This is the first in a monthly series of reading roundups. I’m excited to share what I’m discovering and how it’s influencing my writing and creative life.  I didn’t start with a theme but one emerged anyway: it’s all about growth. Interestingly, fiction didn’t feature in my August readings, but I’m sure that will shift in September. Please read on for what I’ve unearthed so far.

Here comes that magical time of year when I get all buzzy thinking about corduroy pants and pencil crayons. Back to school bliss. I tend to gorge on non-fiction books, feeling a need to study before classes start. Technically, I’m not in school this year but take online courses, which feeds my enduring appetite for learning. It’s gratifying discovering new ways of thinking and I love uncovering sources of inpiration and no-nonsense-pull-your-head-out-of-your-youknowwhat guidance.

You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero

Discovering a field guide to earning with integrity and enthusiasm that is rooted in a punk rock sensiblity with expletives galore is downright refreshing. Sincero is a skilled storyteller and her empathy resonates. This isn’t a get rich through sleaze or inauthenticity book, but rather a call to action that is rooted in lived experience and nary a false guru platitude in sight.

Taking action on some of my negative views about money has already yielded results and two new clients that not only share my values, but happily pay even before I’ve sent an invoice.

I call that results.


The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

I found this popular gem at one of the many free libraries in Kits and snapped it up. Sure, it’s a bit woo-woo and I remember reading it years ago with mild contempt (to be fair at the time I thought mindfulness was for the birds and monks in remote monasteries). I love that he lives in Vancouver and sometimes I wonder if I’ll run into him at a cafe or on the seawall. Anyone who can ponder existence on a park bench while the world churns around him is okay be me.

I also love how his little book was a slow burning sucess after being shared through word of mouth and earnest self development networks, then spreading across the Rockies and down into Seattle, eventually being discovered by Oprah and of course rocketing to the general public, eight years after it was originally published. It reminds me that most overnight successes are more of a slow burn.

Mindfulness and Money, the Buddhist Path of Abundance, Kulananda and Dominic Houlder

I’ve been part of the Triratna Buddhist sangha for three years and was chatting with an order member about abundance and mindfulness. She suggested this book and it provides the same blueprint that is explored in much of the international organization’s philosophy. In brief: following the five precepts and choosing to respond to each situation with creativity instead of reactivity. I enjoyed the story about Marie, who travels through all the realms in the course of an afternoon. This one is a slow and juicy read so I’m taking my time with it.

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

I’m really struggling with how Silicon Valley has appropriated Stoicism as their ad hoc philosphy so I’m trying to understand it in a deeper way (choosing creativity instead of reactivity, see how I just did that?) The go to “thought leader” is a Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121–180). So far I’m getting the sense he preached denial of emotion, or putting forth false emotions.

In our age of personal branding, this is troubling. When I look at my Instagram feed (I left Facebook and Twitter years ago) I see a lot of curated content and intuitively know life isn’t all lazy days on chi-chi retreats in Bali. There are articles galore on LinkedIn and Forbes talking about the importance of a consistent and compelling presence on social media. Outbursts and emoting (unless it’s being vigorously stoked about some achievement) seem to be off the menu.

As I begin research on my book about unexpressed emotion, my curiosity is gathering momentum so I’m looking forward to reading more of this, even if I don’t agree with a lot of it.

The Beauty of Discomfort Amanda Lang


Speaking of badasses, I confess to not knowing the work of Amanda Lang  before starting this book. I’m so happy to have found her and in particular this project. Her writing is both accessible and nimble and I connected with her ideas from the first page.

This book offers inspiring case studies that go far beyond the norm and push me to pursue projects I once considered too daunting. Case in point: writing a book about unexpressed emotion and the catastrophic impact on mental and physical health. (more on that next month).

Whether it’s a former Lacross jock overcoming a baffling autoimmune disorder to launch a mindfulness app, or how Maher Arar has found a way to see his ordeal as something that could save others from the same fate, Amanda Lang delves into the personality traits that create iconic achievers with invigorating results. Highly recommended.

What’s on your reading list these days? I love hearing about new writers and concepts. Drop me a line or leave a comment. Happy back to school season.

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One thought on “Back to School Book Report

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