Art by Christian Schloe
I write this as I stare at our bookcase. In December we moved to a new home. For months I packed up our belongings while trying to pare down what was no longer useful for our family. I made many trips to Goodwill with stuff that I hoped would serve someone else. Giving away books was entirely more difficult however- a process that usually ended up in me sitting on the floor getting absorbed into something and sidetracked for hours.
One of my favorite things about entering a local bookstore are the handwritten recommendations. Below are some of mine. Some books, podcasts and music (in no particular order) that stand out from the many things I have read and listened to over the past year.
What has made an impact on you? I would love to hear some of your recommendations too.
The Gift: 12 lessons to save your life by Edith Eger.
This book was the perfect read for the pandemic. As a young girl, Dr. Eger was the only member of her family to survive Auschwitz. This book talks about the choice we all have in our suffering- to give up or to live each day as a gift. If Dr. Eger could do this with such beauty, so too can you and I.
My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
This is a gorgeously written and yet practical book that reveals how each of us can begin to heal the racial trauma that lives in our bodies, our cells, our memories and our ancestry. I have been uncomfortable, faced some truths, learned and continue to learn so much every time I open this book.
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
A novel that imagines the story of Ana as the wife of Jesus. The writing is beautiful. I could not put this book down and will return to it again. Sue Monk Kidd creates a beautiful world I didn’t want to leave.
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
I listened to this one on Audible. Corrigan reads her own books and she has a great voice.
These essays made me feel like I was having lunch with a best friend at a time when leaving the house was not in the cards. These essays are funny and poignant. I laughed and I cried and I loved it all.
Love, Service, Devotion and the Ultimate Surrender. Ram Dass on the Bhagavad Gita
I listened to this one on Audible too. After meeting Ram Dass in a dream this year, I was prompted to take a deep dive into many of his teachings. This offering is actually a recording of lectures Ram Dass gave at Naropa University in Boulder in 1974, shortly after returning from India. There are great stories and insight into the Bhagavad Gita. It is also just wonderful to hear his voice and learn from him. The whole thing feels like a transmission. I have listened to this twice in the past year and I am sure I will listen again.
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
A book of 100 short essays highlighting how great it is to be alive- from pulling carrots to reckless air quotes. Each entry is short and makes you feel connected to yourself and the world.
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
In a year when trips were cancelled, this colorful novel set in India in the 1950’s transported me there while making me crave delicious Indian food. It is a light and quick read.
Breath by James Nestor
I love when modern science catches up with what the ancient mystics have already detailed for us. Breath reminds us from a modern scientific angle why each breath we take has the potential to shift our mood, our mind and our health. In the year of Covid, taking a full, ease filled breath has felt like a gift. You will catch yourself breathing deeper and more aware of your breath simply by reading this book.
Gather by Octavia Raheem
Permission to rest and gather oneself. If you are feeling frenzied, scattered, exhausted- this lyrical and interactive book is like a balm for the soul. It is short and reads like a poem or a retreat. Give yourself the gift of Gather.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I picked this classic up as I had not read it yet but had long wanted to. This is a long and sweeping novel that follows the Buendia family across generations while magically bending time and space. It is an epic. It is a myth. It is a little tragic and it transports you somewhere else. It also has one of the best opening lines of any novel in recent memory. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
Things that join the sea and sky: field notes on living by Mark Nepo
Nepo is a poet and voice that can hold suffering and joy equally. He has a depth of life experience and feels like a good mentor for the time we are facing. Open this book to any page, and be soothed. Like on page 71, “No one wants to admit it, but moving through trouble is what leads us to joy.”
Rich Roll Podcast episode 414 with Zach Bush MD.
Roll is a great interviewer. His podcasts are long form and an investment of time yet I enjoy the deep dive into subjects. Dr Zach Bush is a brilliant mind on synthesizing health and soil and the state of our planet. I recommend this entire episode. Here is an inspiring 10 minute clip from it:
Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett
Light, silly and very entertaining. Great guests and the banter of the three hosts make me laugh out loud during each episode.
Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6
I participated in Whitacre’s virtual choir 3 and 4 and it was a beautiful experience. This is his latest collaboration with more than 17,000 singers from 129 countries and it is just lovely.
Deva Premal and Miten
This beautiful couple have been offering live opportunities to chant the Gayitri Mantra with them weekly. I love that mantra and it has been a big part of my year. “Into your Hands” has also been on repeat for me. It is a beautiful song of surrender during uncertainty and I always feel lighter after singing it with them. I have been known to belt this one out in the car and embarrass my teenagers to no end.
This is Me with Keala Settle
This is a fascinating video to watch. You can see, hear and feel the transformation of energy from surviving to thriving in 4 minutes. If you are feeling low and need a pick me up, this will do the trick splendidly.
What art, books, music, podcasts have helped you thru the past year? I would love if you would share in the comments.