Books are my friends. I read voraciously. I have many books I’ve brought with me from place to place since childhood, because I love them so much I can’t let them go.
I no longer have copies of all of these, but as I look back over my life, the books listed here were the most influential I’ve ever read.
Age 3: Mother Goose, beautifully illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa (think 1960′s pre-anime children). My mom read this to me over and over, instilling a love of books, reading, rhyme, beauty, and a certain degree of nonsense.
Age 5: Two Dr. Seuss classics, Hop on Pop and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, were the first books I read on my own. More fun with nonsense.
Age 5: How Babies Are Made turned me into the sex-pert who introduced the word “vagina” to my cousins, to the dismay of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
Age 8: The Bible was at the center of my religious education.
"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
Age 10: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, spoke to my sensibilities as a young girl growing up in the south. It was my first literary introduction to the not-so-innocent legacies of slavery and racism.
Age 12: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume, reassured me I was not alone in my adolescent gawkiness.
Age 16: My best friend’s mom gave me a copy of Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, introducing me at once to astrology and the metaphysical applicability of Alice in Wonderland. This greatly elevated Lewis Carroll’s works in their influence on me.
Age 18: James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man showed me I was not alone in my artistic sensitivity.
Age 25: Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh was the first spiritual thought I had read since the Bible. Its accessibility reopened me to spiritual exploration.
Age 28: Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsh, helped me begin to reconcile my Baptist upbringing with my emerging spirtuality.
Age 33: Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. A spiritual path for the creative person was a revolutionary idea with long-reaching implications for my life even today.
Age 34: Even more revolutionary, Po Bronson’s What Should I Do with My Life? revealed I was not alone in seeking more meaning in my everyday life.
Age 35: Sacred Contracts and other works by Caroline Myss, Ph. D. helped me piece together the Jungian elements that explain the metaphysics of astrology and the psychic arts, and gave me a helpful introduction to chakras as well as the Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.
Age42: A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby K. Payne, Ph. D. opened my eyes to the conflicting cultures of our class system and introduced strategies for overcoming the cultural barriers of poverty in our education system.
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