This year I spent a lot of time reading about psychedelics and spirituality. Things got trippy. I’ve always been interested in these subjects, but the Pollan book sent me down a rabbit hole. There were more books than this, but these were the standouts.
I started reading on Kindle as well while traveling, but I still prefer paper for writing marginalia. If I really connect with a book I’ll usually hunt down a used physical copy.
Michael Pollan – How To Change Your Mind
This was the most important book of the year for me. I’ve been a long time fan of Pollan’s writing, and this is my favorite yet. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I think this book is the tipping point for mental health, spiritual practice, and the betterment of well people, as he says in the book. He enters the world of psychedelics with a necessary journalistic skepticism. Beyond that, it’s an absolute pleasure to read.
Jedidiah Jenkins – To Shake The Sleeping Self
This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of reading a book written by a dear friend. But that’s not the only reason I loved it. Jed rode his bike from Oregon to Patagonia and wrote a hilarious, deeply insightful story about it. It made me cackle, and think. What else do you want from a book?
Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush – Walking Each Other Home
This one is very different from other Ram Dass books. It’s in the form of a conversation and is very approachable for a book dealing with issues surrounding death. I loved it and have recommended to many people.
Alan Watts – Cloud-Hidden
I love reading Alan Watts. I’m always either reading one of his books or in the middle of listening to a lecture. I like to keep his philosophy near. This is a lesser-known journal he kept while living in the mountains.
Allan Badiner – Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics
I was gifted this book in a long time ago and recently re-read it when I had the pleasure of becoming friends with the author, Allan. Fascinating and fun, and important for this area of thought.
Carlo Rovelli – The Order of Time
This book is by far the most mind-bending read of the year. Rovelli takes concepts of physics and makes them into a beautiful poetic odyssey. Will definitely revisit this again. I loved his last book as well.
Cynthia Palmer and Michael Horowitz – Sisters of the Extreme: Women Writing on the Drug Experience
I discovered this from Tao Lin’s Trip. Super rich, eye-opening read that captures writing on various drug experiences from women writers throughout time.
Tao Lin – Trip (Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change)
This one was a huge surprise. I came across it in looking for books on the subject and had no idea the treat I was in for. It’s a sort of biography of Terence McKenna and the way his philosophy changed the author’s life. Can’t recommend it enough.
Cormac McCarthy – The Road
Somehow it took me this long to dig into McCarthy after it being written. I devoured this book in a few days, and will definitely continue reading his work.
Janna Levin – Black Hole Blues
I love reading books about physics for non-scientists. This is a story about her multi-dimensional adventure into gravitational waves.
Yuval Noah Harari – 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
I absolutely love reading Harari. Although I wouldn’t recommend it as much as his first two books, I loved this one. It can be stressful at times but raises a lot of important points. Beyond that, I love reading him because of the way his mind synthesizes so much information into a fluid narrative.
Kay Larson – Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists
At the time of writing this post I have just started this book, but it’s already blowing my mind. It’s full of profound reflections of the path of the artist and the overlap with Zen. Super insightful and useful for artists, designers, and creatives.
Aldous Huxley – The Island
I don’t know why it took me this long to read this, but wow. Timely and beautiful, I devoured this one in a few days.
Neil Gaiman – Art Matters
A cute and thought-provoking illustrated book about the creative process. I am a huge fan of almost anything Gaiman does. I found it to be light-hearted and insightful, a great gift book for creatives.