Suggested Reading List Part Three

Alright friends. Several of you have requested another reading list from me. By now I think most of you know, I read quite a bit. In part, simply because I love to read.  Books remind me that words are living things, words bloom. Words have life and words give life. I read because I am a writer. I am hungry to grow, to learn to be a better writer. More importantly, especially if you are going to take my reading list and head to your amazon cart. You need to know, I don't just read authors who wear the same stripes as I do. Sometimes I get more out of the authors whose views are diametrically opposed to my own. My nets are spread far and wide. If we are humble, we can hear the still, small voice in the most unsuspecting of places.  So, par your request, here are five more books I highly recommend. Enjoy.



11. Exuberance: The Passion for Life by Kay Redfield Jamison


Kay Redfield Jamison is more widely known for the memoir she wrote about her experiences with manic depression called An Unquiet MindExuberance, on the other hand is a much-needed antithesis to the links often made between madness and the artistic temperament. In this work, Jamison explores how exultant moods, playfulness, and risk-taking play into the creative process. At this point, about 80% of my copy is highlighted. Here are a few quotes:


"Exuberance, it would seem, is the inherent response of those who are moved deeply by nature and who delight in assigning its glories to a Creator." 

"Passionate enthusiasms... are as essential to survival as they are indispensable to imagination and social change. Passions bring to our attention the overlooked; they compel commitment of time and heart... they drive out other states of being... curiosity countervails fatigue and setback; and the thrill of the chase acts to overwhelm the hunter's fear of what he hunts." 


12. The Poetics of Space: The Classic Look At How We Experience Intimate Spaces by Gaston Bachelard


Ok. So, I know I may lose some of you here, but that's okay. This book is not a read for the faint of heart. It's kinda like chocolate cake.  I can only take several bites at a time because it is so dense and so rich. But if you trust me here, I can assure you the commitment carries a worthwhile payoff. I return to this book over and over for inspiration. It returns magic to ordinary spaces and reminds me everything is a miracle. 


In this work, European philosopher, Gaston Bachelard takes the reader on a journey through cellars, attics, drawers, nests, corners and wardrobes. He expounds on how the spaces around us impact our moods and creativity. He recalls how our exterior environments first began in the imagination and how home is "the human being's first world".  Here are a few quotes:


"I must show that the house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories and dreams of mankind. The binding principle is the daydream. Past, present and future give the house different dynamisms, which often interfere, at times opposing, at others, stimulating one another. "  


"...we cover the universe with drawings we have lived."


"A house constitutes a body of images that give mankind proofs or illusions of stability. We are constantly re-imagining its reality: to distinguish all these images would be to describe the soul of a house;"


13. Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O' Donohue


John O' Donohue is one of those authors who could write the instruction manual to a leaf blower and the eloquence would bring you to tears. Fortunately, this book is much more than an instruction manual. In Beauty, O'Donohue calls his readers back to the place of mystery and wonder in the midst of our conflicted world amassed with suffering. He celebrates the ineffable hiding in our daily midst and opens our eyes to behold beauty in everything. Each chapter celebrates a different facet of beauty as seen through the lens of philosophy, theology and poetry. Here is a quote: 


"The Beautiful stirs passion and urgency in us and calls us forth from aloneness into the warmth and wonder of an eternal embrace. It unites us again with the neglected and forgotten grandeur of life. The call of beauty is not a cold call into the dark or the unknown; in some instinctive way we know that beauty is no stranger. We respond with joy to the call of beauty because in an instant it can awaken under the layers of the heart a forgotten brightness." 


14. How We Are by Vincent Deary


Okay. So here is another book that I have marked up and return to over and over. Perhaps in part because so much of his subject matter has influenced the content of my own writings. Another reason I love this book is because of Deary's personal backstory in writing it. 


When Vincent was 40 years old, he left his job as a psychotherapist in London, sold his house and locked himself in a room in Edinborough for two years to write. (How could I not like this guy?) By the age of 45, he finally finished the book but never let anyone see it. He simply went back to work in London. Another five years passed until at the age of 50 he finally showed his work to a friend who happened to be a former editor. From there the book began to spread and his own life began to change. 


In How We Are, Deary writes about what it means to be human. He explores the power of habit and how it shapes the people we become. Deary reveals how difficult it is for us to change, how we live most of our lives on autopilot until we are forced out of our comfortable routines.  Here is a quote from the Introduction: 


" We live in small worlds. At the beginning of most movies we are shown a status quo,... the state of things before the war. We are shown a routine and comfortable life, a small world, one that is soon to end... We are creatures of habit and we live in worlds small enough for us to come to know their ways and to establish familiar ways within them. Unless we are uneasy, unless something disturbs us from within or without, we tend to work to keep things the way they are..."


From here the book unfolds in novel-like fashion painting a portrait of our human condition and offering us a more thoughtful approach to the way we are. 


15. Deep Play by Diane Ackerman


This book could be a companion read to Exuberance. But rather than approaching life from a scientific or psychiatry background, Diane approaches the book as a poet and essayist. Play is one of my deepest values and intrinsic to the creative spirit, so to have an entire book devoted to the elements of play is like a feast. The book is part spiritual memoir, part poetic muse and all goodness. Enough said.  Here's your quote: 


" For humans, play is a refuge from ordinary life, a sanctuary of the mind, where one is exempt from life's customs, methods, and decrees. Play always has a sacred place - some version of a playground - in which it happens. The hallowed ground is usually outlined, so that it's clearly set off from the rest of reality... The world of play favors exuberance, license, abandon. Shenanigans are allowed, strategies can be tried, selves can be revised. In the self-enclosed world of play, there is no hunger. It is its own goal, which it reaches in a richly satisfying way."


Alrighty.  There you go friends. Don't leave me hanging. Let me know if these reading lists are compelling, inspiring, infuriating, challenging or worth reading at all.  I continue to discover more books. Perhaps my own will be on this list soon.