Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ten books which have changed my life (FB challenge)

So, the Northern Lights are reluctant to make an appearance here, which means I will be doing the 10 book challenge I've been nominated for several times over. With the usual disclaimer that so many more than 10 books have changed my life, and in no particular order except the one in which they come to mind:

1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan: it articulated so much about being a child of immigrants that I had felt, but had been unable to express. I couldn't put it down, I couldn't stop crying, and it may be time to re-read it.

2. A Wrinkle in Time and all related books by Madeleine L'Engle. To this day, I use Echthroi, Deepening, kairos and chronos to explain things. I was talking to a friend the other day about another friend I'm worried about, and I said, 'You know, he reminds me of Charles Wallace under IT.' L'Engle's theology helped me articulate mine, and I lost myself in her stories. I still do. And I still cry when Progo...oh, go read them!

3. Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. My introduction to archetypes and Jungian psychology. Need I say more?

4. Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. I got a copy in 2003 when a Catholic acquaintance was giving hers away. I owe her the deepest thanks: not only did it fill my love of fairy tales and my need for diving deep into the psyche, it was so beautifully written, it read like poetry. Bliss.

5. My Grandfather's Blessings (and its companion, Kitchen Table Wisdom) by Rachel Remen. H/T Alison Porter for this recommendation. Rachel's stories of her family, her practice, her life, entwined with her reflections on the deeper significance are absolutely soul-restoring, and food for spiritual hunger. She is one of my heroines, and I actually have 2 copies - one I lend and one that doesn't leave the house.

6. The Wizard of Oz & associated books: These were the first books I remember being able to completely lose myself in, to escape from here. The irony being, of course, that I collected the whole set because they were the books my uncle bribed me with so I wouldn't tell my parents about the sexual abuse. Several years later, he asked for him back, and I said, 'No.'

7. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran: I discovered this on a bookshelf in my father's office when I was 11ish, saw it had been given to him by one of his brothers (NOT that one, but Ambereen and Saira's dad, whom I absolutely adore), and my curiosity was piqued. I took it upstairs to my bedroom and was immediately entranced. Even then, though I didn't have the depth of experience to fully understand and appreciate it, I knew I'd found MY spirituality, MY prophet - and his name wasn't Muhammad.

8. The White Dragon/Pern series by Anne McCaffrey: I found it in the Holton library when I was about 11, and it was the first Pern book I read (I later went back and read the series in order, along with the other trilogies I could get my hands on). I identified deeply with Jaxom and fell in love with Robinton - and later fiercely identified with Menolly in the Harper Hall trilogy (but I wanted to Impress a dragon!).

9. The Shack by William P. Young: Blew the doors off my understanding of G-d and the Trinity. My entire relationship with G-d shifted profoundly after reading that book, because I finally began to trust that I was loved. I have a hard copy, but I suspect it's one I'll want on my Kindle for easy access.

10. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh: I knew my parents had been through Partition - and for some reason, when I was young, I'd assumed it had been a very orderly transition, not recognising much of my parents' behaviour for what it was - the result of extreme trauma. It was only when I stumbled across a documentary here on Partition, sitting through it horrified, that I truly understood. A friend recommended Khushwant Singh's book - a gripping, harrowing read that made me finally understand what my parents had been through and why they were who they were.