Is there a New Year’s resolution that can really make you and your loved ones healthier, happier, and change the world? This year I’m going to go against the flow and SLOW DOWN.
Below are some entertaining, inspirational January reads to help you determine what really is important in your life. They all jest at what’s gone crazy in the modern world while making practical recommendations for how to live life to it’s fullest without returning to the dark ages.
In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré (HarperCollins, 2004). Living on the edge of exhaustion we are constantly reminded by our bodies and minds (and those of our hurried children) that our pace of life is unsustainable. In this spirited manifesto, Honoré investigates the Slow Revolution making its way into mainstream offices, neighborhoods, kitchens, hospitals, schools, and gyms, and highlights ways to live happier, healthier, more productive lives in this faced paced world.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz (HarperCollins, 2004) Inspired by an agonizing experience buying jeans at the Gap, Social Scientist Barry Schwartz argues that while some choice has liberated us, too many choices exhaust our brains, waste our time, and erode our psychological well being. As our choices expand we suffer from the demands of perfection and our sense of satisfaction is eroded by regret, missed opportunities and feelings of inadequacy. You’ll laugh (and cry) as Schwartz pinpoints habits you recognize in yourself, then find relief in his eleven practical steps to live a more rewarding life.
Slow Food: The Case for Taste by Carlo Petrini, the President and founder of Slow Food International (Columbia University Press, 2001). This thin, easy to read book is the original manifesto of the Slow Food movement. Petrini covers the origins, history and principles of Slow Food, a global organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the diversity of food traditions and pleasures of the table. Just released this year is Slow Food Revolution: A New Culture for Dining and Living by Carlo Petrini and Gigi Padovani (Rizolli, 2006). This book chronicles the international success of the grassroots Slow Food movement over the past twenty years. Alone or together, these present a hopeful look at the potential for the future of food, culture, and the environment.
On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel by Tony Cohan (Broadway, 2000). This seductive tale journals the adventures of a California couple who fall in love with a San Miguel de Allende and embark on a vicarious journey into the beauty, tranquility, and drama of Mexican life. It’s a bold and inspiring example of people who examine what’s really important in life and weed out the chaos to find themselves anew.
The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley by Elizabeth Romer (North Point Press, 1984). A chronicle of the daily life and seasonal food preparation of the Cerotti family, this thin travelogue takes you into a valley between Umbria and Tuscany to experience the joy of family and country traditions. Whether making salame, threshing corn, hunting for wild mushrooms or crushing grapes, the characters remind us what it’s like to be self-sufficient, care for the land, and preserve your heritage.
The McDonaldization of Society by George Ritzer (Pine Forge Press, 2000). If I had to pick a book that most influenced my passion to “just say no” to the standardization of society it would be this eye-opening work in social criticism that illustrates the prevalence of cultural imperialism – from food to employment to schools to birth and death- in our modern industrialized world. Like the The Paradox of Choice and In Praise of Slowness, social theory is used to critique society and thereby provide the base for its betterment. If Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation didn’t gross you out and inspire you speed past strip malls, this will.