The best books to beat binge watching

The Books I Picked & Why

Off: The Day the Internet Died: A Bedtime Fantasy

By Chris Colin

Off: The Day the Internet Died: A Bedtime Fantasy

Why this book?

We all dream about it: a life free of scrolling, tweeting, liking, faving, streaming, replying, apologizing for not replying, and other assaults on our poor, saturated brains. But what would an analog world actually look like? Award-winning writer, Chris Colin, paints a picture in his bedtime fantasy book for adults titled Off: The Day the Internet Died

Delivered in a pitch-perfect, tongue-in-cheek biblical style, this little book imagines an alternate reality that will hit home in our tech-addled worlds. Un-barraged by celeb gossip and political news, we begin to notice nature again. Rinee Shah’s playful illustrations perfectly capture the absurdity of life reflected in our screens. Whether you’re addicted to tech or not, you’ll see something of yourself when you put down your phone and pick up this smart, funny book.

Off is “So funny and so necessary. For humanity to stay sane, this must be read like the Bible.” - Dave Eggers... I couldn’t agree more. In the digital age, what holier act is there than turning Off?


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Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy

By James Williams

Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy

Why this book?

In his breathtaking book Stand Out of Our Light, James Williams deftly asks: what do we really pay when we pay attention? “You pay with all of the things you could have attended to but didn’t: all of the goals you didn’t pursue, all of the actions you didn’t take, and all of the possible yous you could have been, had you attended to those other things."

Digital distractions keep you from doing what you want to do, being who you want to be, wanting what you want to want. What do you pay when you pay attention? You pay with all of the lives you could have lived. James Williams' slim volume on the attention economy is your guide to taking that power back. 


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The Wander Society

By Keri Smith

The Wander Society

Why this book?

Several years ago when Keri Smith, bestselling author of Wreck This Journal, discovered cryptic handwritten notations in a worn copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, her interest was piqued. Little did she know at the time that those simple markings would become the basis of a years-long, life-changing exploration into a mysterious group known only as The Wander Society, as well as the subject of this book.

Within these pages, you'll find the results of Smith's research: A guide to the Wander Society, a secretive group that holds up the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life. You'll learn about the group's mysterious origins, meet fellow wanderers through time, discover how wandering feeds the creative mind, and learn how to best practice the art of wandering, should you choose to accept the mission. Reading this book is an experience. You won't be the same again. 


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Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Why this book?

Make small changes to your surroundings and create extraordinary happiness in your life with groundbreaking research from designer and TED star Ingrid Fetell Lee. I love the simple, life-changing suggestions in this book. Thinking of adding something new to your space? Make it something round. Read Joyful to find out why. 


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The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life

By Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life

Why this book?

People have called Henri Nouwen many things: a priest, an author, a spiritual guide, a natural mystic. His books have sold millions of copies and continue to resonate deeply with people from all walks of life. In 2000, when asked to share the book that had most influenced her life, Hillary Clinton chose Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. The following sentence, in particular, she said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, hit her “like a lightning bolt”: "The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a "gift to be celebrated with joy." 

“I had never thought of gratitude as a habit or discipline before,” she explained, “and I discovered that it was immensely helpful to do so.” I first discovered Henri when I was eighteen years old and gifted with a 365-day flip calendar with Henri’s quotes and reflections. The longer I journey with Henri, the better I understand his near-universal appeal. He sought a kind of language of the heart that each generation has to create anew. He was also a wounded healer who, in so many words and ways, presented an inviting vision of life—one grounded in place, with a people, fully present, and alive to wonder.

It’s all I want. Maybe it’s all any of us wants. In the breathless race of the digital era, many of us feel driven by restlessness, overwhelm, and fear of never enoughness. Through his writing, speaking, and mentorship, Henri had an uncanny ability to shed light on our false selves—the parts of us seeking power, success, and approval at all costs—and in the process, revealing the true desires of our hearts: to be disarmed, to be known, and to come close enough to love to let it touch us.


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