Eating and running are arguably two of the oldest activities that humans still find themselves engaged in. We’ve had thousands of years to perfect both. And as a species, we tend to start both activities when we are very young (or right from the start), so why would either topic need a book? Because “How to Eat” by Thich Nhat Hanh is not about eating, and “I Hate Running and You Can Too: How to Get Started, Keep Going, and Make Sense of an Irrational Passion” by Brendan Leonard is not a book about running. Sometimes we need to read short books that appear overly simplistic in order to understand that which is overwhelmingly complex.
Both of these books are under 200 pages, and interestingly, they both contain thoughtful graphics and images, which makes them have even fewer words. Yet, that’s the point. We don’t need a lot of words when what we are discussing is universal truth.
Thich Nhat Hanh presents his insights in short statements that could almost be mistaken for poetry. And they’re just as poignant. In a vignette titled “Our Ancestors Are In The Soil” he takes the reader through a powerful visualization that leads the reader to this conclusion: when we eat food from the ground, we are eating from the same soil that holds our ancestors. I don’t think anything about this sort of realization and its implications is simple.
Brendan Leonard’s book follows a more nonfiction-like format but what drives his insights are the graphics he’s drawn to illustrate his words. As you’ll see in some of his graphics, the true value in his work is that his advice can be applied to myriad situations and irrational passions. This book could just as easily be called “I Hate Writing Novels and You Can Too” or “I Hate Home Renovations and You Can Too.” He is writing about how to get through anything difficult or uncomfortable, and these realities are not simple.
So what do these books taste and sound like? They taste like rice and they sound like scales. Hear me out.
Not only is rice super old and eaten by people all over the world, but its ubiquity only underscores the fact that it’s really good for you too. Just as the observations of these authors are not wildly innovative they are time-tested and valuable.
And scales are the foundation of a musical practice. Young musicians may hate them, but scores (accept this pun) of music are composed using scales. Just as scales are foundational to music, so too are mindfulness and resilience to the human experience. That’s what these books have to offer.
These Books Might Be Your Next Read If:
- If you find yourself needing to get back to the basics of anything
- If you’re looking for a catalyst for reflection
- If you like to run or are interested in mindfulness
- If you wish you liked running and wish you were more mindful
- If you find small, short books delightful and appreciate graphics as much as you appreciate words