What books have been important to you in your life?
Which books do you keep on your shelf, no matter how many times you move and box and then unbox them?
How have they changed as you moved through the decades and phases of your life?
How may your book be important to someone?
And what life phase may they be in when they need it?
Stories shape our lives. And we find the right one at the right time.
I know during my 20s one particular book lit my path in the most spectacular way. It was The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield.
I was living in London, getting up in a dank flat with little light and taking an hour’s commute into Fleet Street where I was a junior reporter on a financial publication. Work ended at around 8pm after we filed our stories and the paper went to print, and then it was off to the pub for the entire staff of the newsroom.
I was far away from my African home and living in a city that felt hard and big and disconnected.
I was a voracious reader but something about this book was different and when its green cover landed in my hands it felt like a jewel. It merged Eastern wisdom with New Age ideas all wrapped up as a journey that was presented as a novel, or a parable. Okay that part was a bit confusing but it seemed to work at the time.
The Celestine Prophecy was one of the first popular spiritual / self help books in its genre and, at the time, it was totally revolutionary. Redfield famously self published it and sold tens of thousands of copies himself before Warner Books picked it up. It is still on the bestseller lists 30 year and over 100,000 copies later.
As I got older I found other books that lit more of my path, questioned my thinking and gave me new ideas.
Some took me down the path of money – Rich Dad Poor Dad was one (and I was fuming that I had a poor dad and I sure told him so with the blame of a 20 year old!).
Each big shift in my thinking came from a book. These were all non fiction. All the novels ....I have loved every one.... but it is the 'true stuff' that connects us and shifts us.
The 25-year-old me wanted stories of politics, modern history and travel.
The 30-year-old me devoured books about feeding babies and disciplining toddlers and losing the baby weight.
The 35-year-old me consumed books about building a business, spiritual growth and cooking for a family
The 37-year-old me read stories about curing cancer,losing a husband, surviving a Near Death Experience and coping with grief, pain and loss.
The 42-year-old me read books and stories about living with breast cancer, finding a more guided path, eating right and healing - body, heart and soul, communicating with teenagers without losing my mind.
Right now I look for stories about navigating midlife, mindful parenting, finding peace, working more efficiently, feeling more joy, getting smarter with money (still on that search).
When I look back on The Celestine Prophesy now, I cannot even recall the story. I remember the message that rang so clear (call it the lesson if you will) that everything happens for a reason. But I remember most how it made me feel and think differently.
What are the books that you can't throw away?
And will you end up writing one?
What are the books (or genre's) that are absent from your shelves?
Yours, in writing and story
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