I have never read any one of these books from beginning to end. I select the one that seems to call at me at that moment of need, flip to a random page, and read to my heart's content. Which could mean reading like a normal person or continuing to flip to random spots for a couple of sentences and flit and flip around. At some points, one is my exclusive bedfellow for weeks at a time. At other times, I keep pulling them all off the shelves until they are all in the bed with me again.
This is the only one where order of this list matters. The rest are of equal standing. I blindly recommend this one to just about anyone. Best quote: "Trust the difficult...Live the Questions."
2. Spilling Open by Sabrina Ward Harrison
A b-e-a-utiful collage of art, poetry, and journaling. A life-saver for high-school me.
3. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
I have to admit: I have not done the program. This is a 12 week program to rediscovering your creativity, for artists and non-artists alike (though, spoiler: we are all artists). I have had this book for years, have probably read the whole thing by now, twice, but I never read it in order, I do morning pages, I've done many of the exercizes, but still haven't committed to doing it. I know it will do me wonders when I do commit to it, just because of how much it has done for me in my laissez-faire relationship with it already.
4. Impro by Keith Johnstone
I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone in the performing arts, but I truly do believe that it can benefit everyone. If you just happen to pick it up, read the introduction, and then the chapter on Status. Oh! And the one on
5. Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and Art by Steven Nachmanovitch
The power and necessity of play in creation. I have a workshop that I teach (which I taught with the Ume Group earlier this fall, in fact), and a lot of my theory comes from here.
6. The Irresistible Beauty of All Things by Gabriel Garcia Lorca
A manifesto of sorts. "Poetry doesn't need skilled practitioners, she needs lovers, and she lays down brambles and shards of glass for the hands that search for her with love." Guh. Here, just read it right now. It's really not that long: http://laingsociety.org/colloquia/artliterature/irrestiblebeauty.htm
7. And Then, You Act by Anne Bogart
Are you involved in making theatre or being a human being? Read this.
8. The Diary of Anaïs Nin Volume 1
My dad gave this to me when I was 14. I credit him, and this book, for my romantic lusting for the Bohemian life. Anaïs Nin was a contemporary, friend, and lover of Henry Miller and Anton Artaud, and, the list goes on. Maria Popova of BrainPickings (also, an almost nightly read, but it is online, so I didn't include it in this list, but here I am mentioning it because I just cannot help myself when it comes to BrainPickings...anyways...)often quotes and recommends Anaïs Nin. Her reflections on life and art and beauty are...just...I can't even. (P.S. The "Her" of that last sentence applies to both Anaïs Nin and Maria Popova).
9. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
Short vignettes of descriptions of worlds where time works differently. I will say no more.
10. Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore
This tickles the psychology-enthusiast side of my brain. He talks of dreams and myths and objects and emotions and cleaning, all in how it relates to the soul.
11. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
This one speaks for itself.
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