The Quest for 52 Books: April

April showered me with 11 wonderful books (bringing my year’s total to 40), most of them focused on Buddhism, which is turning out to be a useful lens through which I might integrate my experiences in Ecuador and the Netherlands into my present life. The lone exception, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, was a great practical test of the radical compassion I’m attempting to internalize from all the other texts. Rather than withdraw from the world, these spiritual readings are calls to participate more fully in it. How? In love and gratitude. If that sounds silly to you, I invite you to open your heart to the possibility of these forces as the only creative (not destructive) transformative means we have at our disposal. If you want the world to change, start with the energy you’re bringing into it.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.


2017 and the Quest for 52 Books

April: 11 books completed

  • Matthieu Ricard’s Happiness
  • Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow
  • Peter Hershock’s Liberating Intimacy
  • Anthony de Mello’s The Song of the Bird
  • Thomas Armstrong’s Awakening Genius in the Classroom
  • Thich Naht Hanh’s Fear
  • David R. Loy’s The World is Made of Stories
  • Alan Watts’ The Wisdom of Insecurity
  • Sharon Salzberg’s Faith
  • The Dhammapada, trans. Gil Fronsdal
  • James Ishmael Ford’s If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

March: 3 books completed

  • Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story
  • Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
  • Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings: Poems

February: 9 books completed

  • Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings
  • Eknath Easwaran’s (trans.) The Bhagavad Gita
  • Andre Aciman’s Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere
  • Mary Oliver’s Upstream: Selected Essays
  • Charlotte J. Beck’s Nothing Special
  • Octavia Butler’s Kindred
  • Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States [Infinite Winter selection]
  • Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

January: 17 books completed

  • Jonathan Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See
  • Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up
  • James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time
  • Mary Roach’s Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
  • Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
  • Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History
  • Will Hines’ How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth
  • Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric
  • Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic
  • Parvati Markus’ Love Everyone
  • Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart
  • Jesmyn Ward’s The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
  • Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
  • J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  • Rob Bell’s What We Talk About When We Talk About God
  • Thich Nhat Hanh’s How To Eat
  • Thich Nhat Hanh’s How To Love

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