Cold winter days and hot summer siestas are perfect for curling up with a good book. Here are some of my favorite reads since arriving in Paraguay.
***Three stars (My favorites!):
- Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver. One of my favorite authors, I’ve never read a book of hers I didn’t love. This is a follow up to The Bean Trees. One of the most delightfully descriptive novels I’ve ever read, it left me rereading passages saying…”I never would have thought to describe it like that but, yeah, that’s fantastic!” Please read this book.
- The Red Tent – Anita Diamant. After the first few dozen pages of introducing the geneology, I could not put this down. It’s been on my list for years. A must-read for all women.
- The Hunger Games – Books 1, 2, 3 – Suzanne Collins. Couldn’t put them down. Read each in a day or 1 1/2.
- Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver. Couldn’t put it down.
- Mindfulness – Mark Williams and Danny Penman. An 8 week program but even if you don’t follow the 8 week outline, it’s a great read that I think everyone should consider. One gains great awareness of your thoughts, patterns and how to change them into something positive.
- The Male Brain– Louann Brizendino, MD, a fabulously entertaining, scientific yet witty account of the inner workings of the male brain from conception to old age. A must read for every woman. Also looking forward to reading its complement, The Female Brain.
- The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
- Half-Broke Horses– Jeannette Walls – couldn’t put it down
- Peace is Every Step – Thich Nhat Hanh
- Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love (A great read for anyone wanting to reconcile conflicting feelings about relationships—fear of marriage in particular.)
- Struggle for Intimacy – Janet Geringer Woititz, EdD, from the series “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (While not a child of an alcoholic I interact with many who are. This read was my attempt to better understand and relate to their struggles. Informative and compassionate.)
- The Places That Scare You – Pema Chödrön
- Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement – Roland Bunch
- Swimming to Antarctica – Lynn Cox
- Grayson – Lynn Cox
- How Yoga Works – Geshe Michael Roach & Christie McNally (perfect for any yogi or yoga teacher wanna-be)
- What Makes the Great Great – Dennis Kimbro (one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read)
- Water for Elephants – Sarah Gruen
- Strengths Finder – Tom Rath, a book of personality strengths, complete with your own personalized online survey results
- The Secret Life of Bees– Sue Monk Kidd (I loved and read in a day)
- Heart of a Woman – Maya Angelou
- Letter to My Daughter – Maya Angelou, a book of essays
- The Object of My Affection – Stephen McCauley (I read in 3 days)
- High Tide in Tucson – Barbara Kingsolver
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver (foodie or not this is a MUST READ)
- Reading People – Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, PhD and mark Mazzarella (a how-to book)
- “The Heart of the 5 Love Languages” – Gary Chapman (easy read, good for anyone in a relationship, who wants to be or who no longer is and is wondering what happened)
**Two Stars (highly recommend):
Tiger Heart, Tiger Mind, How to Empower Your Dream – Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold
The Gringo – J. Grigsby Crawford. A former Peace Corps volunteer recounts his service in Ecuador. A more accurate, humorous and sobering account of the life of a Peace Corps volunteer couldn’t be told.
- The Help – Kathryn Stockett. After a few chapters I couldn’t put it down.
- Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys. Read in 4 hours. Not a true story but based on real people and historical facts of concentration camps during Russia’s invasion of Lithuania during World War II.
- Running with Scissors – Augusten Burroughs. A memoir. If you think the childhoods described in The Glass Castle are crazy, this will have you reassessing that book and thanking your own parents for every good thing they did for you in childhood and forgiving them their mistakes.
- With or Without You – Carole Matthews. A fun piece of fiction. Calgon take me away.
- Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked – Meggan Watterson (I was ready to give this one 1 star but the last two chapters and the benediction really took my breath away and brought the whole book together; this woman understands my path)
- Honey Trail – Grace Pundyk (the big business of honeys around the world; gets better the further you get into the book)
- “Plain Living – Quaker Simplicity” – Catherine Whitmire (a book of quotes)
- Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortensen
- Stones Into Schools – Greg Mortensen
- “The Touch of Healing: Jin Shin Jyutsu” – Alice Burmeister with Tom Monte
- Robbing the Bees – Holley Bishop (part life-of-a-beekeeper and part bees-throughout-history, with lots of bee facts)
- A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle (deep and totally spoke to me)
- The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White (yes, this is a kids’ book but I guess I was drawn to it to bring me back to that time when, as a child, you didn’t question logic [swans talk to humans and write with chalk? No problem!] and were lulled into the land of story and fantasy; it actually fueled my creative side in the weeks that followed; read it, no matter your age)
*One Star (recommend if you don’t have any of the above on hand):
- The Heart of the Soul – Gary Zukav and Linda Francis. The content and ideas were 3-star-worthy but I felt the authors over-explained and repeated concepts too much for me, bringing it to 1-star. Still a great read if you’re seeking to raise your emotional awareness and chakra IQ
- The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver
- The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
- Soul Cravings – Erwin Raphael McManus
- Teaching Yoga – Donna Farhi, good for yoga teachers or teacher-wanna-bes
- The Saffron Kitchen – Yasmin Crowther
- Mending the World- Social Healing Interventions by Gestalt Practitioners Worldwide – Joseph Melnick & Edwin C. Nevis, this got 1 star mostly because it’s a technical book, geared toward psychotherapy practitioners. I was excited about it because I’m interested in being a Gestalt practitioner but it’s not for anyone desiring a “Calgon take me away” reading experience.
No Star: Did not like or couldn’t finish:
- Dancer – Colum McCann. I was ready to give this 2 stars for the first half of the book where McCann’s gift with words proved remarkable with beautifully creative and descriptive phrasing, a story told from the perspectives of each character, but the writing changed as the book progressed into darker, more vulgar, violent and incoherent writing, like the main character’s life and I lost interest and left it with 100 pages to go. I also didn’t like the way I would have to read several paragraphs to decipher which character was narrating in each section and his inconsistent movement back and forth through various time periods was hard to follow.
- Tomb of the Inflatable Pig – John Gimlette. Couldn’t finish it. In the beginning i enjoyed Gimlette’s creative descriptions but these soon weren’t enough to buoy my dismay over Paraguay’s sad history of failed attempts toward progress. I left it unfinished and depressed.
- Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life – Dr. Wayne Dyer. Interesting interpretations of the Tao but found myself saying, “I’ll just finish this verse then I’ll put this away for good.” Each verse I found interesting and held me but guess Dr Dyer’s explanations were longer than necessary and a bit of a turn off. I lost interest. Would recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about the Tao, however. Perhaps it just wasn’t my time.
- Man & Woman – Donald Pfaff, Phd. Was very scientific and technical and I didn’t finish. Was looking for something more like The Male Brain (see above) with wit and everyday lingo.
Currently Working On:
- Smile at Fear – Chögyam Trungpa
- Forgiveness – Dr. Sidney Simon and Suzanne Simon