"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:
1. 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?