I’m starting a new tradition: Every December, I’m going to share the most influential books of that year.
We’re two weeks into January — so I’m a little late — but here's my list from 2017.
The Biology of Transcendence - Joseph Chilton Pearce
If I could name one author who has influenced my life the most, it would be Joseph Chilton Pearce. He's a revolutionary. When I read his bestseller Magical Child in 2016, I resonated so deeply and felt so invigorated that I literally swore I would make it my life's work to pass on his ideas. I went on to read five more of his books that year and then began 2017 with The Biology of Transcendence, so naturally, it deserved a spot on this list. The pages of this book have the power to completely shake up your assumptions about the world and our potential as humans. It shows us "how we can go beyond the limitations and constraints of our current capacities of body and mind -- how we can transcend." And most importantly, it offers insight as to how we can provide our children with the environment necessary to reach their highest potential.
Heal Your Birth, Heal Your Life - Sharon King
I read this book only a few weeks into my pregnancy with Ruby. I had already read a few other books about babies and consciousness in the womb, but Sharon really took it to the next level because she showed me how these early experiences can actually impact us for the rest of our lives. Induction, c-section, forceps, IVF, stress in the womb and more — whether we recognize it or not, most of us experienced and still carry early trauma. The magical thing about this book, though, is that Sharon offers tools to actually connect with and transform these subconscious memories. I ended up reaching out to her and we had two Skype sessions that were incredibly transformative. (Plus a third session with practitioner Wendy Ayotte!) I cried my eyes out and felt major shifts. This book needs to get into the hands of more people, y'all. Pass it around!
Unhindered Childbirth: Wisdom for the Passage of Unassisted Birth - Sarah Morgan Haydock
This was the only book I read about birth during my pregnancy. In fact, I had no interest in reading any books about pregnancy or birth, until I was in my final weeks and realized that I wanted to go solo — no midwife. I found this little gem on Amazon and devoured it in a few hours. It was beautifully written and when I finished it, there was not doubt in my mind that I was ready to birth Ruby unassisted. All it took was a gentle nudge of inspiration from this book and just one birth story on the Free Birth Society podcast.
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves - Naomi Aldort
"An insightful and eloquent guide for parents who wish to raise their children with unconditional love, and empower them to be self-reliant, expressive, caring and able to form close human connections."
Oh, I love this one. When Elan was a baby, I used to listen to Naomi Aldort podcast interviews and I always found myself resonating with her approach to parenting. I didn’t actually read her book until he was nearly two years old, though. We were struggling with how to respond to his developing personality and I felt completely and utterly lost. After reading this book (and highlighting nearly every other sentence), I felt at ease again. Here are some ways we've applied her ideas:
- Don't have an agenda. My role as a parent is not to manipulate my children into obeying me.
- If I want him to pick up his mess, I simply ask nicely and respect his answer -- even if that answer is "no". I want him to help because he wants to help, not because he's forced to. (With this one, I think back to my own childhood and how much I would've loved to be respected in this way.)
- When he's "acting out" and clearly trying to exercise control -- give him control in some form. Even if it's something little or you have to act it out in a game.
- We still practice patience when leaving an activity he's loving, like the park or the appliance section at Lowe's. We give him a heads up, then another heads up, and if he is deeply engrossed in something, we ask ourselves: Do we really need to leave, or can we just let him be a kid?
This book really shaped the way I feel about postpartum. In all the rush of modern society, we've lost touch with the importance of supporting new mothers. This book is part story, part recipes and tools. I highly recommend it to all mothers, doulas and birth workers. After reading it, I made myself a postpartum recipe binder and vowed to nurture myself after birth. (We also stuffed our freezer with nearly two dozen mason jars of her Shiitake Immune-Boost Broth!)
"You are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose."
This book was a game-changer for me. I first heard of Joe Dispenza when he was featured in the movie What The Bleep Do We Know?! Many years later, I came across his name again and knew I was ready to learn more about his work. I remember reading it on my phone at night, while nursing a 3-week-old Ruby to sleep. When she was fast asleep, I'd roll out of bed and run over to my partner, talking excitedly about how we are co-creating our reality right now, in this moment. It was a liberating feeling. He has several meditations that can facilitate this process and I hope to attend one of his workshops in the future. I have several friends who've been and have nothing but great things to say.
I'm finishing up this list with my favorite cookbook of all time! The recipes are delicious, but my favorite thing about this book is how much Amy breaks down the basics: her pantry, soaking and sprouting, sample menu plans and more. After reading this, I organized my kitchen and cooking has since become more enjoyable -- simple and routine. Our favorite recipe from this book is her Simple Red Lentil Soup. We're actually making it for dinner as I type this. ;-)
Writing this list has left me feeling so much gratitude for these authors, their books and my library card. Books are one of the best tools for transformation and I'm excited to see what I'll stumble upon in 2018.
What books influenced or inspired you the most in 2017? What are you reading right now?