As the world grows more chaotic, many seekers are returning to the roots of their practices, looking for fundamental wisdom to carry them through modern crises. Fall 2014’s book offerings reflect this trend, from new translations of foundational works to a memoir of hiking through the Ozarks with only classic texts for company.
Leading the rediscovery efforts is a new translation of the I Ching, which Viking is publishing in hardcover in October. I Ching: The Essential Translation of the Ancient Chinese Oracle and Book of Wisdom is translated by John Minford, known for his 2002 translation of The Art of War, and took more than a decade to produce; it includes extra material such as recent archeological discoveries and new images of the codex of divination signs. Elda Rotor, associate publisher and editorial director of Penguin Classics, notes that her imprint will publish a deluxe paperback version in fall 2015, geared toward students who “find comfort in the fact that others have used ancient, classic texts to learn how to deal with suffering.” Penguin Classics releases Confucius: The Analects, translated with an introduction and commentary by Annping Chin, in September.
At Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., acquisitions editor Jon Graham says, “new takes on old practices” could be a company motto: “Many of our books are connected by a return to original sources with an eye to recasting them for contemporary needs.” Physician Rick Strassman’s DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible (Oct.) mines Jewish scripture for insight into what he calls theoneurology, or the presence of spiritual channels in the human brain.
Caitlín Matthews introduces a 200-year-old divination system to the modern reader in The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards (Inner Traditions/Destiny, Oct.), and Ervin Laszlo and Anthony Peake explore consciousness after death, both through the lens of Akasha and the ether element as well as via quantum physics, in The Immortal Mind: Science and the Continuity of Consciousness Beyond the Brain (Inner Traditions, Oct.).
Several publishers are taking a fresh look at Helen Schucman and William Thetford’s A Course in Miracles (1976), often referred to as “the Course” and considered a classic of self-help curricula. Red Wheel/Weiser publisher Jan Johnson notes that Debra Landwehr Engle’s The Only Little Prayer You Need: The Shortest Route to a Life of Joy, Abundance, and Peace of Mind (Hampton Roads, Oct.) is based on “wisdom in the Course” and should “appeal to a wide swath of spiritual seekers.” Fine arts photographer Brad Oliphant’s Lessons in Love from a Course in Miracles: Truths and Meditations on the Legendary Text (Sterling Ethos, Nov.) is an illustrated take, and A Course of Love: Combined Volume by Mari Perron (Take Heart Publications, Sept.) offers another interpretation.
Watkins publisher Jo Lal is “seeing more books that back up ancient practices with the latest scientific research,” citing the forthcoming Switch On: How to Ignite Your Creative Spirit with the New Science of Breakthrough by Nick Seneca Jankel (Oct.), which merges neuroscience and wisdom traditions to offer problem-solving tips. The hunger for self-help methods with a “proven track record,” Lal says, is also reflected in advance interest in Tori Hartman’s 52-Week Chakra Wisdom Oracle Toolkit (Sept.), which turns to tradition not only to absorb history’s lessons, but also to find inspiration for living in today’s world.
Present, Less Tense
This season offers many quotidian tools, with a fresh crop of daybooks, essay collections, and meditative activities suitable for busy, modern lives. Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know for Sure (Flatiron Books, Sept.) collects and updates installments of the column of that same name, which caps off every issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. Flatiron Books publisher Bob Miller says he is “especially interested in mind-body-spirit books that ask us to pay close attention to our lives,” adding that the “pieces in What I Know for Sure ask us each to look hard at what really matters.”
Mindfulness is a mainstay of daily practice guides. Rick Rinehart, editorial director of Taylor Trade, notes that the goal of titles like Your Daily Rock (Nov.) by Patti Digh is to help people “to step back and reconnect with their core values” in the midst of their “crazy, overscheduled lives.”
Viva Editions offers books that heed the holistic picture of a life well-lived, says publisher Brenda Knight. “New Agers understand that we are not only machines to stuff fuel into—we have souls attached.” Interfaith minister Susyn Reeve’s The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week by Week (Nov.) aims to bring the feel of a spiritual retreat to the workaday world. Peg Conley, with Imagine the Life You’d Love to Live, Then Live It: 52 Inspired Habits and Playful Prompts (Nov.), offers a variety of wake-up calls designed to show that even the most serious decisions can be made with a light spirit.
Two new titles from Ulysses Press offer images as meditative prompts: Coloring Animal Mandalas by Wendy Piersall (Sept.) and Daily Zen Doodles: 365 Tangle Creations for Inspiration, Relaxation and Joy by Meera Lee Patel (Oct.). “We noticed that coloring books were growing in popularity with adults,” says acquisitions editor Kelly Reed. “They enjoy the relaxing aspect of coloring in intricate shapes as a sort of meditative practice.”
A variety of books this season celebrate the power of ritual in daily life. These include magickal titles like the 10th anniversary edition of Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living by Robin Rose Bennett (North Atlantic Books, Oct.), Wiccapedia: A Modern-Day White Witch’s Guide by Shawn Robbins and Leanna Greenaway (Sterling Ethos, Oct.), and goal-oriented guides like Your Quantum Breakthrough Code: The Simple Technique That Brings Everlasting Joy and Success by Sandra Anne Taylor (Hay House, Nov.) and Your Hidden Riches: Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose by Janet Bray and Chris Attwood (Harmony, Oct.).
Skillful daily living includes paying attention to the physical as well as emotional, and Llewellyn takes a close look at body-mind dynamics with Yoga & Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery, and Loving Your Body by Melanie Klein and Anna Guest-Jelley (Oct.) “ Stories from Seane Corn, Alanis Morisette, Bryan Kest, and others, says says acquisition editor Angela Wix, “shine a light on often hidden topics, allowing you to be much more aware of what’s true, what’s false, and what you can change or embrace within the relationship to your body.”
Several other fall books address the connection between body and brain. Skyhorse senior editor Julia Abramoff says that she and her colleagues sign titles like The Gift of Cancer by Brenda Michaels (Sept.) to highlight “the radical effects of interconnecting one’s body and mind.” From Viva Editions comes The Grateful Life (Oct.), in which Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons (Living Life as a Thank You) explore the links between gratitude and neuroscience.
In The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober (Hazelden, Oct.), Jennifer Matesa, the blogger behind Guinevere Gets Sober, brings mind, body, and spirit together. She recalls her battles with addiction and shares how she has managed to stay sober with a multifaceted practice that includes exercise, creative activity, nutrition, and meditation.
The way we relate to the outside world also affects our physical well-being. Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life by behavioral economist and food psychologist Brian Wansink (Morrow, Sept.) examines the impact of kitchen, restaurant, and grocery store environments on our food choices. “This book is different,” says Cassie Jones, v-p, executive editor, and editorial director at William Morrow, “because it’s not about what we eat, but how we eat.” Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of 2010’s Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, teaches readers how being more mindful of their surroundings can help them eat more healthfully, and suggests changes that can support any dietary program, helping our communities as well as ourselves.
On the Path
Seekers have long used physical journeys to new places as a route to spiritual growth. Upcoming additions to the pilgrimage literature include Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed (Hay House, Sept.), in which Sonia Choquette chronicles her 500-mile trek through the Pyrenees and across northern Spain on the legendary Camino de Santiago. Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice (Oxford Univ., Dec.) traces Belden C. Lane’s solitary journeys through the Ozarks and the American Southwest, during which he communed only with the works of teachers like Rumi and Kierkegaard in an effort to discover the divine in nature.
Standing still can be its own journey, a truth explored by Pico Iyer in The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere (Simon & Schuster, Nov.), which expands on Iyer’s influential essay “The Joy of Quiet” to further explore the idea that the more connected we become as a society, the more we long to unplug.
Journeys sometimes transcend the here and now altogether. “The modern world is moving at such a pace that it’s no surprise to see books that help you shape your future and attain happiness,” says Claudia Connal, senior editor for nonfiction, Piatkus and Little, Brown (U.K.). November sees the U.S. publication of Create Your Perfect Future by Anne Jirsch, a pioneer in future life progression, written with Anthea Courtenay. The book explains how to “visualize alternative futures for yourself and heal your past so that you can achieve your goals in life,” Connal says.
Envisioning the future beyond this life features in Adventures of the Soul: Journeys Through the Physical and Spiritual Dimensions (Hay House, Sept.), the latest from the TV personality and author of How to Heal a Grieving Heart, James Van Praagh; and Journey into Spirit: A Pagan’s Perspective on Death, Dying & Bereavement by Kristoffer Hughes (Llewellyn, Sept.) In October, Hay House is publishing The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You by Mike Dooley, best known for his “Notes from the Universe” e-mailings. Dooley considers how messages from loved ones once considered lost can not only comfort us, but also inspire us to the best use of our time on earth.
Another popular voice chiming in on the afterlife is Theresa Caputo, from the TLC series Long Island Medium. In You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Life-Changing Lessons from Heaven (Atria, Sept.), Caputo shares stories from her years as a psychic. Other new titles in this category feature a wide variety of perspectives, from the autobiographical Angel Lady by Doreen Virtue (Hay House, Oct.) to titles that speak directly to the reader on life after death, including The Love Never Ends: Messages from the Other Side by Sunny Dawn Johnson (Hierophant, Oct.) and Everlasting Love: Finding Comfort Through Communicating with Your Beloved in Spirit by Patrick and Kathleen Mathews (Llewellyn, Dec.).
We’re in This Together
As important as personal journeys are, it’s the collective future that commands several authors’ attentions this fall. Deepak Chopra, whose many books mingle spirituality and science, next tackles The Future of God (Random House, Nov.). His central question: how to return faith to the masses in the wake of the doubts raised by atheist writers like Richard Dawkins. The Ending of Time: Where Philosophy and Physics Meet (HarperOne, Oct.) by human consciousness guru Jiddu Krishnamurti and physicist David Bohm continues the conversation with dialogues that consider the individual’s relationship to society.
Even in the context of our relationship with others, cultivating an understanding of ourselves remains paramount. The Relationship Handbook: A Path to Consciousness, Healing, and Growth (New World Library, Nov.) by Shakti Gawain brings this complex give-and-take to the forefront. In her first book in 15 years, Gawain—author of Creative Visualization and several other titles that together have sold more than six million copies worldwide, according to her publisher—draws on decades of workshop leadership experience to describe the ways readers can work toward balancing independence and closeness in all of their relationships.
From the first philosophers to today’s avant-garde thinkers, seekers have always looked for ways to create a more cohesive community for the generations to come. Futurist and sociologist Kingsley L. Dennis imagines just that in The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion, and Consciousness (Watkins, Sept.). Dennis predicts a positive shift; children born today, he suggests, will radically change human society, armed with a transformative combination of inherited wisdom and instinctive intelligence. His book is one among many this season that reflect readers’ continuing desire to translate the wisdom of the ages into hope for the future.
Below, more on the subject of mind, body, and spirt.Traditional Healing, Modern Practices: Mind, Body, Spirit Books, Fall 2014
Books on such topics as herbalism, traditional food prep, and indigenous spiritual practices reflect a shifting worldview as readers seek ways to live more holistic, balanced lives, says Doug Reil, executive director and associate publisher at North Atlantic Books.