The post I had planned for today isn’t ready yet, so please accept this humble offering: a very brief biography of my mind, in the form of five books that changed my life.*
Griffin & Sabine, by Nick Bantock
I begged my parents for the original trilogy for my thirteenth birthday, and have reread them at least once a year since then. When I discovered the sequels in a bookstore in Providence, RI, I was ecstatic. These are physically beautiful books, being as much art as text, which tell an enrapturing story of love and spiritual alchemy through letters and postcards. These books are not for the ambiguity averse, but I truly get something new out of every reading. In a certain sense, these books have formed the map for my life.
The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
I discovered this accessible doorway into Joseph Campbell’s work during my senior year of high school, and promptly read it twice in a row. I had long been enamored of Carl Jung and his archetypes, but it was this book, the literary translation of a series of interviews, that really opened the doors of meaning and story for me.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
This book was recommended to me by the admissions interviewer at a college to which I took an instant dislike. This book, however, made the whole trip worthwhile. Anne Lamott is funny and vulnerable and honest. I really can’t think of a better trio of qualities, in a writer or a human being. As the subtitle indicates, this book is primarily about writing, but it is writing as a window into life as a whole. I believe that I am overdue to give this one a rereading.
Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck
A supervisor at my first real job out of college recommended this book to me. I read it, liked it, incorporated a few of its ideas, and promptly forgot about it for several years. Just when I needed it most, I stumbled upon life coaching, recognized Martha Beck’s name, and the rest is history. Though I didn’t get it right away, this is the book that led me to my present career.
Refuse to Choose!, by Barbara Sher
I honestly don’t remember how I found this book, but I’m very glad that I did. Sometimes you read a book and it’s like the author has been watching you for your entire life. It’s creepy, but also edifying. Until I read this book I had no idea why I kept flitting from interest to interest, seemingly never sticking to one thing long enough to master it. It turns out that I’m what’s called a scanner, and I’m not supposed to dive deeply into only one subject, but sample from a smörgåsbord and draw connections between them all. I was nice to see that I’m not lazy, I’m just different.
Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, by Martha Beck
I didn’t want to include this in the formal list, since I only read it four months ago and thus can not rightly say that it changed my life, but I had to give it a shout out. In my opinion, this is Martha’s best work to date.
So, what books have had a particular impact on your life? I’d love to hear about them!
*Inspired by this post by Dianne Sylvan, a spiritual blogger and writer of fine vampire novels, whose blog I have followed for probably six years.