More books that will change your life.
One of the first pieces I published in Imprint back in 2005 was called Books That Will Change Your Life. This piece was a quick and dirty summary of a few books I had read or reread that I thought highly enough of to promote extensively. This post is one of the most popular on my blog. Lately I had been thinking of how many hits I get with those search words "books change your life" and have been pondering what books would I list now. As I was reflecting on that, a friend and fellow Imprinter Rob Blom, had a request of me on facebook: "I also have a request, and that is a book/novel/literary piece recommendation you've greatly enjoyed. It can be anything from fiction, to archaic Jesuit writings, to Bodhisattva anecdotes to fakir teachings." So here without further ado is a list of more books that will change your life. Well sort of - some of the books have stayed on the list, either themselves or as part of a series.
Tales of a Magic Monastery
Theophane the Monk
These short snippets remind us to seek the divine in everyday life. They remind us to look outside ourselves, while always trying to improve ourselves. They are fun, funny, humorous and yet probe deeply into both the meaning of human existence, and the means to attain sanctification. I can pick up this book any day and flip to any story and be challenged.
HJ Kramer: 2006 (Revised Edition)
For many years Millman's books have been among my favorites. This is a first in a Trilogy that includes Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior and The Journey of Socrates. Millman himself went though an incredible story, from injury back to Olympic athlete and from those events has created a series of books to help bring out the best in other people. Any of Millman's books are great tools for personal growth.
God Is Not Reasonable:
and other tales of Mother Macrina
This is an updated and expanded edition of the great book Mother Macrina that was published by Novalis press in 2000. This version has nearly twice as many stories and bits of wisdom to pass on to the earnest reader. About the original edition I wrote: "This is the first of Zaleski's books that I found. It is a collection of penses thoughts and meditations from a woman who will remind you of the desert mothers of old." I also wrote a profile of all of Zaleski's books here.
God Rides a Yamaha
Kathie Shaidle is a Canadian treasure. This book will grab your heart while you travel with her in her illness. In this collection is a series of columns that were written after she was diagnosed with lupus. Click here for the full review or here for an author profile.
Father Jacques Philippe
This is the third book by Father Jacques Philippe that I have read, and already I wish there were more than 4 available in English. I am certain he will go down in history as one of the spiritual masters like Brother Lawrence, C.S. Lewis and others. This book is written in such simple and accessible language, yet with a message so profound any believer could grow from encountering it.
Fr. Philippe's main message is that freedom, true freedom, comes from God as the source. And that interior peace sought by so many people in so many ways, only truly comes from learning to be content in where God has us. Yet by learning to trust in God despite external circumstances and situations beyond our control, we can find that oft-sought-after peace. He will show you how to appreciate what you can control, which is your response to what life brings your way. For the full review click here and for links to reviews of his other books.
Translated Sarah Death
This book begins with a quote from Marcus Aurelius; "Does transformation frighten you? Yet what can happen without transformation? Can you yourself take a hot bath without the wood being transformed, can you nourish yourself without the food being transformed? Do you not then see that your own transformation is equally necessary?", and this book will change you. As I read it, my own childhood dreams and aspirations, long put away, were awakened. This book is broken up into 85 penses or thoughts. Some are the personal reflections of the author, some of history, and tidbits of information fun and bizarre, and a few are visions that Sven has along his journey. It is also the first in a trilogy. The last chapters of the first two are the first chapter of the next. They are Desert Divers , a journey into the desert to see childhood dreams, and Exterminate All the Brutes, a history of genocides in Africa committed by Europeans and leading up to the great genocide of the Nazi reign. For full review click here.
Jacob The Baker
Ballantine Books: 1990
This book, the first in a trilogy, is a great collection of stories, thoughts, penses and ideas. It is a book in the great Jewish wisdom tradition. Jacob is a baker, and each day on his way to the bakery after his prayers he thinks and reflects on God and life. While the ovens are warming up, he jots down his thoughts. One day by accident, one of his scraps of thoughts gets baked into a loaf of bread. The lady who finds it is overwhelmed by its insight and wisdom. She asked the owner of the bakery if Jacob will share more of his ideas by baking one in each of some rolls for a dinner party for her. Reluctantly, Jacob agrees and his peaceful life is shattered.
Soon Jacob has no time for himself. When he goes home people are awaiting him; in the morning they are on the path to work; and every day they are in the bakery, asking him questions, seeking advice and wisdom. They soon desire to make Jacob their Tzadik, their wise man. These stories will warm your heart, and open your eyes to the divine in yourself and in others. It will teach you to live with love and grace and mercy towards others. Separate reviews Jacob the Baker, Jacob's Journey and Jacob's Ladder.
Much like the One Book, One Community for Waterloo for 2005, Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer, this book looks at the history of humankind on this planet and all we have done to it. It will challenge the prevailing belief that more and bigger is better. The book begins with an ad in the paper "TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have earnest desire to save the world. Apply in Person." In the book, the gorilla Ishmael has learned to communicate through thought with humans. He also has a message that we cannot afford not to hear. The book focuses around a series of conversations between Ishmael and his student. It presents a different interpretation of how we went from being a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian one, and also how that system is bound to fail. For me the most haunting thing in the book is two quotes. Early on we see a poster that states: "WITH MAN GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR GORILLA?" p.9 and much later, on the back of the first poster, "WITH GORILLA GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR MAN?" p.263. This is a great read especially for a sunny summer afternoon, or two. This is also the first in a trilogy. The rest of the books are: My Ishmael, The Story of B and a collect of short stories called Tales of Adam.
As You Think
New World Library: 1998
In 1904 a little book was written called As a Man Thinketh. This book is a rewriting of that classic by the grandson of the original author. It is not just a self-help book, a self-empowerment, but a truth that will grip your heart. Each of us has tracks that we play in our minds, things spoken over us in our youth, by parents, teachers, coaches and friends. We have believed these things and lived by them. This book reminds us that what we believe in our minds and hearts will live out in our flesh. It will help us understand that all we achieve or fail to achieve is first a perception in our minds.
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Harper Perennial: 1997
This is an interesting story. It is a story of a lawyer who appears to have it all - the corner office, the life style, the cars, women, … Then he gives it all up and tours the East. While there he comes across this strange monk and monastery. He comes to live life in a much different way. Yet he is challenged by the monk who has trained him to go back home and share the message he has learned with the West. Julian, our main character, returns to his old law firm and to his protégé John. He tells him a parable; then the rest of the book explains the parable and how it relates to different aspects of our lives. The parable is rather simple and a little strange but as it is explained you will never forget it. Read it to find out how a garden, lighthouse, sumo wrestler, pink wire cable, stopwatch, roses and a winding path of diamonds are symbols of timeless principles and virtues by which to live your life. This book could help raise the quality of your life to a new level. There are now many books in the Monk series by Sharma. They are: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Leadership Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Discover Your Destiny With The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Family Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The Saint, The Surfer & The CEO and more. I have not read them all but those I have are excellent.
In Conversation With God
Francis Fernandez Carvajal
7 Volume Set
This is an amazing Catholic meditation and daily reflection series. The seven volumes have daily readings for each day of the church year as well as volume 6 & 7 being special Feast Days. The readings draw heavily upon the writings of Josemaria Escriva the founder of Opus Dei, Pope John Paul II, and the daily readings from the common liturgy for that day. The Sundays have three sets of readings depending on if we are in year A, B, or C in the church readings. These devotions are all about 6 pages long and divided into 3 sections. They can be read all as a lump or part in the morning, midday and evening. I find that with every day there is so much meat in these devotions that I am already planning on reading them again next year. For full review and of links to reviews of each volume click here.
Each year I also make a list of favorite books and favorite authors and also a list of all books read. If you see something on that list not reviewed and would like it reviewed drop me a line. Also if you have some recommended reads let me know. I am always looking for more to read. So Rob, I hope that gives you some food for thought and some selections you will be interested in and I hope it will provide a variety of suggestions for readers of Imprint.