Andrew Holecek: Meditation in the iGeneration: How to Meditate in a World of Speed and Stress
Holecek is a contemplative of decades' standing and a highly experienced meditation teacher. This book acts as both an urgent call to contemplative arms in the face of mass distraction and an introductory guide for the neophyte.
Glenn Kurtz: Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music
After a childhood and youth dedicated to classical guitar - through to graduate level - Kurtz gave up on a career in music and put his guitar in its case for over a decade. This lovely little book charts his return to playing, weaving in a concise history of the classical guitar and its repertoire, and a series of meditations on what it is to "practice".
Tom Campbell: The Planner
Campbell's second novel is a scathingly brilliant satire on contemporary London life, following a Southwark town planner's unexpected Faustian journey. Especially brilliant observations about life in the public sector abound.
Nina Teicholz: The Big Fat Surprise
An impeccably, indeed exhaustively researched, 10-year labour of love that takes apart, block by block, the shoddy science and dubious politics that underpin the low fat movement. Compelling stuff.
T. S. Eliot: Four Quartets
Widely regarded as Eliot's masterpiece, these four poems are as exquisite as they are daunting: meditations on place and time, and our relationship as human beings to both.
Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Sabbath
Strange book for an atheist to recommend, I’ll grant, but Heschel’s 1951 classic is quite beautiful: a poetic and profoundly moving meditation on the role of the Sabbath in Jewish life, but a lesson also to anyone wanting to find at least moment a week when they can temporarily retire from the hamster wheel.
Allen Ginsberg: Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems
My first shot at Ginsberg - and yes, very late. But wow; I now understand his rep - and the hype. This late 50s collection, kicking off with the epochal Howl, is mesmerising, hallucinogenic, virtuosic, shocking. Genuinely un-put-downable.
Nicholas G. Carr: The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember
Carr’s book is essential reading for anyone thinking about the profound impact digital technology is making on our lives. Never shrill, always thoughtful but nonetheless deeply concerned, Carr makes an iron-clad case that our very brains are changing though our interaction with tech - and with far from positive consequences.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang: The Distraction Addiction
While eminently readable, veteran tech commentator Pang's book is erudite and hugely wide-ranging in its research, drawing on anthropology, clinical psychology, classical Buddhism and all points between. His message is clear, that we need to develop a more directed, conscious approach to our use of tech; he calls this "contemplative computing".
Denise Minger: Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health
Food campaigner Minger's book is a highly detailed, thoroughly convincing and therefore somewhat depressing investigation into the weird convergence of bad science and dodgy politics that gave the world the food pyramid - and the unexpected health consequences that go with it.