Unsettled Book Club: 8 Books the Team Is Learning From Right Now
Reading is therapy. It’s a hobby. It’s knowledge. It’s playful. It’s time-away-from-looking-at-blue-screen. Reading means different things for different people, and that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. A book can give you new imaginary friends; help you look at something ordinary in your life under a new light; teach you; empower you; plant new seeds to continue a passion project you previously dissed; or courage you to take a leap into a new relationship, job, or trying on a gluten-free cake recipe!
Whether you like to read in a cozy corner in your living room, or while on the metro to work, below are eight book recommendations to dig into this season, care of team Unsettled. These books inspired us, taught us, and really made us enjoy a book binge. We’ve got self-help, history, science, love and plenty more…
Scroll to see our recommendations, and then tell us yours in the comments below.
by David Deida
Recommended by: Jade, Head of Admission
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: This book is written by relationship expert David Deida as if he’s speaking to his partner, and in doing so, he outlines the dynamics between men and women, why we misunderstand each other, and what we’re very often actually looking for from relationships. It focuses mainly on masculine and feminine polarity in relationships, and how these opposite (but complementary) ends of the spectrum can ideally interact, but also the difficulties that arise.
Why did you love it: This book was a total eye opener for me, and made me realize how the way I was approaching relationships wasn’t conducive to what I actually wanted, and was a huge reorientation towards a more open and gentle way of being.
Who would you give this book to: All my friends who have issues in relationships (which let’s be real, is all of them!), but especially those woman who struggle with insecurity in relationships.
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: Ubud in the rainy season.
TRIBE: On Homecoming and Belonging
by Sebastian Junger
Recommended by: Jonathan, Co-founder
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: TRIBE combines history, psychology, and anthropology to explore what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that – for many veterans as well as civilians – war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.
Why did you love it: Sebastian Junger’s books are always deeply provocative, thoughtful, and provide a unique view on the state of modern society and the human condition. TRIBE is no different, and from my time as a foreign correspondent and photojournalist, it resonated pretty strongly with many of the things I felt when returning home and searching for meaning and community in hyper-capitalist, hyper-consumerist, entertainment-obsessed society.
Who would you give this book to: Anyone interested in what it means to “belong” today, and who’s critical of modern structures of work and how we define community.
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: All of them… I don’t like this question!
by Rick Hanson
Recommended by: Bonnie, Global Experience Leader
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: This book connects the current science of happiness with the history and wisdom from people like Ghandi and Buddha.
Why did you love it: It’s an easy read that breaks down easy ways to incorporate mindfulness and happiness into your life. These steps are also explained from a scientific/neuroscience level with concrete explanations on how these steps effect the body/mind.
Who would you give this book to: Anyone interested in meditation or understanding the science of the mind (aka how meditation works).
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: Bali.
Things Are What You Make Of Them: Life Advice For Creatives
by Adam J. Kurtz
Recommended by: Shitika, Social Media Manager
Genre: Life Advice / Self-Help (non-fiction)
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: With all the media saturation around us at the moment, this rainbow-colored book by artist Adam Kurtz is just what the world needs to press pause on the automatic playing loop of Instagram Stories that take you into the black hole of social media and not be intimidated by the world around us. The book covers joy, anxiety, self-doubt, depression and that fear many creatives experience as they’re about to start something new.
Why did you love it: This book made me feel like hey, I’m actually fine, as bonkers, confused and crazy as I may be (hey strangers-reading-this, nice to meet you). The format of the book mimics a notepad diary which is inscribed with broad career advice, goal-setting and problem-solving tips in a black marker. The highly relatable sections of the book are titled as ‘Nobody Cares’, ‘Embrace Yourself’ and ‘How To Be Happier’. All witty, hilarious, sad and therapeutic at the same time.
Who would you give this book to: To a person who is in transition phase of life right now and overwhelmed with their passion project. To someone who’s doubting what happiness at work and life looks like, and why being a little bit crazy is COMPLETELY FINE! You’re fine… just fine!
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: Cape Town.
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
by Timothy Egan
Recommended by: Michael, Co-founder
Genre: American History
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: History repeats itself, so they say. Today, in America, we have an administration that’s putting “big business” over almost everything else. People around the world may hate on America for this, but there’s so much more than meets the eye. Teddy Roosevelt, an American president in the early 1900s, went head-to-head and stood up to big business well before our current environmental movement. He tied the idea of protecting public land for all citizens to the very essence of democracy….only to see it nearly burn down under his predecessor who was pro “big business.” Sound familiar?
Why did you love it: Because when I’m in the U.S., I spend much of my free time exploring our public lands. I appreciate what they stand for, which to me means that anyone from any social status can use our public lands equally, and they should be protected as much as democracy itself. Yet, America’s complex history and values are based on conflicting interpretations of our love of freedom. Does business have the freedom to access this public good? No matter what side you find yourself on, this book ties history, values, and maybe even current affairs in a thrilling narrative.
Who would you give this book to: Anyone who’s interested in the rise of conservation or American history. Or someone who loves to read how values play out in real life.
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: I remember checking this out of my local library and taking it sailing with me in Croatia.
Living the Best Day Ever
by Hendri Coetzee
Recommended by: Jessie, Marketing Manager
Synopsis: This is the story of Hendri Coetzee, a South African explorer with a strong moral compass and insatiable appetite for adventure. Hendri searches endlessly for ‘the best day ever’ — a harrowing, grueling, and often hilarious journey that unfolds in the remote jungles and rivers of Africa. Published posthumously from Hendri’s extensive collection of journals and detailed expedition notes — every single page begs the question: Are you living your own best day ever?
Why did you love it: I thought I knew Hendri — a boy from South Africa who loved the outdoors. A free spirit that came from a complicated childhood. A kayaker whose life was lost in the most tragic of ways. I expected the book would follow your standard adventure porn storyline. What I read instead was an incredibly raw and honest tale. A story about a profoundly spiritual being who sought authenticity and deep, meaningful connections to the places he explored and the people he met along the way. Hendri was Unsettled in the truest sense of the word. His independence, courage, and humility have inspired me deeply – and I will forever seek to honor his memory by living my best day ever.
Who would you give this book to: Anyone who feels different or misunderstood. Anyone disconnected with the reality of their daily life. Anyone who is insatiably curious. Anyone who thinks they know what a real adventure looks like. Anyone who has a dream they are scared to pursue.
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: Right before you’re about to embark on your first Unsettled journey.
by Yuval Noah Harari
Recommended by: Alex Mandel, Head of Community Growth
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: Mind blowing telling of human history and the evolution of our species and cultures. Did you know 100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Some incredible things have happened over the years which have resulted in only one species surviving. What was it? This book explores how our ancestors created cities, countries, came to believe in gods, nations and human rights. It explores the history of money, books and laws, bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism.
Why did you love it: From the first few pages it made me rethink my understanding of the world we live in and put all of history and human development through a fascinating anthropological evolutionary lens. It’s an absolute must-read!
Who would you give this book to: Literally any homo-sapien.
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: Medellin.
The Body Has a Mind of Its Own
by Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee
Recommended by: Lala, Head of Experience
Genre: Non-fiction (also fucking EPIC science shit!)
Synopsis that won’t give the plot away: Ever wonder why we can tell the texture of something by poking it with stick or how come someone can change who they are completely simply by changing their clothes? Like some kind of magical Harry Potter map that can unveil and conceal itself at will, our brains are constantly mapping out the world around us in incredible detail and expanding the very limits of our sense of self to take it all into account. This book pushes your understanding of the mind-body connection to a whole new level with a deep dive into the elastic world of body mapping and the many capacities of our brains!
Why did you love it: Both of my parents work in public health and development, and coming from the world of fashion I had always struggled with finding the right words to explain why fashion and what we wear mattered. It wasn’t until reading this book that something finally clicked and I was able to see why things that seem so shallow can actually have a very deep and meaningful impact on us. Plus, the brain is just amazing! Easy and awesome read…
Who would you give this book to: Anyone who works in fashion (obviously) and anyone who is curious about how our bodies work.
Unsettled destination you’d read this at: This one is a #PlaneRead!