Archive for category Book Reviews

The Gifts of Imperfection

Gifts of ImperfectionBrené Brown is a clinical researcher who has spent the majority of her career investigating the components of a “Wholehearted” life. Which she defines as:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (page 1) 

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In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

a book by Gabor Mate’ – Recommended

Gabor Mate’ is a physician who works with street addicts in Vancouver, BC. He uses their stories and his own experiences to explore the effects of addiction, possible causes and to offer ideas on how to treat and prevent addiction. The stories are raw and his ideas are sometimes controversial. He presents them in well reasoned language accessible to the lay reader. His passion for reducing the harm of addiction to the addict and society results in the book having a somewhat political agenda. I generally react with resistance and skepticism when someone is trying hard to sell me their ideas. In this case it was hard to argue with his position. Still, my perception that he was pushing a political agenda brings many of his arguments into question though I haven’t the training or the knowledge to critically assess them. As one who has felt the full force of substance and behavioral addiction his ideas however impractical do seem to make sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Road Less Traveled

a book by M. Scott Peck, M.D. – Highly Recommended

This is one of the first books I read at the beginning of my recovery from substance abuse. The simple message, clearly expressed, resonated with my experience. Life is painful so you had better learn how to suffer and grow from it. At the time I read this all I could see ahead of me was suffering. The hope offered by a book saying that our suffering could lead to a better life was all I had to look forward to.

What I found in the book was much more than techniques on how to suffer. I found myself described in detail. I learned medical terms that described by experience and emotions. I found a spiritual message of common sense and practical value. I learned that I must discard my old “road map” and begin building a new one. I felt much less lonely after reading this book. The less traveled road I was on was no longer dark and lonely. It was fresh and hopeful. I discovered that this new road was only less traveled in the sense that I had never traveled it. Others had been traveling it for centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Four Agreements

a book by Don Miguel Ruiz – Recommended

Ruiz uses an interesting model to put forth fairly standard ideas regarding our development as children and the learned core beliefs we are left with as we mature into adulthood. Domestication and the dream of the planet are loaded terms that immediately increased my interest and awareness about what he was saying. As a result, I enjoyed viewing this well studied landscape from a different perspective.

”Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other.” The resulting fog, or mitote, correlated to the feeling I had about all of the bits and pieces of information, the collected mores, I viewed as being the dictates of society. These formed the foundation of my feelings about myself in comparison to the standard they represented; a constant litmus test of results. Not being perfect, I failed this comparison repeatedly. M. Scott Peck referred to this process of growing up with ingrained beliefs as our road map for life. Ruiz calls these beliefs that are made with ourselves and others agreements. These are the core beliefs that I must unlearn, break or replace with new agreements. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Spirituality of Imperfection

a book by Ernest Kurtz – Highly Recommended

With the exception of Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book), The Spirituality of Imperfection is the most important book I have read in recovery. I cannot overstate how instrumental this book is to my spiritual growth. This is not a 12-Step recovery book though there is much discussion of the spirituality underlying the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Mr. Kurtz uses stories gathered from around the world to express spiritual principles. In fact the book is subtitled Storytelling and the Search for Meaning.

The spirituality of imperfection is a spiritual path of accepting our own imperfections and integrating them into our being. Mr. Kurtz states that this type of spirituality is thousands of years old and he looks at a wide variety of spiritual traditions from all ages to support his statement. I found this variety to be immensely interesting. It introduced me to spiritual concepts and spiritual leaders I may not otherwise have discovered . The book has exhaustive endnotes and they provided me with a rich source of new books, authors and spiritual ideas to explore.

Mr. Kurtz believes that Alcoholics Anonymous is the most recent expression of the spirituality of imperfection and he devotes a significant amount of the book to how the spiritual principles of the 12-Steps can be found in all of the major spiritual traditions. Mr. Kurtz is intimately familiar with AA. His doctoral dissertation was on the history and development of AA and he was provided unrestricted access to the entire archives of Alcoholics Anonymous. From these archives he has gleaned much information and insight into AA and its spirituality.

If you are in recovery and practicing a 12-Step program please read this book. If you are not, then please read this book.

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