A Reading List to Bring the Positive Back Into Your Life

Everyone should know by now that I read a lot of books. Rarely do I dip into fiction twice, let alone three or four times, but there are some fiction works that can stand a second or third reading. Non-fiction however is meant for such ‘dipping.’ This list reflects both kinds of books and a few odd choices, but still they are ones that feed my body/soul/spirit. I always come back to them and they are all sitting right next to me at the breakfast table within easy reach. In no particular order here they are:

  1. Women Who Run With the Wolves. I cannot understand why every woman has not read this book. It explains a lot about women’s soul and psychology through Jungian stories collected by Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ during her years of experience as a Jungian psychologist and storyteller. I avoided it for years because I didn’t understand what it was at first. Somehow it seemed inaccessible. But I ‘found’ it in my 40s, it was far from inaccessible and I’m turning over to you now.
  2. The Women’s Room by Marilyn French. I have read this book three times. Once in my 20s, once in my 30s, and again in my 40s. It is the chronicle of a woman’s awakening to herself over the course of three decades encompassing dating days, marriage and suburbia, and returning to university. Her growth is something I learn anew for myself each and every time I read it. A classic.
  3. Gifts From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Forever etched in people’s minds as the wife of Charles and mother of the doomed Lindbergh baby, Anne should be known more for the chapters she wrote while vacationing by the sea one summer. Written from a woman’s 1950 perspective, there are still some gems apropos to us now.
  4. Behold the Spirit by Alan Watts. I can’t get enough of Alan Watts. This book explains the appeal of Catholicism over Protestantism, image over word, eros over logos and the necessity for both to take literalism less seriously. I also love in equal measure The Supreme Identity (on the origins and nature of evil) and The Wisdom of Insecurity (living in the present with an open mind).
  5. The Cat Lady, The Witchery Series, and anything else by Laura Stamps! Fairly new on my list of nourishing reads, I discovered the existence of this woman when she exchanged emails with me over a blog post I had written. She is effervescent with a deep, deep lust for life. She exudes a spirituality, a completely whole sense of self, and a relentlessly positive attitude. I just want to sit down with her at a table and talk for ours. We share a love of rescued cats and many other things. Her fiction is poetic and nourishing and always gives me an uplift. You should give any number of her books a try.
  6. Imagine a Woman in Love With Herself: Embracing Your Wisdom and Wholeness by Patricia Lynn Reilly. This book has replaced the devotionals I used to read while a Christian and I am most grateful. Rather than reading every morning that you are unworthy or sinful or that you always need to confess every thought and stay close to a male God or you are gong down the merry road to hell, Reilly takes the opposite tack and feeds the whole soul that everyone is born with. She tries to bring forth the natural place in you that got corrupted with all the world’s so-called knowledge. There are 20 affirmations and exercises to get you started on the road to any kind of healing you are looking for.
  7. Pronoia and The Televisionary Oracle by Rob Brezsny. Anything by Brezsny is bound to get you out of group think and into realms of inner space and positive action that you never knew you had hiding within you. The man is a revolutionary thinker and makes you see things like no one else can. His web site Freewill Astrology is a must read every week. I own his band’s CD World Entertainment War which contains one of my favorite songs: “Kick Your Own Ass.” Something we should all do on a daily basis.
  8. Anam cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World by John O’Donohue. I picked this book up for the first time at the book store at Cawdor Castle in Scotland in 2001. I wasn’t looking for it but it found me anyway. I couldn’t resist the introduction, so I bought it and have been reading it ever since. It will definitely turn your ideas of historically taught Christianity upside down, even though it’s not new. I have been curious about Celtic wisdom when I discovered in some of my research that some of the saints of Ireland and England were dismissed by the Roman Church as heretical and were more in favor of the likes of Augustine and other dualists who emphasized sin and separation over nature and integration. Again wholeness of body/mind/soul are encouraged.

This is only a partial list of the books that I come to over and over as part of my daily reading regimen. They are diverse enough to keep the juices flowing and the soul open. But I sense a theme going here in most of them; integration. They are positive enough to counter any tendency I have toward pessimistic thinking and help me see that one positive action can counter years of negative ones. They also emphasize rejecting the bifurcation of mind and body, something that I need on a daily basis. Combating years of negative thinking is a lifelong job. But I sense that it is working with the help of these talented folks. Happy reading!

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