I’m a bibliophile. No really. I’ve got a problem. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a 12 Step Program and frankly, I’m not looking to get cured. I’m always reading about 3-4 books at a time. I don’t recommend this.

I’m going to limit this page to books I’m reading or have read that have to do with the topic of this blog. What I’d like is to have a second blog on this same site just about books so I could have a conversation with others instead of just a list. I haven’t figured out how to do that on WordPress. Maybe someday. For now it is just a list. I’m linking to Amazon to make it easy for you to find out more about these titles although, as always, I encourage you to patronize your local libraries and independent bookstores.

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho

I picked this book up dozens of times over the years and heard so many people praise it. Now I know why. A beautiful fable in a world where no one writes them anymore. By employing the techniques of the fable, it shoots like an arrow straight into your heart.

The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom
by Christine Valters Painters

I cannot say enough about this book. Each chapter is a reflection on wisdom earned from monastic wisdom, written by a Benedictine oblate (she lives the life of a nun but in the world, married, etc. — think Kathleen Norris). At the end of each chapter are suggestions for lectio divina as well as some creative practices, such as creating your own wisdom cards or altar, or writing haiku. I had been wanting to understand lectio better and Painters suggests wonderful passages from scripture that transcend dogma or denomination — so perfect for a UU. And I had been looking for a way to make “arting” a spiritual practice. Painters write evocatively to boot. This book is a true treasure. Although it is set up as a 12-week program, I’m more on the 12-month plan, really savoring the wisdom and the hands-on exercises. Get this book!

Book of Shadows: A Modern Women’s Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess
by Phyllis Curott

Although I am not a pagan myself, I’ve had many, many friends over the years who are. There is both a CUUPS chapter and a Women’s Sacred Circle at my church and I wanted to have a better understanding of their spirituality. Book of Shadows an engaging story of Curott’s own journey into Wicca, the slow unfolding of her true path. I’ve always been interested in this path (we’ve got “witches” in the family) and Curott’s story made me wish I believed.

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity
by David Lynch

Totally unexpected. Totally cool. Yes, that David Lynch. Twin PeaksBlue Velvet. Lynch speaks like a yogi (he’s been practicing Transcendental Meditation for decades) and the crazy artist that he is. Here’s the chapter titled “Eraserhead”: Eraserhead is my most spiritual movie. No one understands when I say that, but it is. Eraserhead was growing in a certain way, and I didn’t know what it meant. I was looking for a key to unlock what these sequences were saying. Of course, I understood some of it; but I didn’t know the thing that just pulled it all together. And it was a struggle. So I got out my Bible and I started reading. And one day, I read a sentence. And I closed the Bible, because that was it; that was it. And then I saw the thing as a whole. And it fulfilled this vision for me, 100 percent. I don’t think I’ll ever say what that sentence was.”

Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening
by Cynthia Bourgeault

I tried reading this book several years ago and it felt very beyond me. Coming to it again now is a different experience and I find myself devouring this book. For such a simple practice, Bourgeault dives deep.

Eat Pray Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert

What a tragedy that the paperback now has a pic from the upcoming Julia Roberts movie. Ignore that and read it anyway. I devoured this book, and then again a year later when I read it with my bookclub. Yes, sometimes Elizabeth is really whiney. Ignore those moments and keep reading this exquisitely written, and felt, spiritual quest. We may not all be able to write it out like this, but we can all have one if we dare!

Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
by Sharon Salzburg

A Buddhist perspective on faith.

How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist
by Andrew Newberg

One of the first books I read right after “my experience.” It helped ground me at a time I thought I was going slightly insane. Not too crazy with the science—even I could understand it.

The Kingdom of Ordinary Time
by Mary Oliver

I don’t read a lot of poetry, but Howe is breathtaking. Her ability to capture the liminal in language is astonishing.

Listening with the Heart: A Guide for Compassionate Listening
by Carol Hwoschinsky at The Compassionate Listening Project

I got this book as a small group ministry facilitator. It’s a good beginning. I’m looking forward to putting some of these exercises to the test with our group of facilitators.

Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
 by Daniel Ladinsky

Oh how I love this book! I’ve recently discovered the power and beauty of lectio divina but, being a UU, I don’t always want to be doing it with the Bible. This book provides inspiration, prayer, and much fruit for lectio. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Featured poets include: Rabia, St. Francis of Assisi, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hafiz, St. Catherine of Siena, Kabir, Mira, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and Tukaram.

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
by Thich Nhat Han

So beautiful. So peaceful. So powerful. So empowering.

Practical Spirituality: The Spiritual Basis of Nonviolent Communication (Nonviolent Communication Guides)
by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD

A nice little intro to the connection between Non-Violent Communication and spirituality.

Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace
by Nora Gallagher

Read it for Gallagher’s staggering command of language—beautifully, beautifully written. Read it for her powerful journey of discernment as she tries to understand her call to ministry.

Speak Peace in a World of Conflict: What You Say Next Will Change Your World
by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD

The book that started me down the path of Non-Violent Communication.

Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion
by Tilden Edwards

This is a toughie. I admit it. There are times its just over my head. And yet I feel like its getting me to thinking deeply about the practice of spiritual direction. I might have been looking for something a bit more practical and hands-on, but if you tend towards the scholarly you might enjoy this.

Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World’s Holy Dead
by Peter Manseau

Manseau is a great writer. The subject of relics is fascinating and not limited to Catholics, as I so naively presumed. Fascinating look at a particular aspect of religious culture and belief that has always perplexed me, written with respect and passion.

The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark
by Sera Beak

Though not exclusively written for women, I think this book is likely to appeal a bit more to the X gene than the Y (though I know those kinds of gender assumptions are fairly unwelcome on a UU blog). I like Beak’s sassy attitude about religion and although she wouldn’t use these words, her firm adherence to the Fourth Principle—a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. I suspect her encouragement to delve into the world’s various religious traditions for inspiration on our individual journeys might provoke many to argue that this is typical, disrespectful, Western mis-appropriation (a topic she addresses head-on). But I like her enthusiastic belief that the Divine has no one way of hitting us upside the head and that sometimes we need to be willing to check out other belief systems if we the one we were raised with ain’t leading us to—are is even getting in the way of—a kick ass spiritual journey. Beak constantly exhorts her readers to be respectful and judicious in their explorations, but to explore all the same. That seems like a message UUs can get behind.

Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Rainer Maria Rilke (Author), Anita Barrows (Translator), Joanna Macy (Translator)

I’m not a big poetry fan, though I’m coming to get that its not always about understanding but about a felt experience. I just keep this book on a table and sometimes, when I just need to touch some kind of experience of God, I reach for it.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chödrön

I dipped into this when my father was diagnosed with melanoma. Although I haven’t read it cover to cover, the essays I read on fear, hopelessness, and death helped me to feel grounded again. Chödrön is so straight forward and sensible, it seems easier to get a grip on yourself after reading her.

The Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation
by Frederick Frankck

Filled with powerful pen/ink drawings by the author, this is a lovely rumination on being in the moment and on drawing as a spiritual and meditative practice.

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