BOOKS CHECKED OUT | By JANET CLAPP
Stressed? Frazzled? Yearning for peace? Looking for simplicity? Wishing the holidays could be less hectic? Hoping to start the new year as a new person? There is no single path to contentment, despite the proliferation of self-help books published each month that promise otherwise, but here are some titles to consider.
“10 Steps to Mastering Stress”
By David H. Barlow, Ronald Rapee, and Sarah Perini
This thin but instructive book by stress experts outlines a program that “has been scientifically developed and tested to ensure that it is the most effective way to master stress.” The ten steps are to understand stress, relax, think realistically, evaluate consequences, test predictions, stay present, take control, be assertive, manage time, and solve problems. Worksheets are included, such as a daily stress record and a daily activity record. Emphasis is placed on practicing techniques that can help deal with stress, which is an inevitable part of life.
“Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard & Others”
By Philip Harnden
In this unusual book, Harnden compiles almost poetic lists by a variety of people traveling through life. Accompanied by a brief description of who wrote it, “Each list simply describes what was carried, often in a rucksack, sometimes deeper within the traveler.” From Henry David Thoreau is the practical “Thoreau’s out fit for an excursion,” including such items as “stout old shoes” and “best pocket-map and perhaps description of the route.” A shorter list by Ishmael from Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick says only, “Stuffed in an old carpet-bag a shirt or two.” Simpler yet, there is the blank page titled at the top, “Baggage for the Arctic Tern’s 22,000-Mile Migration.”
“Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude”
By Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons
“Studies show – and experts counsel – that gratitude is a key component for personal happiness.” The authors gather stories of people who express their gratefulness, whether in general, for something specific, or to God. The examples are compiled here to show that “when the worst happens it helps to be thankful for what we do have; this empowers us to envision a new and better future.” Each story is introduced by a quotation and many conclude with a “Gratitude Practice,” a suggestion by the authors of “simple ways you can incorporate thankfulness in your everyday lives.”
“The Happy Life Checklist: 654 Little Things That Will Bring You Bliss”
By Amy Spencer
According to Spencer, “Life provides us with instant snapshots of what happiness is every day. The only problem? We don’t always see it.” She offers a variety of fun, unusual and interesting suggestions for enjoying the small things in life. “Eat straight from the cake. No plate, no spatula, no manners…and maybe just a little mess.” “Watch a dancer dance… Behold the human body as an instrument of grace.” My favorite: “Find a book you can’t bear to put down.”
These books and many others are available at the Rutland Free Library. Hopefully you can find the book that brings you peace or sets you on the path you would like to follow in the upcoming year. Happy reading!
Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.