Christine's Post-Retreat Reading List - Christine Kane

This is a list of the books I refer to during the retreats I facilitate. Though much of what I teach comes from my role as an artist and performer, a surprising amount of my philosophy comes from my role as a business owner. And of course, the biggest stuff comes from being in no role at all, just being fiercely committed to living in a conscious way and allowing each moment to be the teacher it is. These books are a reflection of all of these pieces and parts, and these writers have been some of my favorite teachers on this path. Each link will take you to where you can browse and read reviews.

I read slowly. I know there are lots of people out there who burn through four books a week. I’m not one of them. My feeling is that if this book is based on someone’s life work, then it deserves my full attention. I’ve only recommended my favorites. If you want to add any to the list, please post your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post! Thanks!

Note on Audiobooks

Many of these books are even better in audio format. I include a mention of that in their description. Since I travel a lot, I have listened to many of these books rather than read them. My favorite audiobook source is They have a great one-year rate, and then all the other books you buy are discounted. You download the books onto your computer and move them into whatever format you want…CD, iPod, MP3. Click on the pretty link below to find out more.

Three FREE Audiobooks RISK-FREE from Audible
Another Note:

I purposefully did not include any fiction on this list. That is another list for another day!


Henriette Klauser, Write It Down and Make It Happen

I loved this book when I read it. Klauer’s enthusiasm for writing is enough to get you inspired right there. I have to admit, I didn’t do a lot of the exercises, but by the time I read this, I was already doing music full-time and was using many of her techniques. (Especially the one about carrying a small notebook around with you for all your ideas. I still do this.)

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, The Vein of Gold, Walking in this World

Almost everyone I know has heard of the Artist’s Way. It was a ground-breaking work on creativity and art. I’ve written in my blogs several times about Morning Pages. They were Julia Cameron’s idea. Thousands of people now do them regularly. These books are still an inspiration to me. (I often read the section called “Time” in The Vein of Gold aloud during workshops when participants complain that there’s not enough time to follow their passion.)

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind

I was in a writing class and we used many of the exercises in Natalie Goldberg’s books. I loved doing them. Occasionally, I still do the timed-writing exercises in writing workshops I teach now.

Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write

In a past blog, I wrote about my shift from post-college misery into being a performing songwriter. What I didn’t mention was that, at that time, I started writing letters to God in my journal admitting that I had this bigger dream of being a writer of some sort. (I was too scared to admit it to anyone else!) Pretty soon after I wrote those entries, I wandered into a bookstore near Dupont Circle and this book was sitting on the counter, screaming to me. Looking back, I think it was one of those “meant-to-be” things. Brenda Ueland became the wise voice of the wild creative spirit — a voice that I had no idea even existed. This book was published in 1938, and still inspires and encourages.

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Oh, how I love Anne Lamott. This may be my favorite book on writing. A classic. And very funny. Anne Lamott is so willing to be seen. And because of that, she lets us all be a little less embarrassed by our own craziness. If you can find the audio version, Anne Lamott is a great reader.

Stephen King, On Writing

Whenever I recommend this book, people always say, “Really? Stephen King? Are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure. Get the audio version of this book because Stephen King reads it himself, and he’s just fabulous and funny. He doesn’t comfort you or help you get over your fears. Stephen King pretty much assumes you’re over your fears and gives you the best way to proceed from there. Yes, he talks about all the stuff — rejection, bad reviews, writer’s block — that writers deal with, but he wants you to get over it. He wants you to just write. Even if you’re not a writer, this is a great listen. It’s entertaining and like all truths, it applies to everything. He can be a bit of a hard ass here and there.

Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting

A must have for the songwriter’s bookshelf. A series of interviews with the best of the best. Paul Zollo is a one-of-a-kind interviewer.

Anna Deavere Smith, Letters to A Young Artist

I still consider myself a young artist, so I read this in about two nights. It’s a short book. Anna Deavere Smith is one cool babe with some great insights on living the artist’s life. (For those out there not familiar with her one-woman-shows and Broadway bio, you may remember Smith as also appeared as Nancy McNally on West Wing.)


Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram

The enneagram is a tool from the Sufi tradition. Many people compare it to the well-known Myers-Briggs test, in that it allows you to find a “type” for yourself ( in this case, there are nine numbers). But the enneagram goes deeper. It is a spiritual tool and a way of breaking out of destructive patterns that you’ve set up for yourself. It helps you figure out your “type” and then encourages you become aware that this is actually who you are not. It sees these personality types as facades we’ve set up for ourselves, our own defense system. This is my favorite book about the enneagram.

Debbie Ford, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers

A must read. This is short book packed with wisdom, authenticity, and spirit.

Lenedra Carroll, The Architecture of All Abundance

I’ve referred to this book more than any other in my blogging so far. Lenedra Carroll is the mother of pop-singer Jewel. What an amazing book she has written. Unlike most books in its genre, it’s written in a very non-linear fashion. I absolutely love this woman and her approach to business and life.

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

A classic. I highly recommend this book. I had seen it on people’s shelves since about the first week I moved to Asheville. It took me eight years to actually read it. But it was worth the wait. Besides, I don’t think I would have been able to get it had I read it any earlier. The line in my song Right Outta Nowhere, “She’s got a great big dream and a history of playing small” is a reference to this book. Marianne Williamson says “Your playing small does not serve the world.”

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A New Earth

If you got no other book on this list but A New Earth, you’d be fine. It’s the best book I’ve ever read on this topic. It’s one thing to hear the idea of “being present” and “living in the now.” It’s a whole other thing when someone can walk you inside yourself and point to the parts of you that don’t want you to be present and show you how to recognize their stories, and dramas and tricks. I’ve listened AND read this book twice. The Power of Now was a great book, and lots of people prefer that one. But I think A New Earth goes a whole lot deeper.

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

Not a single workshop of mine goes by without reading a passage from this book. Those who have never read it seem to relax into its authenticity instantly as they laugh out loud at Anne Lamott’s brilliant sense of humor and depth of spirit. By sharing her own rich and painful and funny life experiences, she inadvertently gives us all permission to be imperfect and powerful at the same time.

Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Whenever I meet someone who knows Parker Palmer’s work, they always get the same joyful look on their face when you mention his name. They sigh and say, “Oh, I just love him.” Parker Palmer is a Quaker, and his writing and work and refections are immersed in that energy of peaceful deliberation and stark vulnerability. This is a powerful book. I remember reading it aloud to my friend Kathy when she came on a road trip with me. It’s a quick read. Great for life transitions and times of confusion.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

I love this book so much I don’t know what to write. This just came out in 2006. Get the audio version because Elizabeth Gilbert is a fantastic reader. She walks the perfect line between being your best friend and your new guru. I laughed out loud, and (as I listened a lot while making dinner) I stopped dead in my kitchen and cried my eyes out. This is a beautiful and perfect book written by a beautiful and perfect woman. You must must must read this at some point in your life.


Cheryl Richardson, Take Time for Your Life

This book is all about addressing the HOW of your life before addressing the WHAT. Cheryl Richardson is wise and soft and strong in her coaching and writing. This book is similar to The Artist’s Way in that it lovingly gives tools and writing exercises for improving your life. It also challenges readers to live more consciously by setting boundaries and taking time for themselves. I refer to this book throughout my blogs. Get the audio version as well. It’s a little different from the book and Cheryl is a gentle and compassionate reader. (Can you tell I love this woman?)

Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The title of this book used to make me cringe. I thought it was so smarmy and, well, kind of Republican. Here’s the deal though: It’s an amazing book. Once I finally got over myself and read it, I was blown away. It’s the real thing. If you’re an artist who complains a lot about having to deal with the business side of your work, then this is for you. It is a beautiful and enlightened approach to business, self-discipline, and time management.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

I’ll admit it. I don’t normally love the idea of recommending books with stiff looking guys on the covers in their suits and ties looking like they’ve never experienced a single emotion beyond efficiency. (Efficiency is an emotion to these guys!) But I am also a little weird in that I’ll read these books with a curiosity that most creative types couldn’t muster. This book is jammed with good stuff. I’ve used a few of the ideas just to help me with my procrastinating side. I plan to write a companion book called “Getting Nothing Done,” with a picture on the cover of a guy in shorts and a t-shirt lounging in a chaise and staring at a river.

Jack Canfield, The Success Principles

Another great one like Stephen Covey. Still, we’ve got a guy in a jacket on the cover. No tie, though. That’s a step up! This is a great book and is packed full of very real wisdom, not just surface-y hype.

Karen Kingston, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui

Read more about this in my post called Creating Order. This is a great book about recognizing the energy of clutter and finally letting it go.

Julie Morganstern, Organizing From the Inside Out

Hands down, my favorite book on organizing. Great for creative types and artists. Really basic and easy steps for getting rid of the clutter and finding space for your stuff and developing systems for your work and life. Great audio version, too.


Every book on this entire list has something in it about intent, and about monitoring your thoughts and changing them. The books (and DVD) below are more boldly written, and fearlessly state that you have the power to create your life. (This is an idea that, for some reason, brings out the most resistance and anger in people. I say get out of your comfort zone and read one. If nothing else, you’ll be a little less miserable.) Since the topic is similar in all of these books, I’m not going to write a review of each one, but these are my favorites.

Marc Allen, The Millionaire Course

Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention

Esther and Jerry Hicks, Ask and It is Given

Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

This is a classic. Be sure to get the newest version with the beautiful pictures on every page.

What the Bleep Do We Know – DVD

Masaru Emoto, The Hidden Messages in Water


Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

Such a great read.

Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

When I’m strung out from travel or working too hard, I love to curl up in bed and read a few passages.


Christiane Northrup, Women’s Bodies. Women’s Wisdom.

I love love love Chris Northrup. This is a must-have book. Or, listen to her tapes. She’s a compassionate and lovely teacher.

Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief

Geneen Roth,When Food is Food and Love is Love
Geneen Roth’s primary message is about healing eating disorders and compulsive eating. Since I blogged on my own experience with bulimia, I’ve gotten many emails from people asking more. Please get Geneen Roth’s books. She’s amazing.

Bob Flaws, The Tao of Healthy Eating

BobI am a great believer in the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to eating. Chinese medicine was the first alternative approach that helped me heal my eating disorderLINK. This is a simple and small book. It’s not at all rigid or harsh, the way some books on eating can be.

Please add your own book recommendations in the comments section…

  • fran Milsop

    I cannot believe I did not leave a ‘thank you’ to you Christine for all your words of encouragement…I am getting ready to lay out my vision board(s)…I will keep you posted of my progress and successes…

  • fran Milsop

    I would highly recommend Bill Plotkin’s “Soulcraft: Crossing in the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche;” as well as Rick Jarow, Ph.D., “Alchemy of Abundance,” which comes with a CD; anything by Eckhart Tolle and a special favorite, David Whyte’s work…anything by this beautiful poet as well as “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. and lastly, for those struggling with stepping up to a blank canvas or any project…”Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland. Step off the cliff!!!!

  • Veronica

    Wow, I just found you through the 37 Day blog. I am really learning things already. Thank you so much for your blog. It’s great.

  • Carolyn

    Some suggestions:

    Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
    Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck

    Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher
    The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine

    The Purpose of Your Life by Carol Adrienne

    Be Careful What You Pray For… You Just Might Get It by Larry Dossey

    Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn

    The Princessa by Harriet Rubin

    The Joy of Burnout by Dina Glouberman
    Malignant Sadness by Lewis Wolpert
    The Zen Path Through Depression by Philip Martin

    Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

    Walden by Henry David Thoreau

    The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke [(get the version that is translated by Stephen Mitchell (husband of Byron Katie)]

  • Evie.E

    Thank you for a wonderful reading list! I have several, have read several others, but there are some I’ve never heard of! I’d better get busy on them.

    One of my favorites is Women Who Run with the Wolves. It’s been my friend for years and I turn to it when I need advice or comfort. Highly recommended.

  • Katherine

    IN Beauty May She Walk by Leslie Mass.
    Peaceful Warrior by Dan Man..? The movie is good also.

  • Marci Budlong

    Christine, I have read most of the books on your list and I agree they are amazing! I’ll have to check out the others!

    I’d like to share my list with you. I hope these touch you as much as your writing has touched me.

    Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

    I think that this is one of the most important books ever written and everyone should read it. The author was in Auschwitz during World War II and his thoughts and the conclusions that he reached during one of the most horrific experiences of human history are life-changing. Twenty years ago, I suffered from depression and reading this book cured it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

    Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

    This is the best self-help book I’ve ever read. He writes about big and little ways that we can improve our lives, things I had never thought of. It’s not just for self-help junkies, if you just want to improve your life at all, Brian gives you the tools to do so.

    Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer

    I read this book when I was going through a very painful divorce. At first, it made me so mad that I threw it across the room! But a couple of days later, after I had thought about what I had read, I realized that he was right and finished the book. It changed the way I think about my relationships with other people.

    Walden by Henry David Thoreau

    Beautiful, beautiful book. Essential. Read it while sitting under a tree.

    The Prospering Power of Love by Catherine Ponder

    This is a very moving, powerful little book that taught me to be a kinder person. Not that I wasn’t before, but the author has a way of opening up depths of yourself that you never knew were there.

    No Greater Love by Mother Teresa

    I always admired Mother Teresa immensely and when I saw this in my local bookstoe, I had to pick it up. It really gives you insight into who she was and what she thought and her work with the poorest of the poor on this planet. It’s not preachy at all, but it will make you think.

    Gesundheit! by Patch Adams, M.D.

    There’s only ONE Patch! If you’ve seen the movie, you will know the bare bones of his story, but the book, as always, is so much better.

    Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster

    This lovely book will really make you think about how you live your life and what effect you have on the planet and on other people. And what effect that has on you.

    Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard

    I first read this book when I was 19 and I have re-read it countless times since. Small ways, she calls them “Grace Notes”, that we can inject beauty and pleasure into daily rituals and activities. What I like best is that it’s written is such a conversational style that it makes you feel as if you’re having tea together in her kitchen.

  • etbnc

    I’ve met a number of folks who raved about Fromm and Anatomy of…. For some reason it didn’t really grab me, though, as much Carl Rogers’ books. _On Becoming a Person_ sticks in my mind (excerpt at

    While I’m here, since I see an occasional visitor referred from a comment above, I should note that my little book list has moved to


  • Walter Hawn

    An oldie, but a goodie: Eric Fromm, “The Art of Loving” “Fromm, as a member of what (Daniel) Burston calls Freud’s ‘loyal opposition’, did a very unusual thing, unusual, that is, for a committed psychoanalyst. He tried genuinely to broaden the scope of psychoanalysis by integrating psychoanalytic theory into a more diverse cultural conversation that could include economics, philosophy, and anthropology, among many other disciplines.” — Adam Phillips, in The New Republic

    And, after you’ve read this precis of Fromm’s thinking (for that is what “Art of Loving” is), move on to “The Sane Society,” “The Art of Being,” “Escape From Freedom,” “You Shall Be As Gods,” “The Revolution of Hope,” and, for those who really want to know, “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.”

    “If any single work could bring mankind to its senses, this book (Anatomy) might qualify for that miracle. . . . This book is the product of one of the most penetrating, most mature minds of our time.”–Lewis Mumford

    I was introducted to Fromm in high school by an amazing teacher named Nik Breitwieser. I’ve never been able to thank him enough.

  • tammy vitale

    wow – can’t believe how many of these are already in my library – the culled down one from when i thought i was moving – the real keepers. Will have to run back thru them (which I seem to be doing anyways).

    I’m really looking forward to the Mar 07 retreat – i responded immediately to it even if I didn’t sign up that quick. I knew I would.

  • Ron

    Fascinating list. Based on it and the various topics you’re writing about, I would suggest that you look at Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow. Wonderfully important concept that has changed how I live. (And you’re right about Covey’s 7 Habits – I had the good fortune of working for him, teaching his seminars for a few years. Wonderful ideas that are even better in practice.)

  • etbnc

    I’ve found great value in Daniel Quinn’s books about our culture, such as Ishmael, and in Peter Senge’s writing about learning in The Fifth Discipline. Senge’s book, Presence, reflects a somewhat different approach to the same topic. Both might fit the positive thinking and intent category.

    I’ve also learned a lot from George Lakoff’s work on metaphors, deep frames, and effective communication in Metaphors We Live By, Thinking Points, Don’t Think of an Elephant, and Moral Politics.

    A few months ago a blog meme known as “ten books” went around the net. I found that to be a good opportunity to highlight some books significant to me. (There are more than ten — I bent the rules a bit.)

    Thanks for the opportunity to share interests in useful books!



    ( )

  • christine

    I love Letters to a Young Poet too. I haven’t heard of The Renaissance Soul…but I’ll check it out. Thanks Molly!

  • Molly

    I’d recommend reading Letters to A Young Poet by Rilke. I read it recently and it is along the same vein as many of these others. It’s quite moving.

    Also, The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine is a must for the creative types who find themselves passionate about several topics. (Also at Amazon or B&N).

  • whitetshirts

    I know that this has nothing to do with this particular listing. I am avid reader of, which is a very interesting writing initiative happening in a public space, as well as your blog, and this morning the article that I posted the link for above was posted with the new post cards, and I saw a connection between the two. I know that anorexia and bulimia are often lumped together, which I could probably guess is not the best practice. However, I still thought that you might be interested to see how this particular young woman fought her way through her disease in a very unique way. Hope that you are having a glorious Sunday.

  • Elizabeth Perry

    Have you read Barbara Sher’s book Wishcraft?

    I read it for the first time right after graduate school on the recommendation of a friend. Her process helps you figure out what you really dream of doing, and then walks you through the practical steps to get you there. Not only does it encourage you not to “play small” but it in my mother’s phrase it “helps you count backward from when you need to be at the airport” – I recommend it very highly.

    For writers, I also recommend Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer. Written in 1934, it is still in print, and still has useful things to say about creativity and ways of working.

    Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is fairly new – and both a fascinating and helpful view of making your way in the world as an artist – even for those of us who are not dancers.

  • Angela

    There are so many incredible books on this list (plus some I will have to check out), but Parker Palmer is the best! He came to speak at my college in 1993 and changed my life (and inspired me to use his book title, To Know as We Are Known, as my blog title).