I love the magic of religious symbols and numbers. Though I am not religious in the familiar sense, I find comfort in symbols and numbers. Twelve (12) is the number of apostles to Christ. In 2004, I completed an over 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 40 days. The year (2004) was a holy year, Ano Jacobeo, because Santiago’s (the apostle, Saint James’) birthday fell on a Sunday, the 7th day of the week by biblical terms. I turned 33 while walking and communing with other spiritually awakened folks along this pilgrimage. Thirty-three is the age Jesus began to teach, known by writings in the bible. Given the wonder of the symbolic nature of most of my life, I figured it was apropos to use the number 12 in naming this blog post.
Whether you’re just beginning on this journey, or you’ve been on it for a minute and a half, these books are extraordinary reads for anyone who is wanting to awaken to more in their life than what their 5 senses can muster.
These books will give you insight into whatever it is that is arising in your awareness as you encounter new thoughts, new ideas and new principles. This list is not, by any means, an end-all/be-all and though I made reference to the bible above, you will not find it on this list. These books are a starting point, and for some, a jump-off point. They can spur further inquiry to continue on a path of wonder, curiosity, delight and extemporaneous connections with the magic of life.
Here are the 12 books I recommend for spiritual awakening…
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
What I loved about this story right off the bat when I began reading more than a decade ago, was that it was about a shepherd. I love symbolism and the story of the shepherd leading the simplest of lives is one I delight in. At that time in my life, I was beginning my journey into self-exploration. I relinquished the complexities of my intellectual curiosity and was dawning my spiritual curiosity. This Brazilian author taps into a whole world of wonder and grand adventure in a whirlwind of a read. Paulo Coelho’s story is of love – unconditional and resolute – and where it can lead you when you surrender to a force greater than yourself. I love the story’s adventurous spirit, as the adventure is not only of the world around us, but of the world within as well. It is one of my all-time faves. I related, and still relate, wholeheartedly to the shepherd, his desire for more, and his awakening to his true self. Brilliant book well-known around the world.
The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
This Persian poet and novelist was vastly ahead of his time (this book was first published in 1923). He writes like no other voice I’ve ever heard before, or after. I reference this book whenever I need to hear a voice that reckons with our smaller voices – the ones we hear so often in social media: a greater voice of compassion, resilience and love. To me, this book is more like bible than novel, poetry than prose. Within its pages are great compassion, great humility, great understanding of humanity, and a great depth of revelation about our journey as humans. It is an astoundingly beautiful book that will surprise you as you read it, if you haven’t read it already.
The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield
Everyone told me this was a great book and I should read it. Sound familiar? If you knew me back then, you’d know that was the surest way to put me off any book. Alas, many years later, I’m glad this book is on my list. The Celestine Prophecy took me on a journey of great revelation about myself and my relationships with friends and lovers and partners. Even today, my most potent memories of this story influence and shape the best parts of my relationships. This is a book about relationships, about the interesting path of connection between lovers. and about the energy we are in an ever-expanding magnetic field. Loved it!
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu
When I discovered this little gem, I was studying Tai Chi in a park off 26th Street in Santa Monica, California. My teacher included this book as vital reading to support us, all of her students, in our mastery of the martial art. This book, specifically the translation by Stephen Mitchell, is beautifully written. But I will tell you now, you will be deciphering what the author’s words mean to you for… the rest of your life. This is my little go-to book. I open it up to whatever page my fingers press into and read the printed word. It always has something wondrous to say to me. And its meaning – the whole book, that is – continues to unfold to me as I live my life and notice where its words speak to me about my experience in a moment, or in a particular period I’m going through. Astonishing book that it is hard to believe it was written by one man oh so long ago. Remarkable philosophy.
- The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz… Damn, I’m giving you the best of the best here. This is a great list. I’m stopping to acknowledge myself and celebrate how good this is. Okay, back to it… Don Miguel, a master of ancient Toltec tradition, writes a little book that lists out four agreements that you can hold with yourself to live a magnificent and magnanimous life. His four agreements radically transformed my life, and his revelation that why everyone is so different in their perception of life is because we are each living in our own dream of life shifted my thinking into the beginning of mastery. I have since mastered my mind and this book was my starting point. That’s big to say about this brief book. However, I believe that this book emboldens anyone who reads it. That’s why I purchased one for everyone in my life for Christmas the year I first read it. It is small, easily accessible and easy to read. It covers each “agreement” with in-depth writing into each agreement introduced.
Conversations with God, Vol 1, 2, 3 – Neale Donald Walsch
When Volume 1 hit the shelves of bookstores, it caught on like wildfire. A tome that was written with “help,” without the New-Age-ness of being a channeled text. To me, Neale Donald Walsch did, at the time, what many of us – who read the book – wanted to do. He spoke with God within himself. He asked God questions and then put pen to paper and wrote down the answers he heard given to him. Volume 1 was insightful, light, vibrant, and a delight to read. The next 2 volumes were heavier than the first (maybe laden with expectation from the radical popularity of the first), but I awaited them with much excitement and anticipation. I think there was a call from all of us to have such a book and he very much answered it.
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah – Richard Bach
Man, is this a magical book. I was lucky to find this in my 11th grade English class. Yup! My teacher was forward-thinking. The famed author who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull, published in 1970, wrote this book seven years later. This book actually single-handedly made me a lover of books. I just remembered that. What a lovely thing for a high school English teacher to do. The message is about how one person can seize the magic of the world, and of life, and offer it willingly, wholeheartedly and selflessly to another. A great story of two men who are barnstorming pilots for show. The two form a spiritual bond through spiritual connection and share far more than airspace.
- There’s A Spiritual Solution To Every Problem – Dr. Wayne Dyer… I’ve been wanting to add this title into this list for the last 4 slots, but those other books were more significant in my spiritual development. This book, however, is a mainstay. A gift from my mother at a difficult time in my life, this book was a great stabilizer for me. Wayne Dyer was an Abraham-Hicks fan and he did an interview I watched after his death. He was a recovered alcoholic who had this way of putting big spiritual ideas into a context that the everyman (and the multitudes) can relate to. He was a journeyman, an everyman himself, and he has a special place in my heart for how he wrote like he spoke through his writing as if he was speaking to me alone.
Staying On The Path – Dr. Wayne Dyer
The journeyman made two slots on this list. There’s magic in being a journeyman. Like I said, Wayne Dyer is a great stabilizer. I think it has to do with his recovery. The 12 steps to addiction recovery require you to think, explore yourself, invest in a power greater than yourself and practice your recovery one day at a time. It is a small book, with one quote to a page. It’s the kind of book that you can pick up on a particularly challenging day, or in a moment of frustration, and the words on the open page will be perfect for whatever you are going through. I like this book for the continued journey, to keep at hand, or at your bedside. It will illuminate the journey all along the way.
Loving What Is – Byron Katie… Ah, be still my beating heart. This woman and her effortless grace astound me. She has a way of making peace out of what was once chaos in your mind. I have benefited greatly, another huge shift in my thinking that furthered my quest for mastery of my mind, from her book, her work, and her effortless teaching. When I’m dealing with something particularly hard for me, like I was in my recovery from Clinical Depression, I am somehow reminded of her four questions. I find them and they anchor me. It is a blessing that I found her – another gift from my mother. Wink. Download A brief distilled version of Byron Katie’s The Work from her book, Loving What Is.
Dreams From My Father – Barack Obama… This book is a wonderful odyssey into a man’s journey to find his family’s roots. He searches for meaning in his life and for the essence of the two people who came together to give him life. It is a deep revelation about who he is and how he came to be who he is. I credit this book for revealing so much to me about who I am in relationship to my parents, and how this is so very important to my own spiritual evolution. Besides, I was intrigued to find out more about this man, who at the time was only running to hold the office of the President of the United States. I found more than information about him. I found a window to myself. (Yeah, yeah. Feel it, let it wash over you. It’s okay. Sentimentality is just another part of this human experience. Ha!)
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
My last book in this list, and I’m honored to have it be my Grand Finale. This book helped my soul to be at ease with what I was going through at a time I desperately need to know I was not alone. I recently recovered from and healed my Clinical Depression, which may have been chronic within me since the age of 12 or 13 (however undiagnosed). Liz Gilbert’s book, far more than a movie, is a labor of love and transparency in her own Clinical Depression and her journey to reclaim her love of life, her verve, and the fullness of her five senses in her yearlong quest and adventure abroad. Eat Pray Love rounds out my list because it saved me from that thought on loop, “I’m in this by myself.” We are never alone. How can I best describe this book? Surprise and delight. Surprise and delight! Liz Gilbert brings pathos, humor and levity to the dark sides of life. I appreciate her story of her life and it has influenced mine wonderfully and greatly.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book will give you life, and even if you haven’t experienced Depression, you’ve experienced some disappointment in life. It is my hope that it will speak to you through your experience.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make this difference with you. I am honored to share these books, gifts that have changed me, transformed me and forever illuminated my journey to me.
I wish you the best as you make your way, because you must make it on your own. Just remember, you are never alone. We are all here with you. And though we cannot go down every road you go, we’ll be standing here at the other end awaiting your stories of reflection and revelation with enthusiasm.
Be well. Go lightly.
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