Best Books of 2016 …

The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New by Annie Dillard

In recognition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s long and lauded career as a master essayist, a landmark collection, including her most beloved pieces and some rarely seen work, rigorously curated by the author herself.


Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light by Paula D’Arcy

“An apprenticeship with the night is an inheritance I would wish for everyone.” Paula D’Arcy was only 27 when a drunk driver killed her husband and young daughter. But in the midst of her crushing despair, and to her complete amazement, she discovered a presence within her that responded to her fearful cries for help. Her anguished heart was met by a great tenderness and wisdom, which she grew to recognize as a transcendent love. Over time—knowing that pain was not the final say and did not have absolute power—she was able to find her way back to the light.


The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting by Mark Nepo

“Nothing compares to the sensation
of being alive in the company of
another. It is God breathing on
the embers of our soul.”

When we shift from trying to be special to seeking what is special in everything, we discover “the way under the way”—the timeless terrain of that mysterious force which animates and unites us. The Way Under the Way brings you a sweeping three-part collection of 217 of Mark Nepo’s original poems and essays to open the heart, awaken insight, and support you on each step of your unique journey through life.


Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”

So begins Upstream, a collection of essays in which revered poet Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. Emphasizing the significance of her childhood “friend” Walt Whitman, through whose work she first understood that a poem is a temple, “a place to enter, and in which to feel,” and who encouraged her to vanish into the world of her writing, Oliver meditates on the forces that allowed her to create a life for herself out of work and love. As she writes, “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.”


The Cure for Sorrow by Jan Richardson

When Jan Richardson unexpectedly lost her husband and creative partner, the singer/songwriter Garrison Doles, she did what she had long known how to do: she wrote blessings.

These were no sugar-coated blessings. They minimized none of the pain and bewilderment that came in the wake of a wrenching death. With these blessings, Jan entered, instead, into the depths of the shock, anger, and sorrow. From those depths, she has brought forth words that, with heartbreaking honesty, offer surprising comfort and stunning grace.


Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics by Christine Valters Paintner

Popular author of eight books and abbess of the online retreat center Abbey of the Arts, Christine Valters Paintner explores how the lives and spirituality of twelve monks and mystics offer distinct patterns of thought that will lead you to a deeper understanding of your strengths and areas of growth and will guide you on the path to your true spiritual identity.


The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by David Steindl-Rast

The tranquility of order is a dynamic tranquility, the stillness of a flame burning in perfect calm, of a wheel spinning so fast that it seems to stand still. Silence in this sense is not only a quality of the environment, but primarily an attitude, an attitude of listening. … Let us give to one another that gift of silence, so that we can listen together and listen to one another. Only in this silence will we be able to hear that gentle breath of peace, that music to which the spheres dance, that universal harmony to which we, too, hope to dance.


Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

“The discourse of our common life inclines towards despair. In my field of journalism, where we presume to write the first draft of history, we summon our deepest critical capacities for investigating what is inadequate, corrupt, catastrophic, and failing. The ‘news’ is defined as the extraordinary events of the day, but it is most often translated as the extraordinarily terrible events of the day. And in an immersive 24/7 news cycle, we internalize the deluge of bad news as the norm—the real truth of who we are and what we’re up against as a species. But my work has shown me that spiritual geniuses of the everyday are everywhere. They are in the margins and do not have publicists. They are below the radar, which is broken.”

Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and National Humanities Medalist Krista Tippett has interviewed the most extraordinary voices examining the great questions of meaning for our time. The heart of her work on her national public radio program and podcast, On Being, has been to shine a light on people whose insights kindle in us a sense of wonder and courage. Scientists in a variety of fields; theologians from an array of faiths; poets, activists, and many others have all opened themselves up to Tippett’s compassionate yet searching conversation.


The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams 

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.


The Heart of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault

Centering Prayer is the path to a wonderful and radical new way of seeing the world. It is not, as is sometimes thought, simply an act of devotional piety, nor is it a Christianized form of other meditation methods. Cynthia Bourgeault here cuts through the misconceptions to show that Centering Prayer is in fact a pioneering development within the Christian contemplative tradition. She provides a practical, complete course in the practice and then goes deeper to analyze what actually happens in Centering Prayer: the mind effectively switches to a new operating system that makes possible the perception of nonduality.


More Best Books of 2016 …


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