Ultimate Reading List for 2020 : 10 MUST READ Non-Fiction Books

After completing my Goodreads Challenge 2019 with 40 books, here are the MUST read non-fiction books. Hope this inspires your reading list for 2020!

Successfully meeting my target of reading 40 books this year from the GoodReads 2019 Challenge, here is my reading list for MUST read books in the non-fiction category.

Continuing from last year’s recommendations, I have decided to make this a year-end ritual of sorts.

I know, I know, I write enough about Spiritual books already, so I’m promising you a list outside the core Spiritual genre, yet true to the non-fiction hall of fame.

Bringing you a bright concoction of genres this year, from undercover agents, comedy, mental health, memoirs, self-helps and more. Read on!

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear

If I could recommend only one book to you, it would be this one.

With 2020 around the corner, and the potential to BREAK most of your “new year resolutions”, this book will teach you how to commit to yourself this year, for good.

As the author emphasizes, we only need to change ourselves 1% everyday, and by the end of the year, we are 37 times better as a person! The tips and tricks in Atomic Habits are suitable for all walks of life, and I continue to use this book as a guideline to refine my own habits, even after 6 months of reading it.

This is also the book that influenced my post 7 Daily Self-Love Habits that You Will Thank Yourself For Doing.


#2 – Why We Sleep by Matthew Kneale

If you’re a victim of sleep deprivation, you’re not alone.

Fairy Tale, Night, Music, Fish, Sky, Fly, Sleep, Non Fiction, Dream

Why We Sleep will tell you EVERYTHING there is to know about sleep, like :

  • how dreams work,
  • why we experience jet lags,
  • sleep-deprived driving versus drunk-driving,
  • how much we should sleep,
  • the impact of caffeine on our sleep, and much more!

Informative, but not overly. The stories and research is astonishing and will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. This book is the right blend of self-help and psychology genres.


#3 – In the Skin of a Jihadist

I’ve always been inclined to learn more about whistleblowers and anti-terrorism stories. For me, this year, In the Skin of a Jihadist really stood out.

undercover, journalism, jihad

The story of an undercover journalist that went to extensive lengths to debunk much about the Jihadists and their plans, ultimately leading to life-threatening circumstances for herself. Bone-chilling and very different from anything else you’ll usually read.


#4 – Becoming by Michelle Obama

In the category of memoirs, Becoming along with #5 have been such good reads this year.

I was fortunate to hear it read by Michelle Obama herself, thanks to my latest love for audiobooks. Through her works, you will realize that she is a brilliant mother, wife, woman and human being.

I’m sure you don’t need much more introduction to this book, and you’ve probably seen enough reviews in favour. So just take one more positive sign – you SHOULD read this!


#5 – This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Very few people know, that I wanted to be a doctor while I was growing up. Being steered into engineering by my very practical family, was not a decision I got over for several years!

adam kay, this is going to hurt, must read memoir

I’m happy to be where I am today. But if there was anything left within me, this book brought me the closure I needed. But don’t get me wrong, This is Going to Hurt is the opposite of sad.

If you’re looking for something hilarious yet meaningful, look no further. This book comes with a power-packed message and lots of smiles.


#6 – Essentialism by Greg McKeown

If you’re a workaholic, read this.
Or, if you want to learn time management, read this.
Or, If you have a tough time saying no at work or in relations, read this.

Essentialism is an essential book for anyone that wants to understand how to set up boundaries in their life, and in a very practical way. The book uses a lot of references from other books and can seem worded at times, but it is relevant nonetheless.


#7 – Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

With me going on and on about Mental Health and happiness, it became almost mandatory to have this book on the list. It’s a classic, but I feel like it was written way ahead of its time.

bell jar, sylvia plath, mental health, must read

For anyone having any inclination and searching for some enlightenment on subjects of mental health, depression or suicide, please add the Bell Jar to your cart. I truly felt like this is as real and deep as you can get with experiencing such subjects, without being in that position yourself.


#8 – The Circadian Code by Dr Satchin Panda

This year was a blessing, with back-to-back books that brought inner transformation. With diet-culture and intermittent fasting in extensive discussion, this is the book that nails every theory and myth with terrific scientific backing.

Clock, Plate, Intermittent Fasting, Must Read

Dr Satchin’s research proves that calorie-counting can go out of the window, if we make very small changes in our daily habits. His theory being, it doesn’t matter what you eat, as much as it matters when you are eating.

In turn, these changes will reverse the effects of chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes, ADHD, as well as regulate your mental, hormonal and physical health on the daily basis!

In his book, Circadian Code, the doctor backs up his evidence for 6 weeks of his recommended practice to see results, and at this point, I am over 8 weeks into practising intermittent fasting. The outcome is so amazing, I am compiling a post about my story. Stay tuned!


#9 – Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I was today years-old, when I discovered that half the things I do, are not a personality flaw, but the essence of an introvert personality.

The book Quiet talks in great detail about introverts in all kinds of social and career situations. There’s wonderful insight on raising introvert kids, and how to cohabitate with an introvert or extrovert partner.

Woman, Read, Sit, Person, Literature, Must Read, Non-Fiction

I can’t thank the author enough, for putting this incredible work together. She’s gone above and beyond, searched high and low to put this insightful work together.

Whether it was her experience at Tony Robbins workshop, a study at Harvard Business School, or countless other studies of CEOs and other influential, introverted personalities, she’s shared EVERYTHING. And then some. Absolutely fascinating!

If you are an introvert, considered emotional or sensitive, this book is going to empower you and make you feel so good about yourself, you will wear the label with honour, as I now do. Thoroughly researched, witty and pushing your mind to break the stigma about who you are.


#10 – Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

As someone who has gone through several episodes of depression, and continues to deal with anxiety, Matt Haig has nailed everything there has to be said about the state of our planet.

Sadness, Depressed, Woman, Girl, Alone

Notes on a Nervous Planet looks at everything that affects our mental health from a practical, easy-to-understand but tough-to-digest perspective. This could be the book that shakes you awake.


* BONUS READ – Make Your Bed by Will McRaven

While this didn’t make it in my top 10 non-fiction favourites, it definitely made a good read.

Military, Usa, Marines, Drill, Silent, Navy, Seal

I’m sure you’ve already seen the inspiring speech about making your bed every morning, but the author put together a fantastic book revealing what the life and struggle of navy marines are, in a rather unique and comical way.

What I liked about this book was, no fluff, lots of stories that make great analogies, and how crisp it was. Perfect if you need a short and motivating read.

Conclusion

How many of these have you already read? I hope some of them make way into your To-Be-Reads for 2020! Happy reading ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. Thank you, if you are able to purchase any of the books through the Amazon links above. At no added cost to you, your purchase brings a small commision to this blog and helps it grow! ๐Ÿ™‚

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10 must read non-fiction books

15 Life-Changing Lessons from Spiritual Memoirs

A wide range of spiritual lessons on lifestyle choices, marriage, relationships, detachment, humility, and more!

There was a time when I couldn’t stand biographies. And then, I was introduced to the world of spiritual memoirs – the less factual, more emotionally invested kind of look into people’s lives. It was like a paradigm shift!

While our Ultimate goal as spiritual beings is to attain Enlightenment, not all of us are aspiring single-mindedly to achieve that goal within this lifetime. Also, not all of us are inclined towards renouncing our material lives to go live in ashrams or caves with the monks, to attain this guidance.

That being said, we need all the encouragement, wisdom and inspiration along our way, that we can get, even whilst we choose to engage in worldly matters.

To me, these are the books that brought different flavors of enlightenment to the comfort of my lazy space. Here’s highlighting what stood out to me, in each of the recommendations listed below.

* The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer

This inspiring story looks into Michael’s life of almost monk-hood; spending 40-years in the forest trying to live in solitude but by a strange twist of fate, being anything but alone, ever!

Meditation, Buddhism, Monk, Temple, Spiritual Memoirs

Not just that, there are humbling insights like him teaching meditation to jail inmates, building a spiritual temple that is a magnet to spiritual masters from around the world, coming clean from an FBI raid, and demystifying several spiritual experiences in simple laymen language.

Without giving away too much, here are my 5 key takeaways.

#1 – ON MEDITATION

Meditating for long hours is not comfortable, not easy and definitely not rosy. But he shows us how to get through the sluggish phases, as well as embrace the overwhelming ones.

#2 – ON EGO

Even years of meditation can lead to stagnation in spirituality. You might be able to use his life incidents to identify your own shortcomings and ego blocks, so that you can accelerate your journey once again!

#3 – ON LIFESTYLE CHOICES

It is possible to earn a LOT of money, get married, have kids and still be increasingly, spiritually-conscious. The real-life incidents in this book are more than plenty of evidence in terms of practical spirituality.

#4 – ON HAPPINESS & SURRENDERING

Our personal preferences about what should and shouldn’t happen, is the reason we experience resistance. Once you stop feeding these preferences, you are able to do what needs to be done without being emotionally driven.

#5 – ON PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY

Pursuing Spirituality is NOT black and white; the universe continues to throw other necessary ‘obstacles’ such as jobs or relationships, and the only way out to the other side of Oneness, is through these obstacles. As the saying goes, obstacles on your path, are your path.

Read more : Being Spiritual Everydyay – 8 Books on Practical Spirituality

This book affirmed my belief that we are no longer in the time where we go sit in caves and become monks. The monks need to live amongst us – WE have to find our Light and spread it, all the while being amongst those that are in the darkness.

Support this blog, by purchasing the book from Amazon : India Users

* Sadhguru by Arundhati Subramaniam

What stands out about this book from other spiritual memoirs, is the strange experiences that are described. Though strange, are not impossible to believe. It also is perhaps the deepest introspection into Sadhguru’s life, I’ve read thus far.

Shiva, Lord Shiva, God Shiva, Isha

#6 – ON MARRIAGE

Marrying a non-spiritual partner is okay (and as proven by this mystic, at times necessary in your journey). This book helped me close the loop on my personal pondering – Should Spiritual People Get Married?

#7 – ON ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE COMMON MAN

Non-spiritual people might attain nirvana before the Enlightened being (called Bodhisattva) who was evidently more Spiritual in life! Everyone is moving at their own pace, don’t let someone’s journey disappoint you or make you arrogant either.

#8 – ON PAST LIVES

Not only are past lives proven to be very real experiences as proven by Sadhguru’s stories, what seems like an ‘instant’ and effortless enlightenment is actually many lifetimes of raising awareness to attain that peak point of bliss.

#9 – ON THE AFTERMATH OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Enlightened beings can fall sick and undergo a lot of challenges too, their life doesn’t become rosy and effortless. As long as you’re alive, you’re going to learn a lot! This makes me think we’ve exaggerated the topic “your external is a manifestation of your internal”. Some things happen regardless, and that’s just that.

#10 – ON MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES

Disembodied spirits (ghosts) are real, but they aren’t spooky as we believe them to be. They’re just searching for the Light and sometimes they think we, as humans, can show them the way. So are other concepts like chakras, soul bonds, and much more.

Support this blog, by purchasing the book from Amazon: India Users

* Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh

This was single-handedly the most influential spiritual memoir I have ever read on my journey yet. If there is one book you ever buy on my recommendation, please make it this one!

Buddha, Banner, Religion, Meditation, Spiritual Memoirs, Thich Nhat Hanh

Though over 400-pages, it is not overwhelming at all. It is a gentle, easy-breezy read that will transform you in the most subtle and lasting ways.

I learned a lot about Buddhism and the life of the Buddha, by reading this but also was able to adopt many aspects into my own life. Here are 5 highlights :

#11 – ON ESSENTIALISM

The Buddha and his disciples only ate one to two meals a day, before sunset, depending on the food available.

The practitioners were not required to cook meals because it was considered an added household chore – so both with the intention of learning humility, and saving time, they would beg alms once every morning, and that food would be used throughout the day. (Focus on what really matters, Essentialism)

#12 – ON MINIMALISM

The same for clothing – the monks were advised to have only two pairs, one to wear, one to wear whilst the other pair was in wash. This minimized worldly duties. (Minimalism has been around longer than us new-age folks want to believe)

#13 – ON MONKS & COMMONERS

Lay disciples, were the followers that didn’t want to be monks, but wanted to benefit from Buddhism while pursuing their livelihoods. The lay disciples had five simple practices to follow – don’t cheat on your spouse, don’t steal from anybody, no alcohol, no non veg, and don’t lie. (If you can’t be a monk, following just this little bit of advice is enough to change your life)

#14 – ON DIVERSITY

Though the Buddha did not voluntarily cook meat, if during bhiksha, the process of begging alms, he was served non vegetarian food, he would not decline because he saw this also an opportunity to connect with and share the Buddhist practice in every household. (Don’t stand against those that are not like you; gently gain their confidence and show them a better way; but stay open to possibility that they will still not walk your way)

#15 – ON HUMILITY

Buddha was aware in much advance, of the exact moment of his death, and reason. Still, he continued to carry out his life without trying to win death. (Stay humble, and know when your time is up, don’t try to bargain with destiny)

Support this blog, by purchasing the book from Amazon: India Users

BONUS READING MATERIAL

That being said, a special mention to the classic works of Paramhans Yogananda, called An Autobiography of A Yogi. This is one of those spiritual memoirs slash autobiographies that get the review “this answered many of my doubts”.

And this has been true for me too. Whether it was my confusion about Hypnotherapy, fear of negative entities, or any other personal experiences, this book gave me the guidance I otherwise had no access to.

The language is a bit dated and complex, but if you try not to get too stuck in all that and simply glide through the story, your answers too will find themselves in this 400+ page biography.

There are many wondrous books that bring us the lessons that we otherwise would have to learn though ardent life obstacles. It is a fortune more than ever to have such a beautiful bouquet of diverse information.

Hope these works inspire you to read and gain from them too.

Also, these are some spiritual fiction books that I highly recommend reading as well!

Happy reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

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8 Books About Practical Spirituality

Realising the necessity for Practical Spirituality, here’s my reading list of recommendations that will add value to your daily life.

In the past I’ve recommended many books that talk about reincarnation, the afterlife, remembering past lives, etc. Good for anyone that’s interested in proof or those specific subjects, but I recently realized the necessity for books about Practical Spirituality.

I was watching a stand-up comedy show some time back, when this Indian guy Abhishek Upmanyu, was brilliantly throwing one punch-line after another, and he came to the topic of the ‘universe’.

What he said was funny, but also hit home. When we struggle with basic problems in life like a job, relationship or health, we don’t want to know that ‘we are made from stardust’, ‘we are facing a past-life karma’, or any other mystical, mysterious wisdom.

We want something concrete.

Here are 8 books about practical spirituality that will help your spiritual journey on a day-to-day basis.

#1 – Trust Your Vibes by Sonia Choquette

This was the first book I read of its kind, “sixth-sensory”, somewhere at the end of 2017.

Third Eye, Eye, Spiritual, Intuition, Practical Spirituality, Sonia Choquette

When you’re having Spiritual experiences, the one thing we fear is being called crazy, and therefore, we avoid sharing what we’re going through with anyone. But, this brilliant piece of writing helped me come out of my isolation, by showing me that these experiences are NORMAL and must be shared with our ‘tribe’.

Being a long-serving healer herself, Sonia also provides a comprehensive list of things she does on a daily basis, to keep her energy levels high and healthy. It also talks about intuition (thus the title, ‘vibe’), and how spirituality can be gently introduced into our families.

There is a great deal of insight to take away for budding spiritualists and healers. Till this date, I flip through this book and am reminded of something that helps me.


#2 – The SURRENDER EXPERIMENT BY MICHAEL A. SINGER

Usually, Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment stories are fun to read but they become unrelateable as soon as the person says that they didn’t do anything to get there, it just happened.

Michael, on the other hand, set out to attain Enlightenment.

For most spiritual practitioners, there are several elements in The Surrender Experiment, that will help them in their own journey regardless of how recent or long back they started, such as –

  • wanting to stay in isolation but finding ‘obstacles’ on the path’ that stir them away from spiritual practices;
  • trying to avoid people/events but instead attracting more of them;
  • trying to live a life close to monkhood but being unable to escape relationships, material jobs and desires;

The author reveals 40-years of living in the forest, setting up a spiritual temple, working with jail inmates, running a business, getting married and much more.

Spiritually, being the keyword.
Surrender, Let Go, Divine, Choices, Decisions,

In the truest sense, this is as close to exemplified Practical Spirituality, as you can get. He proves you can be in the world, yet not be attached to it. And without being a monk. ๐Ÿ™‚


#3 – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

I have mentioned this book over and over again, but for differing reasons.

In terms of Practical Spirituality, it helps dissolve fears and helps you become a more unapologetic, authentic version of yourself. It’s not a quick fix, but if you keep at it – amazing things will begin to happen.

Cameron helps bring out the inner Artist in every being through 12 weeks of fun exercises. She believes that God loves artists, because whatever we do creatively, is an expression of God!

Side note : Long after I’ve finished the book, one of my favourite journaling practices remains the Morning Pages. Which I’ve talked in more detail about, in 7 Journaling Ideas for Self-Healing.


#4 – Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss

This is a dense and incredibly insightful book about practical spirituality. It talks about how we can understand the balance or imbalance of Chakras in our daily life.

There are countless stories of how relationships are resolved, wounds and traumas are healed, chronic diseases and pains go away, simply by examining our body and its pains. Caroline strongly emphasises on analysing our body and energy centres, to enhance our wellness.

skeleton, anatomy, books about practical spirituality

One of my favourite examples was when she shared the story of a person who healed their chronic foot pain. They realised they ‘didn’t like going to a certain place’. So, the person’s feet would hurt whenever they tried leaving their home!

Anatomy of the Spirit is one of the most popular publications by Caroline, and one of the nicest explanations I’ve read about the 7 energy centers of the energy body.


#5 – The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

A short and handy book about practical spirituality, on producing inner joy and freeing ourselves from self-deprecating thoughts. The four agreements are –

  • Be impeccable with your word,
  • Don’t take anything personally,
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best

“BUT HOW?”, you’ll wonder. The Toltec wisdom in this timeless bestseller will answer all your questions.


#6 -The Heartfulness Way by Daaji

One of the best things to have happened to me after Hypnotherapy, is The Heartfulness Program. A simple and effective 3-step technique to a holistic well-being, is taught worldwide at no-cost.

Selfless volunteers, called preceptors, sit on a weekly basis in group meditations. They become windows to Pure Light received from Divine Source itself. Yogic Transmission is the official term for this experience.

Awakening, Divine Healing Energy, Heartfulnes, Practical Spirituality

My personal experience has been, that I’ve felt subtle changes at first that have had a rapid, ripple-effect over my life. Give it a try (their website will help you find and schedule a free session with a preceptor closest to you).

The Heartfulness Way is a book by Daaji answers many questions around meditation.
  • Why should we focus on the Heart in meditation?
  • What is the right posture for meditation?
  • Should we meditate at night or in the morning?
  • What are the various stages of meditation that we experience?
  • Is what I am experiencing in meditation right or wrong? And much more!

#7 – The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

What seems like a poetical fiction, is actually 26 short prose poetry fables (that are easy to understand, don’t worry) on every aspect of life, ranging from love, marriage and children, to crime, work, death and more.

Gibran, in very simple prose, explains how we must perceive life.

I can’t summarize how The Prophet is practical merely by talking about it, so I will quote my favorite verses to give you a taste of the spiritual guidance you can use from this work, on a daily basis.

* On Love & Marriage

Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Book, Heart, Love, Grains, Sand, Sea, Romance, Poetry, Practical Spirituality

* On Jobs & Working

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,
it is better that you should leave your work and sit and the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

* On Crime & Punishment

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you,
but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.


#8 – The TAO OF POOH BY BENJAMIN HOFF

The last book to be added on my list. But perhaps the cutest, sweetest and most heart-touching of them all. And though I just finished reading it, I can’t wait to revisit it already!

Remember the childhood classic, Winnie the Pooh? Now, imagine that Pooh (and all his other friends) came back to life. And, alongside the author, explain the principles of Taoism, the Chinese spiritual philosophy to you.

Winnie The Pooh, Bear, Fictional, Tao of Pooh, Must Read, Spiritual Books

I couldn’t make much sense of the Tao te Ching when I tried. So, for me, The Tao of Pooh was a simplified, joyful experience. I took away quite a lot, and feel like the audiobook version is even better, if you can get access to it!

It was also helpful in helping me understand a broad difference between the Confucius, Buddhist and Tao philosophies.

Concluding Thoughts

All this goodness revealed, I would like to end on the note, as I often do with such posts that if you were able to purchase books using any of the above links listed, thank you! Your support helps me raise the quality of what I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

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