Books that are truly worth reading

At Fox & Songbird, curators choose the five books that they would unconditionally recommend. Books that are important, beautiful or just plain entertaining.

This week's selection is curated by Natalie.

Homo Deus

By Yuval Noah Harari

As the follow up to a book on many people's top reads list, I enjoyed Homo Deus as much as Sapiens. (Quick side note: If you haven't read Sapiens yet, it's a pretty worldview-altering read. You might find yourself wearing "Wheat Domesticated Us" t-shirts and insisting your friends all read it. Be warned.) Homo Deus proposes that in the near future, humanity's aspirations will be immortality, happiness, and divinity and offers up several possibilities of what our world could be.

Yuval Noah Harari left me with philosophical questions my mind is still working on keeping up with.

Turning the Mind Into an Ally

By Sakyong Mipham

Two chapters into this book, I bought a meditation mat off Amazon and begun what I hope to be a lifelong practice. A dear friend bought it for me during a time where I was tired of living in the narrative in my head. Sakyong Mipham's writing is simple and elegant. The book weaves in and out of being a metaphor and practical step-by-step guide. At its core, this isn't a book about meditation or Buddhism, it's about the constant story we tell ourselves in our head and seeing the monkey mind for the ally it can be. Get your monkey friend today, while stocks last.

"We begin to wonder why we invest so much energy in this feeling that we've created with our own mind".

Steve Jobs

By Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson tells the story of a incredibly polarising man, incredibly well. If you've never read a biography, start with this. This is one of the few books that have made me cry. Also one of the few books (amongst Harry Potter), that I wish I could erase my memory and read it all over again. It's hard to summarise a biography without sounding like a Wikipedia article so I will throw in an extra quote:

"Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?"

"Dr. Dre proclaimed, 'Man, somebody finally got it right.'"

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

By Kamal Ravikant

If I could I would travel back in time and give this book to my 17-year-old self. It's the kind of book you want the people you love to read. Especially those who aren't having the best time right now. It's short. Almost an extended essay. It's also one of those books you give ambiguous descriptions of for fear of putting people off it and thus missing the beautiful, life-assuring, uplifting journey it takes you on. It's a book that's very hard to describe without sounding trite. In fact the only reason I read it was because a good friend who knew better than I gave me a hardcopy (I read on my kindle) and told me to "just read it, trust me". And here it is now, on my top 5 list.

“So I return to the question, "If I loved myself, truly and deeply, what would I do?" The answer comes easy: I'd fly. Fly as high as I possibly can. Then, I'd fly higher.”

The Martian

By Andy Weir

Synopsis: Matt Damon is stranded on Mars. The Martian is a tribute to human resourcefulness and a reminder that suffering is always made better by a healthy sense of humour. If you're a nerd in any way, you'll dig this. If you don't consider yourself particularly nerdy, you'll still agree that space is pretty cool. And I will say it again: the book is better than the movie. If you've watched the movie before reading the book, even better. You'll imagine Matt Damon as the protagonist the whole time and who doesn't want that?

"As with most of life's problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation".

The curator

I'm Natalie. Writing this gave me a tiny existential crisis. (Who am I?) I'm a part-time software engineer, part-time product manager, and full-time friend. I only discovered the gift to humanity that is Harry Potter in the summer of '16 - after purchasing a Kindle Oasis - and have been adding titles to my Goodreads account like a madman ever since. I'm no authority on what people should or shouldn't read but I formed a book club when I was 11 and made sure no one opened the books wide enough to create creases on the spine so that should count for something. I'm constantly imagining my life as episodes of The Office (US) and forgetting to drink enough water.