Books that restore and encourage

chairsMy recent post highlighted some movies that comfort and inspire. This post features some books that can do the same.

I will start with Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. Collectively we pay almost no attention to the subject of soul. We treat it, in my view, mostly as a bit of superstition vaguely associated with religion. Moore tells us that it is impossible to define soul, but the work of soul is to honor genuineness and depth.

Moore sets the stage early in the book: “When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning.”

We can assume, for example, that most people who are in prison have neglected their soul, and by extension, that their friends and family have contributed to that neglect. The daily news confirms that we neglect our soul work.

Moore’s book was published in 1992. I re-read it every couple of years.

Iron John, A Book About Men, by Robert Bly. Men, collectively, are currently in a state of crisis, and have been for a long time. The generations do not inform each other as they did long ago. We cannot achieve anything resembling peace of mind until we deal with the crisis of manhood.

An example of this crisis is the widespread belief that Donald Trump models manhood. That is how confused we are.

Bly writes, “…older men spent much time with younger men and brought knowledge of male spirit and soul to them.” We are not agreed on what male spirit or soul are. Iron John provokes us to think on these things.

If you are in distress it is possible that you are experiencing life as a catastrophe. It is easy to lose sight of the possibility of redemption at such a time. Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is a tutorial on working with catastrophe. He guides us in not taking this condition personally.

The teachers tell us that we create what we call reality. Most of our creation is a fiction. The way to release ourselves from this make-believe world is to notice that we are creating it. The process is usually referred to as mindfulness, meaning paying attention.

Admitting that we consider our experience a catastrophe launches us on a path of discovery.

Brené Brown is available on TED Talks, and in her wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection. The subtitle is Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. This is a revolutionary concept in this era of conformity and self-sacrifice.

As she says, we trade our authenticity for the approval of others. We accept their word that we have to hustle for approval.

It is sweet to be reminded that we are the genuine article whether others see that or not. This is a wonderful book, an easy read, and relatively short.

I hope this post serves you.


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