11 Dec

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  I love the art of putting words together in a distinct and meaningful way.  This drives my passion for reading more than a good plot. I am most fulfilled when I read something and think to myself, “Wow. I wish I wrote that. I wish I had put those words together in exactly that way.” I experience clarity and a profound emotional impact. Inevitably, I will pause and inhale deeply, hugging the book which houses the words prompting my reaction to my chest, and allow the words to sink in. I am a book lover.

   As a book lover, I am in constant search for book recommendations. I take note of books being read by those around me. Finding other book lovers is easy—they are the ones with a different book in hand each week. I will begin a discussion with them about their current book, past books, whether they are in a book club and if so, what books are on this year’s book club list. I get a sense for their preferred genre and writing styles and then share my own recommendations accordingly, often adding in a book that may be a bit outside their usual reading preferences. Occasionally, reader kismet occurs and I find a fellow reader whose recommendations are always worth following. These are the same people who, when I’ve read an amazing book, I will ask to “hurry up and read the book so we can talk about it!”

   As a therapist, I often recommend books to my clients as a means of gaining deeper understanding of themselves and their struggles. Frequently, a client will tell me about a book they are reading and how it relates to themselves; these also get added to my “to be read” list, sometimes at their immediate request. The books are catalysts—jumping off points for discussion. Often, they will help a client feel less alone, less uniquely damaged.

     There are three books which I gift to those I care about more than any others—sometimes as a present for a friend, sometimes as a recommendation to a client, and sometimes as a gift to a departing client with whom I’ve had a long working relationship. Each of these books was read by me for the first time more than 25 years ago. Each is responsible, in its own way, for a significant aspect of personal growth. During this holiday season, I give these to you:

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

As stated on the back cover of my yellowed, dog-eared, underlined copy, this book “can show you how to embrace reality and achieve serenity and fullness in your life.” For me, this book is about growing up. It is a layman’s guide to Existentialism. It opens with the sentence: “Life is difficult.” It should be noted that I have known more than a few people to stop reading right there. For those people, that may very well be the right choice because moving forward in the book means you accept the premise that life is difficult and that you are courageous enough to move forward. The book is full of universal truths which if denied, can create the very struggles most of us want to avoid.

Some favorite lines:

“A full life will be full of pain. But the only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all.”

“Real love often occurs in a context in which the feeling of love is lacking, when we act lovingly despite the fact that we don’t feel loving.”

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. This book describes the horror of his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. While there, Frankl became fascinated with the differing responses of prisoners to the conditions within the concentration camp. He strove to understand just what made some prisoners want to continue to struggle to remain alive, while others chose to end their life on their own terms.  The answer is both simple and complex.

Some favorite lines:

“I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.”

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach

This is an inspirational book wrapped up in a fantasy/spiritual story. This is a light reprieve from the two afore-mentioned books that can build on the ideas of hope and the limitless nature of our minds and souls. It is the story of two men who meet at a county fair, both peddling biplane rides.  Physics defied, and lessons taught, it is a reminder that the Universe speaks to us through ordinary people if we will only listen.

Some favorite lines:

“The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go.”

“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it however.”

“What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

Blaire Sharpe is the Author of  “Not Really Gone.” 


2 Responses to The Books I Gift Most Often

  1. KingADaniele

    May 30, 2016 at 12:30 am

    I like looking through a post that will make people think.
    Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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