10 books to help you slow down and escape the hustle

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Slowing down is the answer to so many things.

By slowing down, we give our bodies and minds the opportunity to recharge that we so desperately need.

We can remedy the feelings of burnout and anxiety that leave us exhausted from doing too much and resting too little.

We can tune into what we most need and recognise what isn’t serving us.

We can clarify what our priorities are and where we should be putting our focus – including our health, wellbeing, relationships, and creative projects that light us up.

One of my favourite ways to slow down is with a book, and especially those I’ve shared below.

These are my favourite books about slowing down and finding a more relaxed way of life, helping to soothe your soul and open your mind to different ways of living.

P.S. If you’re looking for more book recommendations, you might like Tolstoy Therapy, the book blog I started nearly a decade ago. Happy reading!

Books for slowing down & enjoying a gentler pace of life

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Combining indigenous wisdom, science’s findings on the mysteries of nature, and the teachings of plants, Braiding Sweetgrass is a true love story to the land.

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers.

Kimmerer beautifully brings these two lenses of knowledge together in Braiding Sweetgrass to take us on what Elizabeth Gilbert describes as “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise”.

There’s now a stunning hardcover by Milkweed Editions that makes for the perfect gift to your own bookshelves or those of others.

“This is really why I made my daughters learn to garden—so they would always have a mother to love them, long after I am gone.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

The Lady Farmer Guide To Slow Living: Cultivating Sustainable Simplicity Close To Home

I’ve included a few books about sustainable living here, but The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living is one of the most beautiful.

In this simple and inspiring book, Mary Kingsley – novelist, mother, homesteader, and co-founder of Lady Farmer – ponders how slow living can restore the health of ourselves and our planet.

Laziness Does Not Exist by Dr. Devon Price

Described as a stirring call to “a better, more human way to live” by one of my favourite non-fiction authors, Cal Newport, Laziness Does Not Exist is a rallying cry for readers to do things differently.

Dr. Devon Price once believed that productivity was the best way to measure self-worth. With their non-stop work ethic, they graduated from both college and graduate school early. However, that success came at a cost.

After being diagnosed with a severe case of anemia and heart complications from overexertion, Devon was forced to examine the darker side of productivity – and the value of embracing a slower way of living, learning, and working.

“The Laziness Lie is a deep-seated, culturally held belief system that leads many of us to believe the following: Deep down I’m lazy and worthless. I must work incredibly hard, all the time, to overcome my inner laziness. My worth is earned through my productivity. Work is the center of life. Anyone who isn’t accomplished and driven is immoral.”

Dr. Devon Price, Laziness Does Not Exist

Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey by Susan J. Tweit

In Walking Nature Home, Susan J. Tweit ticks all the boxes for the perfect woman-alone-in-nature memoir. As a young woman diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that was predicted to take her life in two to five years, she turned to the natural world for solace and her field of study as a plant ecologist.

As she spends days alone in the wilderness, growing an organic kitchen garden, and restoring a neighbourhood creek, Tweit notices the connections between the natural processes and cycles all around her and those of her own body.

But above all, it’s love – of the natural world, her husband and family, and of life itself – that transforms and saves her in this graceful book about what’s really important.

The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm by Hilarie Burton Morgan

If you dream of quitting the corporate world and starting a farm, The Rural Diaries is the perfect book for you to read next.

This is actress Hilarie Burton Morgan’s bestselling story of leaving Hollywood for a radically different life with her husband after the birth of their first son, buying a working farm in upstate New York to explore a slower way of living.

The Rural Diaries chronicles Hilarie’s story of farm life: chopping wood, building chicken coops, and making dandelion wine while raising her son and finding a place in her new small-town community.

Woodswoman: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness By Anne La Bastille

Woodswoman is another gorgeous book about slowing down and living close to nature. This book with Walden vibes is Anne LaBastille’s story of building a cabin off-the-grid in the Adirondacks and building a life there.

Circe by Madeline Miller

I adored reading Circe. It’s a dream of a novel, weaving myth, magic, nature, and solitude together to let us retreat to the island of Aiaia where Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, is banished.

Here, Circe finds her power as she explores the woods, forages, and hones her magic. It’s also a fantastic book to help you fall back in love with books if you find yourself in a reading slump.

“The trees shook themselves thickly in the sea-winds, and birds darted through the shadows. Even now I can remember the wonder I felt. All my life had been spent in the same dim halls, or walking the same stunted shore with its threadbare woods. I was not prepared for such profusion and I felt the sudden urge to throw myself in, like a frog into a pond.”

Madeline Miller, Circe

A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell

A Country Year is a laid-back, witty memoir about starting over as a beekeeper in the Ozarks.

Left alone on a small Missouri farm with little but the commercial beekeeping and honey-producing business she started with her husband, Sue Hubbell finds a way to solace in the natural world – and then, in writing about it.

Describing the ups and downs of country life from one springtime to the next as she navigates middle age, A Country Year transports us to a different, simpler place that celebrates the joy of a life attuned to nature.

“Today my life has frogs aplenty and this delights me, but I am not so pleased with myself. My life hasn’t turned out as I expected it would, for one thing. For another, I no longer know all about anything. I don’t even know the first thing about frogs, for instance.”

Sue Hubbell, A Country Year

Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, In the Woods and at the Table by Dylan Tomine

In Closer to the Ground, Dylan Tomine shares stories from his family’s year on the water, in the woods, and at the table. From foraging for chanterelles to digging clams and fishing for salmon, it’s a celebration of nature around his home turf on Puget Sound, but also an ode to the beauty of just getting outside and living closer to the wild.

I picked this up from the books section of the Patagonia online shop, and am so glad I stumbled upon it. It’s a great book to read if you love the natural world, have a nose for adventure, and equate foraging for mushrooms with the finest dining.

Mountain Song by Lucy Fuggle

If you love books about escaping the hustle and retreating into nature, you might also enjoy my book about slowing down in a beautiful Swiss mountain town.

It’s called Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the Swiss Alps and is available as a lovely illustrated hardcover. Or, you can pick up a copy on Kindle. If you read it, let me know what you think!

For more books about slow living, complement these with my collection of the best books with Walden vibes to imagine life in the woods, as well as the best books about simple living.

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