Two Books to Read This Summer for Self-Improvement

If you didn't know this about me yet, I've been obsessed with books since the day I started learning how to read. I always joke and say that, since I'm an only child, reading was the only thing I could do to make time pass by while growing up - but the truth is, I loved all of the different worlds, eras, and cultures I could meld myself into just through looking at some letters on a page. How amazing is that?!

Now that I'm a bit older, I still enjoy an engrossing fiction novel every now and then, but I've moved predominantly into the world of nonfiction. Interesting research books, memoirs, and self-help guides are all the rage in my mind. I'm always searching for more insight into human emotions and living more abundantly. More vibrantly. If you're looking for two beautifully written books to read this summer in the area of self-improvement, look no further:

 

 

Daring Greatly - Brene Brown

 

Making an impact from the first page, Brene Brown uses Teddy Roosevelt's powerful quote above as an inspiring call to action - basically, find no shame in failing if you're brave enough to fight for your cause in the first place. What Brown does in her social science research book, Daring Greatly, is crack open all of the painful, vulnerable feelings that we all have but don't like to talk about - or even think about. Just contemplating these experiences bubbles up awkward feelings of shame in us.

 

What makes you feel like your inner soul has been stripped naked for everybody to witness?

 

Think of this: posting your illustrations (or writing!) online for the world to see and, therefore, exposing yourself to potential criticism, and perhaps even worse - public silence. Or, for instance, getting fired from a glamorous job and being too embarrassed to tell your parents. Or getting cheated on, but feeling so ashamed by it that you lie to your friends about the break-up. All of these situations, and more, make us feel completely bare, so we avoid talking about them. Additionally, many people reject doing the courageous things that the soul craves, because they believe doing them might reveal weaknesses. To diminish this pain, people choose to numb themselves through activities like overeating, drinking alcohol, shopping, or getting lost in video games.

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown encourages readers to step out of their emotional comfort zones in order to own their life stories and connect with people on a raw level. She wants us to tell the truth about our lives. What scares us and makes us feel insignificant? Why are we so afraid to let our true selves be known? It's because being vulnerable to people is incredibly difficult, and allowing it is something that we all have to work on consciously, everyday.

So put your values and passions out there for the world to see even if you're afraid that people might think differently of you. Trust me - posting up my writing to this blog gives me shivers most days, but I still make myself do it. Just remember: if anyone doesn't like you anymore after revealing your true self, they're not "your people." Be courageous - dare greatly.

 

The Blue Zones - Dan Buettner

 

I'll admit it. Nonfiction books can be kind of dry or too academic at times. The Blue Zones, by Dan Buettner, completely shatters that stereotype - it's so interesting and fun to read that I never wanted to put it down!

The first time I was introduced to the concept of "Blue Zones," was when I visited Costa Rica on a study abroad trip three years ago. It's one of a small handful of countries that boast a zone with a statistically high proportion of active centenarians - people who live to be at least 100 years-old. Buettner and other world-renowned researches were fascinated by these zones of wellness and wanted to learn how so many people could live to be a century old.

In The Blue Zones, Buettner profiles several areas around the world with this high percentage of healthy, happy centenarians. Places include Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Sardinia (Italy), and the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica). The book dives into research findings for why these seniors are living so long and how we can live our lives that way too. The reasons for their long lives are both cultural and nutritional, but The Blue Zones will definitely inspire you to implement their strategies. After reading about several 103 year-old men and women still tending to their own gardens and laughing over a glass of wine with their other ancient friends, how could you not want to do the same? As you'll learn in the book, genetics are only about 25% of how well we age - the rest is the lifestyle we choose to live. It's in your hands!

 

 

I hope you've enjoyed my reviews and decide to take these inspiring and informative books with you on your remaining summer vacations. Just so that you know - I'll be writing more specifically about "Blue Zone" lifestyle strategies in the future. So, if you've read these two books already, what were your thoughts on them? Do you have any other recommendations for great summer reads? Thank you, and please share below! :)

Have a fun weekend,

xo Caylee