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Books : About Books I Read in the First Half of 2021 & Existential Crisis


Lately I've been reading a lot of books that is in the same group. In more than 25 books that I've read in the past 6 months, here are the collected books according to their category :

Soul searching / Journal / Self-reflection :

  • The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho - I still don't quite like his style of writing in this book. This book is supposedly a book about his pilgrimage, but I just feel like it is a bit staged. If it is a self-discovery journal, I think he is supposed to write like writing a journal, but when we wrote it like he was telling a story, it is just feel like it is a bit exaggerated and fake because normal life is not like this. He wrote it like how people want to read a good story and I just feel like he should have just write a "fiction based on his pilgrimage journey", instead of 'his recollection of his journey".
  • Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton - This is a solitude journal that I've enjoyed while I was cooking (I took several days to finish listening to the audio book). This is a good journal about self-discovery, the messiness of how our mind works, the life of an introvert. I can connect with her thoughts and writings, because I'm like her most of the time. 
  • Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh - It is simple book, a practice into mindfulness. I listen to him when I feel jittery. 
  • The Dhammapada - This is a collection of the saying of Buddha in short verse form. 
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran - I've read this 2-3 times, and still, I'm lost. Ha ha ha. 
  • You, A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis - It's a novel graphic based on Eleanor's biking journey. I've reread it several times, and I still enjoy reading her journey. She showed her vulnerability, it makes her journey more relatable. 
  • The Book of Manuals by Paulo Coelho - Another book that I've reread, but still can't quite like. I don't know, I just maybe don't like him as a person and I can't get over that judgement after reading his biography several years back. 
  • The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh - Same as his other book, I listen to him when I feel jittery. 
Self-help / Motivational / About Life / Parenting :

  • Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske
  • How to be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg
  • The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan
  • How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis
  • Everything is Fucked - A Book About Hope by Mark Mason
  • The Upside of Being Down by Jen Gotch
  • Hoe to Stay Sane by Phililla Perry
  • Ikigai by Marie Xue
  • Your Sacred Self by Wayne W Dyer
  • How to be The Parent You Always Wanted to Be by Adele Faber
  • Heart Talk by Cleo Wade
  • It's Okay to Laugh by McInerny Purmot


  • Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
  • Two Stories by Sally Rooney
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
I've always love to listen to self-help/motivational books. A lot of people feel like these books are a bit preachy. But for me, I've always needed the reminder especially since I've become more anxious about everything. Listening to their soothing reminders help me a lot on daily basis. You can try listening to Thich Nhat Hanh while you are jittery and you'll know what I mean. 

These books are more direct in telling us something, you don't really have to use your imagination. It's like being in a conversation with someone that cares or try to care. You can either listen and accept or just reject them, it is as simple as that. 


When I'm feeling okay, I prefer fictional stories with deeper messages about life in general. Finding books in this category is a bit hard. I haven't found good books in this category yet this year. Example of books :
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • The Little Prince by Antoine Exupery
Honestly I think I'm having an existential crisis. I'm questioning everything in my life, the meaning of it all, whether all of these are just a futile effort for us to be the best version of ourselves, whether I'm having enough time, whether I'll be lost forever. That's why I started having anxiety. I know I've been 'searching' for almost all my adult life, but the difference between then and now is, I have such an abundance of time to focus on this crisis because now I'm not working and I'm only focusing on taking care of Sofi, so I don't really have other distraction. 

In managing my anxiety and the 'searching' process, these are the things that help me :
  • You can try to listen to Russell Brand's youtube channel to watch his interviews with great people that talk about this. Not all of his content is 'good' because he talks about so many issues, but you can choose to be open-minded and pick yourselves the topics that you are interested in just to hear other people's thought on it. 
  • I try to meditate at least 10 minutes after my prayer, deep breathing and calm my thoughts down.
  • I listen to soothing reminders for example from Thich Nhat Hanh (from Scribd) or Therapy in a Nutshell  (on Youtube)
  • I don't take caffeine anymore, limit my sugar intake and anything that will upset my stomach (like dairy foods because I'm lactose intolerance)
  • I try to walk at least 20 minutes per day / I do yoga stretches for 30 minutes / or HIIT training for 15 mins
  • I try to sleep in by 11 pm, I don't do all-nighter. My anxiety gets really bad if I sleep poorly.
  • I read before sleep and I put on my oil diffuser with chamomile and lavender, to wind down. I turn off my phone's wifi at night as well. 
  • I read a lot nowadays. 
Reading gives me a sense of purpose. I can't wait for libraries to open and I want to borrow a lot of classics because these books usually offers the best philosophical fictions, plus, I don't want to collect books anymore. Except for books that I'm going to reread. 

I hope you've been reading too.