2016, in books

Time for reading is time I treasure, but this year my reading wish list grew faster than I could finish books.  I discovered the magic of an Audible subscription and I now download 1 new audiobook every month so I can listen while driving.  It's no cozying up with a cup of coffee and a blanket, but it provids me an opportunity to get through some of the long classics and absorb myself in a story while facing traffic.

My reading list this year was also shaped by a program I began in August called The Living School.  The writings of mystics and those leading a contemplative life encouraged and inspired me in my own inner journey, complemented with guidance from the treasured faculty of the program.

So this year's list is a bit all over the place.  The stories and perspectives I read this year come from all around the world and each book has added a new thought, a new inspiration, a new appreciation for something I did not know.  That is the magic of books and here is the magic I encountered in 2016:

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (as an audiobook)
This simple story lifted my spirits at the end of a heavy period.  Listening to a story of life being given to a forgotten garden, which then gave life back to children was a delightful respite and ended up giving me some life as well.  It made me want to go dig my hands into some dirt, too.

Vitamin N - Richard Louv
In relation to the above theme of children and the outdoors, this book outlines why interaction with nature is a must for children, with plenty of benefits.  It provides 500 practical ways for children to interact with nature, both in grand expanses of the wild or just in your backyard or a city park.  I will keep this one around and refer to it throughout Leo's childhood.  It inspired me to keep nature in my life daily, even in tiny ways.

Mornings in Jenin - Susan Abulhawa (as an audiobook)
This story holds so much - tragedy and hope, how war and trauma affect generations to come, and a more-than-compelling story of one of the most captivating conflicts in recent history.

Madwomen - poems of Gariela Mistral
Earlier this year, I rediscovered a poem that was passed down through the women of my family.  I noticed the author and looked her up and then purchased this book of her poems.  I went through it slowly and I found myself turning down pages of poems I wanted to revisit, which I often did throughout the year.  There is one in particular, called The Dancer, that I just can't get enough of.

Prayer and Identity - Beatrice Bruteau
With much division in our world, exasperated in 2016 by a brutal election, I have given much thought to whether it is possible to stay in community with people so different than ourselves.  I have contemplated over and over again the tension between "staying at the table" and unapologetically living into who you know yourself to be.  Can you do both?  I've somberly asked this countless times, then this essay by Beatrice Bruteau gave me hope and light and some semblance of an answer. 

Others listened to as audiobooks:
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert
The State of Wonder - Ann Patchett
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
Adventures of Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Joyous Body - Clarissa Pinkola Estes
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery
Roots - Alex Haley

More books I enjoyed this year:
Beauty - John O' Donohue
The Gift of Story - Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Merton's Palace of Nowhere - James Finley
The Naked Now - Richard Rohr
Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening - Cynthia Bourgeault
Nice Girls Don't Change the World - Lynne Hybels
Lady of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Art of Power - Thich Nhat Hanh
No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame - Janet Lansbury
The Mind's Road to God - St. Bonaventure

Excerpts of these texts, assigned through The Living School:
The Cloud of Unknowing - Anonymous
Living Presence: A Sufi Approach to Mindfulness and the Essentail Self - Kabir Helminski
Guigo II: The Ladder of Monks and Twelve Meditations
The Interior Castle - St. Teresa of Avila
Sermons by Meister Eckhart
Christophany - Raimon Panikkar
Christ in Evolution - Ilia Delio
The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three - Cynthia Bourgeault
Theological Investigations, Volume III - Karl Rahner
Chanting the Psalms - Cynthia Bourgeault
Love is Stronger than Death - Cynthia Bourgeault