Monday, December 9, 2013

10 Books that Influenced my Life



The Times Record publisher, Larry Hubner asked me to participate in a full-page special highlighting the six most influential books in the lives of booksellers. I wrote the first six below for that piece and then added four so that I could stick with my theme of ten on my blog.

1. Psychocybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.(nonfiction) I learned that I, like other people, saw myself inaccurately. My perceptions were distorted by erroneous beliefs imbedded in my subconscious mind by my living in a hellacious household of abuse and poverty. I learned to "re-program" my mind to do and see what could be. That has served me well throughout my life.

2. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran a book of 26 prose poetry essays written in English by a Lebanese writer (and philosopher and artist). Before the death of my first husband in 1997, I read many of these poems aloud to George as the cancer affected his eyesight before his death. Gibran's poem "On Death" helped me watch George live at the end rather than watch my best friend die. "And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."

3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In this novel ‎about a motorcycle road trip, Robert M. Pirsig explores the question of how to live with technology without allowing it to degrade our life. Since I work many hours a day with computers, it has been key for me to be the techno-nerd with the ability to fix my own "motorcycle" on my "daily ride." Working with technology yet not allowing the technology to take over my art and my connection with society has been a key lesson of what I received from my reading of ZAMM.

4. 1984 by George Orwell. This piece of fiction emphasizes a world in which conformity is rewarded, introduced the warning, "Big Brother is watching you" and fashioned the term Newspeak--creating words helping the government control its people. 1984 inspired me to write a journal. My journaling has continued over the years--if sporadically. 

5. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat Zinn. (nonfiction) This book deepened my understanding of mindfulness. I have lived a life that some people would say is exciting. Sometimes I have been very stressed to do what I have chosen to do in my life. Mindfulness helps me stay connected to the present and what matters.

6. Emotional Intelligence (nonfiction) by Daniel Goleman. Goleman gave ink to my innate belief that there was more than IQ determining a child's ability to survive and even thrive in environments of poverty and despair. The five elements of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. These, then, determine our success. They can be learned and improved. I was lucky, I didn't settle for what I was born into.

7. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (novella). An allegorical tale about a little prince traveling from his home planet, fallen to earth and the lessons the narrator learns. I loved reading this when my children were small. I think I might have read it more to myself than to my two daughters.

8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (nonfiction). Before enlisting in the Navy when I ran out of money going to college, I interviewed for a job teaching the Dale Carnegie course. The person who interviewed me gave me a set of three of Carnegie's books. I read all, but I remember much about HTWF&IF. This has helped me over the years when dealing with family, friends and others.

9. Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis (nonfiction). This book provided clear information to me when I finally decided to deal with the wounds of my childhood.  It offered hope and a clear guide for my healing.

10. Wild Plants of Maine by Tom Seymour. This book taught me that I can sell books and help my authors make money. Tom Seymour is able to sell books himself and the publicity surrounding events that we put on help Tom book edible plant walks and presentations adding to his income. This book also brought Tom Seymour into my life and we have become family in addition to publisher/author.


Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, a publishing business with the tag line: Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project--building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: jstwrite@jstwrite.com

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