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100+ Books We Love

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Dive in to our special section on 100+ books we love.

I recently spent the day in Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Walking through the stacks, rows, and rooms of books, I was in literary heaven. Our goal is for this special section to be like a great bookstore, easy to navigate, with useful suggestions on topics you are looking for along with unexpected treasures in genres you never thought to explore.

We are a community of readers. Although the way we consume words has more variation these days—audiobooks, digital readers, and the well-loved ink on paper—the desire to gain wisdom, insight, pleasure, and understanding from books is as strong as ever. 

Our recommendations are curated by bona fide book lovers. Their expertise and interests are as wide ranging and diverse as the books you’ll find in your favorite bookstore. There are past favorites and new books on witchery and creativity, and an unusual take on love and relationships. We have novels from women writers, cookbooks that will transform your experience of making meals, and titles that will inspire you to explore the natural world. 

Hope can feel hard-won in our divided world. We have titles to aid in that battle, along with books from women on the spiritual forefront. We share books that will help you make friends with fear and live more simply, alongside suggestions from beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

So feel free to get a cup of tea and curl up in your favorite cozy nook. Let’s start with these three titles as an entry point for your adventure into the wisdom of words. 

For those of you who have children in your life, I highly recommend How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo (Workman). Written by the editors of The New York Times Book Review, this book gives valuable insight on how to help children appreciate the joys of reading. 

To go deeper into your experience of reading, The Art of Mindful Reading: Embracing the Wisdom of Words by Ella Berthoud (Leaping Hare Press) will help you understand the type of reader you are. It offers unusual ways to dive deeper into the experience, such as reading while hula hooping. 

Whether you are dealing with anxiety, depression, heart-wrenching grief, or an existential crisis, The Poetry Remedy: Prescriptions for The Poetry Remedy: Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind, and Soul Heart, Mind, and Soul by William Sieghart (Viking) will offer you a poem and a reflection that has the power to bring solace and a feeling of shared experience.
Kalia Kelmenson

TOUCHSTONES IN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY

S&H editor at large Stephen Kiesling selects five books that have shaped his own pursuit of happiness. 

1. At the launch of S&H, founding editor T George Harris gave me a slender paperback called Religions, Values and Peak-Experiences (Penguin) by his friend Abe Maslow. In the first edition, Maslow argued that the “divine” revelations of the prophets were human peak experiences, accessible to everyone, and worthy of scientific study. 

That book, first published in 1964, launched a generation of fervent seekers, but the revised paperback had a caution: seeking peak experiences “may be a flight from confronting the sacred.” Overzealous seekers may become “not only selfish but also evil.”

The peak of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is to become self-actualized, and that goal is neither selfish nor evil. Instead, it’s spiritual: “The empirical fact is that self-actualizing people, our great experiencers, are also our most compassionate, our greatest improvers and reformers of society, our most effective fighters against injustice, inequality, slavery, cruelty, exploitation (and also our best fighters for excellence, effectiveness, competence).”

2. Ronald Inglehart’s Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic & Political Change in 43 Societies was another book handed to me by T George. Inglehart found that when the majority of people in a society grow up without having to worry about survival needs like hunger, their passion for personal safety expands to include new necessities like air bags, clean water, and (eventually) saving the ozone layer. He described this as a shift from materialism to postmaterialism. 

Personal security diminishes the appeal of absolute rulers or outside authority, making the world ripe for democracy. Money and power become less important than personal freedom and self-expression.

Ironically, Inglehart found that postmaterialists tend to be less happy than materialists in the same society because postmaterialists emphasize nonmaterial goals and have such demanding standards. Inglehart’s book also predicted a backlash from postmaterialist values—that, alas, may last until our planet becomes uninhabitable.

3. Our moods shape the world because they determine whether obstacles appear surmountable or not. 

In The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress, sociologist Robert Thayer shows that what we call moods—good, bad, or ugly—are better gauged as combinations of two states of arousal: energy and tension. The best moods usually involve high energy and low tension, what Thayer calls Calm Energy. The worst moods stem from a combination of low energy and high tension, or Tense Tiredness. Thayer’s research also shows that the best way to improve your mood (and thus shrink obstacles) is a ten-minute walk.

4. Someday, evolutionary biologist Peggy La Cerra may be recognized as the Darwin of the evolution of consciousness. Her book (with Roger Bingham) The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness, and the New Science of Self (Harmony Books) describes consciousness as an increasingly complex behavioral operating system that begins with a single-celled organism’s choice of going forward when it is “in food” or tumbling randomly when it isn’t.  Dr. La Cerra’s radical breakthrough is enormously helpful for understanding such things as why people become immobilized by depression—it’s a protective shutdown because the path forward shows no sign of providing energy.

5. Our bodies obviously run on food, but what we don’t realize is how much our brains and consciousness were shaped by cooking. In Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human(Basic Books), Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham details how cooking predigests food and dramatically increases the available calories. Wrangham argues that cooking gave us much bigger brains and smaller digestive systems, and may also have led to pair bonding, marriage, and the division of labor. Another point is that the use of fire and human consciousness have been around for hundreds of thousands of years longer than our oldest religions. 

EXPRESSION SESSION

S&H creative director Sandra Salamony shares the books she turns to when she needs inspiration for her creative practice.

As a lifelong artist and maker, I’m happiest when I carve out time to zone out while creating. Maintaining a consistent creative practice has been shown to result in some of the same benefits as meditating and other wellness practices: increased problem-solving ability, elevated mood, and decreased levels of anxiety. In time, you’ll also find your skill level increasing … but who cares if you don’t? You don’t have to share your work with anyone!

Whether you choose writing poetry, journaling, keeping a sketchbook, dancing, making music, or participating in one of the many 30-day or 100-day prompt challenges on Instagram, you are likely to find that daily art-making will both calm your mind and increase your brain function. And, similar to a meditation practice, you don’t need to spend a large amount of time—20 minutes a day is effective. 

Here are six of my favorite books that inspire me to make time to make art:

Made Out of Stars: A Journal for Self-Realization
Meera Lee Patel

We’ve been watching our wonderful contributing artist Meera Lee Patel for a while. In this, her second guided journal, she’s created a lovely book full of writing prompts and quotes, small enough to carry with you anywhere and featuring her beautiful watercolor art. “What was the last kind thing someone did for you?” TARCHERPERIGEE

Cultivating Your Creative Life: Exercises, Activities & Inspiration for Finding Balance, Beauty & Success as an Artist
Alena Hennessy

Frequent S&H artist Alena Hennessy’s first book is an interactive bible of ideas for creative living. It includes drawing, collage, and journaling projects that you can complete right on the pages, and she also reflects on breathing, meditation, herbal lore, and yoga as supplements to help you manifest your creativity. QUARRY BOOKS

Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art, and Ritual
Day Schildkret

Not all art is created with traditional media. Day’s creative practice utilizes foraged materials as his medium, creating his ephemeral altars at the start of every morning. This hardcover book is filled with gorgeous photography worthy of the coffee table, and Day inspires the reader to create their own altars with his seven movements “that elevate the art from a creative expression to a ritual: Wander & Wonder, Place, Clear, Create, Gift, Share, Let Go.” THE COUNTRYMAN PRESS

A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness
Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst

OMG, an activity book for adults! From the creators of Flow magazine, this book is packed with curated content and so many goodies: packets of stickers, multiple removable journals and notebooks, collage papers, note cards, so much inspiration! It’s not a linear journey. Start anywhere and find a creative, mindful activity to engage you. This book earns my highest praise: I wish I’d designed it myself. WORKMAN

Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self
Manoush Zomorodi

Boredom is the key to original thinking, according to the host of WNYC’s Podcast Note to Self. Here, she shares her set of challenges that will unplug readers from an overdependence on constant stimulation (mostly from being on a phone too often), opening up a world where your wandering mind can both do nothing and create more vividly. ST. MARTIN'S PRESS

Make Art Every Day: A Weekly Planner for Creative Thinkers
Katie Vernon

Here’s a title that cuts to the chase! For those who enjoy painting and sketching, this book is set up as a weekly planner with prompts for technique and subject exploration. It also has nifty short tutorials on fun projects such as playing exquisite corpse, creating a repeating surface pattern, and sketching in public. Bonus: more stickers! QUARRY BOOKS

+ 6 I can’t wait to sit down with:

Limit Yourself and Unleash Your Creativity
Ralph Burkhardt
CHRONICLE BOOKS

Keep Going
Austin Kleon
WORKMAN

Nature Anatomy Notebook
Julia Rothman
STOREY PUBLISHING

The Knit Vibe
Vickie Howell
ABRAMS BOOKS

Be, Awake, Create
Rebekah Younger
REVEAL PRESS

Art Starts in the Heart
Erin McManness
WALTER FOSTER PUBLISHING

(Read our article 3 Ways to Reclaim Your Creative Mind.)


NATURE'S GIFT

S&H editorial director Kalia Kelmenson shares the books that inspire her to become more deeply connected with nature.

Whenever I feel frazzled and flighty, I head out to the trails of a nearby forest or I grab my surfboard and paddle into the waves, where just dipping my head under the water can offer me a reset. The natural world offers the gift of calm. It inspires me to step and steep in awe. I feel the colors of the sunset filling me through every pore of my body. Thankfully, blissfully, if I can’t get out into nature, I can always bring nature to me, through flowers and plants or natural elements such as driftwood or shells. Here are some of my favorite books that honor the sanctity of nature and draw me toward a more rooted relationship.

The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing: Finding Calm, Creativity and Connection in the Natural World
Julia Plevin 

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku has inspired a global movement known as forest bathing. It encourages us to become more intentional about how we spend time in nature. This book shares practices that can help us to be more connected to trees and the forests we enter. TEN SPEED PRESS 

Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking
Bonnie Smith Whitehouse 

Filled with inspirational quotes, compelling stories, and thought-provoking prompts, this journal will transform your experience of walking. It offers an unexpected and delightful opportunity to uncover your hidden perceptions. CLARKSON POTTER PUBLISHERS

In the Company of Trees: Honoring Our Connection to the Sacred Power, Beauty, and Wisdom of Trees
Andrea Sarubbi Fereshteh

An ode to trees, this book explores the many ways that trees and forests enrich our lives and become spaces for spiritual ceremony. Each enchanting page guides the reader around the world, with an image of a tree and the place they hold in the local culture. ADAMS MEDIA 

Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World
John O’Donohue 

Celtic mystic and poet John O’Donohue explores presence, absence, balance, and aging, all through the context of our connection with the natural world. “Landscape has a soul and a presence,” he writes, “and landscape—living in the mode of silence—is always wrapped in seamless prayer.” CONVERGENT

The Green Cure
Alice Peck 

This captivating book is an invitation to become more intimate with nature in a way that works in your life. No forestsavailable? No problem. Connect directly with the earth, include the scents of nature, or frolic near water. At the end of the day, Peck insists that it is a retuning to the natural world—even with something as simple as opening a window—that holds the power to heal. CICO BOOKS

+5 I can’t wait to explore:

Renewal
Andrés R. Edwards
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS

Walking
Erling Kagge
PANTHEON BOOKS

A Walking Life
Antonia Malchik
LIFELONG BOOKS

The Flower Fix
Anna Potter
WHITE LION PUBLISHING

Inspired by Nature
Hans Blomquist
RYLAND PETERS & SMALL

(Read our story on forest bathing.)

SPIRITUAL SISTERHOOD

S&H wellbeing editor Kathryn Drury Wagner rounded up five of her favorite books by insightful, inspiring, and spiritual women.

My spirituality? Is there a box for mutt? I grew up with a Quaker and lapsed Southern Baptist heritage and converted to Catholicism. I left that behind years ago, but I still miss it sometimes. When I think about spirituality, I think broad: Both woman and diversity. So I envision a fantasy where these wonderful female authors all show up for dinner. We sit for hours and eat fettuccine alfredo and talk about spirituality, about their writing lives, and about how they unearth the sacred in the hot mess that is humanity. 

Here are the 5 books we’d discuss: 

Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Anne Lamott

Fearless, funny, and frank, Lamott is always a pleasure to read, but this one is my favorite. She likens structured prayers like Psalm 23 to “the good china” and instead offers everyday spiritual simplicity. RIVERHEAD BOOKS

Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others
Barbara Brown Taylor

What are the universal truths? What tenets of Christianity are being followed, versus given lip service? Taylor is a minister and professor of religion and explores what she has taught to—and learned from—her students. HARPERONE

Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks
Diana Butler Bass

This is the perfect book when you’re feeling down about the world. It’s about reflections on gratitude on many levels—the personal, the public, the political—and how we can create a grateful society. HARPERONE

Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church
Carol Howard Merritt

So many people have left organized religion when encountering sexism, homophobia, and abuse. The author, now a Presbyterian minister, shares her own story and suggests a healing and personal path to reclaiming God. HARPERONE

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say
Kelly Corrigan

Corrigan shares how sometimes she’s communicating well, and sometimes not so well, and all that follows. Her chapters are like mini memoirs, each addressing our most tender spots as humans. HARPERONE

+5 upcoming books I’m looking forward to:

Welcoming the Unwelcome
Pema Chödrön
SHAMBHALA

Here All Along
Sarah Hurwitz
SPIEGEL & GRAU

Spiritual Rebel
Sarah Bowen
MONKFISH BOOK PUBLISHING

Dare to See
Katie Brown
FAITHWORDS

Naked in the Zendo
Grace Schireson
SHAMBHALA

(Read our Q+A with Barbara Brown Taylor.)

MODERN WITCHERY

S&H contributor (and modern witch) Andrea Perkins shares books that explain this booming subculture and can guide you down the Wiccan path.

I grew up surrounded by my mother’s collection of classic esoterica: alchemy, divination, herbal folk remedies, spell books of all kinds. She taught me that magic, like astrologer Caroline Casey says, is the “willingness to collaborate with everything.” In the old world, there wasn’t much of a line between science and what we think of today as occult practices. The border between magic and religion was similarly fuzzy, though persecution of witches was one of the ways misogyny often manifested itself. Today, “witchery” is no longer taboo, and is in fact enjoying something of a renaissance. It’s heartening that a movement that centers around the natural world thrives amid such environmentally calamitous times.

Everyday Magic: Rituals, Spells & Potions to Live Your Best Life
Semra Haksever

From building an altar to blending oils and teas, this accessible spell book is perfect for folks who may be new to the practice. Old-school witches will also enjoy it as a quick reference for everyday needs like how to make an amulet to protect one’s luggage. HARDIE GRANT

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot: Your Complete Guide to Understanding Tarot
Skye Alexander

Written specifically for witches, this book not only offers a comprehensive, practical guide to the meanings and symbology of the tarot, it explains how the practitioner may use the deck in spell casting and other witchy practices, like the creation of talismans. ADAMS MEDIA

The Lost Words
Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

This book is a celebration of naturecentric words that were recently removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. When the authors learned that words like acorn, bluebell, fern, and newt had been replaced with blog, broadband, and attachment, they felt they had to do something. This book is the result. Next to gorgeous illustrations, each “lost word” is woven into an incantation, a spell of sorts, so that it will not be forgotten. ANANSI INTERNATIONAL

The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology
Juliana McCarthy

Every good witch should have a working knowledge of astrology. The stars are integral to collaborating with elemental forces. This fresh take on astrological fundamentals brings it all down to earth. ROOST BOOKS

Witches of America
Alex Mar

This well researched non-fiction survey of the current state of witchcraft in America is a fascinating and informative read for anyone interested in contemporary subcultures. SARAH CRICHTON BOOKS

+5 new books I’m looking forward to reading:

Making Magic
Briana Saussy
SOUNDS TRUE

Rewild Yourself
Simon Barnes
PEGASUS BOOKS

What We Knew in the Night
Raven Grimassi
WEISER BOOKS

Witch’s Wheel of the Year
Jason Mankey
LLEWELLYN

Moon Magic
Aurora Kane
WELLFLEET PRESS

(Read our article The Thirst for Spirituality and the Rise of Witches.)


HOPE IN A DIVIDED WORLD

For days when you feel like burying your head in the sand, Kalia Kelmenson offers these titles as both a rallying cry and a place to soften into.

As a society, we have become increasingly isolated, surrounded by people who think like us, talk like us, and act like us. There are not many opportunities to stand next to someone we disagree with and have respectful conversations about values and beliefs. These books shine a light on the ways we can honor both our differences and our interdependence.

A Call for Revolution
Dalai Lama and Sofia Stril-Rever

A fervent appeal to the young people of the world to set aside complacency and take up the mantle of compassion. “The day is near when your generation will have consigned war to the ash heap of history.” May it be so. WILLIAM MORROW
(Read an excerpt from the book Rebels for Peace.)

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope
Anne Lamott

Lamott, in her characteristic style, explores the immense paradox of being fully alive in this complex, confusing world. She reminds us that we—every one of us—are at once Holy and filled with holes. She reminds us to laugh and most of all, to love. RIVERHEAD BOOKS

The Time Is Now: An Uncommon Call to Courage
Joan Chittister

Each chapter of this book explores an aspect of the truth-telling prophets of the past—and present—as what we must embrace to create positive change in our world. Chittister implores us to embrace a “prophetic spirituality,” a life of truthtelling and right action that will lead us toward the future we desire. CONVERGENT

+5 books I’m eager to read:

Radical Compassion
Tara Brach
VIKING

Walking Through Anger
Christian Conte
SOUNDS TRUE

Permission to Feel
Marc Brackett
CELADON BOOKS

Wholehearted
Koshin Paley Ellison
WISDOM PUBLICATIONS

Deep Hope
Diane Eshin Rizzetto
SHAMBHALA

THE HEART OF POETRY

Acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye offers some volumes that are perfect for “the quiet place—the pause.”

Poetry is the saving grace. It’s the quiet place—the pause. The island of respite in the midst of so much chatter—as well as the leverage toward richer life with language. I remember holding a poem in my ear when I was three—after my mother read poems to me—thinking—that is better than talking. I want to go there. I want to be in that room of words. That spaciousness. Poetry didn’t explain—such a relief. It suggested, hinted, as William Stafford used to say (I would find this out later, of course)—it gave us clues, connecting some of the glittering bits and pieces.

A few favorite books:

The Moon Before Morning
W.S. Merwin

Possibly one could pick ANY Merwin book as a favorite choice, but this one has felt so close and necessary, through years of travels, as a touchstone for sanity and beauty and transport. The layered images and memories, the poignant intimacy with our surrounding natural worlds, our need for attentive living, are carefully, exquisitely drawn. COPPER CANYON

The Other Voice—Twentieth-Century Women’s Poetry in Translation
This book was given to me in about 1979 by the late and wondrous poet Teresa Anderson. It is tattered and torn, but through its pages I discovered voices so wondrous—Tove Ditlevsen of Denmark, Dahlia Ravikovitch of Israel, Nazik al-Mala’ikah of Iraq, and many old friends like Gabriela Mistral and Etel Adnan. Find a used copy if you can—it’s timeless, you won’t be sorry. NORTON

Simplicity
Ruth Stone

Ruth Stone was simply a revelation. Her poems felt iconic upon first reading. She was a wise survivor, as well as a complete original, an extremely funny person and writer. PARIS PRESS

Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems
William Stafford 

I could not have lived without William Stafford’s voice. This posthumous, careful gathering of poems is essential indeed. My own comment on back: “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford. There has been no one who gave more courage to a journey with words, and silences, and an awakening life." GRAYWOLF

+ Right now I’m very excited about Diana Marie Delgado’s forthcoming book from BOA Editions, Tracing the Horseand about catching up with Robin Robertson’s most recent book, The Long Take, because everything he writes is stunning.

Naomi Shihab Nye is the current Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation (Chicago) and also the poetry editor for The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

(Listen to poet Deborah Anne Quibell read "The Yellow Boat".)

LOVE, SEX, AND RELATIONSHIPS

S&H staff writer Julie Peters shares her favorite books on love. (Click here to read more from Julie.)

I’ve always been fascinated by love as a concept.

I wrote my master’s thesis about it in the plays of George Elliott Clarke, which explore the possibility of interracial love in a country with a history of racial violence. Then I wrote about love again in my first book, this time through the lens of the Tantric moon phase goddesses and the spiritually empowering possibilities of love for self, other, and community. In my second book, Want, I wrote about love after intimate violence through my own experience of recovering from sexual assault. 

In the peculiar experience of trying to understand love, these are the books that enlightened me, challenged me, changed my perspective, and helped me understand myself better in a context of intimacy.

All About Love: New Visions
bell hooks 

This is a beautiful book that really takes the philosophical and practical concept of love seriously. bell hooks explores love as it interacts with the realities of our social world, including the pressures of patriarchy and capitalism. It is fascinating, challenging, and ultimately hopeful. It will change the way you look at love. WILLIAM MORROW PAPERBACKS

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression
Terrence Real

Real is a psychologist who compassionately explores the inner lives of men. Many men are struggling silently, partly because of the immense pressure placed on them in modern society. This often expresses itself within their love relationships. For me, the book is a fascinating, compassionate window into the lives of these creatures that I share my life with. SCRIBNER

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life
Emily Nagoski 

This is required reading for anyone who has or wants a sex life! It is full of useful information and plenty of myth-busting about sex, our bodies, and how our desire works. Many of us suffered from a lack of high-quality sex education, and this book explores the most cutting-edge science about desire, pleasure, and our sexual bodies in a playful and accessible tone. SIMON AND SCHUSTER

The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate RelationshipsHarriet Lerner

This is the best book I have ever read about anger and intimacy. Most books about anger talk about taming or controlling this emotion we perceive as negative, but Lerner explores it as a key to understanding ourselves, setting appropriate boundaries, and improving our intimate lives. I’ve read it three times! WILLIAM MORROW PAPERBACKS

Love and War: How Militarism Shapes Love and RomanceTom Digby

Digby is an academic and a philosopher, and his book is a very serious but extremely readable view of the heterosexual romance model in our culture. He explains how the very old and very deep militaristic structure of our society has created a “battle of the sexes” that expresses itself within our most intimate relationships. It is an absolutely illuminating read. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS 

+5 I can’t wait to read:

Love and Rage
Lama Rod Owens
NORTH ATLANTIC BOOKS

The Mask of Masculinity
Lewis Howes
RODALE BOOKS

Untrue
Wednesday Martin
LITTLE, BROWN SPARK

Love Understood
Laura Mucha
BLOOMSBURY SIGMA

You’re Not Listening
Eleanor Kate Murphy
CELADON BOOKS

SIZZLE & SCENT

Lover of flavorful foods Kalia Kelmenson shares the cookbooks that seem to be permanently on her kitchen counter.

I spent hours as a child learning how to cook. From my nana, I learned the delicate art of the chocolate roll during the holidays, and from my mom, the joy of a perfectly cooked omelet. As I grew older, I began frying wonton (yes, in a vat of hot oil) and making other intricate items. Some of my favorite times were, and still are, those spent around the dining room table, sharing a meal with family and friends. Through the years I’ve learned how food affects me—my mood, my sleep, and my energy levels—and I’ve come to appreciate healthy meals made with whole foods and a minimum of fuss. 

Here are my 5 favorite cookbooks of late:

Far Afield: Rare Food Encounters from Around the World
Shane Mitchell

This exquisite book explores traditional food and practices from places in the world we don’t often get to see, like the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya and Mixquic, Mexico. Stunning images and compelling stories draw the reader into these worlds, and recipes reveal some of the food culture. It is an inspiration of a book and truly food for the wandering soul. TEN SPEED PRESS

The Good Mood Kitchen: Simple Recipes and Nutrition Tips for Emotional Balance
Leslie Korn

It took me a long time to connect the dots between my emotional state and the foods I put in my body. I became a vegetarian in college, but had no idea about what that meant other than not eating meat. When I read Potatoes Not Prozac in my twenties, I got it. This book gets deep into the “second brain” (the gut) and explores digestion and food sensitivities. It combines all of the information in a useful “Mood-Savvy Menu.” W.W. NORTON

Asian Wraps: Deliciously Easy Hand-Held Bundles to Stuff, Wrap, and Relish
Nina Simonds

Ah, the many ways to wrap a meal. Every recipe in this book, which has vegetarian tips throughout, delights and inspires an informal, family-style extravaganza. I’ve yet to find a wrap that disappoints. Growing up on Maui, I have a palate that leans toward Asian flavors, and this cookbook has brought another layer of nuance to my meals. WILLIAM MORROW

The Simple, Healing Cleanse: The Ayurvedic Path to Energy, Clarity, Wellness, and Your Best YouKimberly Larson

This delightful book introduced me to the beauty and simplicity of an Ayurvedic cleanse. It begins with a tutorial on how to discover your dosha (mind-body type) and then shares detailed protocol for balancing the different doshas with recipes, along with activities that will support the food plan. FAIR WINDS PRESS

Buddha Bowls: 100 Nourishing One-Bowl MealsKelli Foster

One of my favorite ways to serve dinner at a party is with these Buddha bowls. I tend to mix and match the recipes and serve up a few different bases and sauces with a variety  of toppings. It’s always a hit, as guests mix and match their way to a bowl that is perfectly suited to their taste. It’s also a great way to deal with finicky eaters. HARVARD COMMON PRESS      

+ 5 I can’t wait to cook from:

Heirloom
Sarah Owens
ROOST BOOKS

The Vibrant Life
Amanda Haas
CHRONICLE BOOKS

The Yoga Plate
Tamal & Victoria Dodge
SOUNDS TRUE

Kripalu Kitchen
Jeremy Rock Smith
BALLANTINE BOOKS
(Try this recipe from the book: Rethinking Breakfast...Maybe.)

Eat to Beat Illness
Rupy Aujla, MD
HARPERONE


CROSS-CULTURAL CONNECTIONS

Traveler and explorer of fiction Gena Gallegos shares novels from  international women writers  that have made her laugh, cry, and marvel at the beauty of the written word. 

I’ve been fascinated by women novelists from different countries and different cultures for decades. I’ve got shelves full of their stories. My interest began while traveling the world in my late teens. Every place I went, I would search out any literature I could find written by women from that country or region.

Reading books by women reminds me of the threads that bind us all together. I can identify with and relate to them even though these women come from countries or communities far from my own. My life would be so much emptier without these stories. 

Lost Children Archive
Valeria Luiselli 

While on a cross-country road trip from New York to Arizona, a family finds itself caught up in a search for lost immigrant children. Beautifully written in alternating voices and filled with clippings, photos, poems, and musical references, the story becomes an incantation. KNOPF

The Dragonfly Sea
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor 

This novel of historical fiction is based on the little known fact that 600 years ago Chinese sailors were shipwrecked on a small island on Kenya’s eastern seaboard. It is a coming of age story of Ayaana, a small girl who grows up outcast and fatherless. Her journey eventually takes her far from home, but ultimately this is a book about homecoming. Adhiambo Owuor’s writing is so delicious it reminds me of the first time I tasted a mango: unique, extraordinary, indescribable. The lyrical, poetic language of the book washed over me like a warm tropical sea from which I did not want to emerge. KNOPF

The Secrets Between Us
Thrity Umrigar 

In The Secrets Between Us, Umrigar revisits characters from her equally wonderful earlier novel, The Space Between Us. She writes about the least visible of all people. Bhima, a low-caste illiterate woman who lives in a slum in Mumbai, and Parvati, an old woman who is homeless, forge an unlikely friendship while struggling to scrape by and hold on to their dignity. Umrigar shines a light on the most marginalized women in society, those with little chance to rise out of poverty, cast aside simply because of the circumstances of their birth. Through their strength and perseverance, there remains a glimmer of hope. HARPER

A Place for Us
Fatima Farheen Mirza

This astonishingly accomplished debut novel tells the story of an Indian Muslim family in California, whose children were born and raised in America under strict cultural rules. The novel weaves its way back and forth through time, painting a complete picture of family and culture, identity and belonging, choices and mistakes made, and the love that survives through it all. SJP FOR HOGARTH

Go, Went, Gone
Jenny Erpenbeck (translated by Susan Bernofsky) 

This is a novel about African refugees living in Europe. A retired professor comes across a group of refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz and becomes interested in learning more about them. He slowly befriends them and hears their stories. Meditative and lyrical, it is a truly heartbreaking story that ultimately becomes hopeful. It couldn’t be more timely. NEW DIRECTIONS

+ 5 books I can’t wait to read:

The Beekeeper of Aleppo
Christy Lefteri
BALLANTINE

Sabrina & Corina 
Kali Fajardo-Anstine
ONE WORLD

The Sweetest Fruits
Monique Truong
VIKING

The Affairs of the Falcons
Melissa Rivero
ECCO

A Woman Is No Man
Etaf Rum
HARPER COLLINS

MINIMALIST MINDSET

Kalia Kelmenson shares her favorite titles to stop clutter at the source by shifting how you think about what you bring into your home.

Paring down the trappings of life to the basics can create an immense amount of space, both in your immediate environment and internally. These titles will inspire you to take a closer look at what you choose to surround yourself with.

The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy
Shunmyo Mason

The sweet and simple—though not always easy—practices presented will create more space in your mind and in your life, one intentional step at a time. PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Life Enhancing Design
Clodagh

Led by the motto “life-enhancing minimalism,” Clodagh offers a minimalist aesthetic with a decidedly luxe feel by incorporating intriguing elements such as chromatherapy and biophilic design. GLITTERATI INCORPORATED

Clutter Intervention: How Your Stuff Is Keeping You Stuck
Tisha Morris

An illuminating guide to uncovering the emotional and energetic reasons you can’t seem to tackle that cupboard that is stuffed to bursting or the closet filled with clothes you never wear. LLEWELLYN

+ 5 books I’m making space for:

A Year For You
Stephanie Bennett Vogt
HIEROPHANT PUBLISHING

Less Stuff
Lindsay Miles
HARDIE GRANT

Making Space, Clutter Free
Tracy McCubbin
SOURCE BOOKS

Waste Not Everyday
Erin Rhoads
HARDIE GRANT

The Big Book of Less
Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst
WORKMAN

(Read our story 5 Steps to Clear Mental Clutter.)

BEFRIENDING FEAR

Meera Lee Patel, S&H contributing artist and author of My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown, shares a mixture of adult and children’s titles that will shrink the abyss between you and your fear.

I’ve learned that the best way to defuse my fear is by pulling it closer to me. The more I know about my own fears and anxieties—where they are rooted, why they follow me everywhere, and what they want me to understand—the less power they have over me. The best thing about getting to know your fear? The freedom that follows closely after. 

Me and My Fear
Francesca Sanna

A poignant peek into the life of a young immigrant girl and her friend, Fear, who accompanies her through her lonely days in a new country—and a great lesson in how our fears begin to dissipate when we share them. FLYING EYE BOOKS

Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
Pema Chödrön

A useful guide to identifying the patterns, habits, and cycles that trap us into living by our fears—and learning how to break them. SHAMBHALA   

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm
Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hahn approaches fear (and anxiety) with compassion and grace. In Fear, he encourages us to use mindfulness to stay present so we can find clarity in our fears. HARPERONE

A Monster Calls: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd
Patrick Ness

When young Conor’s mother falls ill, he finds a monster in his backyard—and it wants to talk to him. A beautiful and curious novel about finding comfort and understanding in facing our fears. CANDLEWICK

+5 books I’m excited to explore:

Braving the Wilderness
Brené Brown
RANDOM HOUSE 

Nevertheless, We Persisted
Amy Klobuchar
EMBER 

Small Animals
Kim Brooks
FLATIRON BOOKS

Standing at the Edge
Joan Halifax
FLATIRON BOOKS

Alma and the Beast
Esme Shapiro
TUNDRA BOOKS 

(Read our story Don't Move the Way Fear Makes You Move.)


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