The question that gets a stumped pause from me now:

“What are you reading?”

Rarely an answerable question for a parent of young children.

My audio book game is strong, though, and I will pop on my new bone conduction headphones (thanks Aunt Sherri!) while I’m emptying the dishwasher to scratch my input itch.

(You know about Clifton Strengths? It’s a tool that tells you what your natural are.)

I always forget mine, but I remember at the top of the list is INPUT. 🤖

I love to know things, find out things, learn things. And tell YOU about the things.

So I’m sharing some of the most meaningful input sources in my life with you: books.

In no particular order, here you go:
 

Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle


From the author of A Wrinkle in Time, this book reflects on L’Engle’s lifelong integration of faith and art.

A few small phrases from this book are always in my pocket when I need context or a little light to see my way.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

This correspondence between the German poet and a young artist represents a mentorship we all wish we could have.

Makes me long for how we used to get letters, read them a few times, and let their words live in our imaginations while we waited for the next one to arrive. 

If you never read the book, there’s a terrific quote to store in your heart:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.

“Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

“Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”


So brilliant and so frustrating. A thought like that’s not going to get a lot of clicks these days.
 

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

I’ve told you about this book before. I love it. And there’s a cookbook now.

The book comes from Adler’s blog. She used to cook at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and the way she writes about bread, beans, and boiling vegetables makes you want to fill up a pot with salty water and get going.

Its theme is based on an earlier book written during the Depression called How to Cook a Wolf. You’ll never look at your chopped-off onion ends the same way again.

And if you like braised beef, you won’t find a better way to do it than in this book. Risotto, too.


Anything by Anthony Doerr

 This year I listened to Cloud Cuckoo Land and All the Light We Cannot See on my walks from the train to work.

When you hear a novelist create such specific and diverse worlds and connect them in such unexpected and inevitable ways, it’s evidence that there’s beauty in the world and goodness and truth in the human imagination.

Both of these books are masterful.
 

Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

This book is so important for storytellers — it breaks down the nuance and facets of language we use for emotion.

When our language is clear, connection happens. (Her explanation of the difference between envy and jealousy is fascinating.)

And don’t forget — there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,

Dan

PS You know your Clifton Strengths? Tell me! I looked mine up again —
Input, Empathy, Positivity, Developer, Adaptability

PPS And something to think about — What has it looked like to live a question? What questions are you living right now? 

PPPS Here are those bone conduction headphones I told you about.