Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. One of the benefits of being a dual citizen of Canada and the United States is that I get to celebrate this holiday twice, in October and November. I’m currently with U.S. friends and family and feeling thankful for them and for you who are reading this post.
This is also a time of year where we start seeing favorite books lists. I’m an avid reader and so thankful for the books in my life. I enjoy looking back to see what books I’ve read during the year and which ones had the most impact.
Here are my top nine books for the year, some on photography and some not, although it all blends together.
1. The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer
Dyer describes the friendships between some of history’s greatest photographers and how they influenced each other and developed their own styles. If you’re interested in the history of photography and photographers, you’ll enjoy this book.
Here’s a post I wrote on quotes that stood out to me from this book.
2. Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers (including photographers) by Leonard Koren
Wabi-sabi refers to an elusive and elegant beauty. Wabi suggests a beauty of elegant imperfection. Sabi means loneliness or rather aloneness. It also refers to sparseness and austerity. Together, wabi-sabi suggests the beauty of ‘the withered, weathered, tarnished, scarred, intimate, coarse, earthly, evanescent, tentative, ephemeral.’ ~ Crispin Sartwell, Six Names of Beauty
3. The Widening Stream by David Ulrich
Seeing is truly a form of magic, a perceptual pleasure, a source of real learning and questioning, and a doorway to invisible worlds. As adults, we have much to relearn. ~ David Ulrich
David Ulrich is a photographer and I always enjoy his writing. This book is about creativity, written by a photographer, Unique and enlightening.
4. The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer
Of course, I’m a fan of stillness, in mind and body. Pico Iyer is a smart man with lots of travel and experience under his belt, yet has such a gentle presence. In this short book, he explores the topic of stillness – how he came to it and how others incorporate it in their lives, from the Tibetan monk, Mathieu Ricard to singer Leonard Cohen.
5. and 6. On the Move, a biography by Dr. Oliver Sacks and Townie by Andre Dubus III.
These two are from the autobiography/memoir category and I couldn’t choose between the two of them.
Oliver Sacks is the famed neurologist who wrote this story of his life while dying from cancer. He is one of my heroes, someone who lived life on his own terms, continually evolving and working to the very end.
Townie is the story of Andre Dubus’ life growing up in working class Pennsylvania. It is one of the most well written pieces I’ve ever read and his story stayed with me long after the last pages were turned.
7. Blue Mind, The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On or Under Water can make you Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What you Do by Wallace J Nichols
I first heard Wallace J Nichols speak at his alma mater, De Pauw University in Indiana, about his research about and love for sea turtles. I kept up with him and his work over the years and saw him advance to being a vocal advocate for the earth and our oceans. He hands out blue marbles at speaking events to remind people that they live on a planet made up mostly of water.
As someone who relies on the healing aspects of water in all forms, I was intrigued to read this new book on how water affects our minds. Blue Mind is the name he gave to “the human-water connection, a meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.”
It’s a fascinating read.
8. A Hidden Wholeness, The Journey towards an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer
In this book, he speaks to the human yearning to live undivided lives — lives that are in alignment with our core values. This is not so easy to do in a world that often rewards us for not being who we really are. He describes how to create “circles of trust” or “communities of truth” in our communities, where everyone feels safe to speak and be themselves. We used these principles in the online community for the Visual Journaling workshop.
I wrote more about this book at this post.
9. Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin
On a similar topic, but in a totally different vein, Bill Plotkin speaks of wholeness in terms of the archetypal stages in a human life.
Nature and the Human Soul introduces a visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us. Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin presents a model for a human life span rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world, a blueprint for individual development that ultimately yields a strategy for cultural transformation.
What book had the most impact on you this year?