I read every day…a lot. I get up early and read books that shape me. In the afternoon I read books that are a little lighter, but from which I can still learn. At night I read old mysteries by Valentine Williams and E. Philips Oppenheim, passed down from my grandfather. I keep a journal by my books and I record notable quotes and thoughts, which end up being like a map of learning.
At the beginning of this year, I looked through my notebooks from 2017 and created a summary of what I read and learned. Below are some rough notes about important things I took away from each book. Excuse the format, my running thoughts, and know that you will probably uncover different things than what touched me. I realize after reviewing my year that if we want to be better, to shape our world, indeed to save our world from where we stand, it takes work like everything else. Reading and processing is how I “practice” being a better, more peaceful, present and loving person. Some days it is exhausting. But when you look back over a year, how encouraging it is to see a path that you stumbled upon.
Since the year began, I’ve also been *trying* (key word) to draw or paint something each day, usually inspired but what I’ve read or learned. So here is a summary of art and reading. I hope some of these books will inspire you and shape you as they have done for me.
“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace al andar.
Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk” -Antonio Machado
Dorothy Day: Selected Writings – inspired to take action and lead, little by little, taking small steps knowing they can be greater than you think, living simply and being open and hospitable
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance…you have to get close,” lose fear and “beat the drum for justice,” be a “stone catcher” when people throw them at others
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – embrace mystery, follow dreams, don’t fear, walk forward; the soul of the world is love, immerse your “soul into the universal current of life,” “I must not be afraid to change my life”
Mary Oliver, several different poetry collections – “I don’t want to be demure or respectable. I was that way, asleep, for years…” I could just list all her poems…they are amazing
Thoreau, Civil Disobedience – did he write that yesterday? It mirrored our current cultural and political climate so closely. “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine” of injustice
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass – find beauty everywhere
We Make the Road by Walking , Brian McLaren- don’t uphold the status quo; rethink everything; be “creative nonconformists,” a “community where anyone who wants to be a part of us will be welcome”
The Rebirthing of God, John Philip Newell – heartbeat of God is in all things; “dream the way forward”
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Rambunctious Garden by Emma Harris, Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy, and Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf – books about nature that changed the way I look at the world and our role in it; “Let nature be your teacher”
Emotional Agility by Susan David- Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility
Illuminate by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez – be a torchbearer, leading the way forward, dreamers, pioneers, leades
Awareness by Anthony de Mello – Wake up! Unlearn, listen, see, put on a new mind. I love this book. He doesn’t mess around. I read it 2 times this year. Then I read The Way to Love and Song of the Bird
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – history of Sapiens and human culture; ” the pursuit of an easier life led to much hardship.” You can clearly see the path that has led us to today. A very interesting book.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – “charm…your act is easy,” be good, not perfect; break addiction to achievement, image management
The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel- rest and reclaim your dignity, the soul and body to be wise
The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz – find beauty in our imperfection, trust your feelings, don’t fear; cultivate emotional intelligence. Great leaps in understanding myself through reading this book
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown – be brave; don’t “sort” people, very relevant to our current climate (I could write a lot more…)
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – shame/vulnerability; “share is the fear of being vulnerable,” foster creativity and self-compassion
The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner – art says stop and see; go out into the world, not hiding, even if you’re scared
Rising Strong by Brene Brown – 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – culture of scarcity, “never enough”; shame/vulnerability, build “shame resistance” and self-compassion; a really great book – every one should read this! Changed the way I see myself, the way I parent and interact with everyone.
The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey – set intention, follow your bliss, so many good, good things in this book
The short notes above, summaries from the short notes in my notebooks, are barely shadows of the treasures found in each of these books. Several of these books are or have been in our Little Free Library, and I’m always happy to lend one if you want to read!