Nine more books for your shelf

03/7/2014

Ah, the joy of reading. It’s been a while since I last posted some book suggestions on Pockets of Peace, so this is now being rectified tout suite! Here are a few fantastic books that have been rocking my socks over the last short while. Not all of my picks are pictured below; some were borrowed from lovely friends, and others are filed away on my iPad (how dangerous are eBooks? Seriously. A gazillion pretties available at the touch of a button).

These aren’t in any particular order or genre – but I suggest that if any of these books call to you (hint, your tummy does a little leap, you feel expansive, joyous, curious, or even triggered) – go get it, mi compadre.

Book post

 

The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert

After seeing the luminous Elizabeth Gilbert speak here in Brisbane earlier this year, I knew her latest book, The Signature of All Things had to climb its way up my ‘must read’ book pile (which never gets any smaller). It’s the first fiction book I’ve read by Gilbert (who also wrote Eat, Pray, Love and Committed), and it didn’t disappoint.

The Signature of All Things follows the story of Alma Whittaker, a clever and complex young girl who becomes a pioneering botanist and moss expert. Gilbert explores Alma’s longings for love and connection, juxtaposed against her ordered, logical and scientific knowledge base, and this provides a captivating platform for character development. This book is a magnificently epic story woven with beautiful botanical descriptions, adventure, spiritual truths, and held together by electrifying prose. It’s luminous (just like its writer) -so  stunningly beautiful.

Reading anything Gilbert writes is an utter treat for me – I never wanted this book to end.

Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda

This book is mind-bending. Truly. If you’re ready to have your concept of spirituality and yogic practice stretched, this book comes highly recommended – it gets your crown chakra (right at the top of your head) spinning wildly. Yogananda’s colourful upbringing in India provides the back drop for his steady induction in to yogic philosophy, and eventual emigration to the US to teach yoga and self-realisation.

Stories of sages, saints and gurus performing unimaginable feats abound, interspersed with yogic wisdom and humorous adventures. Yogananda deftly communicates ancient yogic teachings in a way that reads much more like a story than a spiritual text. This book is perpetually on the best seller list, and was selected in the top 100 spiritual books of the twentieth century. I know I’ll be referring back to it again and again.

Conversations with God (Parts 1, 2 +3) – Neale Donald Walsche

I devoured all three of these books pretty rapidly in the first few months of this year, and have since gone back and reread many passages from each. Neale Donald Walsche channelled a conversation between himself and God (the Universe, ethereal energy, greater wisdom, whatevs you wanna call it) and in a completely flawed and human way asked regular questions about, well, everything. It’s such an interesting conversation, I was absolutely riveted.

So much of these books encapsulate the essential nature and commonalities between spiritual beliefs, and so much of it resonated with me. His questions towards the end of the conversation fascinated me most – in book three they discuss the infinite nature of the universe (which is utterly mind-blowing) and more highly evolved existences.

Most importantly, I think, this conversation series has not been written to issue us with any kind of dogma or directive (which is largely my issue with organised religion) but instead holds sacred the choice of free will, and the importance of growing most fully in to who we want to be on this earth.

Dying to be Me – Anita Moorjani

This book has been on my list for a while, as I’ve seen a number of truly resonant quotes of Anita’s floating about the place – and her story (of spontaneously healing from late stage lymphoma, after a near death experience) is an amazing one. She’s astounded the medical profession, doctors both in Hong Kong (where she lives) and internationally have no medical explanation for the rapid reversal in her condition.

During her near death experience, Moorjani gained a significant amount of wisdom, which she has shared with her readers in detail. One of my favourite passages from her book is:

I believe this is the most powerful idea for each of us: realising that we’re here to discover and honour our own individual path. It doesn’t matter whether we renounce the material world and meditate on a mountaintop for 20 years or create a billion-dollar multinational company…We can attend a temple or a church, sit on a beach, drink a margarita, take in a glorious sunset – ultimately whichever path we choose is the right one for us, and none of these options are any more or less spiritual than others.”

I’ve found myself recommending it to a number of friends – this book is especially good at championing the absolute importance of radical self-care and love.

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott

My favourite book on writing so far. Anne Lamott not only writes beautifully, she writes about writing beautifully: the process, the dilemmas, the familiar procrastination, the achy fear of criticism – which comes mostly from ourselves. Lamott not only gives sage advice on writing, it turns out it’s pretty bang on the money for general life advice too:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilised by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.”

Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

My love affair with this man and his writing continues. I’m steadily working my way through his books and they continue to be hilariously laugh-out-loud funny.

Written in individual chapter vignettes that may do nothing more than explore a time he worked as a removalist – Sedaris has an uncanny descriptive ability and comic timing that makes you feel as though you’re sitting in the front row of a comedy set. This book is mostly about his move from New York to Paris, including his attempts to learn French (and talk pretty) from a particularly surly teacher who declares that every day she spends with him is like having a caesarean section. Yes, hilarious.

Sedaris’ books are perfect to pick up and put down at a whim, with easily digestible chunks of funny available whenever you need them.

Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon

Originally a simple 10 point manifesto presented to a community college class in upstate New York, Steal Like an Artist is chock full of stellar tips, tricks and tips for anyone who does anything remotely creative. This book is also a clarion call to any dormant creative forces trying to work their way out of you – there are plenty of exercises and suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.

Kleon encourages you to embrace the fact that nothing is original – so take what inspires you, improve on it, and use it to forge your own creative path. It’s a quick read, and one for the coffee table – pick it up and get inspired instantly.

The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks

Heard the term ‘upper-limiting’ of late? If you have, chances are the person you’re hearing from has read Gay Hendrick’s inspiring tome, The Big Leap.

Upper limiting is all about reaching the ‘capacity’ we have for success, love, abundance and pushing through the upper limit we’ve set for ourselves. ‘But why would we have an upper limit for such wonderful stuff?‘ you ask. Well, it turns out that as creatures of habit we often turn to the comfort of the known, over the unknown and rarefied air ‘up there’ in the land of more success, love and abundance. Hendricks calls it our inner thermostat – which is set before we could think for ourselves, usually during our childhood. This thermostat then determines the amount of love/success/abundance we allow ourselves. When we exceed our ‘limit’, we tend to sabotage ourselves so we can return to the familiar zone where we feel secure.

Signs of upper-limiting? Worrying is one. Getting ill right before you’re about to do something big. Deflecting glowing compliments after achieving something great. Picking a fight with your lover when things are going really well. Sound familiar? Self-sabotage isn’t all that rare in our society.

This book is for anyone who is ready to step up to the next level, to re-set their thermostat and truly bust through their own self-imposed ceilings of achievement – and land in their zone of genius.

If you’d like a little more of a taste, this article by Hendricks on Overcoming Your Upper Limits is a great summary of this fantastic, and life-changing book.

Finding God Through Sex – David Deida

I probably wouldn’t normally pick up a book like this off the shelf in a store, but after chatting to some close friends about cultivating femininity, surrendering to its unique power, and the feminine’s interplay with the masculine – I had two of them suggest this book to me.

What I love about this book is that Deida doesn’t pit sex against sex, or even necessarily attribute femininity exclusively to women (and masculinity exclusively to men). We have both energies intermingling within all of us, although one will usually dominate over the other. Within this context, Deida explores the motivations, longings, and essential natures of both the masculine and the feminine and why they crucially need one another for balance. He does this exploration using the act of sex, but it’s so not about sex – it goes far beyond it, to our connection with – you guessed it – the divine.

This book was full of aha! moments for me, the first of which is this passage, which appears right at the beginning:

Our deepest nature, our true spirit, is full of love and boundless freedom. When we lose touch with our fullness, we begin to yearn for that which seems missing. The feminine in each of us longs for deeper love and tries to find it in intimate relationship, family or friends. The masculine in each of us struggles for greater freedom and tries to achieve it through financial, creative or political challenges.

Yet, our life often feels dissatisfying because we are searching for a joy that can only emerge by being who we are, fully and deeply. The feminine grows spiritually by learning to live AS love rather than by hoping for it. The masculine grows spiritually by learning to live AS freedom rather than by struggling for it.

The gems of wisdom in this book are plenty. Oh and it’s pretty sexy to boot. So really – what’s not to love? Go get!

I’ve linked to the Kindle edition above, so if you want to, you can be discrete about reading it while on public transport/in the local coffee shop! You’re welcome.

Do any of these reads call to you? I’d love to hear what you think! AND if you have any great reads to suggest, I’d love to hear about them below! With love. xx

3 comments :

  • Sarah

    Would you believe I still haven’t read A Signature of All Things?! Lucky you didn’t wait around for me to read it. I will need to borrow The Big Leap again one day. I’m reading My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor at the moment. Very interesting and quite different to my usual reads. Xx

    • Carly

      Haha, you do have a pretty huge pile to get through. Looking forward to chatting about Jill’s book! Lots of love xx

  • Kylie

    Great suggestions, Carly! Thank you!

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