Reading and Having and Holding

Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.
~ Rumi

Dear Grandson,

You are looking at change. I admire your bravery and am stunned by your ability to wait.

I talked about sending you a list of books for this time of renewal and restoration, but I’m a bit stymied. What have I been reading? What have I enjoyed? What do I feel is important in my search for understanding? All of those can differ so here is a small cross-section.

The books I keep because I want access: Universal Wisdom (Griffiths) Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (Branden), the book you sent me – The Art of Living (Epictetus/Lebell), Lying (Harris), The Wisdom of the Enneagram (Riso/Hudson), Bodhisattva Mind (And almost anything by Pema Chodron).

The really hard books I am trying to read (slowly but surely) because without knowing more history I can’t really comprehend my white, middle-class privilege: Bound for Canaan (Bordewich), Roundhouse and LaRosa, (Erdich), Waking up White (Irving), Ghosts from the Nursery, Karr-Morse/Wiley,

Books that I love more at my age than I would have at yours: My Stroke of Insight (Taylor), The Second Half of Life (Arrien), The Mind-Body Code (Martinez).

Fiction that has truly grabbed me: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Sendker), Before I Die (Downham), A Man called Ove (Backman), All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr), The Fault in Our Stars (Green). And some that I can’t even justify: Ellen Foster (Gibbons), Yellow Raft on Blue Water (Dorris), Me talk pretty one day (Sedaris).

And I love poetry:

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal,  to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
let it go.“-Mary Oliver

“Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be(…)“- Grace Paley,

“(…)Every woman whose aging
            has rendered her invisible

or by her youth or age
            has been seen as powerless(…)

Turn to your sisters(…)
            and weep for their knowledge”-Maude Meehan,

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”-Rumi

“Don’t Surrender
Your loneliness so quickly.

Let it cut more

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.”-Hafiz

Well, my Love, this was difficult for me to make choices. Although I primarily use the library now, I still own many books and can’t list each one. And it is making me wonder what is truly important to me now.

Hopefully, there are ideas here that will appeal to you.


P. S. I should probably mention that my guilty pleasure is what I call a “bathtub book” – a cheap romance without gratuitous sex that is very well written. Nothing more relaxing…


  1. I went through a phase when I found it difficult to choose what to read recently and decided to start with P G Wodehouse. The humour did it for me and I went back to regular reading after that.


    • I’m not sure this is a phase for me. I almost always have some serious, some spiritual, some challenging, and a few books getting current buzz. (All at the ready – some picked up more often than others.) Those romance novels are my light reading. I should try some humor.


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