[Reading is Sexy] Find Strength in Solitude with Thoreau’s Walden

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“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Thoreau

Admittedly, between moving four times across three different states in the last two years and starting up school again at the beginning of the year – I haven’t had much ‘downtime’ to read much. However, in light of recent events, I was finally able to finish Thoreau’s Walden, a book I started before my wedding, wayyyy back in 2017. Around America, 41 states have currently issued either a ‘Stay in Place’ or ‘Shelter in Place’ order – with another 4 deploying the order at a more local level. And we’re all trying to figure out how to adjust to this hopefully temporary new ‘normal’. Whether in comforting or in trying times, losing yourself in the lyricism of a fantastic book is always a novel idea; to be honest, with the current state of the Coronavirus pandemic in the world, I would even consider reading a necessary habit.

An exceptionally poignant read, I finished Walden with a snail’s pace that I’m sure Thoreau would respect, and feel like a better person for doing so; over and over, I have been humbled by the bits of knowledge that it doled out onto me. It’s a dense read, and by that I mean that each sentence is a meal worth truly digesting before moving onto the next – and after every paragraph, you were still left hungry.

Thoreau’s seminal work of Transcendental philosophy, Walden delves into living simply and solitarily, all the while finding personal resolve and strength. As Thoreau chronicles his life at Walden Pond, we’re brought in for an intimate journey of self reliance and societal retrospection on a newly industrialized world. Written originally in 1854, Walden gives a timeless analysis that’s just as important today as it was back then.

What book has helped you in a time of solitude or self-reliance?
Let me know in the comments below!

Some of my favorite quotes from Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” 

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” 

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.” 

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” 

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?” 

Buy Walden on Amazon | Discuss Walden on GoodReads

[Self Discovery] Put the Social in ‘Social Distancing’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the way that the Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 has been making it’s way across the globe in an international emergency event that most generations simply have never been part of. And if you have been living under a rock, I hope you’re keeping your rock 6 feet apart from other rocks.

First things first, let’s all admit – these past few weeks have been eye opening, scary, anxiety inducing, etc. Please remember to reach out and check in on each other. HOW ARE YA! How are your family and friends holding up? Have you been remembering to try and get outside, and hold your head up high? We’ll get through this, but we need to remember – the human condition is the necessity to connect, – so let’s connect! Any new books, hobbies, shows you’ve discovered? Any questions or anxieties other people can help answer? Anyone learned a new joke or got a funny meme to share?

Up in Seattle, we are under a Stay at Home order until at LEAST May 5th. It’s a ghost town, traffic is non existent and I’m anxious. But I’m reminding myself: I am healthy, I am okay. My friends are healthy. My family is healthy. We are okay. We will be okay.

But please remember: This is GLOBAL. As a people so are we – we are the human organism, the human condition. Are you healthy? AWESOME. Do you know anyone over 60, with a medical condition or pregnant? Then do your best to keep THEM safe. What is happening does not discriminate based on age, sex, religion or location. Everyone is panicking in their own way. Be kind. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on things.

This is not an excuse to not vote in the upcoming election, if anything this is why we need to mobilize and unite as a nation. The current administration seems to be doing their best to delay testing, from NPR’s reporting – if they can prove our numbers remain low (even if they’re low from lack of testing) they believe it can boost a re-election campaign.

With the decimation of vital industries with hourly workers and a reduction in both business and working hours – there’s a chance for unemployment to balloon again. We need economic safeguards in our communities and states that prevent families and small business on having to default on their loans, mortgages or their rent. We need legislation that prevents utilities from being shut off for non payment. We need UBI, Universal Basic Income, because the economy will essentially tip on its head once the only people who can afford ANYTHING are only the 1%. We need Universal Health Care. There are people, homeless, immigrant, that do not have access to healthcare currently – Washington has reopened their health care election coverage and I hope other states have; but many people still can’t afford THAT version of health care and the only way to truly stop this pandemic is to both test and treat everyone. If you’re for those points above, let me tell you about this guy, Bernie….but we’ll do that in a latest post.

For me: I got a “flu”-like bug twice in three weeks in in January, one time three days after getting the flu shot, I had a fever of 102, body chills, a headache and nausea, it lasted for 4 days; that was when this was all starting – I’m starting to think I had and then got over COVID-19, but without proper access to testing I will not know. I finally finished Walden. I stated a cool book on The Golden Ratio. I started making essential oil perfumes. I tried my best to not freak out.

Now, in the midst of all the ‘Stay at Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ and ‘Safer in Place’ orders around the country – it’s becoming more imperative than ever that even though we maintain a safe physical distance, that our social nature – our human nature, stays in tact. Thankfully, living in the digital age there are an infinite amount of resources available that make it feel like you’re not so alone.

Keep Your Head Up with These Tips and Tricks

Join a Book Club: Even though reading is a singular activity, that doesn’t mean you can’t make reading social, get a profile on Good Reads. My latest – Walden, by Thoreau, was something I’d been trying to get through for over a year – but by it’s simple nature, and being written by the most famed Transcendentalist, I thought it would be weird to attempt to rush through it and I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s honestly the perfect pick for anyone who is negotiating with any sort of physical isolation from others, and ways we can dive into our own minds.

Step 2: Get your box

Create a Collaborative Playlist: Music is one of those things that has the ability to bring people together in a million ways, from when times are good to when times are hard. I’m a self proclaimed Audiophile, and I’m sure most of my friends are, too. I’ve been digging on Spotify for a million different reasons, whether is their end of year analytical roundup, their new artist discovery or the ability to dive steadfast into a band’s discography. Lately, one of my favorite functions in Spotify is the ability to make a collaborative playlist. A few years ago for my wedding, we had our guests get down in a collaborative playlist before the big day and let me tell you – it made our wedding party just that much more fun. In light of everything currently happening, I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share their latest favorites – so go ahead, jam out and add one or two of your favorites, too!

Go To a Digital Festival: Sign up for Youtube and Twitch and watch a live stream of a concert, Insomniac Event’s had to forgo their fabled Beyond Wonderland festival this year due to current circumstances; and as always, they turned a negative into the most positive of pictures by hosting ‘Virtual Raves’ for both Beyond Wonderland last weekend then Hard Summer Staycation this weekend. From the Brownie’s and Lemonade Squad, we’ve been treated to amazing sets from world renowned and up and coming artists through their Desert Mirage series and last but certainly not least, big big love to both Mad Decent, Beatport and the infinite amount of artists out there that are filling our spirits, warming our hearts, and letting us shake our groove thangs. Some of my favorites from this weekend have already been posted – check’em out!

Proximity x Brownies & Lemonade: Digital Mirage
Kaskade
Seven Lions
Gryffin
Insomniac: HARD Summer Staycation – Beyond Wonderland Virtual Rave-a-Thon
Valentino Kahn
Dr. Fresch
Jack Beats

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Foster a Floof: If you’re without a furry friend, or looking to add to your collection – this is a great time to try fostering a pet! It’s proven that having animals around can lower your anxiety while providing adorable stress relief, and plus, being altruistic and caring for others is one of the quickest ways to get out of your own head and into a healthy mental space. The pros at Petfinder have a great web-tool to find local shelters, or simply jump into Yelp or Google Maps and find your closest one. If you happen to have any free time, and aren’t under a ‘SIP’ order, volunteering at the shelter’s is also a great feel good activity!

Be Social with Social Media: In my personal opinion, as a society we are incredibly lucky that what we are going through with the Coronavirus has come at a time where we are vastly, deeply interconnected within our communities. With the Internet, streaming media and social media – we can maintain some semblance of normalcy while going through this strange transitory phase by reaching out to each other. I’ve never been much of a fan of FaceTime, or of Video Conferencing, but I’ve vastly changed by tune over the last few weeks. It’s been lovely to see my friends, cheers them over the phone, and really see them smile – even if we’re miles away.

Sprinkle Some Joy: The biggest takeaway for me is this – you can get through anything with a good spirit, so do things that bring joy, do things that make you happy and do things that make those around you in a better mood. Share a joke, hold back criticism, be gracious, ask questions, engage, laugh, and then maybe – just maybe, share a few memes, they’re honestly great ice breakers if there’s someone you haven’t chatted with in forever. I have a small collection that have been helping me through – maybe they can be just as useful for you!




How are you holding up during this chaotic moment? Any surprising ways you’ve found to be social even in light of being self quarantined? Let me know in the comments below and let’s get through this together ❤

[Reading is Sexy] Ground Yourself in the Moment with ‘The Power of Now’

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As the digital age seems to exponentially evolve the world around it, whether it be through cell phones and social media or the internet of everything, it gets harder and harder to feel like you’re truly present for your life. Not the one that you’re busy posting to Instagram or Snapchat, but the only you’re physically, tangibly living; the one that you devote your emotional and mental energy to.

Inundated with high res digital images, high octane music and a high frequency world that keeps going at a faster and faster pace, I understand why so many of us are disconnected in one way or another from the biggest picture of life. Not “a” big picture, or their big picture – but the biggest picture of our reality, the cosmic unconsciousness which all living beings are an important part of.

Whenever I’m finding it hard to truly be, I can always pull myself out of my feedback cycles by opening a good book. It’s been a while since I’ve really gotten behind a self-professed ‘self-help’ book but far be it for anyone to believe they’re beyond needing a bit of enlightenment – especially me. Typically, I can sit in a corner and lock myself in my mental for hours while marinating in a good book, but due to the content and wanting to put my learning into action – I took this one in digestible partitions that were chalk full with potential energy. Two months later I can confirm: I’m so thrilled I did it this way.

For most of my life, I’ve proudly embodied the definition of being a multitask er but what ‘The Power of Now” made me realize was that I’m never truly present for any of it, if I’m trying to do all of it. I’ve found myself giving space and presence to my feelings instead of running from them, avoiding them or ushering them away. I have found ways to ground myself in the now. Instead of giving into negative feedback cycles, I give into and acknowledge my current state. Instead of anxiety about the future or pain from a past event, I’m content to purely exist as I am. It’s a beautiful chrysalis, and I feel like a new found butterfly that just discovered their wings.

On that note, I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book.


“Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.”

“The light is too painful for someone who wants to remain in darkness.”

“I have lived with several zen masters – all of them cats.”

“ As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action. ” 

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” 

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”

“When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don’t forget: The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” 

“Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. This implies that you also completely accept what is, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.” 

“Resistance to the Now as a collective dysfunction is intrinsically connected to loss of awareness of Being and forms the basis of our dehumanized industrial civilization .”


For more on rooted in marinating in mindfulness – including a short list of books for a spiritual way of being – head here. Have you read ‘The Power of Now’? What were some of your biggest takeaways? Any book recommendations from y’all??


To learn more about ‘The Power of Now” or Eckhart Tolle, peep the links:

[Eckhart Tolle] Website | Facebook | Goodreads Profile

[The Power of Now] Amazon | Goodreads

[Weekly Dose of Wisdom] The Power of Books

My entire life, I’ve been a collector of sorts – a personal curator for the museum that’s manifested into my modern life.  From My Little Pony’s and calligraphy pens, to my current menagerie of cats, gemstones, books, quotes good music and great company – I’ve managed to live up to my favorite Oscar Wilde quote: ‘I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.’ And speaking of quotes, with the reading that I’ve been doing and continual bouts of knowledge that I’m contently shoveling into my skull – I’ve found a great assortment of quotes on to the enraptured wanderlust of the reading experience.

Unbeknownst to me until this afternoon, it also just happens to be World Book Day!  Whether it’s a wonderful coincidence or a well planned post, I guess we’ll never really know but as the Genie says in Aladdin – a little of column A, and all of column B.  For other lessons in literature, delve into my book repository in my latest post concerning my 2015 Reading Challenge and take a gander at my Top 10 Works of Literary NonFiction.  While we’re here though, take a stroll through my favorite quotes on reading, books and literature.  To commemorate the day, I want to leave you with five of my favorite books of all time in no particular order because they’re all so different and good. My taste ranges from delicately woven social commentary and dark undertones mixed to insightful scientific analysis and gonzo storytelling, so if these five don’t float your boat – maybe something in my Good Reads Library will.

What’s your favorite book?

What’s your favorite quote about reading?

Let me know in the comments below!


[Write On] Adventures in Literature: My 2015 Reading Challenge

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
[Mark Twain]

First things first, let me just drop this knowledge on you – Reading is Sexy; and don’t let a person tell you anything differently!  I don’t mean reading articles from HuffPo, Lost at E Minor, Mother Jones or Science Daily on your smart phone or tablet. I’m talking tangible, hold’em in your hand and smell the page; wafting in wanderlust and adventure, syllable after syllable; ending up in a world you couldn’t have imagined in your wildest dreams while you’ve stayed static, stuck on the couch with your head in the clouds. When I was younger, my appetite for literature was almost insufferable for my family – every meal, every car ride, every turn – there I was, ears billowing out hushed musical tones while my mind wandered feverishly through the chapters. 

As I grew older, I realized that my penchant for reading was only matched by my aptitude for math.  Over the course of several family reunions in Washington I was taught how to use long division and counted by powers of two to fall asleep. Nature and nurture seemed to have a field day when it came to determining my true passion in life – on one hand, I could eat, sleep and breathe data, numbers and patterns – there’s something so simple, so logical, so straightforward about the output of data. In a similar but opposite context, I love extrapolating on the English Language, enamoring my work with poetic justice and jubilant prose while challenging the definition of sentence structure and simile.  And let’s not forget, the joys of reading – of traveling infinitely inwards, shooting through the future and somersaulting through the past while staying firmly, yet delicately, in place.

It only makes sense through both nature and nurture.  As the granddaughter of one of the creators of the ENIAC and great granddaughter of one of the only female writer of the Harlem Renaissance, it makes all too much sense that I’d find a unique penchant for both and be able to put it to work. But that’s not to say that I don’t find myself getting writer’s block every now and again. In my last few years as music journalist for The DJ List, I’ve had the wonderfully unique opportunity to ask music professionals how they get over an uncreative slump –  they all tell me that fully immersing themselves in art has always worked the trick – and by in large, I absolutely agree. Both literature and music have a therapeutic, cathartic way of affecting my daily outlook, and my daily output.   Fully immersing myself in another persons passionate creative endeavor more than fuels my fire to foster new ideas, or simply push through and finish what I’ve started.  As far as my writing, personal, music blogging, gonzo journalism and the like are concerned – reading is by far the best way to expand my horizons on what I’m capable of, and the literature that already exists within the world.  Through proper perusal of passionate creations, I see ways that I can make my own more harmonic, melodic, whimsical and descriptive.

Last year, my best friend challenged me to find my Top Ten Works of Literary NonFiction and that was a wonderful blast from the past but truth be told, my reading has waned in the last decade. Since College has ended, I’ve been on a perpetual mission to educate myself – in any way possible, and books have done just that for me. To out myself now – Book Clubs don’t do much for me, except potentially give me a room of disappointed faces when I announce that I’ve read three different books that definitely were not assigned while I’ve definitely avoided what we were all told to read. I get reading inspiration from across the board and I have to admit that for the last few years, with the influx of all sorts of social media, my reading offline had fallen by the wayside – but I’ve taken a bold stand to that and say no more.

Amazon has a wonderful book buy-back (well, technically – it’s an “anything” buy-back program, but whatever) where you can get books for as little as 1¢ (plus Shipping, so 5 bucks total – which is still awesome!) that I’ve been (ab)using since college.  Like rare wildflowers, there’ve been an influx of lending libraries popping up around Los Angeles, as well as Corvallis where my family lives – and there’s a corner of my heart that’s infinitely happier for that. Beautiful bookstores, though few and far between, are havens of literature and apparently, actual Libraries still exist – and now you can rent CDs, DVDs, Blu Rays, Video Games and so much more than just books! On the flip side, if you’re looking to catalog your library or expand your literary horizons – I’m a huge fan of GoodReads, it’s basically the Facebook of reading; you can find your friends, explore authors and use your cell phone to barcode scan your bookshelves.  It’s a book nerds dream – and if you go on it, you should definitely add me!

For 2015, I’ve decided to inspire my creative side with a reading challenge and figured 25 books over the course of the year was doable.  Sure, I have to basically billow through a book biweekly – but with all the absent minded things I tend to do around my house, not to mention the bouts of latent lackadaisical laziness and semi-permanent procrastination due to writer’s block, and I could easily reach my goal; if not surpass it!  We’re just past

The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture, Matt RidleyThe Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture

In my personal opinion, science is one of the most beautiful subjects to write about – taking a process, breaking it down with language and reinforcing connection through poetic prose, symbolic symbolism and delicate diction.  In a sea of science authors, Matt Ridley stands out with other greats of our generation like Richard Dawkins, Oliver Sacks, Simon Singh and Brian Greene.  A personal fangirl of his writing since I was graduating High School in 2003, as a budding young biochemist at one point in my life I was enamored by books like Genome, The Red Queen Theory and The Origins of Virtue.  ‘The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns On Nurture’ is a wonderful encounter with ideals we’ve been familiar with grade school – except instead of pitting them against each other, Matt Ridley makes an excellent argument for how nature and nurture work in tandem to produce the genetic world in which we thrive.

The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

The Joyous Cosmology, Alan Watts

I’ve been recommended various Alan Watts books over the years, but it took until the past month to finally get through one.  Taking into account how in love I was with Huxley‘s Doors of Perception and Pinchbeck‘s Breaking Open The Head, The Joyous Cosmology was a no-brainer first choice.

A lyrically written journey into the mind, Alan Watts impeccably conveys his journey into human consciousness, the ego and the psyche. A must read for anyone intent on exploring the bounds of the mind. Watts does poetic justice to moments where words typically won’t suffice, on a journey through the internal, mental and emotional manifestdestiny of the human race in the 21st century. And speaking of Watts and Huxley, while doing some research I found a wonderful interview from 1968 of Alan Watts and Laura Huxley, Aldous‘ late wife.

Vibrational Healing Through the Chakras: With Light, Color, Sound, Crystals, and Aromatherapy

Vibrational Healing Through the Chakras Joy Gardner

After experiencing a menagerie of types of healing and transformational moments at festivals along the West Coast, from Lightning in a Bottle to Shambhala Music Festival, I’ve been eager to learn some myself. During my first LIB, I watched as festies relaxed under billowing trees while a plethora of instruments were tuned around them and this past year, I watched as a sonic soundbath featuring tuning forks alleviated stress and relaxed my entire campsite.  In Canada, I had my chakras read and realigned by a happy camper, explaining beforehand that last year he set a personal record by reading the palms of 50 people – last year, he wanted to break 100.

It’s purported through ancient scripture that the universe is held together with vibration and sound, and the more I read into vibrational healing the more I truly understand what this means.

The Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science

The Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, Michael Schenider 

This is my latest, and it’s a goodie. Mathematics is the language of the universe, and this wonderfully engaging and hands on approach from Michael Schenider is one of the best explanations of how math plays into the world as we currently know it.  From the formation of gems and minerals to hexagonal shape of beehives and formation of historic sculptures and art from sacred geometry, this is a must read for math people, and non-math people, alike.  Every chapter contains a section on how to construct various shapes like the platonic solids, promoting a beautiful discussion while delving into the history of our current numeric system.

My bookshelf is literally toppling over with reads, which makes me incredibly indecisive on what to pick up next.  I’ve been reading The Alchemist outloud with Danny and it’s brings a whole new element to the read, and on my own I’ve been itching to get through some Alan Watts books, as well as an Alex Grey book on The Mission of Art. What are your recommendations for my next read? What’s on your bookshelf that you just can’t wait to dive in to? Let me know in the comments below!

[My Top Ten] Works of Literary Non-Fiction

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Just the other morning, my best friend from childhood tagged me in a brand new Facebook Challenge; in the back of my head, all I could pray was that it had nothing to do with Ice, Buckets or viral infamy – instead, I was urged to impart some wisdom in the form of books.  Finally – a challenge I can get behind! Eagerly, I did an about face to my towering library of literature and smiled to myself; I wasn’t sure what the true challenge would be, finding a group of friends that shared my bibliophile-esque ways – or narrowing my whimsical reading list down to only ten books. Regardless, I finally finagled my way to a list of ten (well, eleven – if you count my second Daniel Goleman rec), but all in all – these are the authors that have spoken to my soul over the past few decades.  Even if you don’t pick a book from this list, I highly urge you to find an author, subject, time period or style that you enjoy and dive into it head first, heart second.

Reading is my favorite form of escapism, because you can keep one foot grounded in reality while your imagination takes off like a wild wind. Whether they’re tense tales of mystery, bold epiphanies dressed as mental manifest destiny, revolutionary scientific discoveries and deep rooted philosophical questions – I absolutely love it.  I devour words for breakfast and snack on syntax for dessert, have an affinity for alliteration and an unrequited love of symbolism, analogy and metaphor.  And my brain – it acts like a sponge; every new piece I read, whether novel, poem or song lyric has pushed me to evolve my style of writing.  Each and every one of these books, and authors, has touched my life for the better and I’ve seen the world with new eyes time and time again because of the wonder and beauty they’ve inspired in the world around me, as well as this weird little world inside my head.  Without further ado, these are the ten non-fiction books that have influenced my life, in no particular order other than my memory.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

A wonderful expose into the nature, and importance, of emotional intelligence.  I was first recommended this read by my Counselor in High School – though I didn’t read it until my early twenties, this has been one of my favorite Non Fiction reads.  I highly suggest ‘Social Intelligence’ as a follow-up if this piques your fancy.

On the Genealogy of Morals

In college, I waited until essentially the last second to complete my English requirement – the last quarter of my Senior Year, if you want to get specific.  But, the course – Comparative African Literature – was well worth the wait and the Professors and TAs were some of my favorite of my entire collegiate career.  At the end of the quarter, we got to pick our own essay topics – I was just descending into Nietzsche’s writings and ended up comparing Neo-Colonialism in Africa to the deep rooted Judaeo-Christian ideals of morality and ethics. Needless to say, both proved to be interesting reads.

Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination

With literary prowess and an incredible knack for storytelling, Robert Jourdain weaves one of my favorite stories – your brain on music.  I live, eat, sleep, breathe music – I wake up with songs in my head, and immediately head to my laptop to turn off the silence of the world.  Tunes, melodies, lyrics – they circle around me and I love how they can bring me to both tears and the height of ecstasy.  In this book, Jourdain takes a scientific approach to music – conveying how tone, melody, melody and composition all play into each other, and just why each and every one of us is so enthralled by it.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Like most of the authors on this list, to only put one Ruiz book on this list is potential blasphemy – every last piece he’s written I’ve eagerly gobbled up with my eyes and have felt better for it.  But, for anyone that hasn’t had experience with his books – The Four Agreements is an excellent place to start.  The simple premise, is that everyone should live by four essential agreements – Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.  With mantras like that, how could you possibly go wrong?

The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell

Mmm, Huxley. Where do I even begin – this was recommended by a few friends when I mentioned I was looking for an adventure, and a mental adventure is what I got.  Huxley circumnavigates the brain and delves into unmapped areas of human consciousness.  It’s an incredible read; take the journey.

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If Huxley is your cup of tea, Daniel Pinchbeck is your tall tumblr of Whisky; taking a page from Huxley’s mental explorations, Pinchbeck ventures into contemporary Shamanism with the assistance of modern psychedelics.

It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness

I found this book on my bookshelf a few years ago, I think my step-mother handed it down (she always gives me great reads) and it stayed there for years – but I was going through some difficult times and needed a mental adjustment.  ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’ provided just that. Through personal anecdote and tiny stories, humor and introspection, Sylvia Boorstein slowly but surely helped change my mindset towards a more positive way of life in the way of the Buddha.  

The World Without Us

Time for a little thought experiment: the dinosaurs were wiped out long before us, and there’s a chance humanity won’t last either – what happens to the world if the human race becomes extinct?  It’s not the most pleasant question to ask yourself, but in the realm of possibilities – why not indulge your brain – Alan Weisman sure did, and the results are astounding. There’s so much manmade infrastructure, like subway systems and dams, that will simply lay waste and become overrun by the original ecological state of the region.  Parts of the world would almost become unrecognizable within centuries.  It’s a wonderful read, and definitely made me think of the effect of global industrialization

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A book….about Numbers? Yep – you’re damn right it is.  Math is the Yin to the Written Yang – words can be flowery, beautiful, whimsical and shift in meaning – but numbers are static, stoic, firm and steady; they’re an exact science, and they’re one of the greatest discoveries of all time.  Tobias Dantzig provides an excellent account of the history of the numbers themselves; though not everyone likes reading about mathematics – if you happen to be a fan of the subject, you won’t be able to put this book down.

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This is the year of now – instant food, instant drinks, instant payments, insta-grams and a gogogo lifestyle are all indicative of a grandiose shift in global consciousness from stopping to smell the flowers, to filtering them in LoFi and throwing hashtags on them. Now, I love how tech-savvy the world has become – but I have a big fear that a lot of people are forgetting that it’s okay to walk instead of drive, call instead of text, send mail instead of email, cook a homemade dinner as opposed to popping something in the microwave.  Through example after example, Carl Honere exemplifies his issue with the ‘Cult of Speed’ and has converted me into a Slow-Life believer.

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood WarriorI literally grew up on a basketball court. Go back – farther back than High School, farther than Middle and even Elementary School…I can remember being 3 years old and my dad lifting me up to “shoot” my first shots on a big hoop, I remember watching, awe inspired, as players gracefully glided like gazelles up and down the court.  When I was at my most competitive, playing for a club team, my middle school team and being scouted for High School – my parents passed this book on to me and I eagerly lapped it up.  Phil Jackson is an idol in so many ways, and his words – and stories – truly spoke to me.  Whether you were a player, a coach or simply just love the game – this is an excellent read and I promise you won’t be putting it down anytime soon.