Book Therapy: 5 Books on Finding Connection to People and Life

Bijal Shah Monday 17th June 2019 13:03 EDT

As a mother of two children under three, devoting 17–20 hours a day to childcare, it’s easy to feel isolated and shut off from the rest of the world. I find myself craving connection. As a mother, I often feel disconnected to the outside world and to anything meaningful. We’re plugged into every moment of our children’s lives, meeting their needs unconditionally. Whilst that can be fulfilling, when it’s all you’re doing, the loss of connection to the adult world can dwarf that sweet fulfilment.

How do we momentarily connect with the outside world? Pause for a few minutes to re-energise so that we can be our best selves around our children. Personally, the following books helped me find connection and meaning again. Listening to the audio book or reading the kindle version whenever an opportunity arises makes a world of difference. I’m engaging with characters and people worlds away, whether fictional or non-fictional. 

Our need to feel connected to something greater than our everyday existence is an important one and a need that is often overlooked. We all have stories of moments where we’ve felt disengaged — be that the early stages of motherhood, a relationship break-up, a health setback, a dead-end job or the loss of a loved one.

The next time you feel this way, pick up one of these books. They’ll re-affirm your faith in life, in others and most importantly, in yourself.

The Overstory (Fiction) by Richard Powers

Richard Powers’ The Overstory narrates the tale of two very different worlds — of trees and of humans caught up in the timber wars of the Pacific Northwest. A beautiful novel about humans reconnecting with nature in a fascinatingly, inventive world with colourful, rich characters, it will rekindle your love for nature.

Man’s Search for Meaning (Non-fiction) by Viktor Frankl

This book is great for coming to terms with suffering, making sense of tough situations and finding our purpose in life. The author, an Auschwitz Nazi death camp survivor, illustrates, that through suffering, we find meaning. Our goal in life is not to attain pleasure or power but to ‘discover meaning’. It’s the pursuit of this meaning that provides the purpose of life. The book advocates finding meaning in three different ways: by making ourselves useful to others, unconditionally loving others and through suffering.

The Hero With a Thousand Faces (Non-fiction) by Joseph Campbell

A captivating perspective on mythology, the book examines how myths and stories act as metaphors for human psychology and behaviour. We all ultimately have one story, a monomyth, with elements of creation and destruction. For example, there are many parallels between Greek and Hindu myths centred on similar story lines. The Hero With A Thousand Facesbrings together mythology across the full spectrum of human cultures, ancient and modern, ranging from Hindu, Greek, Jewish, Maori, Buddhist, Romans amongst others. It examines our natural desire to explain our inner world through the power of stories.

Beyond Religion (Non-fiction) by Dalai Lama

One of the greatest political philosophers, the Dalai Lama makes the case for living an ethical life based on a universal set of human values that transcends religious borders. As humans evolve to become spiritual beings, it an ethical framework for living peacefully.

Autobiography of a Yogi (Non-fiction) by Paramahansa Yogananda

A spiritual masterpiece, this is Yogananda’s journey to ‘self-realisation’ or ‘enlightenment’. A childhood filled with strong mentors and teachers, Yogananda, through the study of yoga and meditation, achieves feats unheard of for humans. Observing regular miracles, he sheds light on a new type of spiritual existence that’s far removed from everyday life. Intense and detailed, it may require a few re-reads.

What books have helped you find connection and meaning? Email me at a[email protected]

(Bijal is an investment banker and a book therapist prescribing literature for both personal interest and therapy.

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