13 Detoxifying Books to Help You Calm Down After the Indulgences of the Holidays
I don't know about you, but I had seconds (OK, thirds) at Christmas dinner and woke up in what was almost certainly a sugar coma after biting the heads off of three separate chocolate Santas and consuming far more than my fair share of fudge. At this point, I'm basically counteracting my relentless sugarhighs with copious doses of leftover turkey and the occasional mug of green tea.
And, although I enjoy a good binge as much as the next girl, like all good things, this too must pass. The holiday cookeis have been reduced to mere crumbles, the eggnogg has been pulled from the shelves, the Christmas tree is getting so brittle and dry that it will soon become a serious fire hazard — it's time to transition to a whole new lifestyle.
The New Year already here, and after the indulgences of the holidays, we all need a way to calm down and cleanse in the bright harsh light of 2015. So, gather up your yoga mat, toss out that five-day-old apple pie, and get to those your New Year's resolutions. The time for change is now, and these 13 books will help you find your center and start 2015 fresh and feeling good.
Self Help by Lorrie Moore
Lorrie Moore's humor is sharp, biting, and no-holds-barred, bathing the world of the story in the harsh, honest reality of everyday life. When you've spent too long at the party and you're desperately searching for a way to get back to real life, Lorrie Moore's terrible, joyful, purposeful short stories are the perfect roadmap back towards the humdrum habits and treacherous relationships that make up our moment by moment existence.
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
Sometimes change is the best medicine, and with Elaine Dundy's charming, sexy, sweet prose piping in the sounds and sights of mid-20th Century France, you'll feel transported and transformed as soon as you crack the spine. Break out the beret and move past all those ironic Christmas sweaters in style with the story of a young American ingenue taking on love and life on the streets of Paris.
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Bruce Chatwin's stunning narrative transports the author to the Australian outback and the world of songlines walked by indigenous Australians with a unique and unparalleled connection to the land and the act of living. Part anthropological exploration, part travelogue, part novel, Chatwin's insightful prose presents an entirely new window onto the world, replete with insights that may just help you start 2015 with an all new outlook.
The Spiritual Journey of Alexander Jodorowsky by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Alejandro Jodorowsky is not only one of the 21st century's most inventive and audacious filmmakers, but also a spiritual thinker of astounding depth and rigor. Documenting his lifelong search for meaning across a diverse array of spiritual traditions, Jodorowsky's deeply personal and purposeful memoir is the perfect way to bring new meaning into your life as you start the new year.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Letting go of unwanted fears, emotions, practices, and personas requires self-control, drive, and determination that can be difficult to drum up. Steel yourself for the long hard road ahead with Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Taking up the story of the daily struggles faced by an Australian surgeon treating men at a Japanese POW camp in the 1950s, Flanagan's haunting tale is as inspirational as it is awe-inspiring.
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
When you've spent too much time inside by the fire, the best way to shock your system back to sensibility is a quick trip to the far north with Peter Matthiessen. Tracking the time Matthiessen spent with field biologist George Schaller in the high Himalayan's stalking the elusive snow leopard, this stark and unusual story will cleanse your cultural palette leaving you open to the possibility of adventure and ready to return to your best self as the calendar year comes to a close.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
If Emily St. John Mandel can take on the collapse of civilization itself with her eerie, atmospheric novel Station Eleven, surely she can help you cope with a glut of holiday indulgence and the coming transition back to a more normal daily life. If you find yourself eager to rid yourself of unwanted holiday habits, why not try a little narrative withdrawal by entering the imaginative world of reduced resources brought to you by the wildly talented St. John Mandel.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
If you're interested in the idea of detoxification through fictional rescission, Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation may just be the perfect remedy for your holiday hedonism. Lose yourself in the story of the 12th expedition to the lost Area X returning to the forbidding landscape to map the area, survey the terrain, and survive long enough to share their findings. By the time you make your way through the story you'll be so focused on the shear act of survival you'll find yourself ready for a new lease on life.
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengetsu
As much as we might wish that it were all about the turkey, dressing, and bubbly drinks, the holiday season is often defined more by our experiences with friends and family than any of the more obvious extravagances. If you've had just about as much interpersonal drama as you can handle over this past holiday season, refresh your inner life and renew your sense of empathy with Dinaw Mengetsu's All Our Names and the story of a love affair that spans continents, conflicts, and diverse cultural landscapes.
Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty
Although Big Little Lies seems like it could be the title for certain holiday spectacles I've seen over the past few weeks, Liane Moriarty's lovely new novel is more than anything fit to whip you right back onto the straight and narrow path. Both funny and fair, astue and ascerbic, Big Little Lies brings the secret world of ex-husbands, new wives, and school board meetings to light with the enduring wisdom and disturbing wit that will ensure you don't fall off the wagon (after all, once you've seen what lies down there, surely you'll want to stay on board...).
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
When you're ready to start anew, sometimes examining the larger questions that give life meaning can offer the inspiration and encouragement necessary to living a better life. Reading Elizabeth Kolbert's astonishing nonfiction exploration of the idea of extinction and the planet's latest bout with mass a depletion of species and resources offers up a refreshing way to consider the larger implications of a life lived and how to be the change you want to see in the world on a global scale.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a story of freedom and passion, of eccentricity and individualism and determination — Joanthan Livingston Seagull is the perfect story to help you turn over a new leaf as the new year approaches. Find your center, discover your true purpose, and find the courage to be who you truly want to be with the help of Richard Bach's brilliant and beautiful book.
So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
When you're ready to say out with the old and in with the new, William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow is the perfect read. This awkward, tender story of lonely teens finding comfort and friendship in each other and struggling to preserve empathy and understanding over the course of a lifetime of misfortune and murder puts the slings and arrows of daily life into perspective, which is all you really need to see the world in an entirely new light on the other side of all this indulgence.
Image: Flickr / abc-recovery