This is a list of mind and boundary bending, truly excellent books I've been reading. Other books have been read, and reread (because everyone needs a few desert island books), but this is the pile that's about to fall over and hurt me. There are more on the Kindle, hanging in the pocketbook on a doorknob, but they're not in danger of falling over and killing anyone like the pile I'm tellin' you about now:
Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu - This is a total revision of the classic translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, with Toinette Lippe, who has worked her magic wand and catapulted this translation to the top of my Tao list (next to the bed). This one's got total FLOW (see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), makes me happy to read it and wakes me up. What more can a girl ask? In case you haven't read the Tao Te Ching before, the nutshell version of Lao Tsu’s philosophy is simple: "Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is." Good luck.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, will change the way you think, and the way you think about thinking, and was one of last years "best" books. Brilliant read, and fun. Kahneman is a psychologist who happens to have won a Nobel Prize in Economics. Thanks to Donald Schell for sending it.
Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze is one of the most uplifting books I've read in a long time. Wheatley is the author of Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. From the back of the book: "In this era of increasingly complex problems and shrinking resources, can we find meaningful and enduring solutions to the challenges we face today as individuals, communities, and nations?" Wheatley and Frieze take us on a journey to seven very different communities in seven different countries that are doing just that. Also check out Wheatley's The Berkana Institute. The newsletter archive shows what they've been noticing and naming. Oh so worth a trip.
Music Quickens Time, by Daniel Barenboim, who is the founder, with Edward Said of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a group of Israeli and Palestinian musicians. "Music is not separated from the world; it can help us forget and understand ourselves simultaneously. In a spoken dialogue between two human beings, one waits until the other has finished what he has to say before replying or commenting on it. In music, two voices are in conversation simultaneously, each one expressing itself to the fullest, while at the same time listening to the other. We see from the possibility of learning not only about music but from music - a lifelong process." Yes.
The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction, by Rebecca Z. Shafir. This book is already more than ten years old, and I found it in a Goodwill Bookstore last week in FL. A practical guide to transforming your ability to listen. Excellent and fast read. A lifetime of practice after that, though...
The Tao of Sound: Acoustic Sound Healing for the 21st Century, by Fabien Maman, who is a founding father of vibrational sound therapy. He operates Tama-Do (Way of the Soul"), the Academy of Sound, Color, and Movement. If you'd like to see what the impact of acoustic sound has on human cells and organs, as well as how this might help you to ground your soul in the seasons, this is the book for you. Amazing.
New Songs on Ancient Tunes: 19th-20th Century Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from the Richard Fabian Collection, by Stephen Little is a book I finally had to break down and buy because I missed it. I spent a couple of weeks in San Francisco last August, and there was a copy where I was staying. Every day I would read and look through this book, and I could probably read it a dozen times before I die and still not learn everything it has to teach about brush painting, Chinese history, beauty. Some days I just look at the pictures. It is more than enough. Stunningly beautiful, great essays, weighs a ton and only about 600 pages long. Deep bow.
The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde. I love this book in all it's unwieldy beauty. It was twenty-five years old in 2007, and has has two other subtitles: "Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property" and "How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World" - I like that it kind of defies categorization. If you're the creative sort, and fancy poetry and critiques of capitalist culture all at once, this is the book for you.
Each of these books is worthy of at least one blog post, but today's your lucky day. Go out and see for yourself! More soon. The pile just fell over again, grr. I'm lucky to be alive. Use the comments to tell me what you're reading, I'll have a free surface soon.