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My Favorite Books – Part II

As promised, this week I’ll be sharing more books that have engrossed me and that I believe will either entertain or inspire you or give you new perspectives on life, relationships, our rapidly changing world today, and what we might expect in the future.


I began reading Carlos Castaneda’s books in my 30s, starting with The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan. These books opened my eyes to the possibility of mysticism on a level I’d never considered—with the possibility of living life through an intensely heightened experience of wisdom, provided by the teaching of shamans in the ancient traditions of Central and South America.


Castaneda’s books gave me a new viewpoint on self-transformation and achieving inner peace. My biggest takeaway from his many works—I read them all—is in the title A Separate Reality, because through reading Castaneda I came to understand that there is room for belief and understanding at different levels and dimensions of experience, opening me to the possibility that those experiences and thoughts could, in fact, be “a separate reality” from the one we experience in our everyday lives.


Soon after starting to read Castaneda, I read Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validation of the Soul by Jane Roberts, a medium, and her husband Robert Butts, who transcribed the words Roberts channeled from the spirit who identified himself as “Seth.” Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet had opened me to the possibility of information coming to people in a trance, now referred to as “channeling”; Seth Speaks strengthened my acceptance of this possibility.


Brian L. Weiss, M.D.’s, Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives opened my mind to the possibility that past-life experiences could be real.


I love John Irving’s novels because of their unique styles and points of view. My favorites are The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules, and The Hotel New Hampshire.


As you can see from the list so far as well as the books to come, most of my favorite books have focused on the nature of spirituality and how to live a spiritual life; the relationship between our mind and our brain and how both influence our thinking and actions; and analyses of our world today. I’m also fascinated by books about contemporary technology and how the world will evolve in the future.


From the novel Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan I came to understand the possibility of a message of spiritual truth delivered through the Aboriginal culture, and the novel The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho showed me how the twists and turns of life are never ending.


Future Shock by Alvin Toffler fascinated me with its original thinking. It was the first time I read an analysis of the challenges presented by the unprecedented rate of change in the post-industrial world and about the world becoming “fully wired” with computer technology and the possibilities that could come from that.


Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life by Maxwell Maltz was instrumental in giving me a glimpse into how the mind works and how it can trick us. I was inspired by Be Here Now by Ram Dass—in which this miraculous man, who’s helped so many people and whom I had the good fortune to meet after reading the book, describes his spiritual journey from being a psychologist at Harvard to dedicating his life to living in the present, following the Hindu philosophy he learned from the guru in India who awakened him.


I also loved Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, which explains our spiritual existence in a simple book that can be read in two hours, and Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn, which explains why the place of human beings on the planet is teetering. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle, renewed and strengthened my understanding of the concept of the now and the difference between living our lives in the present and being controlled by our past; and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg is an insightful analysis of how, if we let them, our psyches can run us in predictable and not always productive ways.


The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, an elegant book by don Miguel Ruiz, boils down everything we need to know to four operating principles:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.[1]



If we follow these simple rules, we live lives of authenticity and integrity, and maximize our opportunities for experiencing happiness and fulfillment.


Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme by Richard Brodie taught me how the mind can latch on to things, either employing them or sniffing at them and walking by.


I’ve enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s books Outliers: The Story of Success, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. All provide an understanding of how to look at life through “the other end of the telescope”—seeing what you can observe about it from a distance instead of being immersed in its daily details—and how important that is to gaining clarity about our lives and our society.


The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku gave me an understanding of where we as a species are heading, with a positive outlook on the benefits of combining technological advances with the biology of our brain. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by engineer and inventor Ray Kurzweil is another book showing the future of technology’s role in helping us humans evolve, and revealing that intelligence is the currency of the universe.


The Mindful Brain, a brilliant CD audio course by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., presents an understanding of neuroscientists’ current research on the mind and the brain, interpersonal neurobiology, and why the brain’s neuroplasticity (malleability) allows us as individuals to have a choice about whether we’re going to think and act in ways that often work against us or learn to think and act in ways that are appropriate and effective.


Clearly books can open the door to imagination and knowledge. I hope you can use this list to increase the pleasure of this lifetime for you!





[1] don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen, 1997).

  • 23 Oct, 2014
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 5 Tags

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