• Joy Swirl

The Books.

Updated: Jan 2

Now that I'm not wasting so much of it scrolling my life away, I have the time to enrich my life with books. You'll find a few that I'm reading or studying. Other books stay on my list for the coming year, and gifts to inspire my newest adventures and passions. As a child, I enjoyed reading so much that when the county library Bookmobile came to our neighborhood, I was the first one waiting to choose a stack to take home and pile up on my bed. I loved browsing the Scholastic book order form for the ones I would beg of Mom and Dad. Carry on to see my list of books to start 2021 off in the right direction.


I"m studying Universal Compassion: Inspiring Solutions for Difficult Times

by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in my TTP (Teacher Training Program) class. I'm using the fourth edition printed and reset in 2002, but you can buy the current edition from Tharpa.com in all the formats, including audiobook and many different languages. An excerpt from Tharpa gives more details below.

The heart of Buddha’s teachings is unconditional love and compassion. In this inspiring explanation of the popular Buddhist poem Training the Mind in Seven Points, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso reveals powerful and far-reaching methods for us to develop these altruistic states. Ancient meditative techniques that have been tried and tested for centuries are brought alive and made relevant to our everyday experiences. Also included is a practical explanation of how we can transform our day-to-day problems—even the most demanding and difficult conditions—into opportunities for personal and spiritual development. By pointing the way to an unchanging freedom and happiness, this immensely readable book challenges us to grow, and will have a remarkable impact on our life.

I read President Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father prior to his election as 44th POTUS. A Promised Land is the medicine I need to heal from the past 4 years of political turmoil.


I saw Greta Thunberg speak in Charlotte, NC, pre-pandemic. My friend Aundrea picked me up and we met her daughter's class at the government center. The young crowd was inspired and full of energy. I knew that we were there to witness something special. No doubt we were mesmerized by Greta and her awe inspiring call to action. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference is a testament to her fierce and indomitable spirit. I am a huge fangirl. I'm changing the way I live my life based on things this young woman says.


I picked up Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language by Steven Pinker at a local thrift store. Pinker is one of the world's experts on language and the mind, is Peter de Florez Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. So says the back cover.

This intrigued me along with the promise that "his theory extends beyond language and offers insight in the very nature [into] the human mind." That theory? Language comprises a mental dictionary of memorized words and a mental grammar of creative rules.


Author of The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine, M.D., writes in the Introduction, What Makes Us Women, "[Because] of this progress, we are entering an era, finally, when women can begin to understand their distinct biology and how it affects their lives. We all know from experience that women and men can be astronauts, artists, CEOs, doctors, engineers, political leaders, parents, and child care providers. It is my hope that this book will benefit many more women and girls than I can personally reach in the clinic. It is my hope that the female brain will be seen and understood as the finely tuned and talented instrument that it actually is.


Harold E. Greer dedicated his book Greer's Guidebook to Rhododendrons to his wife Nancy, "whose help makes it all possible," and to his mother and father, who gave him the encouragement and opportunity to pursue an interest in Rhododendrons. Greer then provides Botanical and Horticultural Terms, What Rhododendrons Require, Fertilization, Pests & Diseases, Pruning & Azaleas, and Rhododendron Species in his extensive guide.


Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide by Paul Gregutt is the perfect gift to inspire and educate us on our growing interest in the local Washington State wine scene.


A special gift from a new friend who works for the city, Seattle at 150 by the HistoryLink Staff is the perfect welcome to Seattle gift. I love it and will reference it and cherish it always.


The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion has been my go-to since I discovered this beautiful work of prose. It speaks to my quest for uncovering and understanding the grief I'm so familiar with now. Inspired by her writing again, I recently watched a documentary about her life. Joan Didion, The Center Will Not Hold, on Netflix, is another recommendation for you. It's a poignant look at her life and career, directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.


Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis was a gift from a friend who is constantly encouraging me to reach my potential and live my dream life. Rachel Hollis has a no-nonsense, unapologetic style that I really appreciate.


According to a summary, Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption "revolves around the case of an innocent man, Walter McMillian, a black man who had a white [girlfriend] in Monroe County, Alabama, framed by the Sheriff, the District Attorney, and convicted by a Jury for the murder of a clerk in a dry cleaner's shop. Condemned to die." This book was also gifted to me because of its importance and relevance to the current fight against systemic racism.


In The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship don Miguel Ruiz "illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. The Mastery of Love includes: · Why "domestication" and the "image of perfection" lead to self-rejection · The war of control that slowly destroys most relationships · Why we hunt for love in others, and how to capture the love inside us · How to finally accept and forgive ourselves and others.


Happiness can only come from inside of you and is the result of your love. When you are aware that no one else can make you happy, and that happiness is the result of your love, this becomes the greatest mastery of the Toltec: the Mastery of Love. — don Miguel Ruiz

I am a fan of Brainpickings.org, and when I stumbled upon their article by Ann Lamott on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity, her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life was purchased soon thereafter. The quotes below are from the original article and serves to remind me to avoid the downfall of perfectionism and my motivation to write, again and again.


Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.
One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.

When I want to discover more great lists of books, I visit my bookmark at Brainpickings:

The Best Books on Writing, NYC, Animals, and More: A Collaboration with the New York Public Library.

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