Included in this report is June’s “Author of the Month”, one of my favorite authors, Mark Nepo; a mix of New + Newly Discovered books chosen to support + inspire you; a selection of gifts for graduates, some wonderful books for Young + Young at Heart readers, and a ‘Just Because + Just for Fun’ offering.
I am a long-time fan of the work of June’s Author of the Month - Mark Nepo. How he manages to bring such exquisite lyricism to big topics like love, loss, illness, and change without lapsing into sentimental nonsense I’ll never know. If his writing is new to you, then I am doubly pleased to introduce it to you. And if, like me, he’s an old favorite, then let us celebrate his place in our lives – together.
“Poetry for me is not the words on the page.
It’s the unexpected utterance of the soul.”
The Half-Life of Angels is Mark Nepo’s latest offering, containing three books of poems written in his fifties and sixties which are beautifully titled A Thousand Dawns, The Gods Visit, and The Tone in the Center of the Bell. After fifty years of exploring, retrieving, and writing he is in the process of arranging his life’s poetry, more than 1,400 poems, into several volumes to be published in limited editions. The Half Life of Angels is the first volume in this series.
Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity is a profoundly timely resource offering solace for the heart’s process of renewal and connection. Nepo teaches us that in order to stand firm against life’s unavoidable storms, we need to better know our true self, deepening our roots and solidifying our connection to all Spirit and all Life.
Drinking from the River of Light: The Life of Expression is a collection of interconnected essays and poetry – covering subjects ranging from the importance of staying in conversation with other forms of life to a consideration of how innovators such as Matisse, Rodin, and Beethoven saw the world.
Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred is one of my personal favorites as it explores the endless ways through which Life asks us to listen. Having experienced hearing loss, Nepo affirms that listening is one of the most mysterious, luminous, and challenging of sensory and soulful art forms. He writes, “Whatever difficulty you face, there are time-tried ways you can listen through. Because listening is the doorway to everything that matters.”
Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear by Carl Hiaasen with illustrations by the great Roz Chast is an ultimately hilarious, somewhat cynical, but absolutely hopeful and realistic view of a college graduate’s future and what can or cannot be done about it.
The Invitation by Oriah is a beautiful counterpoint to our modern world of endless small talk, traffic jams, and political mayhem, opening to a deeper, more intimate way of life – opting for closeness, honesty, and peace with ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness from George Saunders shares the transcript of his graduation address at Syracuse University. It is, by turns, powerful, funny, and wise – tapping into our common desire to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives.
Who Will U Be? from Jessica Hische is a delightful picture book following the inquisitive little letter ‘u’ as she goes on a class field trip to find out all of the ways letters are seen and used in the world.
The Well-Lived Life: A 102-Year-Old Doctor's Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age by Gladys McGarey is an inspiring and practical guide to creating lives that are long, happy, and purpose-driven. This is good medicine, dear readers.
The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within by Diana Rowan is an interactive handbook for freeing up your innate creativity, based on these principles: everyone is creative, you must be creative to be fulfilled in life, and you can tap into your creativity any time, any place, and at any age.
Real Life: The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom is the newest offering from world-renowned meditation and spiritual teacher Sharon Salzberg. Here, she shows us that when we feel alone, cut off, or trapped, we can let those difficulties steer us onto a path toward an authentic, flourishing life – living in a way that allows us to find the wholeness that lies within.
Spirit Voices: The Mysteries and Magic of North Asian Shamanism from shamanic worker and folk magic pioneer David J. Shi is a clear and accessible guide to the many different North Asian shamanic traditions, past and present. He writes: “The purpose of shamanism can be summed up in two words – coexistence and balance – coexisting with our spirits and our communities, and the balance that must be preserved between all of us and within ourselves.”
Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most by Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun and Ryan McAnnally-Linz draws upon the major world religions and from impressively truthful and courageous secular figures as it explores life’s most important question, the one asked of all of us: How are we to live?
The Magic in Your Genes: Your Personal Path to Ancestor Work by Carielle Crow combines traditional genealogy with magical practices in a unique guide to deepen your relationships with your ancestors. Included are real-life stories and insights, the author’s own experience with DNA testing and genealogy, recipes, rituals, and spells, and recommended resources.
Pluto! Not a Planet? Not a Problem! by Stacy McAnulty with illustrations by Stevie Lewis tells the tale of Pluto, the runt of a litter of eight planets. Rich with kid-friendly facts, this is a sweet way to learn more about our solar system.
Bea Wolf by Zach Weinersmith, illustrated by Boulet, is a modern middle-grade graphic novel retelling of Beowulf, featuring a gang of troublemaking kids who must defend their treehouse from a fun-hating adult who can instantly turn children into grown-ups.
The Most Magnificent Thing from Ashley Spires is a charming picture book about a young girl and her very best friend who just happens to be a dog.
Movie Tarot: A Hero's Journey in 78 Cards by Diana McMahon Collis with illustrations by Natalie Foss is a terrific way for the cinephiles in your life (yourself include, I trust) to explore the tarot - finding guidance and support along the way. Some examples include Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump as the Fool, Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption as Temperance, and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music for the Sun.