The latest crop of nonfiction offers gentle, practical and irreverent advice for living your best life.
Best advice for how to get some peaceful, restorative sleep
Andy Crouch in "The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place" recommends putting away phones and devices well before bedtime. Not because the screen's light will keep your brain awake, but rather because the anxiety from social media, the latest news or that work email will stew in your brain all night.
"Under the covers... anxieties and fantasies are fed as often as they are allayed...and we lose out on what we were really made for: the deep rest that would make us more cognitively, emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the challenges the next day will bring. The lilies of the field close up their blooms at night and rest patiently for the next day, but we, cloaked in ghostly light, make tomorrow's troubles today's and tonight's instead."
Get some sleep and be a better friend, parent, spouse or colleague.
Best advice for making your job better
Eric Barker's new book, "Barking Up the Wrong Tree," synthesizes work lessons from various tales of success and failure. He writes that most people's job happiness depends not on the overall workplace, but on their relationship with their supervisor. His advice: Make sure your boss sees you.
"Hard work doesn't pay off if your boss doesn't know whom to reward for it. Would you expect a great product to sell with zero marketing?...Every Friday send your boss an email summarizing your accomplishments for the week — nothing fancy, but quickly relating the good work you are doing. You might think they know what you are up to, but they're busy. They have their own problems. They'll appreciate it and begin to associate you with the good things they're hearing (from you, of course). And when it is time to negotiate for that raise (or to refresh your resume), you can just review the emails for a reminder of why exactly you're such a good employee."
Best advice on how to deal with people whose politics differ from yours.
Filmmaker John Waters' new book "Make Trouble" is based on a commencement speech he gave, but his advice can apply to folks of any age. He says you should listen carefully to political adversaries and then recommends how to communicate with them:
"Nobody likes a bore on a soap box. Humor is always the best defense and weapon. If you can make an idiot laugh, they'll at least pause and listen before they do something stupid...to you."
The best way to get in touch with who you really are
Eva Hoffman recommends in "How to Be Bored" that you keep a journal, even if you are already an avid recorder of your every thought and action on social media.
"A private journal gives us a very different kind of self-portrait than any number of selfies or Facebook postings...a diary can be a way of discovering as well as expressing our individual temperament, and it can give us a very particular and sometimes surprising portrait of our own personality and sensibility. 'Is this what I'm like?' we sometimes feel, as we re-read a sentence and an unexpected insight or observation comes upon us."
As the Delphic maxim goes: Know thyself!