A “Summer of Learning” Reading List

The Domino Project’s for today only, is giving away a free Kindle version of the essay “Self Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Today, The Domino Project launches a contemporary re-imagining of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most famous essay Self-Reliance. We’re thrilled to work with Ibex, a very cool outdoorwear company, to reintroduce you Ralph Waldo Emerson. In return, Emerson’s Self-Reliance is helping introduce Ibex to the world.

Ibex is fast becoming an industry leader in the world of outdoor clothing. They’re famous for the distribution of ‘ethical wool’ where they adhere to strict Zque regulations. They care as much about performance and comfort as they do about the well-being of the animals themselves (plus the stuff they sell is beautiful).”

Get your copy here: http://www.thedominoproject.com/2011/05/self-reliance.html/

I was inspired by this quote on self-reliance from the work:

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love the idea of finding the sweet spot of knowing yourself in a crowd.

Many of the 40-something women I speak with wish they had spent less time worrying about what other people think, comparing themselves to others or just feeling the need to do what others are doing. But part of learning who you are in your twenties is interacting with other people and groups as a way of exploring who you are. That’s why, on the other hand, a lot of women suggest traveling or getting to know other cultures so you can get more than one perspective on life and living. Don’t just hang with the same types of people and don’t just do the same as other people. Explore. Learn. The more people that touch your life the better.

The point is to rely on your own judgement without judging others.

And while on the subject of reading, maybe use a little time this summer to read some books that offer different perspectives and learning. There are many ways to get to know yourself better and for some, reading was able to provide some valuable insight in their 20s. One 40-something woman I interviewed found literature helped save her from continuing down a destructive path in her 20s:

‘I lost my sister when I was 16 and I really struggled with what life was all about. Why was I here? I was lucky to go through this when I was 20. It was hard, but we all go through it. My struggle wasn’t perhaps as bad as some others. I learned to live life to the fullest in every moment. In your 20’s you think you are immortal. You have no idea how precious and beautiful life is. I wish I could give 20 year-olds this perspective.”


My 20’s were destructive as I really struggled with my identity. I think that is what a lot of 20 year olds go through.I found a way to get balanced. A balance that worked for me. I turned to literature and read all the great thinkers of the past. There were years where I didn’t even go out. I found my fun in education. I found my goal…to be better and help others. In my career as a doctor, I apply this to my practice beyond just the physical care. I educate people about their choices. I get involved in hospice care. So much of the work I do is to help educate people about having a healthy mind and a healthy body. Stay balanced by keeping it all in perspective. Stay healthy. Live with interest. You don’t have to feel so alone.”


One of her favorite books:  Irving Yalom: When Nitsche Wept

A while back a 20-something asked the question, What were 40-somethings favorite books when they were in their 20s. Today I’ve compiled the list of their responses. Maybe it will give you some new variety for your summer reading list. Make this your summer of learning!

What were your favorite books when you were 20-something?

American Pastoral Phillip Roth (1998)

The Alienist, Caleb Carr (1995)

The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay (1991)

Possession, A.S. Byatt (1991)

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1990

Geek Love, Katherine Dunn (1990)

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (1988)

White Noise, Don Delillo (1986)

The Cider House Rules, John Irving (1985)

The Passion, Jeanette Winterson (1985)

Waterland, Graham Swift (1983)

The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1982)

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie (1981)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1960)

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)

The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles (1949)

Orlando, Virginia Woolf (1928)

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton (1920)

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1847)

Persuasion, Jane Austen (1816)

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813)

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austin (1811)

Maus, Art Spiegelman, (1986, graphic novel)

Hiroshima Mon Amour, Marguerite Duras (1959, screenplay)

Anne Sexton, Diane Middlebrook (1992, Biography)

The Artist Way, Julia Cameron (2002)

Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott (2000)

Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life Anne Lamott (1995)

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams, M.D. Deepak

Chopra (1994)

A Path with Heart A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield, (1993)

Peace is Every Step — The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Thich Nhat Hanh (1992)


Anything by….

James Faulkner

Anais Nin

Susan Minot

Joan Didion

William T. Vollmann (fiction)

David Foster Wallace’s (non-fiction)

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