I LOVE to read: both fiction and non-fiction (am usually reading a book of each). This week I will be taking a break from the freelancing practices I’ve been sharing recently by doing a post about 2 books that I recommend and an update on what I am currently reading. My hope is to do this monthly as a way to both mix things up, but also share some literature I believe will interest many of you. Let’s get started!
Book 1 – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Gah! Steven Pressfield is one of those mentors I’ve never met (hope to!). I read War of Art, Turning Pro, The Artist’s Journey, The Authentic Swing, and Gates of Fire once a year and each time they move me at least as much as the first time. His non-fiction writing is absolutely no BS and at times, if the topic hits close to home, you can feel it in your gut that you’ve got some work to do on yourself. This cut to the chase approach is often contrasted with sections and chapters about the metaphysical universe, psychology, or philosophy of the ancient world. I love it. Steven carries themes (especially those in and around the Warrior Archetype) over from his non-fiction writing into his fiction works, all of which are sophisticated, nuanced, cinematic at times and always well researched. I appreciate this side of his art equally as much as his non-fiction, and I polished off his newest book A Man At Arms in about a week.
Honestly, just thinking about all this makes me want to rip any of his books off my shelf and get reading 🤓.
The War of Art is Steven’s non-fiction launching-off point for new readers (IMHO). Recommended to me by my good friend Mike Jackson back in 2018, I bought WoA and it sat on the corner of my coffee table for a few months until one night I finished a Netflix series and didn’t want to go to bed, so I finally picked it up. A few hours later I closed the back cover (it’s 165 pages), dropped the book on my lap, looked straight ahead, and said out loud, “holy 🤬.”
What had I been doing with my life? I thought I had some stuff figured out: that I was a professional, that I showed a good amount of resilience and grit, that I worked hard, etc.. Nope. I was an amateur just floundering around from opportunity to opportunity that came my way (luckily there were enough to make ends meet) with really NO IDEA who I was (as a creative and as a person, honestly). Resistance (the main theme of WoA) was kicking my ass and I needed to kick back.
I got to work and read the book again. This time I slowed down and did a good bit of reflecting after not only each chapter, but bigger picture after each Act (WoA has a 3-Act structure like a lot of Steven’s books do). I was able to pinpoint many areas in my life where I needed to ignore or stand-up to Resistance (always with a capital “R”). Next, I got myself into a solid creative routine everyday and before I knew it the muse was speaking to me far more consistently and with much deeper suggestions for my work (WoA/Steven is who introduced us). I also bought the audiobook, which is narrated by Steven, and is a fantastic way to absorb the book after you’ve read it once or twice. I listen to his audiobooks a lot when I’m taking walks, running or riding my bike.
War of Art led me immediately to the majority of Steven’s non-fiction works, which then took me to Gates of Fire and his other fiction literature. I dove head over heels into everything he had to offer and never looked back (to this day). I even have a Spotify Playlist of just his podcast appearances. Like his audiobooks, these make for great motivational material when exercising and such.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is definitely my favorite book in the non-fiction genre (can you tell? ❤️😬🤓). I can’t recommend it enough to not only artists and creators, but anyone who just feels stuck by something they can’t overcome or have an itch to try something new (that’s perhaps drastic!). If you have read it or end up checking it out, please comment below or reach out to me through my Universal Form and let me know your thoughts!
Okay, onto another favorite book of mine (and I will try to keep this shorter for everyone):
Book 2 – The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
Speaking of well researched… The Daily Stoic is 366 days of Stoic writings from the ancient world. Each day of the year has a dedicated single page that starts with a quote from 1 of a handful of Stoic minds (my favorites are those from Marcus Aurelius). This quote is followed by a combination of either summation, talking points, connections to modern times, or challenges for the reader. I tote the beautiful Premium Leather Edition around with my Journal each morning as part of my quiet reading and reflection time. This practice really helps me start each day calmly and with intention.
Dividing the 12 months of the year into 3 groups of 4, The Daily Stoic is also in a 3-Act structure with each Act focusing on 1 discipline of the Stoic mindset (perception, action, will). Each month also has it’s own theme, so it’s really nice to sit in a particular focus for roughly 30 days and not bounce around at all.
I’m on my 3rd year (I think) through The Daily Stoic and I honesty cannot imagine beginning my day without the Sage advice found in those pages! It takes maybe 2-3 minutes to read your daily dose, so I hope you’ll consider buying this one and setting aside a little time to read these wonderful passages. Like above, let me know in the comments below or reach out to me through my Universal Form and let me know your thoughts if you go down this rabbit hole someday!
- In non-fiction land I am reading Twyla Tharp’s Keep it Moving, which is a follow-up to her wonderful book The Creative Habit (I am sure I will do a post about it at a later date)! I feel like I could have waited another 10 years before reading Keep it Moving, but I am still getting a lot out of it and I love how focused the message of each chapter is. As I reflect on my readings with my trusty notebook, I am getting both good strategies for fighting Resistance (😬) and for things to look out for in future years as the gig(s) might perhaps stop feeling as fresh and fulfilling as they once did!
- The Threshing by Tim Grahl is what I can’t put down before bed right now. This fiction offering is a serious page turner and for someone who associates with both the Trickster and Warrior Archetypes, this Matrix meets The Hunger Games is loads of fun right now. Tim, like Steven Pressfield, writes across genres and his book Running Down a Dream is another one of my favorite non-fiction titles. The Threshing is Tim’s first fiction work, which under the mentorship of Shawn Coyne, who is Steven’s editor and business partner, is a heck of a start. It is published by Story Grid, which is an incredible resource for anyone who enjoys getting into the backbone of great stories or, if you’re like me, doing research towards writing some fiction of your own someday 🤔.
Alright, that’s it for the 1st Edition of BOOKS! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and since you’ve made it this far, here is the most adorable picture of Keiko to date (IMHO) ❤️🐶.