Dave’s Books of the Year 2017

This post is so sophisticated it should have its own Times Literary Supplement font. That’d distract you from the embarrassing fact that most of these are non-fiction. But hey – these seven books inspired me this year, each in their own way.

PSYCHEDELICS: A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman. A first person primer on microdosing LSD, by the most respectable acid-head imaginable. So good I wrote a wee review.

FICTION: The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. I can’t shrug off the lust this book gives for the idiocy of abdicating responsibility for decision-making: the dice told me to do it. It certainly opened my mind to the tantalising potential that lies behind every moment.

NEUROSCIENCE: The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge. Another optimistic book, but for altogether different reasons. Turns out that our brains remain supple despite heavy trauma and old age: neuroplasticity is a great thing. No excuse for not learning Arabic in my dotage!

ADVENTURE: The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane. Beautifully written, I concede jealously. When a man writes so lyrically about crawling into a hedgerow, I can but bow. And then rush off to Scotland and discover my own wild places.

REFUGEES: The New Odyssey by Patrick Kingsley. I have the special privilege of hanging out with refugees every week. It’s easy to forget that, behind the broad smiles and superlative table tennis skills, each has their own epic yarn of journeys that would have made Odysseus baulk.

STOICISM: Stoicism and the Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson AND The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. Two books that did more to develop my thought patterns this year than any others. Stoicism meshes very nicely with my interests in both counselling and psychedelics. I’ve written about Stoicism a lot in the last couple of months.

COLD: What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney. The book that introduced insane ice prophet Wim Hof to a popular audience. I also wrote about Wim and his cold exposure method earlier this year. (DISCLOSURE: I no longer do the breathing, but I did have a cold shower this morning. Yum.)

What have you been reading this year?

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at davidcharles.info.

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