Welcome to the Book Report! Included are some New + Newly Discovered books; some delightful works for young readers; and a sweet ‘Just Because + Just for Fun’ offering.
“I don’t think anyone ‘finds’ joy. Rather, we cultivate it by searching for the preciousness of small things, the ordinary miracles, that strengthen our hearts so we can keep them open to what is difficult.”
It’s so good to see you here! I imagine that, like me, you aspire to living from a place anchored in loving kindness, joyful connection, and inspired creativity. These qualities have been much on my mind of late and I have been in search of support and guidance to help me cultivate and integrate them into my daily life with more devotion. The books you will find below have come from that search. May they enrich and enliven you as well.
“Three things in human life are important:
the first is to be kind, the second to be kind, and the third is to be kind.”
How We Live Is How We Die is the newest offering from beloved Buddhist nun and best-selling author Pema Chödrön. Here, she invites us to discover newfound freedom in life’s ever-constant flow of endings and beginnings. As she teaches, the more freedom we can find in our hearts and minds as we live this life, the more fearlessly we’ll be able to meet death and what lies beyond.
Trusting the Dawn: How to Choose Freedom and Joy After Trauma by Mary Firestone is an inspirational guide for transforming our traumas into the very things that crack open a new, intangible, rapturous, magical dimension of life. Throughout the book, the author draws from both her own healing journey of surviving the 2018 Montecito, CA mudslide and her background in clinical psychology to offer an integrative handbook for navigating enormous hardship with self-compassion and a willingness to grow.
The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy edited by James Crews is a collection of more than 100 deeply felt and relatable poems from a diverse range of voices, including well-known writers Julia Alvarez, Marie Howe, Ellen Bass, Naomi Shihab Nye, Alberto Rios, Ross Gay, and Ada Limón, as well as new and emerging voices.
The Buddhist Enneagram: Nine Paths to Warriorship by one of my all-time favorite authors and teachers Susan Piver is a personal exploration of Buddhist teachings on liberation from suffering and how the Enneagram illuminates the path forward. With a specific Buddhist teaching for each of the nine types, Piver illustrates that, no matter what your spiritual path is (including the path of ‘no path’), the Enneagram offers profound support for living a deeply compassionate and fiercely awake life.
Stop Overthinking Your Relationship: Break the Cycle of Anxious Rumination to Nurture Love, Trust, and Connection with Your Partner by Alicia Muñoz gives us a four-step approach to help move beyond excessive rumination, so that we can rediscover joy, ease, and meaningful connection with our partner. If you overthink your relationship and get stuck in cycles of anxiety, blame, or doubt, your negative thinking and judgments about your partner may be unfounded, unwarranted, and may even to tear apart an otherwise healthy relationship. (p.s. This book is good for anyone willing to explore better, more functional ways of relating with others – not only romantic partners.)
Spiritual Bathing: Healing Rituals and Traditions from Around the World from Nadine Epstein and Rosita Arvigo surveys many traditions – some lost or forgotten – that have been intertwined with religion, spirituality, and culture since ancient and medieval times. Encompassing knowledge from 15 world traditions, this beautifully illustrated guide features detailed instructions to create nurturing and restorative bathing rituals both at home and elsewhere.
The above authors’ previous books are also worth checking out: Rainforest Home Remedies: The Maya Way to Heal Your Body and Replenish Your Soul and Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer.
Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer is an integrative guide to combining mindfulness and somatics with the tools and principles of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg's proven methods of Nonviolent Communication. He writes: “Communication is a learnable skill. It's something that we can actually train ourselves in—which means that it takes time, it takes effort, and that we need to have a method. We can't just think about it and get better at communication. We actually need to do exercises to learn and relearn these habits." Sounds good to me!
Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth's Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness by Mary Reynolds Thompson reminds us that beyond the chaos and stresses of our modern age, there lies a forgotten yet primal terrain rich in wisdom, healing, and wholeness. Within these pages we are taken on a journey into Earth’s five great landscapes, presented as aspects of our deeper, wilder selves. There, where the inner and outer worlds meet, we discover within our souls everything we need to support our alignment with the healing power of the wild Earth.
Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart by Scott Stabile invites us to explore the question: What happens when we fully commit ourselves to love? Endless good, insists the author, who found that truth by overcoming plenty of strife and struggle. In Big Love, his insightful and refreshingly candid collection of personal essays, he relates these profound experiences as well as everyday challenges and triumphs in ways that are universally applicable, uplifting, and often laugh-out-loud funny.
The Art of Grieving: Gentle Self-Care Practices to Heal a Broken Heart by Laan Corinne is a gentle self-help guide filled with practical self-care practices, inviting the griever into embracing and expressing their grief. After a loss, we can feel isolated and find it difficult to reach out for help, choosing instead to carry our pain in silence and solitude. Laan shows us another path forward – one in which the connection between body and mind is brought into the spotlight, allowing readers to take charge of their wellness and emotional health.
Lessons from the Empress: A Tarot Workbook for Self-Care and Creative Growth from Cassandra Snow and Siri Vincent Plouff is a hands-on workbook for using tarot to discover and express your authentic self – the foundation of true self-care. In order to do so we must get in touch with who we are at our core. Only then can we realize how we need to show up in the world – how we want to express, without apologies, our most authentic selves.
Wild Woman Oracle: Awaken Your True, Free and Soulful Self by Zarate Cheyenne is inspired by Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ classic work Women Who Run with the Wolves and is designed for women experiencing their Saturn Return – a time of personal intensity and transformation. Through mythological, folkloric, and contemporary tales about empowering female figures who embody the Wild Woman in their own unique ways, this deck will awaken you to your true, free, and most soulful self.
“Play is the highest form of research.”
Odder by Katherine Applegate with illustrations by Charles Santoso is a touching and lyrical tale about a remarkable sea otter who spends her days off the coast of central California, practicing her underwater acrobatics and spinning the quirky stories for which she’s known, She’s a fearless daredevil, curious to a fault. But when Odder comes face-to-face with a hungry great white shark, her life takes a dramatic turn, one that will challenge everything she believes about herself – and about the humans who hope to save her.
The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman, is a delightful retelling of classic nursery rhymes we all know and love – upside-down, backward, in gibberish, and fresh out of bounds – as only Jon Scieszka could tell them. Featuring robust back story, this irreverent take on the rhymes of childhood is a great gift for child readers, a rich classroom resource across grade levels, and a love song to a living language.
Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder is a cheerful love-your-body picture book for preschoolers - an exuberant read-aloud story with bright and friendly illustrations, celebrating the great diversity of human bodies the world over.
Stay Curious and Keep Exploring: 50 Amazing, Bubbly, and Creative Science Experiments to Do with the Whole Family by Emily Calandrelli, MIT engineer and host of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab, features investigations into the wonders of science for the whole family to enjoy. You’ll learn how to think like a scientist with Make a Hypothesis! and Try This! prompts, where you can experiment within the experiment. With Calandrelli’s expert guidance, illustrations throughout, and easy-to-follow grocery items you can make an alien hovercraft, glow in the dark paint, and more.
Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor with illustrations by Rafael López celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges – and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. At its heart, this is a thoughtful and empathetic story of inclusion.
Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation by Nuar Alsadir is an invigorating, continuously surprising book about the serious nature of laughter. Laughter shakes us out of our trances and serves to help release stuck emotional energy and restore us to present moment embodied awareness. At the center of the book is the author’s relationship with her daughters who emerge into the text like sudden, unexpected laughter. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use some more of that it my life!
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”