Monday, May 8, 2017

Unusual Books for Your Spiritual Path


When I was younger, I had a spiritual teacher who once told me everything comes into your life for a reason, even if it arrives before you need it. "Even books," she said, "may cross your path at a time when you don’t need them. But if they resonate with you, hang onto them. And then, one day, you’ll come across that book when the time is right and the message can be received." 

I know this is a fairly universal concept. But being a mere thirteen years old, her words stuck with me. And not just because she mentioned books, which is totally my vice.

Around the same time, I had a friend in Columbia who I chatted with online. (AIM, anyone?) He was about fifteen years older than me, which sounds kind of creepy in this day and age, but he was really just a nice guy who was eager to move to America. It wasn't uncommon for me to have friends who were much older. Even now, I have more in common with eighty-year-olds than I do with thirty-year-olds. A love of tea, crocheting, and cozy mystery novels to name a few. 

Really...I don’t mean to sound egotistical, but I’m *kind* of a blast at parties. What with me standing off in the corner, petting the dog and nursing a bottled water. I dare you to recall one wild story that doesn't start with, “Okay, so I was adding lemon to my water glass when...”

Anywho, said Colombian friend (who did finally move to America. Yay for dreams!) recommended a book entitled Brida by Paulo Coelho. Most people have heard of The Alchemist, which is another fantastic read by this talented author. Being the late nineties, a time before Amazon was really huge, I scoured the shelves of bookstores but never found Brida. After an internet search, done on a Macintosh when Apples were still called Macintosh, I discovered Brida was only published in Spanish and had yet to be published in English. 

For years, any time I was in a store I kept an eye out for this book. And then, in 2009, I found Brida in a little brick-and-mortar called Barnes and Noble—in English!

"Michaela, it was 2009. Why didn’t you just order it online?" you ask.

Great question. Wish I had an answer. But I don’t. Tunnel vision, maybe? My propensity to act like an octogenarian? I’m not entirely sure. The point is I bought this book in 2009, which I know because I stuck the receipt in the book. A book I just dusted off and decided to read... in 2017.

Eight years almost to the day, I finally began reading this book. Weird, I know, since I spent years keeping an eye out for this novel. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t compelled to read it then and I stashed it away for another time. Which, evidently, was eight flipping years later.

But today, as I combined two boxes of books into one (I told you, vice.), I found Brida and knew I needed to read it. How? Because I’d been thinking about it a lot lately and meant to search my bookshelves for it, not knowing it was in a box. So happening upon it in a place where I wasn’t excepting to see it felt like a small sign. Now is the time!

So I began reading, and within the first few pages I was hooked. Not just because it is an interesting story that takes place in Ireland, a country I’m pretty sure I’d never leave if I ever decided to visit, but because the intention of the novel resonated with me at a time when I really needed affirmation. Which is precisely my point. 

In 2009, those words wouldn’t have held the same meaning. Life has changed, as it tends to do, and the message of Brida is something I needed right now, at this very spot in my life path. It's also what inspired me to write this post, which may have been why it resurfaced now. Maybe one of these novels is meant for you, and the timing had to be juuust so for you to have found your way to this site, on this very day, at this very time.

The Universe is mysterious that way. 

Here's to hoping one of these books changes your life! Books in themselves are such a magical thing, a wondrous binding of pages that let the mind explore and the soul wander.

....I love books!


For One More Day


From Amazon
For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

Why I Recommend it:
Mitch Albom holds a special place in my heart with The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The book itself is amazing, and the hardback copy safely tucked away on my shelf is a treasured gift from my father.

...who is still very much alive. I realize it may sound otherwise there. Let me just text him to confirm....yup, alive and well! *Whew!*

Albom's books became a thing between my father and me, and he eventually gifted me For One More Day. What I love most about this novel is its lesson in forgiveness. Humans are odd creatures, and it's much easier for us to experience anger than pain. This seems especially true in regards to resentment towards one's parents. And that's what For One More Day addresses.

We don't always have the full picture on others' choices. Barring extreme circumstances, people are generally doing the best they can in that very moment, even if it doesn’t feel like enough, or doesn’t fulfill a need we had as a child. With a captivating story line, this novel addresses the importance of letting go, of making peace with the past, and recognizing a painful truth—that life is unstable and often too short. Love while you can, because we do not know what awaits.

A similar and equally profound message is beautifully-written in The Five People You Meet in Heaven, though this speaks more to regrets over your own choices and the unequivocal, irreplaceable purpose each and every one of us has on this majestic planet. I highly recommend both!

Brida


From Amazon: 
Brida, a young Irish girl, has long been interested in various aspects of magic but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her to trust in the goodness of the world, and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world. As Brida seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.

Why I Recommend it:
Spiritual growth isn't always a pleasant thing. I'd venture to say it's almost always uncomfortable, akin to physical growing pains. I find this to be especially true for solitary practitioners. 

It's common to feel alone during a period of spiritual development. Even if you're excited about what you've discovered, you don't really have anyone else to share your enthusiasm with, as people are rarely on the same path at the same time. This can lead to a depression-like period that many refer to as The Dark Night of the Soul. 

Brida speaks to this time, which is why I think it's such an important read. I read this book with a highlighter, because there were so many profound lines. My particular favorite? "She was beginning to understand that there was a big difference between danger and fear." At the time, this spoke deeply to me, and simply reading the words brought me peace.


Into the Wild


From Amazon: 
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Why I recommend it:
For earth-loving, sensitive people, I think we've all experienced times when we wished we could walk away from society and disappear into the woods, to commune with that which makes sense to us and escape the chaotic mess that is humanity. Into the Wild explores just that. 

McCandless makes a profound statement in his journal, which is later recovered alongside his body, in which he says something my husband and I have incorporated into our lives ever since reading the book several years ago—"happiness is only real when shared."

While I think happiness (and certainly spiritual growth) can absolutely be found alone, I don't think it can be sustained in solitude. Even now as I type this prose, my heart is heavy thinking of McCandless alone in the cold darkness, desperate to see his loved ones one final time. As someone who thrives in solitude, this was an important message that we can't escape the pain of life in order to embrace the beauty. Beauty is woven into everything—even the pain—and life is meant to be shared, explored, and celebrated with those you love. This book will leave you in tears, I guarantee that much!

The Little Prince


From Amazon: 
Much more than the story of a little boy and his sheep, it is a story of individualism and determination told as a fairy-tale.

Why I recommend it:
Children's book? Yes. A profound message of losing belief in magic somewhere between adolescence and adulthood? Yup! 

If you don't want to read the book, the film adaptation on Netflix is equally moving. I actually read the book after seeing the movie so I could fully digest the wisdom gifted to us by De Saint-Exupery. Do yourself a favor and grab a box of tissues, because this story is a tragically beautiful tale that speaks deeply to adults who are determined to hold on to wonderment for life and the belief in miracles. 

Bonus Book: Winter of Fire


From Amazon: 
A slave girl's strange visions earn her a coveted place as the Firelord's handmaiden, but when the Firelord dies and is replaced by the handmaiden, she pays the price for her powers.

Why I Recommend it:
This is actually a young adult novel written before a time when young adult novels were mainstream, but don’t let that detour you. If you asked me what my favorite book is, this would be first on the list.

...But let’s not be coy. There’s most definitely a list. ;)

This poignant story of truth, fate, and following your intuition had a profound impact on my childhood and, honestly, my adult life. I’ve read this book so many times, my husband took pity on my well-worn copy and surprised me with a shiny new paperback for Yule several years ago, one where the pages didn’t fall out and you don’t have to hold entire sections like loose leaf.

This book is no longer in print, so it can be a little difficult to come by at a reasonable price. Upon peeking at Amazon just now, I just saw the paperbacks start at over $400. Because that’s totally reasonable. The hardcover is slightly more affordable, which was the exact opposite when my husband bought this super sweet gift. At this point I feel compelled to state my husband spent well under $25 for my newer copy, so hang tight and they may return from Mars with their outrageous prices! ;) 

If you happen upon Winter of Fire in a used bookstore, which is where I acquired my first copy many years ago, I recommend you snatch it up! And not just because you can apparently make a mint on Ebay. This story spoke to my soul so deeply, I vowed to name my daughter Elsha. She is such a strong, dignified, enchanting character, and I would want any child of mine to have her same virtue and self-love.

Side note, I don't have children. But if I did, I'd make her read this book and paint her walls with the cover and have her dress like Elsha. And then she'd grow to resent me for it because, well, see For One More Day.

Maybe with enough demand the publisher will re-release this book. I included this book as a bonus because I normally I wouldn’t recommend a book with such an unreasonable price tag. But Jordan's message in this novel is important—your life has a destiny. You have a purpose. Follow your fire. 



What are some of your favorite spiritual books?


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6 comments:

  1. Ok adding Brida to my ever growing list.

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    1. Let me know what you think...when you get to it. Girl after my own heart! =P

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  2. Thanks for the recommendations, Michaela! They sound great and I have added them to my suggested reading list (except the Little Prince, which is in on my "it's a classic, you need to read this" shelf). Speaking of books, and those of us who cannot resist their allure, I have a slightly-relevant factoid for you: I was reading a magazine the other day that mentioned the Japanese word "tsundoku" is a noun that describes a pile of unread books or a person who buys books and doesn't read them. =) Oh, and happy full moon.

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    1. Happy full moon to you, my friend!

      Oh, the books get read, Randi! It may take me ten years to get to them, but they get read! =P Thanks for sharing this interesting tidbit. Now I can sum up my *minor* obsession in one word!

      Please let me know what you think once you work your way to them. =D

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  3. Check out Stan Robinson's book Blessed Be Me There Is a God. It's what I would call spiritual and also unusual with the hint of mystical. Covers it all! It's actually a great read, I am glad I came across that one.

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    1. Will have to check that out. Thanks for the suggestion!

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