10 books to start your year + feed your soul (in totally different ways)

hey you guys! have you gotten back into the groove of everyday life again? recovered from your holiday weeks (if you were lucky enough to have some time off.)? or are you still enjoying some slow time + haven’t quite gotten back to the daily grind yet? whatever is going on with you, i sure do hope that 2016 has started off treating you well.

as for me, i am beginning that back-to-work game of juggling a bunch of balls in the air at one time. i am not panicking, but just letting things roll for a while. it will take me some time to settle into a work groove, make time for my meditation + blogging, work on my private life coaching stuff, prioritize my family, and still have some free time to just relax. this is the time when everything is scary + wonderful + so very exciting.

so, to inspire (and remind myself) to always create time to keep myself inspired, and since i had a request from a fellow blogger to write about some book suggestions, and since it’s the beginning of the year + most of us feel somewhat excited by that clean slate feeling, i thought i’d do a little post and share a few of my personal book recommendations.

beware, though, these book titles are all over the place. and they are not necessarily things that are hot right now. they are, however, books that have touched me, inspired me, and fed my soul in many different ways. they have all been a part of my journey to discover who i am + how i want to live. mind you, i am no critic. i am an emotional reader, connecting with the stories that i read.

so, with no further ado, here are liz’s top 10 books to start your year + feed your soul.

the wild truth book

the wild truth by carine mccandless

i love jon jrakauer’s book, into the wild. it’s the story of alex supertramp (born chris mccandless). alex, upon graduation from emory university in atlanta, georgia, alex sold his possessions and took off in his car to, in a sense, discover what it means to truly be alive. a bit of a jack kerouac kind f guy. traveling solo, driving, hitchhiking, meeting people, giving up all material possessions, simply to commune with nature + live an authentic life. his travels led him to alaska, where he died alone, perhaps learning (as evidenced by his journals) that happiness is only real when shared. it’s a tragic, freeing, inspiring story, which has since been made into a movie.

but, recently, his sister, carine mccandless, has written a book (the wild truth), which tells the “real story” behind alex/chris, offering insights on why he may have truly turned his back on his life, his family, and sought out a life on the road and in the wild. but, it is not just a book about her brother, it is also her story of liberation and truth, a story of her own journey of self-discovery.

a thousand mile walk to the gulf by john muir

this is an obscure little book written by botanist and nature lover john muir. it chronicles, through his diary entires, his walk from indian down to the gulf coast of florida in 1867. it is fascinating in that, as he records and writes about the flora and fauna around himself, he also meets people along the way, giving a glimpse of life in the late 18th century in the south. but, what really got me was how we revealed in the beauty of nature. how it was an inspirational, holy experience for him to simply walk and observe and smell and touch. it is reading the words of a man totally in love with what he was doing, of someone who journeyed and lived win the present moment.

it’s not literary genius, but like i said, more of a scientist’s diary. but it is a true discover of the thoughts and feelings of one of america’s most-loved naturalists.

wild by cheryl strayed

i’m a sucker for books about nature, travel, and self-discovery/spirituality. but, these are the things that make me happy (in addition to my family!). so, when i heard that wild was the story, a memoir (even better!) of a young woman on a literal journey on foot to discover who she was, then i was all in. plus, my brother had read the book and recommended it. and i totally trust his opinion.

so, this chick, dealing with quite a few personal tragedies, set out to walk the pacific crest trail on her own. with no really hiking experience. and this journey liberated her from her demons, opening her to a way to embrace her life and move forward. today, she’s a huge inspiration for others, hosting her own podcast and writing even more.


goodbye to all that: writers on loving and leaving new york by sari botton

one day in life, i intend to live in new york city. i absolutely love it there. the vibe. the inspiration. the everything. my love and i have visited a few times together, go as often as we can; and we have stayed just long enough to settle into a tiny bit of a groove. so, we really do hope to spend some time living there at some point. that said, i read lots of things about new york. especially by people who have lived there. and i came across this book a few years ago. it’s the perfect combination of new york lovers + haters, of artists + writers sharing their experiences in the big apple, and why they eventually left the city.

i love that it is a collection of essays, each a different story of the new york life, of a deep love affair with the city that never sleeps, depicting the experiences of being broke and lost, but of passionately sticking to a dream, of discovering who one is in the big city where one could get swallowed up. i took notes, doodled all over the pages, looked up people + found new writers that inspire me, and realized that there is a pulse in nyc that i simply must experience at some point in my life. especially as a writer myself, right?! even if i know that once i am there, once i fall in love, i just might fall out of love with it as well. but, it’s a chance i am willing to take.

traveling with pomegranates by sue monk kidd

this book is a double memoir, written by a mother + daughter. it is a travelogue of two women, at different stages in life, but both on journeys to rediscover and discover who they are.  the mother, sue monk kidd, is the author of the best-selling book the secret of bees. but, this book is nothing like that story. instead, it is a book that explores the inner and outer worlds of these two women as they travel together, discuss + share experiences, and come in contact with their true selves.

i read this book at a time when my love was in the hospital for about 3 months. i was alone in sweden, adjusting to taking control of my own life as an expat, while worried like crazy about my love and her health. i read the book, bit by bit, as i rode the bus to and from the hospital every day, or sitting on a bench in the waiting room when i couldn’t be with her. the book took me out of my worries and let me travel the world. especially meaningful were the portions of the book that were in greece, a country that i have connected with through studies and visits. but, most importantly, i rad about these two women taking control of their lives – and that gave me hope. courage. strength. and super powers to just do what i had to do. a totally inspiring journey.


man seeks god by eric weiner

it was so interesting to read about someone who was actively going on an academic, news-reporter kind of journey to find god. this was no pilgrimage like you think of when you read paulo coelho’s the alchemist ( a highly recommended book!) where a young boy seeks god by seeking his personal legend. no, as i said, this is a reporter, eric weiner, on a mission to “find” god by exploring various religions. very interesting, yes, but it felt to me like he was searching for the god that would win over all other gods. that he would find the one, true, right religion that had it all together. and then he could come a believer and live and die and go to heaven. ( i am simplifying a little).

of course it didn’t happen like that. of course seeking god is not something to do academically and with an itinerary. and, in my humble opinion, we will never find the one, true, right god that is correct and puts all of the other gods to shame. this, i am sure, makes conservative christians, or even regular christians, shiver in their sunday best. and the reason i say this is, because, there is only one energy, one love, one deep peace, one god (if you wish), and all of us seekers are simply seeking the same thing. the same god, if you will. in any case, this book is a fascinating journey, which led me to secure my belief that the god that religious and spiritual people talk about, and even the pagan energies, is one in the same. it solidified my belief that we have this one beautiful energy of love that connects us all.

to read more about this book, just click — >> here to see my series of posts on this book.

big magic by elizabeth gilbert

this book is hot, hot, hot. and i just read it last week. in one day. it’s an easy read, and very inspiring. it’s a chance to stop and wonder what it means to live a creative life, to ponder how inspiration comes to us, and to get a kick in the ass by elizabeth gilbert herself. if we want to live creatively, then we just go and do it. and we work at it, never giving up, never sacrificing, but remaining true to the calling we have received. gilbert even tells us how she took a vow, i mean held her own ritual and ceremony by herself, to become a writer. and she has done just that.

so, if you want to be inspired to find the courage to just get out there and make your life what you want it to be, then i highly suggest that you jump on the big magic bandwagon! you’ll feel excited and ready to make stuff happen, i promise.


contemplative prayer by thomas merton

back in the day, when i worked as a minister in a church, i led a few different groups or circles. i created these groups in order to give people a place to come in which to think, ponder, wonder, and question all of those existential questions that we have in life. one of the groups was a book club, and another one was a prayer/meditation group. in preparation for those groups, and as away to help me deal with my pending divorce and my desire to discover how to truly live my life, i read thomas merton’s contemplative prayer.

oh, this book was like breathing for me. i connected so deeply with the idea of making peace for mystical, meditative experiences in my life. and, by connected to the divine that is found in the quiet, still silence, i found deep well of inner peace. by telling into this source within, i could then, begin my journey back out into the world, living life as my true self, inspired, and making a difference simply by being who i am. with this book, i began to cement that idea that simply being is the grounding foundation for living a life of peace and love.

there is no god and he is always with you by brad warner

i don’t really know how to describe this book. i loved it, i can say that. it is a book written by a zen buddhist (an american) who explores the ideas of atheism, belief in god, christianity, buddhism, zen, and how they all interrelate. it is a good book to read when you are exploring what you believe about god, or if you are not comfortable with the western idea of god, or just have questions in general about god. it’s book with tons of questions and paradoxes, but no answers or explanations. but, i always love that. it gives me a chance to explore and think for myself. to take what touches me and moves me, and leave the rest (of course, that is how i read all books). it’s definitely a great read for someone who is exploring spirituality. no matter what context that spirituality is found in.

reflections on the art of living by joseph campbell

i am in the process of reading this book as a daily (almost daily) devotional. joseph campbell is my hero. overtime he writes, i feel like he is writing down thoughts that i have had as feelings, but have never put them into words. but, when i read his words, then my feelings suddenly make sense. he’s the “follow your bliss” guy. which is one of my main mantras.

this book is a collection of writings, but it is organized in a beautifully arranged stages, which i believe are part of the journey of life.  so far, i am finding so much truth and inspiration in everything that i read. if you love good quotes, believe that life is a journey, and want to ponder how to live life, then get yourself a copy of this and let the words give you energy and excitement for learning what it means to truly live life.

i have no idea how you will feel about these books of mine. but, i’m putting them out there. if anything, they give you a little glimpse into who i am + what i love most: spirituality, travel, and nature. i do hope that you find something that piques your interest. and, if you do, then please let me know! either way, let me know what you think about the books, especially if you read one.

have you got any must reads to share with me?!

happy weekend, lovelies! xoxo. liz.

earth • soul • spirit

9 thoughts on “10 books to start your year + feed your soul (in totally different ways)

    1. That’s fabulous! How wonderful that you like the list. That makes me smile, doll! Perhaps a little reading now that you’re home and in a preparation, create, make, soak up, and just be phase. Love to you! xoxo

  1. Wow this is really a great list! Right up my alley! The Wild Truth sounds really interesting, I love Into the Wild. Traveling with Pomegranates sounds wonderful. My mom and I are very different and have traveled together just the two of us many times. Many of the others sound great too. And The Alchemist is such a good book, one that I would recommend to everyone.

    1. Oh, I’m so excited that you’re interested in some of the books! If you read any of them, you just have to let me know. 🙂 Have you got any tips?!

      1. I have a problem of wanting to read many books and never reading them 🙁 I’ll let you know if I give these a go. I’d also like to recommend the mother daughter one to my mom, but I don’t really want to recommend a book I haven’t read yet! 🙂

        A few days ago I started reading the Harry Potter series for the second time. The first time was over 7 years ago. I absolutely adore them, I’m enjoying them once again tremendously.
        I do have some recommendations with spiritual themes:
        Aleph by Paulo Coelho (fascinating and unique)
        Life of Pi by Yann Martel (I read it before the movie came out and I love it.)
        Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

  2. Excellent book picks, Liz! I loved The Wild Truth, Wild, and Traveling With Pomegranates!

    You need to check out The 10 Letters Project by Jen Lee and Tim Manley.

    1. Thank means a lot coming from an avid reader such as yourself. 🙂 Thanks! Oh, and thanks so much for the tip – I’ll check it out! xx

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