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How to Stop Running and Start Living

Five books that encourage you to embrace the slow life

Written by Paromita Chakrabarti | New Delhi |
September 19, 2021 6:30:16 am
books, reading, listicle, book listicle, books on life, books on leading a slow life, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express newsHave you read these books? (Photos: Amazon.in)

“We live in a world where people jog for fun. Where a meditation app has to remind you to breathe deeply. Where you can buy a shrink wrapped, pre-peeled orange (No time to peel! I’m busy!). Which is why abandoning our hang-ups about laziness and taking it slow is more important now than ever before. Slowing down provides us with a ton of benefits. It’s time to reclaim laziness, take back our time and protest the rat race by staying in bed,” proclaims The Little Book of Sloth Philosophy (HarperCollins). Bestselling writer Jennifer McCartney’s book of aphorisms have garnered many loyal followers for telling people what they have always known but not been able to follow for one reason or the other: “Life is short, spend it doing things you love.”

books, reading, listicle, book listicle, books on life, books on leading a slow life, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express news (Photo: Amazon.in)

“There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in,” sang Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in the song, Anthem. One of the most influential musicians of his generation, Cohen’s telling words could well serve as a reinforcement of the Japanese technique of Kintsugi — the art of putting together what was once dear and what is now broken with an additive that enhances its imperfections while giving it a whole new life. In his book, Kintsugi: Embrace your Imperfections and Find Happiness — the Japanese Way (Yellow Kite), psychologist Tomás Navarro urges people to apply the same principle to their lives to face and overcome adversities.

books, reading, listicle, book listicle, books on life, books on leading a slow life, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express news (Photo: Amazon.in)

The lazy life might be the ideal for many, but only a handful can claim the privilege of quitting the rat race without having to think of the future or the present. British writer Matt Haig, who has chronicled his struggles with mental health in his work and on social media, recognises this and presents an eloquent experiential guide in The Comfort Book (Canongate Books). “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live,” writes Haig. The book of bite-sized wisdoms is part memoir, part survival guide and entirely affirming in the hope it offers to the beleaguered and the battle-weary.

books, reading, listicle, book listicle, books on life, books on leading a slow life, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express news (Photo: Amazon.in)

Moving away from enforced societal norms might just become easier with Slow Spatial Reader: Chronicles of Radical Affection (Valiz), an anthology of original ideas on how to negotiate spatial experiences through a prism of unhurried, deliberate engagement. From India’s Raqs Media Collective to Bulgarian-American writer and culture critic Maria Popova, the anthology has 30 essays by artists, architects, theorists and other professionals from across the world encouraging shifts in perspective through a practice of mindfulness.

books, reading, listicle, book listicle, books on life, books on leading a slow life, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express news (Photo: Amazon.in)

British polymath Bertrand Russel’s prescient warning about a disproportionate emphasis on workaholism and his endorsement of rest and restoration to recalibrate our lives is a prime example of why, despite the urgings of a capitalist society, “present leisure” need not be “sacrificed to future productivity”. In his 1932 essay, “In Praise of Idleness” (In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays, Routledge Classics), Russell wrote, “Modern technique has made it possible for leisure, within limits, to be not the prerogative of small privileged classes, but a right evenly distributed throughout the community”. This collection remains a classic, offering insights into the myth of productivity that encourages us to tie our self-worth to material achievements.

books, reading, listicle, book listicle, books on life, books on leading a slow life, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express news (Photo: Amazon.in)

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