“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

Every year I am asked, “Derek, what good books have you read?” Now, I post quotes here and there, and when there is a really good gem, I normally cannot stop talking about it, but I rarely write reviews. So here is my list of “must reads.”

I hope you get the chance to add some of these to your own library. They have impacted my values, morals, healer’s toolkit, integrity, heart, holistic practice and spiritual progress throughout the year and continue to do so. May they move and teach you as much as they have taught me.

Reading Diary of 2016

  1. African American Baptist in Mission: A Historical Guide: Highlighting National Baptist Convention USA,Inc. Foreign Mission Board mission ministry and mission leadership until 2007 by Rev. Dr. Roxanne Booth Jones
  2. Tending Brigid’s Flame: Awaken to the Celtic Goddess of Hearth, Temple, and Forge by Lunae Weatherstone
  3. A Religion of One’s Own by Thomas Moore
  4. How to Know God by Dr. Deepak Chopra
  5. Invitation to World Religions by Jeffery Brodd
  6. This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience by Juan Williams
  7. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation by Jim Cullen
  8. American Reformers, 1815-1860, Revised Edition by Ronald G. Walters
  9. African American Religious History: A Documentary Witness by Milton C. Sernett
  10. The Spiritual Dimension of Leadership by Paul D. Houston & Stephen L. Sokolow

Reading Diary of 2015

  1. Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology by James Spradley

  2. Tranquil Is This Realm of Mine: Dharma Talks and Writings of the Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii
  3. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
  4. Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I
  5. Biological Anthropology by Craig Stanford
  6. Essential Sufism by James Fadiman
  7. After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield
  8. The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist by Dorothy Day
  9. Atlas of the Human Body by Takeo Takahashi
  10. Plant Spirit Healing: A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness by Pam Montgomery
  11. The Mindfulness Survival Kit: Five Essential Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh
  12. Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can: A Practical Programme for Healing Body, Mind and Spirit by Caroline Myss

Reading Diary of 2014

  1. The Secret Language of Sleep: A Couple’s Guide to the Thirty-Nine Positions by Evany Thomas
  2. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  3. The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
  4. Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3) by Helen Fielding
  5. Your Power To Create You: Discover Your Inner Source of Abundance by Glenn Kakely
  6. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
  7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  8. Shamanic Reiki: Expanded Ways of Working with Universal Life Force Energy by Robert Levy
  9. Dreaming the Soul Back Home: Shamanic Dreaming for Healing and Becoming Whole by Robert Moss
  10. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tai Chi: A Step-By-Step Approach to the Ancient Chinese Movement by Angus Clark
  11. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
  12. Seasons of the Witch: Poetry and Songs to the Goddess by Patricia Monaghan
  13. Celtic Visions: Seership, Omens and Dreams of the Otherworld by Cailin Matthews
  14. Shamanic Journeying by Sandra Ingerman
  15. Healing With the Mind’s Eye by Michael Samuels
  16. Finding the Boyfriend Within: A Practical Guide for Tapping into your own Scource of Love, Happiness, and Respect by Brad Gooch
  17. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie

Top Ten Favourites Diary of 2013

1. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle.

“Hate hurts the hater more’n the hated.”
“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.”
“The world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.”

2. The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess by Starhawk

“Decide what is sacred to you, and put your best life energies at its service. Make that the focus of your studies, your work, the test for your pleasures and your relationships. Don’t ever let fear or craving for security turn you aside. When you serve your passion, when you are willing to risk yourself for something, your greatest creative energies are released. Hard work is required, but nothing is more joyful than work infused by love.” (page 11)

3. The Earth Path by Starhawk

“Whenever we are able to live for a moment within that consciousness of the whole, we become more whole, more healed. How sad, how grim and tragic, to live within an awareness that can see a seedball only as a weapon, that misses the wonder of the potential for transformation and growth within it, that is forced to view the world as an arena of danger, combat, and betrayal. In today’s world we are more and more pressured to live within that limited consciousness, to accept its restrictions as reality, to discount any other possibilities as fantasy, romanticism, wishful thinking. Yet it is the construction of our imagination that produces that grim world. Today we live in a world so devitalized, so alienated and fragmented, that many of us are hungry for magic: for a way to perceive and experience the whole, to live in a dynamic, animate universe. It’s no wonder that Harry Potter is popular worldwide among adults as well as children, for a world of talking hats and whomping willows and flying broomsticks reflects that sense we have as children that everything around us is alive and has a consciousness of it own. Instead of forcing children to “outgrow” that awareness, we should cherish it as the vital understanding that can help us become healers of this wounded world. For we cannot intervene effectively, cannot say something back to the world, unless we first understand and hear something. And we cannot hear unless we open our ears and realize that the world is speaking to us. And as soon as we do, we become more alive, more wild, more at home in a vital and dynamic universe.”

4. The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui by Dr. Mikao Usui and Frank Arjava Petter

“Intuitive Reiki by Dr. Usui is different: It asks that we free ourselves of the rules. Rules are meant to give us support. The moment that they begin to hinder us, they no longer fulfill their purpose.”

5. Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

“Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.”

6. True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh

“Let us imagine that the members of the Congress practiced mindful breathing and walking, deep listening, and calm loving speech. As it is, every time they convene, they quarrel and shoot poison arrows, because very few of those people are capable of calming, of practicing loving speech. The situation is very tense; there is a great deal of hatred and anger and discrimination. how is it possible, in such a state, for people to practice deep looking with the aim of achieving a deep knowledge of the nation? So it is necessary to practice mindfulness – it could be Buddhist or Christian – but it is necessary to bring mindfulness to our everyday life. If you are a journalist, a teacher, or a filmmaker, you should practice mindfulness – for the sake of your own calm and your own happiness, but also for that of other people as well. Because we need your calm, your compassion, your understanding. So we should be mindful as individuals but also as a community, as a family, as a nation.”

7. Imagery in Healing by Jeanne Achterberg

“Health is being in harmony  with the world view. Health is an intuitive perception of the universe and all its inhabitants as being of one fabric. Health is maintaining communication with the animals and plants and minerals and stars. It is knowing death and life and seeing no difference. It is blending and melding, seeking solitude and seeking companionship to understand one’s many levels. Unlike the more “modern” notions, in shamanic society health is not the absence of feeling; no more so is it the absence of pain. Health is seeking out all of the experiences of Creation and turning them over and over, feeling their texture and multiple meanings. Health is expanding beyond one’s singular state of consciousness to experience the ripples and waves of the universe.”
“Throughout the history of medicine, including the shamanic healing traditions, the Greek tradition of Asclepius, Aristotle and Hippocrates, and the folk and religious healers, the imagination has been used to diagnose disease.”

8. Inferno by Dan Brown

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. – Bertrand Zobrist”
“Dante’s poem, Langdon was now reminded, was not so much about the misery of hell as it was about the power of the human spirit to endure any challenge, no matter how daunting.”
“The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.”

9. Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and Heal by Valerie Gennari Cooksley, R.N. 

“Aromatherapy is more thoroughly defined as the skilled and controlled use of essential oils for physical and emotional health and well-being. Science is now confirming what has been known for centuries: essential oils have healing properties on both physical and emotional levels. Absorbed through the skin and via the olfactory-brain connection through inhalation, they have been considered among the most therapeutic and rejuvenating of all botanical extracts throughout the ages.”

10. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.”
“Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.”
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”

Top Books of 2012

  1. Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings by Caitlin Matthews
  2. The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary by Angeles Arrien
  3. The Healer’s Manual: A Beginner’s Guide to Energy Therapies by Ted Andrews
  4. The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over by Starhawk
  5. Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms & Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst
  6. The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin
  7. A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion by Mandy Kirkby
  8. Homosexuality & Civilization by Louis Crompton

Top Books of 2011

  1. Spirited: Taking Paganism Beyond the Circle by Gede Parma
  2. The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers by Frank MacEowen
  3. Animal-Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small by Ted Andrews

Top Books of 2010

  1. By Oak, Ash, & Thorn: Modern Celtic Shamanism by DJ Conway
  2. Leaves of Grass: (1855) by Walt Whitman
  3. Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende
  4. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
  5. Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock
  6. The Art of Life: An Anthology of Literature about Life and Work, Student Edition by Christine LaRocco
  7. By Land, Sky & Sea: Three Realms of Shamanic Witchcraft by Gede Parma
  8. Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter, #4) by Thomas Harris

Top Books of 2009

  1. Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Carelless
  2. Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison by TJ Parsell
  3. Chocolat (Chocolat, #1) by Joanne Harris
  4. Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up by Ellen Dugan
  5. Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick by Ellen Dugan

Top Books of 2008

  1. Blue Jean Buddha: Voices of Young Buddhists by Sumi Loudon
  2. Where Books Fall Open: A Reader’s Anthology of Wit & Passion by Bascove
  3. Cottage Witchery: Natural Magick for Hearth and Home by Ellen Dugan
  4. A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years, #3) by Gregory Maguire

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