The Most Unlikely Summer Reads: A List of Books You Probably Weren't Planning to Read This Summer That You Definitely Should

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Don't get us wrong, we're first in line when it comes to shimmery, meet cute-infused romance novels. There are few things better than laying out on a beach, sun-soaked, while you soak up a fluffy summer read. But the internet is full of those lists, so we wanted to do something slightly different. And, since we're all about conscious holidays − think sun's out, buns out, with thinking (sun) hat's on, too − we've compiled a list of inspiring books for those of us who are as excited about looking after the planet as we are about exploring it, as well as looking after ourselves − because a summer holiday filled with self-care is as dreamy as it gets.


 How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time

By Will McCallum

"Around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean every year, killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight."

Written by the Head of Oceans for Greenpeace, Will McCallum, How to Give Up Plastic is everything we were looking for in a book about our favourite worst P-word. When it comes to plastic pollution, the statistics are almost always so awful, we sort of want to cover our ears, close our eyes, and pretend it doesn't exist. But How to Give Up Plastic is as honest as it is insightful, and – most importantly – McCallum provides simple, practical ways on how to decrease and avoid plastic in our own lives. Our favourite part? For those left wishing they could do more, McCallum has included an accessible, hands-on guide on how to run your own programmes, organise a beach clean-up, and campaign for tangible change.


Fully Connected

By Julia Hobsbawm

"'In 1946, the World Health Organization defined health as: 'a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.' Until now, no one has defined this third dimension to health, or described strategies to deliver it." 


Trying to keep up with our online and offline connections usually feels like a never-ending juggling situation (except the juggling clubs are our relationships: professional or personal, with ourselves and friends, family and acquaintances, and they all need our attention, like now – or a week ago, and we're behind). Fully Connected confronts what has become the 21st-century dilemma not many of us are talking about: feeling entirely overwhelmed with simply staying connected, and killing our self-esteem with constant comparisons that come with social media. It's not healthy and it's not the way we are designed to live.

Fully Connected explores all this, and – more importantly – how to reshape our social patterns. With the perfect mix of in-depth analysis and practical advice, Hobsbawm explains how to manage our connections better to look after our social well-being. Because in our overly-connected world, knowing when to switch off is one of the most important things we can do for our self-care.


Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

By Matthew Walker, PhD

“Humans are not sleeping the way nature intended. The number of sleep bouts, the duration of sleep, and when sleep occurs has all been comprehensively distorted by modernity.” 

This book. Where do we begin? In Why We Sleep, Walker explains – brilliantly and terrifyingly and digestibly – why sleep is so important. But you knew that, right? But however important you thought it was, times that by one hundred and eleven. Why We Sleep explores how pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion is not just a bad idea – it's incredibly unhealthy. The good news is because lack of sleep's the issue, sleeping is the cure.

Why We Sleep does a wonderful, practical job of helping us re-learn how to sleep well, to improve our energy and mood, help our ability to learn, balance our hormones, look after our health, and all the other Most Important Things. It's also a seriously fascinating read: thinking about what happens during REM sleep, or how our sleep patterns change as we grow, is a whole lot cooler now we know the details. Clear-eyed and profound, Why We Sleep is the book you need to be reading (every night, before getting a good rest).


By Safia Minney

"We need to rethink our lifestyles and our dependency on the environment. We can change our lifestyles and learn more about the issues and reflect those in our choices and personal style. It’s empowering, too!"
– Safia Minney

Written by the founder and CEO of People Tree – the online pioneer in sustainable, ethical fashion (and our personal hero) – Slow Fashion offers an incredibly illuminating look into the fast fashion industry and its social and environmental impact. Over and above that, it's an artistically beautiful curation of visual and written insight into slow fashion, and how the movement is changing the game.

Through a collage of interviews and photosets, Slow Fashion explores the perspectives of big influencers within the industry, from trendsetters to fashion bloggers, and offer a positive and accessible way for us to move forward. Fast Fashion is not only the perfect, go-to resource for inspiration on how to make the switch to slow fashion; it shows that choosing ethically-made, long-lasting pieces is not only the right thing to do, it's easy and more fashionable, too.


By Tara Button

"Mindful curation is a lifestyle choice that will make you happier, healthier and more fulfilled spiritually, as well as help you save the planet."

Reading this book felt like having a lovely, thought-provoking conversation with a (very wise) friend over coffee. Consumerism has rapidly increased over the last sixty years, and it's not only damaging our environment but our own mental wellbeing. In A Life Less Throwaway, Button discusses how we've been conditioned to want the newest and shiniest things, but how the shine wears off pretty quickly – and on purpose, too (major side eye at you, washing machines).

Through personal anecdotes and ten straight-forward, manageable steps, A Life Less Throwaway encourages us to purchase less and purchase better. Instead of getting stuck in an endless cycle of over-buying and throwing away, Button advocates for a lifestyle of "mindful curation", in which we consider and choose each object in our lives carefully, based on their longevity, both quality and style-wise. Forming these new habits around our purchases is not just more environmentally responsible, it makes life a whole lot simpler, too – and your bank account will love you for it.

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