Living a conscious and intentional life is not something that we’re born knowing how to do. It is a practice. It is the result of a fervent curiosity and willingness to learn. As much as I love an epic novel, I find myself more and more drawn to non-fiction books. Books that cover a range of topics- health, self-improvement, spirituality, social justice, etc.
The following 10 books are one that have been instrumental in shifting the way I go about my life. I’d like to think that they’ve changed me for the better.
Kamea Chayne, a conscious living blogger and influencer based in Los Angeles, is a petite powerhouse, with intellect, natural beauty, and calm spirit. I met her at an event for Ethical Writers and Creatives a few years ago, where she told me she was working on a book about conscious living.
Thrive guides you to adopt a more conscious, well-rounded lifestyle through things like connecting to nature, eating a non-processed diet based on whole foods, and supporting ethical and sustainable businesses. If you’ve been looking for a how-to guide for living more mindfully, here it is!
Zero Waste Home
Zero Waste has become quite the buzzy term these days, and this book gives you practical tips for incorporating waste reduction practices into your everyday life. Bea makes zero-waste seem less intimidating and more inclusive, and shows how you can actually save money by adopting some of these lifestyle changes. There has been a lot of discussion going on in the community about zero-waste being a “white privilege” concept, and I think Bea does a good job of putting these sentiments to rest.
Erin Loechner is an award-winner blogger and creator of Design For Mankind, wife to a man living with a brain tumor, and momma to two beautiful children. Her writing style is equal parts humor and eloquence, and I truly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Chasing Slow is about learning the value of the simple things in life. Erin comes from a place of honesty and authenticity, highlighting the fact that no one is perfect and that learning to slow down can be harder than it sounds.
New Slow City
Think you can’t learn the art of slow living in a city as fast-paced as New York City? William Powers would like you to rethink that. After writing a memoir about his experience living in an off-the-grid cabin in North Carolina, Powers wanted to prove that you don’t need to move to the forest to understand the value of the simple life.
No Impact Man
Colin Beavan is a non-fiction author turned environmental activist who challenged himself to live a carbon neutral life while living in New York City. His journey was captured and turned into both a documentary (which you can watch here) and a book. While he’s been accused by many of being too extreme, I find it inspirational to see what a person can accomplish when their compassion and respect for the Earth is strong enough. No Impact Man shows the incredible power of the actions and behaviors of individuals.
The 100 Mile Diet
Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon
The 100-Mile Diet chronicles a Canadian couple’s venture at a locavore lifestyle, as they vow to only source foods from a 100 mile radius for one full calendar year. With a just the right amount of humor, this story follows their story as they loosen up on their strict vegan diet in favor of local dairy products and fresh-caught fish, hit the culinary jackpot in the form of finding local flour, and go down a dress size or two along the way.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
I read this book in college when I was working at my school’s Department of Recreation. I had an inspiring group of coworkers who sought to make our campus more sustainable; we maintained an urban organic garden, led edible tree plantings, and created a campus community garden for students and faculty members. This book was hanging out in the office, so one day I picked it up and started reading it. And didn’t put it down until I was done. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction book by the famous novelist Barbara Kingsolver, chronicles a family’s adoption of a locavore lifestyle while living in their Appalachian farm. Told in the poetic voice of Barbara Kingsolver, this is a true literary gem and might even inspire you to get outside and start growing your own food.
The Universe Has Your Back
Written by modern-day spiritual guru and New York City native Gabrielle Bernstein, I find this book to be relevant to humans of all kinds of faith, full of inspiring passages about trusting the timing of your life, and using a spiritual practice as an agent of creating good for the world. While I don’t personally believe in any one faith or religion, I am a huge believe in having some kind of spiritual practice- whether it’s meditation, yoga, or charity work.
Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles
After traveling to and falling in love with the country of Japan, I was eager to learn more about their traditional value system. This book explores the concept of Ikigai, which is a Japanese term that relates to finding your purpose in life. The authors interviewed dozens of centenarians and found several factors in common that contribute to a long, healthy life- eating a non-processed diet and never overeating, having a spiritual practice, feeling a sense of community, and having meaningful work (and never stopping working- if you love what you do, why would you ever stop?).
How to Be Alive
From the same author as No Impact Man comes another inspiring book about living a meaningful, intentional existence. After No Impact Man, Colin Beavan went on to become a zen master, founded the No Impact Project, and even tried his hand at politics, becoming a Green Party candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives. In his book How To Be Alive, Colin explores and challenges society’s expectations for how to go through life (the typical ‘go to college, get a job, buy a car, get married, have kids, slog away at work until it’s time to retire’ saga) and highlights the importance of both doing good and feeling good as it relates to happiness and satisfaction with life.
What are some books that have inspired you to live a more mindful and meaningful life?