Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer 2013 Reading List ...

Never trust anyone
who has not brought a book with them.

Lemony Snicket

Hi everyone! I'm just back from a wonderful three and a half weeks in Ontario - one week's vacation at the cottage outside Gravenhurst (where it snowed the day before we arrived !!) followed by two weeks of concentrated writing with my dear friends in Kingston. I'm happy to say that the writing time was incredibly productive and that the preface, introduction and first seven chapters of the book on chronic sorrow are complete! I'm hoping to finish the first full draft by the end of September.

And while we're on the topic of books, I've been thinking about my reading for this summer and, for the first time, I've decided to apply my compassion fatigue workshop advice to the choosing of my summer titles. (It's never occurred to me to do this before but I've decided to try and put together a list that has a light trauma load. We talk about reducing our trauma input in all sorts of different areas, but what about in the realm of the books we choose to read in our leisure time? Are they full of blood and gore or, even worse, do they tell graphic stories of the same kind of trauma we meet every day in the workplace? It might be worth a look at your own summer reading list ...).

That said, here are a few of the books I hope to try out as the days get sunnier and warmer:

1.  Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Basho
This is a travelogue of the master haiku poet's journey through northern Japan during the 17th century. Everywhere he went, he composed a poem and connected it to his cultural heritage, his spiritual life or to nature. I love Basho's exquisite haiku and can't wait to start this beautiful book.
2.  Changing My Mind by Margaret Trudeau
This autobiography by the former prime minister's first wife has been on the shelves for a while and has received excellent reviews. The inspirational book covers the early days of Margaret's life and marriage to Pierre Trudeau and her struggles with bipolar disorder and the loss of her son, Michel.
3.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I'm already reading this lovely book and I can hardly wait to go to bed at night to read a few more of its beautifully written pages. It is the story of newly retired Harold, who spontaneously walks the length of England in response to a letter from an old friend who is dying in Berwick-upon-Tweed. The New York Times says of this novel, "It is very much a story of present day courage. She writes about how easily a mousy, domesticated man can get lost and how joyously he can be refound."
4.  Narrative Medicine: Honouring the Stories of Illness by Rita Charon
Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. Her book describes the need for making genuine contact with patients through storytelling at a time of increasing bureaucracy and discontinuous care. It offers a comprehensive overview of the principles underlying narrative medicine and a practical guide for using narrative methods in health care. 
5.  Red Bird by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver's poems about the natural world and her gratitude for it evoke such pleasure that I read and re-read her 20 plus collections. Red Bird, winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for poetry, is one of my favourites.
 6.  White Water Cooks With Friends by Shelley Adams
This is the third in Shelley's series of White Water cookbooks from Nelson, BC. In my humble opinion these are the best, most beautiful cookbooks to come out of Canada in a long, long time. And the food! The vegie burgers in White Water Cooks are to die for. (I made a big batch tonight, one to eat and 11 for freezing but I may just have to keep one more out for tomorrow night. They're sooooo good!) The recipes in these books are simple, healthy, delicious and beautiful so I'm really looking forward to seeing what the third volume has to offer.
7.  The Gifted by Gail Bowen
This is the fourteenth book in the Joanne Kilbourn mystery series by Canadian author, Gail Bowen, and it won't be published until August 9th but I've pre-ordered my copy already. This series is well written, not too graphic, set in Saskatchewan, and has an intelligent, thoroughly human protagonist. What more could one ask for in a good beach read??
 8.  Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron
Once again, Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, writes about living with equanimity in turbulent times and doing so by being "completely, fearlessly present, even in the hardest times". She invites us to consider letting go of our protective patterns to risk just showing up for life. 
9.  Eyes of the Heart: Photography as Christian Contemplative Practice by Christine Paintner
While written in the Christian contemplative tradition by a Benedictine monk-in-the-world, I think this beautiful little book could be used by seekers of any faith tradition - or none at all. It is full of practices and reflective questions and Christine guides us to a new way of seeing, using the lens of a camera. She introduces the interesting practice of "receiving" through the lens rather than "taking" the picture, a practice I would like to experiment with this summer.
10.  Trust the Process: The Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff
I've been wanting to read this book for a number of years and came across a copy in a discount book store last week. It has tremendous reviews and seems different from other books I've read on creativity which have been a little too formulaic. I'll use it for motivation as I continue to write this summer!
11.  Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher's Heart by Sam Intrator
Though they don't name the issue, compassion fatigue, this book honours teachers on the verge of exhaustion who struggle to rekindle their passion for teaching. I'm looking forward to reading their stories to discover what has been life-changing for them.
12.  Principles of the Enneagram, 2nd Edition by Karen Webb
This is, without a doubt, the clearest primer on the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition that I've ever read. I'm looking forward to going back to the basics with Karen just to savour her wonderful teaching style. 
So, this is my list for 2013. If any of you have any to add, I'd be glad to hear about them! Happy reading!


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