In Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author shares his research about the “flow” state, when you are so absorbed in the task at hand that your negative chatter mind is quieted. You wind up engaged, losing track of time, and calmer. Csikszentmihalyi suggests that this may be what happiness is.
During his research, he found that most people enter a state of flow when they are reading a book they love. I’ve had times that I’ve started poc astrologer reading, then looked up at the clock, amazed that more than an hour has gone by.
Since everyone is heading back to school, I wanted to share five books with you that I’ve read and loved. I’ve listed three novels, a memoir, and a non-fiction book, so I hope you find something that sweeps you away into a state of flow.
Let’s get started.
–One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting lost in is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. Harold Fry has retired from his job, and can’t find much to do with his time, when he receives a letter from an old friend. His friend is dying in hospice and just wanted to say goodbye.
Unsure how to respond, Harold composes a short letter and heads off to the post to mail it. However, when he gets to the first post box, he decides to walk a little further, to the next post, and so begins a journey that is by turns charming, heart-breaking, uplifting, and transformative.
This slim volume will take your breath away.
–If you’re looking for something non-fiction, try Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money by Geneen Roth. I first read Roth’s book Women, Food, and God for The Foods We Eat Study Circle, so I was interested in hearing what she had to say about money.
A lot, as it turns out.
Roth and her husband lost more than a million dollars in the Bernie Madoff implosion, and this is her story of trying to understand, trying to cope, and eventually changing her relationship with money.
The book is brutally honest and forthright, and a terrific read, especially if something in your own life has not gone as expected.
–Next up is Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One, a terrific novel about family, love, and loss.
The narrator, Mary Beth, is a busy mother of three teenagers, a girl and twin boys. Mary Beth is crazed by her hectic schedule which revolves around her family, but she loves the fullness of her life.
When a shocking act of violence disrupts her world, Mary Beth has to rely on an inner strength she didn’t know she possessed.
Quindlen’s writing is spot on – real and genuine, without being syrupy or condescending. I found myself thinking about these characters long after I turned the final page.
–I love a good memoir and the ability and willingness an author has to share a part of her life. In Take the Long Way Home, Gail Caldwell begins, “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died, and we shared that too.”
Caldwell’s friend is author Caroline Knapp, and the memoir is a beautiful tribute. They meet because of their dogs (I love any story where dogs are central!) and wind up forging a friendship that transcends time and loss.
It’s the story of the bond that two women share, and how they navigate that tricky terrain of a best friend relationship.
–Finally, you must read the un-put-downable Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Apparently, this book was the surprise hit of the summer, but I hadn’t heard of it until a friend sent it to me.
Gone Girl tells the story of the relationship between Amy and Nick, husband and wife. Only this isn’t your average run-of-the-mill marriage.
The novel is a psychological thriller, complete with intriguing characters, plot twists, and a mystery that must be solved. I usually have a hard time with mysteries because they are often so predictable to me, but this one had me on the edge of my seat until the final page.
Put the phone on voicemail, order dinner in, and pick up Gone Girl for a marvelous ride.
Check out any of these five recommendations for an experience of flow and letting go. And when you finish, drop me a line to let me know what you thought.