Bookaholics Reading List: May

Writing Down the Bones, Wabi-Sabi, Turning Pro, Rumi and The Surrender Experiment

Welcome to Bookaholics—a free monthly publication for book-loving multidisciplinary. Each month I’ll highlight a curated list of interesting non-fiction and fiction books that might suit your fancy.

Here’s what I’ve been reading —

Non-fiction:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

really enjoyed this one. It’s less about grammar and structure, and more about finding your voice as a writer and practical ways to hone your writing abilities. Here are a few highlights I enjoyed:

“Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.”

“I don’t think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories-of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.”

“There is freedom in being a writer and writing. It is fulfilling your function. I used to think freedom meant doing whatever you want. It means knowing who you are, what you are supposed to be doing on this earth, and then simply doing it.”

tiny review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Links:

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

This is a short (but impactful) book on the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi. Essentially, it’s a worldview of finding beauty and purpose in imperfection. Highlights:

“Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.”

“But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?”

tiny review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Links:

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield

This is a book I keep coming back to. Steven Pressfield is a master at getting to the essence of an idea. Have you ever felt like an amateur? Someone who wants to be great at something—like writing, or music—but can’t quite figure out how to get there. If you are looking for inspiration or a kick in the pants —you’re in luck because this book is for you. Turning Pro is packed with bite-sized insights on how to up your game as a creative. Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

“The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow.”

“Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.”

“The professional does not wait for inspiration; he acts in anticipation of it.”

“The Spartan king Agesilaus was still fighting in armor when he was eighty-two. Picasso was painting past ninety, and Henry Miller was chasing women (I’m sure Picasso was too) at eighty-nine.

Once we turn pro, we’re like sharks who have tasted blood, or renunciants who have glimpsed the face of God. For us, there is no finish line. No bell ends the bout. Life is the pursuit. Life is the hunt. When our hearts burst… then we’ll go out, and no sooner.”

tiny review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Links:

The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks

In the past year, Rumi has been one of the books in my daily reads (I’ll be dedicating another bookaholics edition on my daily reads list). Each morning I’ve read one to two poems (depending on their length). This is the kind of book that I imagine completely changes depending on who you are and when you come to it. Some Rumi poems are weird. Some are hilarious. All of them are insightful. Not every poem landed on me—but perhaps a future version of myself will pick up insights on a second or fourth visit. There are enough nuggets in here that I would recommend you giving it a shot. Now that I’ve finished it, I don’t think I’ll be keeping it in my daily book stack, but I do want to reread it in a few years. Here’s a random collection of my favorite lines:

“Be melting snow.

Wash yourself of yourself.”

“When something goes wrong, accuse yourself first.

Even the wisdom of Plato or Solomon can wobble and go blind.”

“You’re crying. You say you’ve burned yourself.

But can you think of anyone who’s not hazy with smoke?”

“All people on the planet are children, except for a very few.

No one is grown up except those free of desire.”

“Humble living does not diminish. It fills. 

Going back to a simpler self gives wisdom.”

tiny review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Links:

The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer

This is a riveting story of Michael’s life that has me questioning how I live. At its core is a simple idea: What if I surrendered to what life throws at me? Instead of trying to force my desires and personality on events, what if I let go and allow Life (with a capital “L”) (God, Universe, [insert your personal beliefs here]) guide me instead? You won’t believe where that question takes his life. 

I consider myself an ambitious person. I don’t know if I could let go of my dreams and personal desires in life. But I have found this book insightful for when it comes to misfortune and curveballs life tends to throw at us. Sh🙈t happens. “We plan, God, laughs”. But being able to surrender to—and even enjoy— the obstacles that life throws at us is a powerful thing. In a way, it makes us invincible. Not invincible to pain, bad luck, or obstacles—rather, invincible to worry and anxiety that we stack on top of our obstacles. I’d highly recommend this book (particularly if this idea of surrender makes you feel uncomfortable). Highlights:

“My formula for success was very simple: Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart and soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it were given to you by the universe itself - because it was.”

“How could I possibly explain the great freedom that comes from realizing to the depth of your being that life knows what it’s doing?”

“Am I better off making up an alternate reality in my mind and then fighting with reality to make it be my way, or am I better off letting go of what I want and serving the same forces of reality that managed to create the entire perfection of the universe around me?”

tiny review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Link to Amazon: The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection: by Michael A. Singer

Goodreads: The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer

Fiction:

My fiction reading has been lacking this month, unfortunately. I’ve been working overtime on a website project and most of my free time has been eaten up by my rewatch of Naruto (currently on Netflix and Hulu) and Naruto Shippuden (currently on Hulu) 😉

I’ve started a couple of good books though, but I think I’ll save those for next month. :) 

What have you been reading lately? Any of these books catch your eye? Feel free to email me back and start a conversation.

If you enjoyed this edition of Bookaholics, please like and subscribe if you haven’t, and share it with a book-loving friend or two.

Also, check out my other monthly publications Considerations and Practices.

Considerations is about creative inputs, Practices is about creative output.

Be Well,

Josh

RenaissanceLife

P.S.I had a great conversation with Derek Sivers on my podcast, Renaissance Life. If you are looking for ways to be more happy and creative, check it out here.