Book recs for staying grounded/mindful in the hubbub of everyday life?
March 15, 2023 12:38 AM   Subscribe

I've noticed that listening to certain types of audiobooks with a focus on mindfulness and values (à la Brené Brown, Tara Brach) on my commute helps me stay calmer throughout the day, and also girds me against societal pressures around career and family that I don't fully agree with. What's your favorite book for staying grounded and focused on your values? Bonus points if it has a good audiobook narrator.

Some examples to hopefully better illustrate what I'm looking for:

Favorites: 4000 Weeks (think I listened to it 3 times, really loved it), Brene Brown (forget which I've read, but I enjoy her humor)

Liked, but found kinda dry/boring: Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

Really disliked: The Courage to be Disliked (found the reader-insert device patronizing and frustratingly simplistic), anything overly focused on achievement or productivity

I've also had the same effect from my favorite parenting books like How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen and How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids

I listen to a lot of books in the general psychology/self-help genre. I especially like ones that are super nice to the reader (no tough love thanks), and I appreciate a wry sense of humor. I'm totally open to other non-fiction, fiction, podcasts, even other non-commute friendly media if it's really good.
posted by Gravel to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I am currently really enjoying World Enough & Time : On Creativity and Slowing Down, by Christian McEwen. It is a gentle meander through anecdotes, thoughts, ideas about slowing down, and the pleasures to be found in actually experiencing life in the moment.
posted by lulu68 at 12:52 AM on March 15

Joseph Goldstein is a man of authentic wisdom and compassion with a wonderfully soothing voice. His talks can all be downloaded free here
posted by little eiffel at 1:11 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

It sounds like Gretchen Rubin may be up your alley, I'd start with The Happiness Project.

For something slightly outside of the request, An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong, is all about cool animal things, which can have a similarly calming effect on me.
posted by matrixclown at 1:25 AM on March 15

If you're interested in Stoic philosophy, the three major works have free audiobook versions on librivox. (Librivox is a free service run by volunteers, so the audio quality and voice work acan be a bit rough and ready.)

Discourses of Epictetus
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Letters by Seneca
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:44 AM on March 15

I did a brief search and can only find it an audible version on Amazon at the moment but Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a "translation" of the Tao te Ching and narrated it. It's really good and can off-ramp me out of the car and into my work day in a really smoothed out way. Strongly recommended.

Here's a link to for it which includes a small audio sample:
posted by kaymac at 6:56 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

If you liked Tara Brach's book, she has an entire podcast of very similar material -- just search up her name on a podcast app; the podcast has an icon of her face.

I find it more engaging than her audiobook, since the episodes are recordings of in-person talks she's given to groups of people, rather than narration.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 7:00 AM on March 15

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