alone was a good idea. Bar tender, more wine please.

I’ve been here since 8am. I’ve walked through every store near me, tested a whole lot of unnecessary perfumes and makeup, bought some useless junk I probably wont need and I still have SO much free time. This is about the time the bars opened and the drinking began.

Traveling on your own can be extremely exhilarating and freeing. It can also be really boring and anxious when you’re trapped at the airport, alone, 3 hours before your flight with nothing fun to do or a person to talk to.

Post breakup my life has seemed very fight or flight. I tried my best to fight my way through the emotions; to deal with the stress of this new life – finding a new job, finding a new condo, being alone. It was a lot all at once and the weight I felt on my shoulders was becoming to much to bare in silence. I felt like I was becoming a burden to my friends with my Debby-downer mood and I hated it.

So in my attempt to snap out of this self induced funk and deal with my new life – I chose to stop fighting how I felt and what I was going through and start resorting to flight mode. It may not be the most mature way to deal, or most recommended by anyone trying to help you cope with reality. But I’m tired, I’m stressed, and I am so over feeling unsatisfied with myself. So, Goodbye Life, Goodbye Responsibilities, Goodbye city and restaurants and cars and air that reminded me way to much of my past life. This lady needs a breath of fresh air from a new city, a new country, a new version of my life.

PEACE OUT.

The only problem that I saw in this new run away from life philosophy of mine was: I’ve never traveled alone, and I was terrified to start. Independence was never my strong suit. I hated sitting alone at a table for meals, waiting alone in a crowd; I always went straight to my phone so I wouldn’t have to make direct eye contact with someone else.

With this serious lack of independence and zero desire to be alone with my own thoughts – the concept of travelling alone never even crossed my mind. It wasn’t a possibility, because what would I possibly do alone in another country where I don’t know anyone or anything?

This was the problem I needed to change with myself. It’s one thing to love who you are, and I can truly say I do love the woman I am becoming everyday. But, it’s a completely different story to be so comfortable with yourself that you are actually okay being alone. I’ve never been okay being alone and this made me cling to relationships that weren’t right for me. This needed to change. Now.

So I needed a fix and I needed it quick… My cousin recently moved to Miami and she was alone with her daughter for the weekend. I figured this to be the best first step to get me in the groove of things. I’d get through the flying alone thing first – and then I had her around so I wasn’t alone the entire trip, but in increments. This way I had the freedom to explore and do my own thing, but had someone to eat those awkward meals with.

Start small. Grow from there.

By my next trip – I’d be ready to do more on my own. Maybe even try eating dinner at a bar too. Talking crazy, but I’m ambitious like that. It’s all about being brave enough to take that first step. Knowing you were capable of it.

Travel Tips.

Stay Safe!

My first rule of traveling whether alone or with someone is make sure to stay safe. When in a city you don’t know, always research ahead of time. What are the best areas to visit and to avoid? Emergency contact numbers? Itineraries and time tables.

When you’re alone you don’t have that person there to look out for you, so you need to be smart enough to pay attention to your surroundings on your own.

Don’t wear anything flashy, and try to fit in.

Distractions are key.

It’s not easy being alone all day whether traveling or staying home. Especially your first time out when you don’t know anyone in the city. Until you are comfortable making friends, keep yourself distracted so you don’t feel lonely.

When you’re out for dinners, always have a book handy, or a tablet to keep you looped into the social world you already know.

Make your itinerary before hand so you have a plan to look forward to, and always have something coming new to try and do.

Sign up for some classes, do a tour, or rent a form of transportation and do it yourself.

Make Friends.

Making friends with strangers isn’t always easy. I know first hand how awkward it can be to just go up to a group of people and start talking. My best tip is to sign yourself up for classes and tours when travelling as you’ll always meet someone with the same interests as you there. You can then go with your new friends for dinners and drinks for the remainder of your time there.

When out for meals, try sitting at the bar. You’ll meet a lot more solo travelers there who are also looking for someone to talk to.

Explore.

The best part about travelling alone, is you get to see everything you want without anyone getting in the way. You no longer have to compromise or worry about keeping up with someones time or ideas. You do things at your own speed, and see whatever you truly want to without having to cater to someone else.

Make an itinerary, figure out everything you want to see before hand, buy entrance tickets or city passes. Do things the way you want and explore as much as you can.

The point of traveling alone is to find yourself. So do it while getting lost in a beautiful new city.

 

2