Friday, June 20, 2008

Books I've Known

"You are the same today as you will be five years from now except for two things... the people you meet and the books you read." - Charles E. Jones

Over two years ago I wrote a post about my favorite children's books. The next day I sat down and wrote a post about my favorite grown-up books. I just found those posts when I was looking for something else and my direction for today changed! Reading through an Oprah magazine last night I saw the part where they ask celebrities which book made a difference to them. Today I have decided to hone my own lists down as far as I can. Today I am going to show you five books that have really made a difference in my life, and then I would love it if you would share yours with me!

My Oprah Magazine Bookshelf:

A Creative Companion by SARK.

My first SARK book was "Living Juicy." I remember seeing one of her posters on my friend Karen's wall and loving it. In fact, I remember
sitting on Karen's bed writing the whole thing into my quote book. So I bought "Living Juicy" when I saw it. "A Creative Companion" was bought for me by my brother. (Thank you David!!) I couldn't believe that books like that could be in the world. I sat on the floor in my room and gulped it whole and then reread it again and again. Without a doubt, SARK and her books changed my life.

2. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I love everything about this book. It's another book that made me think: "Writers can write like this??" It's enchanting and engaging and enticing all at once. She mixes magic and reality with such grace that it is all believable. I defy anyone to read this book and not want to spend a few hours at Vianne's counter. This book made me believe in the power of magic and in the power of writing. My biggest gift was when someone read my new book and said it was like Chocolat mixed with The Alchemist. Someday I would like to sip tea with Joanne Harris so that I can thank her for putting this and her other equally good books into the world! (P.S. This link will take you to a page where she talks about how she writes. I love reading about how other people work!)

3. Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

The first time I read this book I was house-sitting for a friend. I had just come back from England (where I had gone to try to understand myself) and was feeling very alone and isolated in a house that wasn't mine. I went to the women's bookstore in town and came home with this book. To say it changed my life is an understatement. The first time I read it, I did it cover-to-cover, underlining passages and making tiny stars in the corners of the pages I wanted to make sure I went back to. The second and third times I read it I dipped in and out, underlining more passages and making more stars. When I moved to the UK again I bought myself another copy and started from scratch, underlining and breathing through it. I love that I am growing and leaving myself messages on the pages of this book. It changed my life because I found that that feeling I was having of not quite knowing what was missing was normal. It changed my life because it is unashamedly and unabashedly FEMALE in everything it is. I had never read anything that celebrated that part of me - of women - before. It's the book that I keep beside my bed and dip into for answers. It has become the old woman whose lap I crawl up to in the firelight.

4. New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

It's really ANY poems by Mary Oliver, but I had to choose just one book. I am slightly ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I find poetry quite hard to read. I love beautiful things and I like to let language carry me away and poetry sometimes feels like too much hard work. There are some poets, though, that leave me feeling altered after I have read their words. Mary Oliver is one of those people. She gets it. She sees it. She knows. I know lots of people reading this will be nodding. She's like the poet in residence of this particular corner of the blog world. Quite simply, her poems are wonderful.

5. Fruitflesh by Gayle Brandeis

There are lots of books on writing out there, and believe me when I say I have read them ALL. This book is different. This book is so full of life and inspiration it practically drips when you pick it up. It is a recent addition to my bookshelf, but it has had a massive impact on me in a short time. It doesn't fill you with technicalities, it fills you with the juice and the joy and the sensuality of writing. My copy has become dog eared and covered with stars and lines where I have been inspired and overcome. She writes about getting ourselves out of our heads and back into our skin. I always give a little shiver of pleasure when I am finished. I don't think it is just good for writing, I think artists of all kinds would really be inspired by what she has written.

So there it is. My five books. I have left out hundreds. I didn't even GO to children's books this time! There are so many more books that have impacted on my life. I haven't even added Christiane Northrup or Louise Hay or Caroline Myss. (I think those three ladies will be a whole other post on their own!)

(This is also my fantasy tea party: SARK, Joanne Harris, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Mary Oliver, Gayle Brandeis, Dr. Christiane Northup, Louise Hay and Caroline Myss. These are all women I admire and would love to meet someday. I'd make delicious food and get out the most beautiful teacups and be in fiesty, creative heaven!)

So what is YOUR 'Oprah' booklist?


Jaime said...

Your list is so perfect, as are your descriptions...I was smiling and nodding the whole way through!

Mary Oliver, Sark and Joanne Harris are way WAY up there on my list of fav's too! Have you read anything by Anne Marie MacDonald? She's probably my favourite author of all time.

And I keep getting this little nudge from you to read Women Who Run With the Wolves... I have it...and haven't read it yet. BUT...I have a great big wide open summer to dive in and fill it with my own lines and stars..thank you for the inspiration!

She Who Flies said...

I love your list! And am amazed at how similar our tastes are. Discovering SARK's work about 10 years ago was a total revelation (I'm currently reading her Fabulous Friendship Festival); Chocolat is a must read; I've read Fruitflesh many times over and, thinking about it, I think I'll just pick it up again; dived into the feminine and wise world of Clarissa Pinkola Estes; and of course, the beaufiful poetry of Mary Oliver...

May I join you all for tea? :-)

P.S: Do you know that 2 tape set of Dr. Estes chatting with Caroline Myss about "Intuition and the Mystical Life"? I just love it.

Happy Midsummer to you!

Colorsonmymind said...

I loved this....checking in on you and seeing the books that you love.

love you

leonie said...

hmmmm, i had to really think about this one as there are so many. my five (in no particlar order)

1. circle of stones by judith duerk. first heard at a reading in a women's circle it really struck a chord with me and i quote from it when i write letters to friends.

2. women who run with the wolves. because it is amazing and powerful, and whenever i pick it up to read a bit, the page always seems to open in a place that speaks to me where i am in that moment. i found the book in an airport bookstore and bought it because of the title. it actually sat on my bookshelf unread for a really long time. i think it was waiting until i was ready to read it

3. charlotte's web. i know it's a kids book, but it speaks to me to this day so very deeply about love and friendship. and i know i have found a truly kindred spirit and heart-friend when i find someone else who also loves this beautiful book.

4. oh! the places you'll go. i love reading this book aloud. i used to know the whole thing off by heart i read it so much. i would like for everyone to read that book. dr seuss rocks i have to say

5. the artists way. i had never heard of it until about four years ago when i purchased it as a gift for a friend. i didn't really read it then either, but when i started finding bloggers online whose writing resonated with me and they were all reading it, or doing it, or referring to it, i suspected i'd better take another look. i'm no writer, but it is certainly helping me to live a more creative life which is having a flow-on effect in other areas of my life as i am generally a more happier being because of it.

phew. there you go. i wasn't actually planning on being so verbose!

Amber said...

This is great. I clicked over to amazon to add some to my wish list. :)

all those ladies for another post, are all my teachers. No wonder I like you.


Annie said...

What a delicious list. Fruitflesh and A Creative Companion are now on my Good Reads "to read" list.