Included in this report is February’s “Author of the Month”, Anne Lamott; a mix of New + Newly Discovered books chosen to support + inspire you; a selection from our Living Heart to Heart list just in time for Valentine’s Day; some wonderful books for Young + Young at Heart readers, and a couple of ‘Just Because + Just for Fun’ offerings.
“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.
We are all crew.”
“The opposite of faith is not doubt: it is certainty. It is madness. You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do.”
For me, Anne Lamott is one of those authors whose work I reach for when I’m feeling low, overwhelmed, lonely for meaningful connection, or in need of a shift in perspective served up with much love, plenty of good humor, and hard-won wisdom. Below are two of my favorites from her – although, truly it’s very, very difficult to choose among them.
My introduction to Lamott’s work came with Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and it was love at first read. It begins with the simple advice passed down from her father – also a writer: “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, immobilized 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.’”
And then there’s her most recent offering Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage which came out in the spring of 2021…a time in my life, and in the lives of many, of great anxiety, overwhelm, and outright collective dread. In chapter after chapter, she somehow managed to loosen up the grip of fear in my mind and heart and help me see that I was not alone and that even in the midst of great tumult, the world is constantly extending invitations to experience joy, love, and connection.
The Heart of Who We Are: Realizing Freedom Together by Caverly Morgan explores how meditation, mindfulness, and contemplative technologies for the realization of personal freedom can – and must be – applied collectively. Included are teachings and reflections, solo and group exercises, and personal stories that inspire us to put our values into meaningful action.
The Self-Talk Workout: Six Science-Backed Strategies to Dissolve Self-Criticism and Transform the Voice in Your Head by psychotherapist Rachel Goldsmith Turow is a powerful guide to help us go from our worst critic to our own best friend. Employing specific self-talk strategies such as “Spot the success,” “Fail forward,” and “Allowing all feelings, skillfully” require just a few minutes a day. This is an accessible, grounded approach to gentling the mind and body with an emphasis on ease and simplicity.
You Have More Influence Than You Think from Vanessa Bohns is a strong resource for when we’re feeling ineffective, invisible, or inarticulate by showing us that, in truth, we weren’t actually any of those things; we may have identified with those constructs, but that is not who we are.
Hagitude: Reimagining the Second Half of Life by psychologist, storyteller, and mythologist Sharon Blackie, PhD is for any woman over fifty who has ever asked, “What now? Who do I want to be? Is this all there is?” Blackie sees midlife as a threshold to decades of opportunity and transformation – a time to learn, flourish, and claim the desires and identities that often feel beyond reach during our younger years. She draws wisdom from Western folklore and mythology as well as more modern mentors, shining a light on a path forward into rich and vibrant possibility.
Your Family Revealed: A Guide to Decoding the Patterns, Stories, and Belief Systems in Your Family by psychotherapist Elaine Carney Gibson is a clear and user-friendly guide to help you understand your family, your place within it, and how to recognize and transform unhealthy dynamics to create a more fulfilling, empowered life.
Finding Your Why and Finding Your Way from Daniel J. Moran and Siri Ming uses acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help identify what you care deeply about; increase your motivation; get unstuck from anxiety, depression, or trauma; and ultimately live with more meaning and satisfaction.
“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends from Marisa G. Franco helps us to understand the science of attachment as a key to building lasting friendships and finding ‘our people’ in an increasingly divisive world.
I Want This to Work: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating the Most Difficult Relationship Issues We Face in the Modern Age by Elizabeth Earnshaw is a contemporary, culturally inclusive, and accessible relationship guide for the modern age. Here, couples will learn how to work with the three challenges they must confront in order to repair and strengthen their relationships: conflict, healing, and connection.
My Pleasure: An Intimate Guide to Loving Your Body and Having Great Sex by Laura Delarato is a frank exploration about cultivating pleasure as a practice as we aspire to better navigate our lives with ease, creativity, and joy.
Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your People in an Unjust World from Kate Johnson makes a case for friendship as a radical practice of love, courage, and trust, and offers seven strategies that pave the way for profound personal and social change…one relationship at a time.
The Couple's Workbook: Homework to Help Love Last from The School of Life, edited by Alain Botton takes the position that love is not just a way we feel – it’s a skill. And just like any other skill, we need to practice so that we get better at it. The book includes a guided journal with over sixty exercises, a therapeutic workbook, and interactive spaces.
A Boy and His Mirror by Marchánt Davis with illustrations by Keturah A. Bobo brings to life the story of a boy whose mirror gives him a whole new way of seeing himself. This is a lovely way to help kids celebrate themselves and one another for who they uniquely are.
The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson tells the story of 12 year-old Marinka who has a thriving relationship with her very unusual house, but concludes that it lacks the capacity to truly be her friend – which is what she most longs for in her world.
The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music from multiple Grammy Award-winner singer Roberta Flack and Tonya Bolden with illustrations by Hayden Goodman is an autobiographical picture book of how young Roberta flourishes once a very special piano comes into her life.
Knight Owl by Christopher Denise is a story about a young owl who is determined to become a real knight. He may not be the biggest or the strongest, but his sharp nocturnal instincts can help protect the castle, especially since many knights have gone missing.
Spark Romance: 50 Ways to Deepen Your Connection is a fun, interactive way to add a bit of something special to your love life. Filled with conversation starters, fun date ideas, and ways to express love that will deepen a connection and spark intimacy.
Dinosaur Philosophy by James Stewart with illustrations by K. Roméy is a hilarious and poignant comic about dinosaurs finding meaning – together. Prompted by such pithy inquiries as ‘Do I exist?’, ‘How should I live?’, ‘What is Beauty?’, and so on, we are treated to ways in which the dinosaur characters grapple with paradox and existential struggle in ways that offer insight for us as well.
“Last night I dreamed - blessed illusion – that I had a beehive here in my heart and that the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.”