Books that changed my life

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By Uma Sanghvi

Uma is a life coach who helps people heal from stress and cultivate joy through mind-body awareness.

As a child I read fantastical stories about adventures through time and space. I loved science fiction. I loved the books my English teachers assigned. I loved ANYTHING compelling. A good story is seductive, enthralling.

I idolize good story-tellers. That’s why when I say that JK Rowling is my living hero, that’s a statement of fact. Not hyperbole.

These days I read a lot of nonfiction. I also read fantasy and science fiction and romance novels, but the books that have changed my life in recent years are the ones – like In An Unspoken Voice – that connect the dots between the mysteries in my life. My hunger to understand the way things work is vast. And by “things” I mean me.

 

Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time

Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.”

I spend my childhood buried in magical books. I remember so much from her work: tesseracts, regenerating starfish, desert beasts. She wrote about quantum physics and the great mystery of being human. There is no one else like her.

Jurassic Park

“Life will find a way

Tenth grade English class. Ancient insects frozen in amber and velocirapotrs that hunt in packs: I’m seduced by science. I decide I want to be a geneticist.

Buddhist Reflections

“Our true nature is vast, all-comprehensive, and intangible as empty space.”

Eleventh grade. Mind = Blown. Delighted to discover that physics and Buddhism agree on this: the world as our eyes perceive it is mere illusion.  A trick of the light. I had a feeling all along. Start daily meditation.

 

Harry Potter series

“This pain is part of being human . . . the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength.”

JK Rowling is my living hero. Favorite book = The Half-Blood Prince. Favorite movie = The Prisoner of Azkaban. Dobby is a free elf!

Hot Light/Half Made Worlds

“To a certain extent what I do is play with the world, but it’s disciplined play.”

I fell in love with the work of National Geographic photographer Alex Webb, while doing my masters in photojournalism at Ohio University. Known for his colorful street photography and surreal composition, his work influenced my own photography for the next 15 years.

Steerling by Starlight

“Enlightenment always tastes of freedom”

In 2009 I was a photojournalist living in Florida, eager to make major changes in my life. After reading this book by modern sage Martha Beck, everything changed. Within a short period of time I was en route to Ohio University to defend my masters project. It just so happened that on that day, the faculty was looking for someone to replace outgoing photojournalism professor Pete Souza, who had been tapped to be the White House Photographer. I accepted the job and moved back to Ohio to teach Pete’s classes.

Radical Remission

“Curing means getting rid of a disease. Healing means becoming whole.”

Dr. Kelly Turner studied people with terminal cancer diagnoses who experienced full remission after conventional medicine failed them. The story of Matthew stayed with me for a long time: a 27-year old with terminal brain cancer who was healed in Brazil by John of God. I couldn’t shake this idea of going to Brazil, but my mind was resistant: “I could never go to rural Brazil and meditate for a couple of weeks.” The universe disagreed and found every opportunity to say so. Eighteen months later I was on a spiritual pilgrimmage to see John of God in Brazil. An unreal experience for which I have no words.

A Course in Miracles

“If you knew Who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.”

In 2006 I found my spiritual home in Unity, which teaches that divine consciousness lies within each person. ACIM is one of the foundation texts of Unity.

In An Unspoken Voice

“The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect”

2016 – This is the most powerful book I read during Mind/Body coach training. It describes how unresolved trauma creates chronic symptoms. Trigger warning: this is intense. If it’s too overwhelming, try this more concise and equally brilliant version first: “Healing Trauma”.

Dying to Be Me

“Love yourself like your life depends on it, because it does.”

I listen to this book on audio repeatedly. Especially Part III. Everything I need to know is in this book. Also I love the way she says “chocolates”. Divine.

Big Magic

“We don’t have time for perfect”

This is the most motivating book on my shelf. I read it the way that sleepy people drink Red Bull. I read Big Magic and that’s how this website got designed and launched. To all the imperfect creators out there – I raise my glass to you! *clink*

I need a lot of reminders that perfectionism is just another word for fear. As Gilbert said in Magic Lessons, “You’re supposed to start before you’re ready and before you’re good at it and that’s how you get ready and that’s how you get good at it.”

What about you? What are some of the books that have changed your life? I am dying to know. Please leave a comment below.

I want your advice: what should I read next?

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