A good friend who knows books are prized possessions asked, “if you could only keep a few in your collection what would you pick?” This morning I spent about fifteen minutes looking from shelf to shelf in my library contemplating which of these “friends” I most prize. Here’s what’s in the stack on my desk I selected:
1 – “The Family Mark Twain”. Most all of Twain’s work in one volume. Sam Clemens had a style that speaks to me in a way no on else does. His sense of humor, adventure and speaking of the truth even when it was not popular moves my soul.
2 – “The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran”. Again I am cheating just a little for a number of Gibran’s books are contained in this one big volume. He had a special way of writing that touches the fiber of my being with their emotional truth. It moves my heart.
3 – “Why Your Life Sucks..” by Alan H. Cohen. There is no modern-living handbook that lays out how to achieve some measure of contentment and happiness so practically. His advice can be life changing. It was for me! I re-read this book around every two years.
4 – “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman PhD. Through the knowledge in this book I came to know that Optimism or Pessimism is a learned/chosen way of being ingrained by behavior and manner of thinking. One can change/grow, it just takes time.
5 – “Man’s Search For Meaning” Viktor Frankl. From a man who survived the Nazi death camps with his sanity I learned first hand that the quality of one’s life is not so much about what happens, but how we each allow what happens to effect us.
6 – “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. If I could keep two or three books this one would be among them. Thoreau wrote in a way that speaks authoritatively from first hand knowledge how his by-the-lake experiment showed how little a man actually needs.
7 – “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. What I needed showed up at the exact right moment. When I was truly ready to begin to learn a path to a better life, this book came to me through a friend. The past is a delusion; the future a delusion. There is only ‘now’.
8 – “Awakening the Buddha Within” by Lama Surya Das. This book and Tolle’s “Now” came into my life at almost the same time. Each compliments the other. It was here I discovered the enlightening ‘Eightfold Noble Path” I imperfectly do my best to live by.
9 – “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch. Traditional Christianity calls this book heresy, but I find it to contain a great deal practical advice about views of life and God. Fact or fiction, the contents set my mind at ease more so than ever before.
10.- “Additional Poems to the Golden Treasury”. Published in 1931, a copy of this little red book came to me over 30 years ago. More than any other factor it strengthened a still continuing love of poetry. My thanks to a one-time mother-in-law for giving it to me.
11 – “Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett 1845-1846″. No greater love story has ever been. My first-edition copy of this two-volume set only came into my life about six years ago. Through reading them the hapless romantic was kept alive within.
12 – “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood. All I have to do is look at this book to be reminded one person can make a huge difference if prepared to do what is necessary to accomplish a meaningful goal. It removes doubt about the power of one.
13 – “Growing Yourself Back Up” by John Lee. Another of the books I re-read every year or two. Small, simple and easy to read it’s been a big help in reconnecting me with my inner child. Finding out about another’s path to healing helped to heal me.
There are more and as I wrote down this list here I thought of at least a half-dozen other book with deep personal meaning. However, I have resisted the urge to lengthen the list past my initial selections. All total I paid no more than a few hundred dollars for the entire stack of thirteen, but their continuing value to me is near priceless.
To the writers I am thankful for the help each gave to me. To an even greater degree I am grateful to whatever divine force that brought book and author into my life at a time I could appreciate and learn from each one.
A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.
Edward P. Morgan