The Book Report by Rebecca Traver - Our Online Bookshop Curator

"I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air."~Annie Dillard

"I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air."
~Annie Dillard

I’ve been feeling a bit of a ‘splintered wreck’ of late and, instead of resisting it or determined to ‘fix it’, I’ve decided to set out the welcome mat and structure this Book Report from a more open, flexible, and spontaneous state of mind. Let’s tap into the curious, intuitive, and imaginative practicality that this Virgo New Moon brings to the table. Who knows where our inquiries may lead? What pearls of wisdom we may find in the most ordinary and unadorned of moments?

“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”
~Wendell Berry

The first treasure to catch my attention this cycle is Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs. Maybe it’s the striking cover image of a whale set in an elegant field of deep red and blue. Or, is it something else? Let’s not dwell on that and spoil this open mood, though, shall we? Oh, what a gorgeous book this is! In it we learn of whales so rare that they have never been named, whale songs that sweep across hemispheres in annual waves of popularity, and whales that have modified the chemical composition of our planet’s atmosphere. This, friends, is among the best writing on the environmental issues of our time.

Then comes The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us by Meg Lowman with a foreword by Sylvia A. Earle. Nicknamed the ‘Real-Life Lorax’ by National Geographic, the biologist, botanist, and conservationist Meg Lowman takes us on an adventure into the ‘eighth continent’ of the world’s treetops. From climbing solo hundreds of feet into the air in Australia’s rainforests to measuring tree growth in the northeastern United States, from studying leaf eaters in Scotland’s Highlands to collaborating with priests to save Ethiopia’s lasts forests, she inspires us all to look up, look around, to honor and explore our friends and allies - the trees of the world.

Working with Nature by Jeremy Purseglove is another beautiful deep dive into how we can partner with the natural world around us in the spirit of mutual harmony, support and belonging, taking a practical approach to sustaining our landscapes with fresh insights and solutions at every step along the way.

Faeries of the Faultlines: Expanded, Edited Edition by Iris Compiet with a foreword by Brian Froud reveals a lush hidden world where the veil between this world and the Other is at its thinnest. This is the place where faeries dwell, creatures creep, and magic oozes through the cracks. Recently the Faultlines have been stirring, opening up to all who wish to see, and to all who dare to venture. This makes a gorgeous book to give to your most special friends and to add to your personal wish list.

If you’re drawn to consulting an oracle deck for guidance, Monte Farber and Amy Zerner have a couple I find especially useful when I’m feeling a bit stuck or uninspired: The Creativity Oracle: Visions of Enchantment to Guide & Inspire Magic Makers and Wild Goddess Oracle Deck and Guidebook: Divination and Ritual for Living an Empowered Life (available for pre-order now - ships September 14). Both decks offer insights into whatever’s showing up on your path that’s got you in a muddle and what could be the next best step forward. 

There are many books available to us for support in navigating our lives with purpose and meaning. A few of my favorites include The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope and Ainslie MacLeod’s The Old Soul's Guidebook: Who You Are, Why You're Here, and How to Navigate Life on Earth and The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended. All three of these bring great wisdom and practicality to the big questions of life and how to tap into both our inner worlds and outer resources for insight and inspiration.

If, like me, you’re feeling stretched a bit too thin these days, may I suggest availing yourself of the calming wisdom within Sacred Time: Embracing an Intentional Way of Life by Christine Valters Paintner, the online abbess at the Abbey of the Arts - a virtual monastery without walls. Here we are introduced to the cycles of sacred time that exist in our everyday lives, within each breath, lunar cycle, season, and so on. Each cycle encourages us to mindfully consider the time that passes as quickly as each breath and as slowly as the passing of generations. 

Her newest work Breath Prayer: An Ancient Practice for the Everyday Sacred is released on October 12 and is available for pre-order now. This is a lovely guide to the beauty of offering small but powerful meditative prayers said silently to the rhythms of one’s breath. In this manner we cultivate profound spiritual connection in those quiet, commonplace moments within our daily experience.

I love everything about Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your People in an Unjust World by meditation teacher and social activist Kate Johnson as she presents friendship as a radical practice of love, courage, and trust - with seven strategies to pave the way for profound social change…one friendship at a time.

Karla McLaren, author of The Language of Emotions (one of my favorite books about the often complicated world of emotional dynamics) has a new book just out - The Power of Emotions at Work: Accessing the Vital Intelligence in Your Workplace. Here, she brings her considerable capacity for insight into an in-depth guide for all workers, including employees, managers, and CEOs on how to engage our emotions in the workplace to create a productive, creative, and truly workable environment - for all.

I’d like to bring this report to a close with this remarkable personal narrative and impassioned call to environmental conservation - A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future from the great natural historian and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. “We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.”

While we need to find clarity and meaning within our own lives, it’s all too easy turn a blind eye to the bigger story of our interdependency with all of Life and how our planet is suffering at our hand. Without a healthy planet on which to live and an abiding commitment to sustainability for all, our musings about direction and purpose can sometimes turn to self-absorption and stagnation. Let’s make the commitment to ourselves, one another, and future generations to advocate for and take action with a reverence for Life.

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

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