“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde
I receive a lot of requests for book recommendations, but every time someone asks me what to read, my mind bubbles and jumbles and explodes with book titles… and I usually end up forgetting some important ones. So, to keep things organized, here is a list of the books that have changed my life.
The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood. Some of the richest writing I have ever encountered.
Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood. For anyone who survived adolescence but is still littered by the psychic wounds.
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro. Another for those of us who are still haunted by memories.
Multiple Choice – Janet Tashjian. When I read this book as a child, I felt so liberated to discover that there was a clinical name for the obsessions that tormented me through youth. After reading this book, I looked up “obsessive compulsive disorder” and launched into the first steps towards healing. There is nothing more beautiful than learning that you are not alone.
No One Belongs Here More Than You – Miranda July. Beautifully written short stories.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac. Jack’s spiritual approach to writing and willingness to fling himself into Life’s crazy adventures make this book an eternal classic in my heart.
The Constant Gardener – John Le Carre. Great movie, and an even better book – as is usually the case.
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I had a difficult time putting this book down because I was so sucked into the characters, motivations, and plot.
Divisadero – Michael Ondaatje. This also falls into the category of perfect-for- people-who-are-haunted-by-memory.
Howl – Allen Ginsberg. I love the Beat Generation, and my favorite poem in here is “America.”
Love Belongs to Those That Do The Feeling – Judy Grahn. Some of the most flowing and hard-hitting poetry I have ever read.
The Kiss – Kathryn Harrison. A poignant and wispily-written memoir about a young woman’s incestuous relationship with her father. It doesn’t go into explicit physical description of their relationship, so if you can adjust to the taboo topic, I would highly recommend this short read.
The Diaries of Anais Nin. Anais Nin is the poster child for free spirits everywhere, and her luxurious soul shines through in every moment of her diaries.
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert. So much better than the Julia Roberts movie and full of spiritual awareness.
A Return to Love – Marianne Williamson. If I could recommend only one book on this entire list, this would probably be it.
Spirit Junkie – Gabrielle Bernstein. Basically “A Return to Love” for twenty and thirty-somethings living in the 21st century
The Lightworker’s Way – Doreen Virtue. Angels and chakras and Christian Science, oh my!
You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay. The groundbreaking work on mind-body healing through positive affirmations.
A Course in Miracles. The channeled work that has become a mysticism classic.
The Life You Were Born to Live – Dan Millman. Millman’s form of numerology is eerily accurate, and reading this book rekindled my drive to uplift and inspire those around me.
Succulent Wild Woman – SARK. SARK is a bombastic and expressive woman whose every book is an absolute joy.
Autobiography of a Yogi – Parmahansa Yogananda. Yogananda is often credited with introducing yoga to the West through the publication of this book.
Anatomy of the Spirit – Caroline Myss. A Chicago –based energy healer illustrates mind-body medicine through a method that draws from Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism.
Just Say Om – Soren Gordhamer. I bought this at a book fair when I was in sixth grade, and it will always have a place in my heart as the book that taught me to meditate.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott. If Anne Lamott wrote a grocery list to herself on a post-it, I would snatch it up and devour it greedily: THAT is how much this woman’s voice inspires me.
Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg. A Zen approach to making writing a spiritual practice.
Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury. The classic book exploding with zesty tidbits of how writers should fill themselves to the brim with Life so that their words can overflow onto the page with gusto
Crazy Sexy Diet – Kris Carr. This isn’t actually a “diet” book. Carr weaves spirituality and social issues and nutrition together to help readers honor themselves from the inside out. I love her life motto: “Make Juice, Not War!”
Eat for Health – Dr. Joel Fuhrman. A great exploration of the preventative healing powers of proper nutrition.
Notes From My Travels– Angelina Jolie. Her travel diaries are stark and to the point, and this book has almost nothing to do with her and everything to do with the refugees she worked with through the UNHCR.
Bohemian Manifesto – Lauren Stover. When you want an entertaining tongue-in-cheek look at different types of counterculture.
As I continue to read and grow, this list will surely morph and evolve. I am always looking for new things to read, so if you have any book recommendations you are welcome to leave them in the comments section – I would love to open my eyes to new material.
Until then, happy reading!