Jen YihComment

Books That Changed My Year

Jen YihComment
Books That Changed My Year

I'm a nerd. I used to be a jock, still am a jock but definitely a nerd. If our conversation doesn't end up in some philosophical debate, I don't see the point. I'm trying to be less argumentative because I do realize it is offensive -  unless we're talking about tacos and their deliciousness, there's no argument there.

I just got home to Portland, OR a little over a week ago and realized I've been traveling about 8 months out of the entire year. While sitting on the plane, bus, or vanagon, I read. There are a few books that changed who I am as a person this year and I'd love to share them with you - I noticed a theme and each book regards either climate change, environmental spirituality, love, female independence, and/or art. 

1. M Train by Patti Smith

I'm in love with Patti Smith. A gigantic big fat, if I was a lesbian, girl crush. Mostly because she embodies a type of woman that I want to be. She's intelligent, speaking and writing with so much intellect and emotion, independent, and art is what fuels her. This book isn't a story, you're traveling with Patti through time and space to the little things that make up life - not any big fancy blockbuster sort of story but simply talking and enjoying something as simple as a cup of coffee at her hole-in-the-wall cafe in Manhattan. 

2. The Path to Love by Deepak Chopra

I'm still working on this one, but wow. (Thank you Catherine Aeppel) We're all healing from something, if you don't think that you are - you're in denial because there are always places to improve and self-love and nurture so that love can spread like wildfire around the planet - and we sure as hell need it. Here's a Deepak quote from the book: “The energies that make us act out of anger, fear, insecurity, and doubt are extremely familiar. They are like an old, dark house we return to whenever things get too hard to handle.It feels risky to leave this house and see what's outside, yet we have to leave if we expect to be loved.

So we take the risk. We walk out into the light and offer ourselves to the beloved.This feels wonderful; it's like nothing we have imagined in our old, dark house.But when things get tough, we run back inside, we choose familiarity to fear and lovelessness over the vulnerability of love, until finally, we feel safe enough to go back and try love again.

This is essentially the rhythm of every intimate relationship-risk and retreat. Over and over we repeat this rhythm, accepting love and pushing it away until finally something miraculous happiness. The old, dark house isn't necessary anymore.We look around, and we have a new house, a house of light. Where did it come from? How did we build it? It was built from the love of the heart. It has silently been weaving our higher and lower natures, blending fear, anger, survival, and protection into the energies of devotion, trust, compassion, and acceptance.” -Deepak

3. Spiritual Ecology

The sub-title of this book is "The Cry of the Earth" and this one has sent me into an existential crisis several times. It is a collection of essay from nuns, scientists, environmentalists, tribal leaders, professors, spiritual guides, and so many different walks of life - but essentially, everyone is saying the same thing. The planet, our home, is dying. We are not separate from nature, we are nature. The trees of the Amazon's are our external lungs, and we're killing ourselves. If you're looking for a book that will make you look around and appreciate every single atomic being, this is the one. The most highly recommended read on this list. (Thank you Ashley Kunesh)

4. Ecotopia

I gave this book away to a 50-something-year-old surfer dude named Alex in Byron Bay when he showed up at my RV one late night asking if I wanted to surf in the morning. He didn't have a cell phone and lived way up off-the-grid in the hills of Mullumbimby, New South Wales. This book was a game-changer, written in the 1970s by a very hippie professor at Berkley about Oregon, Cali, and Washington succeeding to create an environmental utopia, hence ecotopia. It is basically what Portland and San Fran have become. Written from the perspective of a New York journalist, its a very very inspiring and innovative book - this professor was way ahead of his time. 

5. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein is a real f*cking person, and that beams out of her memoir. She's also a god damn rock star, literally, figuratively. This book made me feel so less alone in the world - she simply embraced her odd-girl-outness, average and non-average life, reflections of why and worries, and ultimately how chasing her passions took her on the weirdest wildest ride of her life. It's so raw and honest, its like you're sitting sipping some hemp tea in Portland with Carrie.