Have you ever read a book which changed how you think? That impacted your life so much that you just know your life has changed course because you read it?
As an avid reader I have read a LOT of books. I did a degree in English Literature in the ’90s and I’m married to an academic. My home is full of book shelves!
There are so many books I’ve read and loved over the years (as a teenager and into my twenties I loved Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Virginia Woolf…). And yes, in some ways, these great novelists shaped how I saw myself and humanity and nature and society, and I still have a deep love for their writing.
But, in the last few years, I have read some books which I know have changed me.
In 2015 I read three books which changed the way I live my life.
It was the year I turned 40! The stars aligned and divine direction brought me the information I needed.
And these three books have changed the way I live my life, and the work that I am called to do.
#1 The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr Elaine Aron
So, let’s start with this one. About the trait of high sensitivity. Sensory Processing Sensitivity is a trait shared by 15-20% of the entire population (and all higher mammals).
This means having a nervous system which is more sensitive to your surroundings and stimuli. In practice this means a tendency to be very aware of the subtleties in your environment, picking up on other people’s moods, needing quiet-time on very busy days, being sensitive to caffeine, being overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, startling easily, having a rich inner life.
Oh, this is SO me! Reading the book, I felt this explained so much of my life – the feeling of not fitting in, of needing to withdraw and have quiet-time. Because, let’s be frank, we don’t live in a world which values quiet, thoughtful, kind sensitivity do we?
This book helped me to understand myself; re-frame my life experience; to understand what I need to thrive; and to find a sense of self-acceptance which – to be frank – had been somewhat lacking before reading this book.
#2 Pagan Paths by Pete Jennings
My husband bought me this book for our the-day-we-met Anniversary in August. I must have expressed an interest in exploring these paths – but I can’t remember what pointed me in this direction! An inner sense of yearning for meaningful connection perhaps. Ancestral memories and callings maybe?
Anyway, I definitely connect reading this book with the path I am now walking to become a Priestess of the Goddess Brighid!
I didn’t know anything about Pagan pathways before this … other than I felt a deep calling to live in rhythm with the Celtic Wheel of the Year.
This book showed me some of the pathways … and introduced me to the idea of Goddess. Of a spirituality with Earth wisdom and feminism in its roots. Now THAT called me, very strongly!
I don’t tend to refer to this book much now. I’ve found the path I’m happy to walk now: an earth-based divine feminine spirituality.
But I DO refer to this book a LOT…
See also: Sacred Earth Celebrations by Glennie Kindred
I refer to this book every 6 weeks because it’s all about the Celtic festivals of the Wheel of the Year: the equinoxes, solstices, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas & Samhain.
“It explores the eight Celtic festivals, how they were celebrated and understood in the past, the underlying changing energy of the Earth, and the ways we may use this energy to create meaningful celebrations for today to deepen our connection to the Earth and our fellow human beings.”
#3 Code Red by Lisa Lister
Right at the end of 2015 I read Code Red by Lisa Lister and discovered the power of my menstrual cycle. As she puts it: “know your flow, unlock your monthly super powers and create a bloody amazing life. Period.” Great advice indeed!
This offered another profound moment of awakening: why didn’t I already know this? Why wasn’t I taught about the natural and powerful ebbs and flows of the menstrual cycle? Why had I been disconnected from this ancient blood wisdom which flows through all women?
I got angry.
Since reading this book I’ve been charting my menstrual cycle – every day I know which part of my cycle I’m at and make a note of the feelings and emotions I’m experiencing.
I know my cycle. I know my own ebbs and flows. It’s empowering. (I know that around day 25 I’ll likely feel like everything’s going to shit and I can’t be bothered anymore – and I know that this will pass and I don’t take any important decisions based on this feeling!).
See also: Wild Power by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer
All about harnessing the power of the menstrual cycle.
Practical, inspiring and transformational.
“Wild Power tells a radical new story about feminine power… Written with humour, tenderness and practicality, and packed with women’s stories and quotes throughout, Wild Power will restore women to wholeness and reinstate the full majesty and grace of the Feminine.”
If you menstruate or have daughters – then you need to read this book!
And another favourite…
If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie
OK, I know this is the sixth book – in a list of three! – but I couldn’t leave it off the list!
I first read it in 2017 (and am currently re-reading it).
“If Women Rose Rooted has been described as both transformative and essential. Sharon Blackie leads the reader on a quest to find their place in the world, drawing inspiration from the wise and powerful females in native mythology, and guidance from contemporary women who have re-rooted themselves in land and community and taken responsibility for shaping the future.”
I absolutely agree.
It’s thought-provoking and inspiring.
And it reconnects us to the myths and stories of our Celtic ancestors.
This feels so important to me as I endeavour to find spiritual practices and teachings which are rooted in the land I live in … rather than lifted out of context, colonized and appropriated from other complex, ancient cultures.
So, that’s my list.
I could add many, many more I’m sure.
What about you? Which books have changed your life?
I’ve love to hear in the comments below.
Here’s to the power of thought and words to inspire, heal and transform!