“Bookshelf” in my case, is a euphemism for any number of physical locations: floor-around-my-bed, backseat of my car, piles in every room of my house, ibook, backpack, and/or water closet. I actually have books on shelves, too, but printed matter residing there is just the stuff I’m not currently reading.
Every time I sit down to a book that someone has so graciously written for the express purpose of sharing, I feel humbled and grateful to those creative minds for taking the time to think, organize, and write down information that I never could have managed to glean by myself. It is a huge privilege to hear their ideas enlightening me from a turned page, or a backlit screen.
The writers below helped me write Already Here. I am deeply grateful.
These are the three perennial groups of books that surround me always:
Illusions by Richard Bach. I read this in high school the night I didn’t get invited to the prom. My mom suggested I not wallow in self-pity, but do something worthwhile. Little did I know just how life-changing-helpful this book would turn out to be for me. I still buy several copies a year to give away. It is both surprising simple and deceptively deep. And, very importantly, it is accessible.
A Course In Miracles (ACIM), published by the Foundation for Inner Peace and channeled by Dr. Helen Schucman. This book has dramatically changed my life, and is challenging to describe. I might call it a manual of nonduality. In it are the Truths that will set us free, but its phraseology is not for everyone (when I read my husband sections that positively undo me with insight-perfection, he looks at me as if he’s still waiting for the punchline). It is written in iambic pentameter in a style that often seems more closely linked to the Elizabethan age than the age of text ’n’ tweet. I refer to ACIM frequently because it has been an incredibly powerful source of wisdom for me, but it is not the only place to find wisdom.
I Am The Word, The Book of Love and Creation, The Book of Knowing and Worth, and The Book of Mastery are all beautifully channeled by Paul Selig. Open any of these books, and you will find the Wisdom of the ages presented in charming and enlightening current vernacular. Paul is a humble, iteresting, intelligent soul, and the perfect deliverer of these texts. His own reticence and his own questioning bring a level of honesty and compassion to the books that I really appreciate. These books definitely changed my life in amazing ways.
Paul also leads workshops. I attended one (so far) and found it surprising and delightful. You can find more information about him at paulselig.com.
Here are other books I reference in Already Here, in order of their appearance:
If you are not scientifically inclined, but would sure love to understand a bit about the magic and mystery of physics, look no further than Quantum Physics for Poets. Although obviously written by brainiacs, this book totally simplifies some pretty big concepts (well, little concepts, actually, since it speaks to the quantum level of things!) Nobel laureate Leon M. Lederman (along with Christopher Hill) did an incredible, easy-to-read favor for all of us interested in braving the quantum world.
Scatologically oriented books are unlikely members of most lists I might create, but this is the exception. Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi takes the embarrassment out of the everyday. (You can even hear a very Morgan Freeman-esque voice read it aloud on Youtube. Pretty funny.)
This quote, which I absolutely LOVE, is from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet.
Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu makes me want to move to rural Japan where I might have the good fortune to be “seduced by the tofu.” The rice tale I used with her permission (“Sure why not”) is only part of why this book is so wonderful. Even if you don’t love Japanese food (really?!), it’s hard not to fall in love with the way Nancy writes about food, sharing food, growing food, enjoying food. Moreover, it is obvious she loves life! She is definitely “wonder-full!”
Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of the incredibly profound Left to Tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, has a most amazing story to share. I recommend this book to everyone, though I have to confess, it was hard to read about all she endured, and to think about what so many others around her experienced. She has really gifted us with her ability to forgive: what more important lesson is there to really learn how to Love?
Jon Muth is a genius. OK, he writes “kid books,” but I’ve never read anything he’s written (and I’ve read/loved all his kid books) without coming away with real insight. Oh, and the illustrations are delightful.
Walt Whitman, who claimed to “stand for the sunny point of view,” was definitely wonder-full. He saw the world very differently from the majority of his peers, completely disregarding “the regular meter and rhyme patterns” people thought of as poetry (or life). Leaves of Grass wasn’t immediately successful, but it has turned out to be an important classic. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor!
Conscious Acts of Creation: The Emergence of a New Physics by William Tiller, PhD, will DEFINITELY offer you some new things to think about!
I love Martha! She is hilarious, insightful and daring in truly wonderful ways. Fortunately, she has written several inspiring books. (Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live was the one and only self-help book my husband ever read. He loved it!) The book I specifically reference in the pages of Already Here, is Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want. I recommend it!
I don’t always agree with everything the talented, witty, and prolific Professor Richard Wiseman has to say, but I sure like the way he makes me think! And I LOVE the studies he’s done on luck and other interesting topics. I initially found out about his work on luck from his website, but The Luck Factor goes into more detail. While writing my book, I also watched his extremely interesting program, Your Bleeped Up Brain (my kids enjoyed it, too.) Subsequent to my research, he published a book called The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life. I’m about to read it, so I’ll let you know what I think!
Eli Pariser is a great thinker and articulates those thoughts very well in writing. The Filter Bubble surprised me because I had not realized the extent to which my choices in front of my computer screen defined my choices elsewhere. Definitely worth thinking about. On his website you can find ways to keep your electronic shadow very small.
I read Gary Zukav’s Seat of the Soul about half my life ago, and his beautiful words still resonate. I feel like this book opened the door for an upgraded energy level on the entire planet. THANK YOU, GARY!!!! Take a look at his website, if you’ve never encountered this wonderful soul! (I would have quoted him more, but permissions were too onerous.
You’ll need a box of tissues for this amazing book, but the inspiration it delivers straight to your heart will be well worth the tears
The book I quote, written in 2009, is Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility. I don’t know Dr. Ellen Langer personally, but I am so grateful to her for being willing to think in totally new, smart ways. Ways that will surely help bend the mindset of ageing, life—the possible, really. She is articulate, insightful and daring in her willingness to think differently.
Isn’t that glorious? The quote above comes from Aberjhani’s book, The River of Winged Dreams. I whole-heartedly recommend it. Aberjhani is one of my very favorite poets. Ever. I can’t wait to read more of what he has to share!
This is my very favorite translation of Saint Augustine’s Confessions (thank you, Maria Boulding!). I don’t agree with everything this man came up with, nonetheless, Saint Augustine was a truly stunning thinker, and this translation really highlights that.
Here’s his quote on time that I find outrageously brilliant:
Talk about small but mighty! The Door to Everything is a powerhouse. I’ve never been able to find anything else written my Ruby Nelson. In fact, I haven’t been able to find anything about her! I sure am thankful to have found this little book, though. If I’d been able to absorb her clear and sincere writing the first time, I may not have had to write my own book for my own self-edification!
You can also read the book online by clicking here.
Here’s her quote I used in Already Here:
It has been out a while, so you may have already treated yourself to Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia. I’m sure glad I did! I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing style, and can’t wait to read her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (I haven’t read it yet because it came out as I was/am finishing up details on Already Here). She’s also a wonderful speaker. If you haven’t watched her Ted Talk, please give yourself that inspirational 19-minute gift!
The Secret Life of Plants: a Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man was written wayyyyyy back in 1989, and its insights still seem fresh.
The Hidden Messages in Water was the first book I encountered Dr. Emoto’s fascinating pictures. There are more books now, each with beautiful and inspiring images. Although he is no longer alive, his website is maintained and is full of interesting information.
OK, this isn’t a book, but it IS an awesome documentary by Tom Shadyac. It’s a great way to introduce people to concepts beyond their normal range. Tom does such a great job of sharing what he finds. I recommend this fascinating documentary!
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Gregory Boyle took me by surprise. I don’t live in LA. I don’t know any gang members (current or past). I’m not Catholic. And I don’t have a single tattoo. Yet there is some connective something that drew me completely in, and wouldn’t let go. This is a great book by a man who truly understands that we are all connected…and he lives every day of his life creating a greater awareness of that!
Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, like everything I’ve read by this man, is well worth reading. It’s one of the most non-dualistic books about food one could possibly read.
The first Michael Pollan book I ever read was Second Nature. Even if I weren’t a gardener, his incredible writing style would have hooked be completely.
In The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles, Dr. Bruce Lipton will surely change your ideas about what is true! And, if you ever get the opportunity to hear Dr. Lipton in person, I recommend going. I’m not kidding when I say the man radiates Love.
We all need a Yes! Day from time to time!
Should you require further proof that giving helps the giver, read The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose. You will come away with a new interest in sharing, thanks to Christian Smith and Hillary Davidson!
I read this book so many years ago, and I can still conjure up the feeling of reading it. It was such an amazing book on so many levels. I recommend this one, bigtime! Alice Walker is a genius, pure and simple.
Mary Oliver. I don’t know how she does it. I recognize her simple words, but the manner in which she plaits them, filigrees them, lights them up, is nothing short of miraculous. Blue Iris was the first book I read of her poetry, but really, it’s hard to rank her books, so full of wonder and delight are they.
No list of writers who have influenced me would be complete without wonderful Eckhart Tolle. (My original book version had several quotes from him, but it was too hard to get permission from his editors, so I will just say that he is a blessing to the planet, and if you don’t already know him, you would do yourself a ginormous favor to familiarize yourself with his wisdom.) He has written several books, the most popular, I think, is The Power of Now, which was a hugely insightful book to me. For some reason, though, the book he wrote that rocked my own world even more, is A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. (The difference in how I received them had more, I’m certain, to do with me than with the relative superiority of either book: They are both outrageously insightful.) First I read A New Earth, then I listened to it. It was as if I’d taken in two completely different books! Try reading AND listening, and see if those two different “intake methods” offer different benefits for you!