Books, Etc.

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones.      Henry David Thoreau


Current Reading

When I originally created this page back in 2003, I was able to say “here are some books I’ve read recently, both non-fiction and fiction, that don’t fit into the categories on the Resource pages. I’ve also included some CDs, especially the ones I use during my practice sessions.”

What’s changed, obviously, is the “recently.” Book-wise, 2003 is a long time ago. I plan to write about more recent book and CD recommendations, but I’ll do that in blog posts, once I add that feature to this website.

I also wrote here about Amazon — how they tend to have better prices than Barnes & Noble; how you can get a credit card from Amazon that gives you a discount on your first purchase and rebates on additional purchases. There’s still an ad at the bottom of this page for an Amazon credit card. Amazon as a company, however, looks quite different a decade later. See my post Economic losers of the world unite! When work becomes robotic from one of my blogs.

If you love books, you may want to patronize Kepler’s Books, an independent bookseller in Menlo Park. From their website you can order online (they offer same day delivery to surrounding towns) and view their schedule of upcoming events — author tours and book groups.

East West Bookshop in Mountain View has a great calendar of events (no online ordering). They’ve added more free talks and movies lately, and they frequently have interesting workshops.

Health Food Junkies: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eatingby Steven Bratman

This book is funny (the author identifies a disorder he calls Orthorexia Nervosa — an obsession with the quality of one’s food), but the subject is serious. Food is one of the few areas of life where we can exert some control. If you find yourself more concerned with the health virtues of a food than the pleasures of eating it, you should read this book. It will help you understand what’s happening when we exercise strict control over what we eat.  A strict diet — even one that seems virtuously healthy — is often unbalanced and, in the long run, unhealthy.The author — an M.D. and acupuncturist — is totally sympathetic with the problems he describes, having lived for years on a raw foods commune himself.

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Health Food Junkies

The Now Habit The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore

Unlike other books on procrastination, this is not a pep talk. The author, a psychologist on the staff of UC Berkeley, has extensive experience helping people who procrastinate — and we all procrastinate in some area of life.His approach to the subject is extremely positive. He has a few tools — changing your self-talk, lots of rewards, the Unschedule — but it’s his insights into the mechanism of procrastination that I found so helpful. The insights alone can be enough to help you shake procrastination, which the author views simply as a habit we acquire in order to decrease our anxiety.I found this book quite effective in the short term. As the months go by, I find the impact wears off and I need a reinfusion of the author’s insights in order to maintain what I’ve gained. I recently came up with a new way of thinking about how I spend my time — something that feels both productive and balanced. I’m interested in how people struggle with having enough time for everything in their lives.

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Eating Well for Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Food, Diet, and Nutritionby Andrew Weil

If you read one book on nutrition, I recommend this one. There are so many out there that seem one-sided and self-serving, and this one is not. The scientific background to the information lends credibility, and Weil’s approach is balanced. He continually emphasizes that the food we eat must give us pleasure. Educational, enlightening, and the recipes are not simply padding to lengthen the book. (Available in any public library)

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Eating Well for Optimum Health

H.M.S. SurpriseThe Thirteen-Gun Salute The Novels of Patrick O’Brian I had noticed years ago that critics raved about Patrick O’Brian novels, but I had no desire to read about men fighting naval battles in the Napoleonic wars. Now I understand why libraries are so well stocked with these books.Patrick O’Brian’s writing style, his vocabulary, dialogue, and historical details are impressive — a pleasure and delight. One book jacket compares him to Jane Austen — he has that quality of descriptive detail and psychological insight.The books are available in all libraries, in small and large print, on tape, and on CD. You don’t need to read them in any order. Just try one and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve listed here only the ones I happen to have read so far. These are not necessarily his best.


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The Thirteen Gun SaluteBlue at the MizzenThe Hundred Days

Shamanic Dream II, Return to Innocenceby Anugama (Open Sky Music)

I discovered this CD during my Shiatsu training and play it often during sessions. Anugama is a German musician, now living in Hawaii, who spent a number of years in Asia. The sounds on this CD are flutes, drums, chants, and nature sounds, but it’s the artist’s engineering of the sounds that creates the special appeal of his music.The engineering details are described in the liner notes — binaural beat frequencies, sonic spectral enhancement, planetary sounds, and 3-D sounds. The effect is one of altering your brain waves and producing deep relaxation. When purchasing, be sure to get Shamanic Dream II (or 2). The original Shamanic Dream is not quite as powerful.

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Shamanic Dream II

Bamboo Bamboo, Music for the Relaxing Artsby PC Davidoff & Friends

I discovered this album in Lucia Miracchi’s studio at Body Therapy Center. The instruments are koto, shakuhachi, tambura, and bamboo flute, which give the music a very Asian flavor. What I especially like about Davidoff’s art is the way he combines simplicity and complexity, sophistication and unpredictability. Unlike most “relaxation” music, there’s nothing emotionally manipulative (or “tasty”) about the sequence of sounds.

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Golden Bowlsby Karma Moffett

I thank my yoga teacher, Tina Martin, for introducing me to this album. Karma Moffett is a San Francisco artist. According to his website, he sifted through nearly five thousand Tibetan singing bowls over a period of twenty-six years, arriving at a collection of twenty-four hand-made bowls. Each bowl produces a variety of tones and harmonics that enter the physical and subtle bodies of the listener, unlocking blockages and moving energy. The sensation is one of experiencing the vibrations internally. Good for mediation or meditative Asian Bodywork sessions.

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Golden Bowls