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Editor Picks: Books, Films, and Music

by Alma TassiJune 14, 2015
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Thoughtful reads, alternatives to blockbuster films, and music to move your soul. Here are our May/June 2015 reviews:

Books

Brain Maker
The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain—For Life
By David Perlmutter, MD

The gut houses an internal compass, but could it also hold the key to health?  In Brain Maker, Dr. David Perlmutter makes a strong case for the genius of the gut. He proposes that our bellies—more accurately, the inflammation and negative bacteria found within them—have a profound influence on depression, Alzheimer’s, and other brain-related ailments.

Death Makes Life Possible
Revolutionary Insights on Living, Dying,  and the Continuation of Consciousness
By Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

In his introduction to this companion to the documentary film of the same name, Deepak Chopra divides the world into two camps: those who believe that mind arises in the brain and that consciousness ceases when the brain dies; and those who believe that mind exists independently, and thus can have an afterlife.

Undivided
A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace
By Patricia Raybon and Alana Raybon

A Muslim, a Christian, and a lapsed Catholic walk into a book review . . . For millennia, religious differences have been a font for humor and reflection, as well as a trigger for tension and war. But what if those tensions are within your own family, and the war turns out to be with yourself? In the enlightening nonfiction book Undivided, a mother and daughter try to bridge the chasm that was created when one of them converted to Islam.

A Fearless Heart
How the Courage to Be Compassionate  Can Transform Our Lives
By Thupten Jinpa, PhD

In the same way that science was employed to help mindfulness catch on in the West, Jinpa uses findings from the field of contemplative science—which studies the effects of contemplative practices like meditation on health, emotional regulation, and more—to make the case that we are “social creatures endowed with instincts for compassion and kindness.”

Films

Because I Was a Painter
Directed by Christophe Cognet

The film explores artwork created of the Holocaust by artists who lived it first-hand, utilizing interviews and readings from memoirs not just to portray their experiences and their work, but also to reveal their feelings about the work itself.

We Are the Giant
Directed by Greg Barker

Barker takes three disparate stories from three different countries—each of which currently has a different outcome politically—and tries to find common threads, showing how the attempt at nonviolent resistance is constantly in conflict with the immediate needs of revolution.

The Human Experiment
Directed by Don Hardy and Dana Nachman

The “experiment” referred to in the title of this documentary is the inadvertent one we’re all living in, thanks to the thousands of untested chemicals that have made it into our everyday lives.

Music

Rising Appalachia
Wider Circles

Wider Circles is the newest release from Rising Appalachia, continuing their powerful blending of folk, blues, global percussion, and social justice led by vocalist sisters Leah and Chloe Smith.

The Fourth Light
Niyaz

Led by vocalist Azam Ali and multi-instrumentalist Loga R. Torkian, the Iranian-American group Niyaz crafts an exquisite braid of traditional Middle Eastern folk music, trance electronica, and Sufi poetry.

Deuter
Reiki Hands of Love

A follow up to Reiki Hands of Light, this new album is the work of new age master musician Deuter, who is also a Reiki practitioner in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Peaceful and calming sounds have been the center of his prolific career, resulting in over 60 albums since 1970.


Alma Tassi has written for several magazines and edited books on spirituality, personal growth, and women's issues. almatassi.com.

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