My Own Private Mountain (What I Didn’t Read in 2008)

Way back when, when I was just out of college, I was known for building mountain ranges. Back then my biggest masterpieces were the mountains of clean but wrinkled clothes that never seemed to make it to the ironing board in advance of my needing them. There was Mt. Mansfield, Sterling, Camel’s Hump, Bread Loaf (I was in Vermont), and unlike the mountain peaks I saw from my windows, the peaks in my mountain range were growing visibly by the day, actively competing with each other for dominance in the range.I have a similar situation going on now, but the mountain range is no longer composed of heaps of un-ironed clothes (I gave up on ironing as a lifestyle when I moved to CA), it’s made up of books–the ones I keep acquiring with full intention of reading, but somehow never seem to get to the reading part.

Problem is this computer. With all of its far reaching tentacles into cyber space and beyond, it keeps me from reading these books as I can’t seem to tear myself away–and I’m not even on any of those social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter either. Am I an addict? (Need I even ask the question?) And yet the books all look so good and I really do want to read them–and yet all I ever seem to manage is a few sentences in one before I fall asleep at night. I may have to pitch the computer.

This has been going on for several years, so as you can imagine, the situation has become quite dire. Not only am I being pushed out of my house for all the space these unread books are occupying, but my brain is missing out on being rejuvenated by all the information, inspiration, and new ways of thinking that are undoubtedly in these books, but being left in there unread–at least by me. This is depressing.

Do I need to hire a reader–someone who will read these books out loud to me as I go on about the rest of my life? I just saw the movie The Reader, and Kate Winslet’s character got a lot more than just information and inspiration when books were read to her…maybe I should put an ad on Craig’s List?

I’m thinking that maybe the best way for me to proceed is to get very brave and make a list. (Bravery is required because the length of the list is likely to make me think that I could never live long enough to read my way through it–the books, themselves, I mean, not just the list of them.)

OK–courage summoned, I’m attempting a list.

The first three at the top of the list encourage me by their subject matter–at least my head wants to go to deeper levels.

In My Own Words by the Dalai Lama
Anything this man has to say, I want to hear–or read.

Still Here/Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying by Ram Dass
Doesn’t sound too upbeat, but I’m counting on its being that in an untraditional way.

The Love of Impermanent Things by Mary Rose O’Reilly
And as nearly everything is impermanent, maybe there’s a solution in here to help us out of this trap.

The Web That Has No Weaver/Understanding Chinese Medicine by Ted Kaptchuk
I think the Chinese have been on to something for centuries that we in the West would do well to finally pay some attention to.

The Three Only Things/Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination by Robert Moses
Now, this is right up my alley…why haven’t I read it yet?

The Wisdom of Your Face/Change Your Life with Chinese Face Readings by Jean Haner
More of what the Chinese have to teach us. I’ve actually read parts of it and have met Jean Haner–she gives a great presentation on Chinese face reading–I need to become more adept at what she teaches.

Horse Sense for People, by Monty Roberts
Monty is one of my heroes, and I’ve taken a week-long workshop with him, learning his horse handling techniques…I really do need to read this book cover to cover and put his techniques to work on people.

Draft Horses/An Owner’s Manual by Beth Valentine, DVM, PhD and Micheal Wildenstein, CJF
As I now own one of these giants of the horse world, this book is my Bible…I need to be reading at least a page every day.

The Gaslight Effect/How to Spot and Survive Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life by Naomi Wolf
Now, this would seem essential for us all to read…and I have read parts of it and liked it…have to get back to it before my mind gets further manipulated by cyberspace.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
I confess to having had this book for several years—and I still want to read it, but you’re starting to see the problem with all the other wanna-reads in my life.

The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel M. Wegner
Another one that has been lurking on my shelf for years now–and I’m still fascinated by its premise. It’s not exactly a light read, but I really do want to read all that it has to say.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Just out in 2009, this is one of the most recent additions to my mountains, and again, I can’t wait to find out what it says. Maybe I’ll learn how I decided to buy it when I already have a staggering number of the un-read.

Notes on a Life by Eleanor Coppola
Another one I’ve started, and having met Mrs. Coppola at a book signing, I am even more intrigued to learn how this gracious woman has managed a full and independent life of her own given the long shadow created by her famous husband, the demands of that, as well as being primarily responsible for the bringing up of their children. I admire her calm and class–she’s full of both, and I want to learn from her.

The Enneagram/Understanding Yourself and Others in Your Life by Helen Palmer
I’m in the middle of this one and am fascinated, but not surprised, to find that I am a #5–the Observer…now I’m working on diagnosing everyone else. This will take awhile.

Dharma Moments by Danai Chanchaochai
The inside cover flap says “40 anecdotes and personal stories illustrate how Buddhist teachings can help us break free from the trappings of materialism, loosen the bonds of anger and envy, and triumph over depression and discontent”…sounds like a must-read to me.

Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette by Bill Kauffman
Now here’s a sleeper–written about my hometown of Batavia, New York, and it’s another one that’s been lurking on my shelf for several years…I really do want to see how its portrayal of the place where I grew up measures up to my memories.

The Emotionally Unavailable Man by Patti Henry
I should have read this a long time ago and saved myself a fair amount of trouble, since this seems to be the only kind of man that interests me–talk about Exhibit A of the Law of Perversity.

Why Mars and Venus Collide by John Gray, PhD
I went to a local book signing and talk John Gray did for this book in January 2008. The man is a natural stand-up comedian–rolling-on-the-floor hysterical, and as a result I just couldn’t pass on adding this book to my mountain range. I hope it’s even half as amusing as John Gray in person. I’m sure it’s full of the obvious we all tend to ignore when dealing with the opposite sex, but immediately recognize when it’s pointed out–that’s what makes it so funny.

Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher, PhD
I’m willing to hear still one more take on explaining “why men and women fall in love, marry, and divorce” (why hasn’t anyone definitively figured that out by now?) and besides, this book reportedly includes the four-million year history of the human species(!)–not bad for just 362 pages.

Why Him? Why Her? By Helen Fisher, PhD
It was late one night on Amazon when I got on a Helen Fisher kick…it sounded from the write-ups that she had all the answers, and maybe she does. Haven’t finished this one yet either, which is why I don’t yet know if Helen has all the answers or not, but her personality paradigm bears comparing with that of the enneagram book.

Walking in the Garden of Souls/Advice from the Hereafter for Living in the Here and Now by George Anderson and Andrew Barone
I can use all the help I can get–and if it’s from The Hereafter, all the more power to it.

An Inquiry into the Existence of Guardian Angels/A Journalist’s Investigative Report by Pierre Jovanovic
I’ll take a guardian angel or two any day.

Angel Animals/Divine Messengers of Miracles by Allen and Linda Anderson
If animals are angels–and from my experience, they are–I’m in very good company with my four rescued cats and one rescued super-sized horse.

So, that’s the list–sort of. I have failed to mention two books on tree houses (don’t ask my why this subject), one on the acupressure points in horses (at least that has a logical tie-in to my life, plus it’s more Chinese awareness that I’m sure we would all be better off having more of), the three Malcolm Gladwell books (Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliars) that I have so far only skimmed and really want to get to (what else is new?), and another one on draft horses (again) that I am being sorely tempted to add to the ever-growing mountain range. I need one of those parental locks on my access to Amazon.

So there we have it–enough reading to keep me going for at least two solid months in winter–providing I were ensconced in a secluded beach house without car or computer. What are chances?

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