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5 Philosophical Books to Guide You through the Work Day

Remember when teachers assigned so much reading we forgot how to do it for fun?

Research from Brookings shows that when students are assigned too much homework, it affects their success in the future. Reading is an escape away from the present, allowing you to explore more possibilities. When we are preoccupied with stiff assignments, we are less likely to find the task enjoyable. For those working in an office, sitting at a desk with assignments back-to-back can become menial and tedious.

Here are five books to guide you through those restless days of typing on a computer or sitting at a desk facing the same window day in and day out. I am biased to the philosophy genre. But I promise you, these are short books with depth and quality:

  1. Fragments by Jean Baudrillard. If you’ve ever questioned your relationship, yourself, or the plate in front of you, this is the book for you. Each idea fragments and breaks into quick glimpses of everyday peeves. They are deep and complex, asking simply for your train of thought in exchange. This book has angered me yet at the same time guided me in exploring my relationship with others and how I can apply it to a workplace environment.
  2. Simulacra and Simulation by Baudrillard. I love French philosophy. I started reading this at the start of my career and there are moments where I occasionally jump back to refresh. Baudrillard criticizes materialism and how we are affected by products with no direct origin. This may call into question your ability to get to the root of an issue and how to approach conflict resolution. This book appeals so strongly to me because of its approach to rationale and behavior.
  3. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. Remember that guy that wrote Fight Club? Same guy. I am enthralled by the depth and humor of Choke.The main character goes into upscale dining restaurants and pretends to choke on food to scam others. He uses the money to later pay for his mother’s nursing home. A moral, yet sticky situation.
  4. To follow up on Choke, I recommend Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To. Sian Beilock analyzes Chuck’s work, noting that this can be applied to our everyday struggle of cracking under pressure. We simply can’t help but choke under stressful situations. 
  5. Finally, to close it all off, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertisewill adjust your mindset. It will give you all the right steps in finding the encouragement you need to perform well and confidently. I previously read a lot of Buddhism books prior to this to understand the concept of mindfulness. As we move forward in our careers, mindfulness becomes more important in reminding us that the tasks we do every day build up to something larger and more fulfilling. They have a purpose and they do matter. 

Nhu-Phuong Duong is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a recent grad with a Master’s of Arts in English and the Humanities. Nhu worked in several non-profit organizations serving the homeless in DC and New York City and currently works as an analyst for the federal government. With two years in her current position, Nhu deploys project management strategies to improve efficiency and efficacy. In her undergrad, Nhu studied English and Philosophy with a track in Performance in Media Studies. Research follows the Baudrillardian studies and the influence of simulation and hyperreality on human interaction in the social and political spaces. In her free time, she attends bluegrass shows and homebrews. You can read her posts 

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