THE ALCHEMIST Paulo Coelho
THE SPACE BETWEEN US Thrity Umrigar
BE HERE NOW Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph.D into Ram Dass
BE LOVE NOW Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das
THE SIRENS OF TITAN Kurt Vonnegut
THE BUS DRIVER WHO WANTED TO BE GOD & OTHER SHORT STORIES Etgar Karat
TAO TE CHING Lao Tzu
CRAFT OF THE WILD WITCH Poppy Palin
Going back over this list, I realize there are a lot of random genres thrown in. However, I love all types of stories and although they may not all be my favorite in the end, there’s hardly a book I won’t finish! I’ve been reading a lot of books by authors who are not American. I never paid much attention to the author, or their background, but I’ve found there is something different for me when I started to culture myself. The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho, is an amazing tale of a shepherd on an amazing adventure. He sets off to find the treasure of the pyramids he keeps dreaming about. The story is a very easy read and well written. I was slightly disappointed that it was actually so short, by the time I finished it I was fully immersed in the story and ready for more! However, because those who are less inclined to read long books will possibly pick this one up, it could be for the best. Paulo does an excellent job teaching the reader about life as the story goes, drawing parallels between the shepherds struggles and those that we too may have in our own life adventure. I truly loved every part!
Another book written by Thrity Umrigar, The Space Between Us, teaches the reader about the trials of two women in India. It follows the struggle of an older woman and her pregnant granddaughter, and the many trials they overcome to finally find peace. Not only did I get an understanding of how India’s caste system works and what it may be like for some to live within it, but I also took away an understanding of the hardships and frustration many of the characters faced because of this. I can’t wait to read more of Thrity Umrigar and get to know more of her well created characters.
Be Here Now (re-reading) & Be Love Now (still reading slowly) are very incredible, true stories of Dr. Richard Alpert and others. Be Here Now, taking place in India, follows Richard through his exploration of understanding the self. He travels to stay with a Guru, learning the true power of meditation, yoga and living a simple, pure life. This book is not only inspiring, but may be one like you’ve never seen before. Within the covers, the book opens up vertically and each page within is filled with drawings and quotes by Richard himself. It shows his adventure within the mind, sorting through who he really is and who he has been taught to be. Finding true love for himself, he shared his story inspiring many here in the US to take a deeper look in the mirror and truly get to know and love themselves. There is so much more I would share, but I feel like I could start a new blog post with all the information I want to give! Be Love Now a sequel written with Rameshwar Das, another student of Maharaj-ji, writes of his own experiences while in the temple. This book is traditionally written, not like the first, but does include many pictures during his time at the temple. It has so many hilarious stories between Ram Dass and Maharaj-ji, but also many lessons within to help one propel their spiritual journey even further. Because I do have a hard time with biographical books, I have stopped and started Be Love Now again and again. Even though I’m only halfway through, I’ve come to love how wholesome and real the story is so far.
Kurt Vonnegut is a classic. Although there are still many books written by him that I haven’t read, he is one of my favorite authors. A Man Without A Country (not listed) is probably his most down to earth book. I say that ironically as well, because The Sirens of Titan is almost completely set in space, or on other planets. It follows a few set characters, who change the part they play throughout the story. To some, it may seem like a meaningless tale that spans over several years, leading up to a strange ending that almost feels anti-climatic. However, it is the perplexing nature of Vonnegut’s stories that keep the reader entertained and interested to hear what comes next-even if they don’t exactly understand what he means.
The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God by Etgar Karat is a collection of short stories, most of which being slightly dark, but leaving several questions and thoughts after each tale. It also contains the short story “Kneller’s Happy Campers” inspiring the award winning movie Wristcutters: A Love Story. I very much liked reading through the different short stories, and it’s a good way to keep the brain entertained and interested if you have a hard time getting through long novels.
One of my all-time favorites, Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu is a series of Chinese Proverbs pertaining to life, death and understanding one’s self. It often leaves the reader thinking a little more deeply about what they’ve read, and I have found myself re-reading passages and each time, finding a new meaning. It’s a great book to pick up and really just start anywhere! I often read pages here and there to make myself think more about what I may be going through in my life at that moment.
One of the most interesting books I’ve added to my collection is Craft of the Wild Witch. Instead of reading a fictional story, I wanted something a little more informational when I decided to buy this. I found it at a little metaphysical shop here in Denver called ‘Spiritways’, full of very beautiful crystals, books, tarot cards and many other magical items. I haven’t quite finished this one, but I am pretty far along and have been practicing the exercises it goes through with the reader. One of my favorite activities I have learned from this book is called “Trance Walking”. Similar to meditation, the participant visualizes a place of comfort for themselves. They then begin to visualize a walk around this place, experiencing interesting adventures and whatever may come out of their imagination. Personally, I love smoking a little weed before I trance walk, as it helps me relax and imagine some interesting things! It’s a great way to give yourself some time of peace in your day, especially if you are not able to actually get out and relax in nature.
As I was finishing this post, I asked myself why I had decided to write it in the first place. Personally, I do it to exercise my brain and keep myself feeling productive. I also want to share my love of reading and all the amazing, different books that are out there! I recently read an article claiming paperback books are currently more popular than e-books. I love this because when you physically carry around a book and let your peers borrow it, it creates a connection where you can learn about their perspectives and thoughts about the material you were able to let them borrow. Reading also apparently makes you smarter, so there’s that.