Warm season, hot books: Selection for summer
by: Maša Tamše Pungartnik, project manager & Matic Matjašič, development manager, Beep Institute
Books have been an important part of human culture for centuries. Reading is not only a way of transmitting information, but an excellent tool for learning, exploring new ideas and immersing yourself in imaginary worlds. In addition, reading books also has a strong impact on our well-being and emotional state. However, different genres of books can trigger different feelings in readers that affect our thoughts, emotions and even behavior. In the following, we present to you the influence of some popular genres of books on our well-being. At the same time, we asked colleagues from the Beep Institute and HRM One about their recommendations for summer reading.
Reading has many benefits for our well-being. It is not only a leisure activity, but also has significant effects on our mental and emotional health.
Key benefits of reading
- Mental stimulation is one of the most obvious benefits of reading. When we read, our brain actively participates, processes information and creates mental images. This stimulates our thought processes, keeps our brain alert and keeps it in good shape. Like any other muscular part of the body, the brain needs exercise to stay strong and healthy.
- Stress is a constant companion of modern life, but reading can be a pleasant and effective way to reduction of stress loads. When we immerse ourselves in a good book, it takes us to another world that allows us to escape from everyday problems. Reading allows us to relax, as we can withdraw from the stressful environment for a while and indulge in the magic of stories.
- In addition, reading also brings many educational benefits. Every time we read, we are exposed to new ideas, knowledge and information. Through books, we can explore new topics, get to know different cultures and expand our horizons. This improves our understanding of the world and gives us insight into different perspectives.
- Reading also has a positive impact on our language development. When we read, we come across different words and expressions, which expands our vocabulary. This gives us better communication skills, improves our ability to express ourselves and increases our confidence in communicating with others.
- In addition to all these benefits, reading it also promotes our empathy and understanding of others. Reading fiction, in particular, allows us to step into other people's shoes and experience the world through their perspectives. This can help develop our emotional intelligence and improve our understanding of other people and their experiences.
- However, it is important to note that these are just some of the many benefits of reading for our well-being. Reading is a simple activity that can be incorporated into our everyday life without much effort. Whether we choose a story, novel, poetry or professional literature, reading us it allows for escape, exploration, learning and growth.
Romance genre to lift the mood
The romance genre is known for evoking feelings of love, romance, passion and anticipation. Reading romance novels can help lift your mood and evoke feelings of happiness. The romantic genre allows us to escape into the world of emotions, falling in love and romantic adventures, and thus has a positive effect on our well-being.
Colleague Katja recently got a tip from a friend to watch a movie Where the Crawdads Sing. But since the book convinces more and more, she decided that it would be a book with a title Where the crabs sing, by Delia Owens, part of her upcoming vacation reading.
"The heroine of the story is a girl, Kya, who spends her childhood alone in a cabin in a swamp on the coast of North Carolina. Because of his father's abuse, his mother leaves first, followed by his siblings. Kya avoids contact with people, because she doesn't want to end up in an orphanage, but at the same time, by force of circumstances, she learns how to survive in nature, so her teacher is nature, her only friends are seagulls, and from people she only trusts the black owner of a humble pump , where he occasionally goes to get fuel for the boat. When the body of Chas Andrews is found towards the end of 1969, the townspeople suspect her of being responsible for his death. Chas's death, shrouded in mystery, the criminal plot of the described story, brought Kyo to the public eye. All this revived her first love and led to an unexpected outcome.
The book runs parallel narratives, one shows a view of Kya growing up in a harrowing situation, the other is focused on a court process or a crime story that maintains the tension. The story also consists of several different perspectives: solitary life is indeed difficult, but the natural environment, in contrast to the social one, is absolutely wonderful, with stunning images of picturesque sunsets and varied flora and fauna. On the one hand, there is a rather realistic depiction of the life and existence of the corners of the American South in the 1950s and 1960s, on the other, we see between the lines a very modern, present-day, current interpretation of this life or social situation, many unpunished and very severe abuses of the poor, minorities,..."
Excerpt from the book:
“She stood on the muddy bank of the lake and whispered the verses of Amanda Hamilton: Don't underestimate the heart. It is capable of actions that the mind cannot comprehend. The heart feels, but also dictates. How else to explain the path I took, the path you took, longer and more difficult than all paths?'
Adventure genre to raise the pulse
The adventure genre includes books full of action, adrenaline and suspense. Reading adventure novels allows us to empathize with heroes who face dangers, overcome obstacles and solve complex situations. This genre can increase our arousal level and evoke feelings of excitement and adventure.
Science fiction is a genre that deals with ideas that go beyond the boundaries of reality. Reading science fiction books allows us to immerse ourselves in futuristic worlds, meet alien species or explore advanced technologies. This genre stimulates our imagination, creativity and thinking about the future and can help us escape from the everyday world.
The crime genre is known for suspense, mystery and crime solving. Reading crime fiction can excite us as it leads us through various misleading clues, guesses and surprises. This genre can evoke feelings of tension, fear and curiosity, which keeps us interested in the unfolding of the story.
My colleague Maša recommends the book Kill the hearers, by the author Karsten Dusse- yes. A slow-motion crime novel that humorously presents the story of a lawyer who uses vigilante methods for somewhat unusual purposes.
Lawyer Björn Dieml is forced by his wife to take a mindfulness course in order to save their marriage, prove himself as a good father and re-balance his professional and private life. A course that really pays off and completely changes his outlook on the world turns out to be something of a blessing in disguise. Björn can use practically everything he has learned to his advantage at work and at home, albeit in a completely unexpected way. When a client, a violent and more than guilty big animal in the world of organized crime, starts to cause him serious problems, Björn simply kills her - in accordance with all the rules of vigilantism.
Excerpt from the book:
»All these people wanted something from me. As usual, my stomach twisted, my shoulders tensed and I began to grind my teeth.
But I didn't dismember my most demanding client, only to be hired again by all-powerful idiots right after! It could not go on like this. Joschka Breitner advised me to take a short break from stressful situations. I leave the room, take a breath, take a walk...
No, I will not simply fall back into old habits. So first I took a few breaths in and out to calm myself down. Then I decided to give up the car and walk at least part of the way to the office, but that way I'll be late. I'd rather be casually late than convulsively punctual."
Colleague Anja recommends the book She is gone, the author Gillian Flynn. It is a psychological thriller that encompasses the interplay of love, hate, revenge, obsession and addiction.
Nick is standing in front of the house, the door is wide open, the cat is crouching on the porch, watching its owner. Nick immediately senses that something is wrong. He runs to the first floor, calls his wife Amy, but there is no answer. He returns to the ground floor, turns into the living room and stops. The living room is completely destroyed, but the women are nowhere to be found. Today is their fifth wedding anniversary… Amy and Nick met at a writer's party in Brooklyn. Both earned their living by writing. Nick had been employed by a New York newspaper for eleven years, and Amy, a psychologist with a degree, was compiling personality tests for women's tabloids. After eight months, they meet again, realize that they are made for each other and get married. They live happily in their Brooklyn apartment for two years, then both lose their jobs and move to Nick's hometown in Missouri. In Carthage, Amy is unhappy and dissatisfied. Their marriage begins to "squeak" and soon all disagreements surface, reaching a peak on the day of their wedding anniversary... Gone is the third in the series of crime novels by the American writer Gillian Flynn. This excellent psychological thriller, which keeps us in suspense until the last page, also experienced its film version.
Excerpt from the book:
“What are you thinking Amy? I asked myself this question most often during our marriage, although not out loud, although not to a person who could answer. Such questions suddenly overshadow every marriage: What do you think? What do you feel? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What are we going to do?'
The philosophical genre deals with deep questions about the meaning of life, ethics, knowledge and truth. Reading philosophical books can stimulate our thinking, reflection and deeper understanding of the world. This genre allows us to explore complex ideas and ask important questions, which can lead to greater self-reflection and understanding of our own well-being.
My colleague Manca suggests a book Four deals, by the author Don Miquel Ruiz.
The book is a practical guide to personal freedom. The four agreements with ourselves are to speak honestly, take nothing personally and assume nothing, and do our best.
It sounds very simple, but is it really so?
In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of the beliefs that limit us and rob us of joy and cause us unnecessary suffering. The book, which draws from the treasury of ancient Toltec wisdom, convincingly guides us along the path to a new experience of freedom, true happiness and love.
Excerpt from the book
The ability to learn to dream is already laid in our cradle, and to dream the way the whole society dreams, we are taught by people who came into the world before us. External dreams have so many rules that we "grab" the child's attention, so to speak, the moment he wakes up to the world, and we start introducing him to these rules. In order to teach us to dream, we use these external dreams from mommy and daddy, and schools, religion, etc.
Colleague Natalija suggests a book Good luck, please, by the author Aljoše Bagole. Full of honesty and inspiration, this autobiographical novel follows the author's personal struggle with burnout, describes his journey to better control his thoughts and discover happiness.
In the book, Aljoša Bagola delves into the research of extremely elusive and hard-to-achieve happiness. In doing so, he notes that our happiness does not really depend on how successful we are in imitating the success of others, but above all on the courage and determination to face our dark sides and connect them healthily to our wholeness. Only in this way can we discover and realize our uniqueness - our essence.
Excerpt from the book:
“Life is short, so let's make sure we don't end up feeling like we got short shrift. Someday, in the roaring horizon, we will make a final judgment about our uprightness - how bravely we looked life in the eye when deep furrows were plowed into our faces, how our nightmares could not impoverish our dreams, how we did not let our brightest goals be torn from our hands. When we commit to something, we go beyond our givens. When we dream with intention, everything unintentional that life brings us is easier to accept and overcome, and when we are committed to our goals, we don't give up easily."
Professional literature (non-fiction)
Professional literature, also known as "non-fiction" in English, includes all books that provide facts, information and real events. Reading professional literature allows us to learn, acquire new information and expand our knowledge. This genre includes a wide range of topics such as history, science, biographies, teaching, travel works and much more.
Professional literature can trigger in us feelings of curiosity, interest and desire to learn. This genre can also help improve our critical thinking and analytical skills by encouraging us to ask questions, study and understand the world around us. In addition, nonfiction can help us develop a better understanding of ourselves, others, and the world, which can lead to greater well-being.
Matic recommends the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by the author By Yuvala Noah Harari. The book is an ambitious historical analysis that tries to explain how our species Homo Sapiens managed to dominate the planet and create today's civilizations.
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” is a thoughtful examination of human history that examines how Homo Sapiens, a species at the mercy of evolution, managed to shape the world as we know it today. Harari begins with the beginnings of humanity in the Paleolithic, moves through the agricultural revolution to the birth of religion and science. Finally, it includes the modern era, dominated by capitalism, the industrial revolution, and the technological revolution. Harari focuses on the history of ideas, not just the history of people or cultures, and asks how we Sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth.
Excerpt from the book:
“The agricultural revolution was the biggest fraud in history. Who was responsible for it? Not kings, not priests and not merchants. The culprits are a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice and potatoes. It was these species that domesticated Homo sapiens, not the other way around. Let's take a quick look at the agricultural revolution from the point of view of wheat. /…/ How did this insignificant grass become ubiquitous? By using Homo sapiens to her advantage. Until about 10,000 years ago, he lived relatively comfortably as a hunter and gatherer, but then he began to invest more and more effort in growing wheat. Two millennia later, in many parts of the world, people devoted themselves almost exclusively to wheat from dawn to dusk. It wasn't simple. She was demanding. She didn't like stones and pebbles, so sapiens broke themselves in half when they cleared the fields. Wheat did not like to share space, water and nutrients with other plants, so people spent whole days weeding it under the scorching sun. The wheat was getting sick, so people had to be careful not to attack it with worms and harvest it. Unable to defend herself against other creatures, from rabbits to grasshoppers, which she also ran into, the farmers had to watch over her and protect her. The wheat was thirsty, so people drew water from springs and streams to water it. Its hunger even led sapiens to collect animal excrement and feed the soil in which it grew.
The body of Homo sapiens did not evolve for such tasks. It was adapted for climbing apple trees and chasing gazelles, but not for removing stones and carrying water. The spine, knees, neck and arches paid the toll. Analyzes of ancient human skeletons show that the shift to farming brought many health problems, such as slipped intervertebral discs, arthritis and hernias. Moreover, the new agricultural duties were so time-consuming that people had to settle permanently next to their wheat fields. It completely changed their lives. We did not domesticate wheat. Wheat domesticated us. The term to domesticate comes from the Latin word domus, house. Who lives in the house? Not wheat anymore. A sapiens lives in the house."
Colleague Pavel recommends the book Daring Greatly, the author Brené Brown. This deeply personal and inspiring book focuses on the power of vulnerability and how having the courage to be vulnerable can transform our lives, relationships, parenting and leadership.
In the book "Daring Greatly", social worker and researcher dr. Brené Brown explores the concept of vulnerability and how this feeling, which is often associated with fear and insecurity, can actually lead to greater connection, empathy and love. Brown argues that having the courage to be vulnerable is key to living a more fulfilled and authentic life. It also explains how vulnerability can be used to create deeper relationships, better parenting practices, and more inclusive leadership.
Excerpt from the book:
"It is not the critic who counts, nor anyone else who points the finger at how someone strong has failed, or how someone who has done something could have done it better. Credit goes to him who is Truly in the arena, whose face is smeared with dust, sweat, and blood; who fights bravely; who is wrong; which shows its shortcomings again and again, because no effort is without mistakes and shortcomings; the one who actually tries to get things done; who knows great enthusiasms, great affiliations; which is spent for a worthwhile thing; who, at best, realizes in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, as much as he fails, yet fails with great audacity, so that he will never rank with those cold, reticent souls who know neither what victory is nor what is defeat.'
Different genres of books have different effects on how we feel. The romance genre lifts the mood, the adventure genre inspires excitement, science fiction stimulates the imagination, the crime genre evokes suspense, while the philosophical genre encourages reflection. It is important to choose books that interest us and are in line with our current needs. We encourage you to choose interesting reading material and use it to brighten up your summer days. Remember - words change the world!
Bagola, A. (2020). Good luck, please. Youth book.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Gotham Books.
Dusse, K. (2020). Kill the hearers. She taught International.
Flynn, G. (2012). Gone Girl. Crown Publishing Group.
Harari, YN (2014). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Harper.
Hou, H., Chin, T., Slemp, GR and Oades, LG (2021). Wellbeing Literacy: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Preliminary Empirical Findings from Students, Parents, and School Staff. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18.
Owens, D. (2019). Where the crabs sing. She taught International.
Ruiz, DM (1997). The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Amber-Allen Publishing.