Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 12, 2020

Books are a Man’s best friend in difficult times of solitary confinement like today…

How about starting a new discipline and commencing a new way of spending your isolation time?

Maybe these are the days that you can make a fresh New Year’s resolution by starting belatedly to read a few books to set your mind straight.

Because methinks that great books are a salve for the Soul, asana for the Heart and a balm for the Mind, since in difficult times we all need more balm, more tisanes and more salve like parched travelers across the Empty Quarter of the Sahara desert, thirst for a drink of sweet water.

So, start reading books that inspire and reward the reader immediately when opening the cover and starting reading the first page…

Start bu reading complex and thought inspiring books like “Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount” which is a book written by the 4th century Saint Augustine who was a Christian Philosopher and Politician from Hippo in North Africa. And as it was that when St Augustine undertook this work, because he considered chapters 5–7 of the Gospel of Matthew (the Sermon on the Mount) “a perfect standard of the Christian life” — it changed his own life as well as the lives of all those around him, so imagine what it can do for your Life is you were to read it…

Another great book is “The City of God” again by St Augustine, which is a treasure of the interior conflict between our beliefs and our reality. And because in “The city of God” St Augustine, rails against the pagans often called “The City of God” it is in this book of Christian philosophy written in Latin by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century on the year of the Lord 465 AD, it is strangely relevant today in a way that few ancient manuscripts can still be really relevant in our strained and interesting times.

Of course, we can always re-read “Utopia” by Thomas More, which is a work of fiction and socio-political satire written by Thomas More in Latin and translated in English and published in England on the year of the Lord 1516 AD. “Utopia” (Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia) “A little, true book, not less beneficial than enjoyable, about how things should be in the new island Utopia” is a work of fiction and socio-political satire by Thomas More (1478–1535), written in Latin and published in 1516. The book is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social, and political customs. Many aspects of More’s description of Utopia are reminiscent of life in monasteries.

You’ve got to read “The Plague” by Albert Camus, and “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Holocaust Survivor & Advanced Psychologist Victor Frankl, because these two books are seemingly written for times like these. And they are informing of this period that we are going through. Yet because today’s culture drives people towards being glued onto the stupid box of television watching dismal news 24/7 and going down the spiral of depression and despondency, these two books are a necessity like a band aid for scrapped knees.

I do not need to say anything more about “The Plague” by Camus — Do I?
Just read it.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” is also must read. “Man’s Search For meaning” was written by Viktor E. Frankl during his struggle for survival inside the German NAZI concentration camps and it is there when He goes on to say: “We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” This is my top pick amongst all the best classic books worth reading and re-reading during these difficult times and it always offers me the most prized treasure — HOPE and FAITH that things will turn around and that we shall overcome…

I understand, that most of you are quite depressed by now, and in my humble opinion, you want to counter that feeling on the quick with a powerful action — so just get rid of your television set. Throw it out the window, and free yourself from Mental Slavery. You will also find all kinds of time to read and be up for reading great books and not the usual mind rot.

Without a TV, you can read something different from what yo have been always exposed to. Push the envelope and read something that you do not normally gravitate towards. And I mean to read a wholesome good book, that is pure and organic food for the brain and nourishment for your mind. Read on my young Skywalker and you shall be renewed. Read something new, something classic or modern, literature or prose, poetry or history.

Read anything and everything, because they will all make you feel better.

You know the feeling — you will not be able to put these books down before you finish turning the pages, and even as you come to the end, you will be lustful for more, hoping that the book does not end, and you will close the covers fully knowing and also being able to prove, that you are an educated person in the balance…

Here are some more books to help you stay sane and also to be able to thrive during the isolation or what I call Solitary Confinement resulting of this coronavirus pandemic that is chewing through our lives and spirit, because as you are cooped up inside, hopefully in your home, and hopefully with people you like, or even with family members — its good to read a book.

1 . The Bible and the Psalms.
2 . Ulysses by James Joyce.
3 . Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
4 . The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
5 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
6 . Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
7 . War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
8 . Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
9 . In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.
10. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

After all, since You can’t go anywhere, and for some of you that includes work, the gym, or even the park, and with stores diminished to the point that they seem to be chronically out of toilet paper, and all other essentials like french baguettes, orange juice, champagne and brie cheese — you might as well chuck your television out of the window and open up a book to heal your soul.

And because there’s this pandemic raging outside that has already infected and even killed people you know — the beast is out to get you, too, so you are feeling mighty distressed, lonely, confused, bewildered, angry, and just plain exasperated, and on top of all that — you are also alone.

It’s rough out there. It’s a real clusterfuck, and methinks that its gonna continue being that awful mess, for quite a while now…

Let us find refuge in one of the Great libraries of the World right here in your humble abode and in your favorite chair with a reading light and peace and quiet.

Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 2.37.37 PM

So I’ve got a few recommendations for You that involve reading some great books that will heal your inner wounds and your panicky mind. You will be renewed simply by reading them — and they will help transport you to a much better mental and even physical place, so that you can literally boost your immunity system, and by extension your resilience, to enable you to fight and win this personal existential battle against this beast of a killing viral epidemic.

Because this plague that we are facing is a mean bitch, and that place where you are right now is actually remarkably similar to the spot where these authors have been, and somehow found solace, in the ethereal world of the well read and superbly prepared mind, that is always the right place, in top form — no matter what the external circumstances might be.

Today, we are all in a similar place, but with reading the great books, we are getting to take a walk with some great minds, and thus go forth with some awesome new friends, whose mind is now intricately intertwined with ours, and thus we change ourselves to the better.

Book reading, works. It strangely works miracles, like uploading new Brain Software onto our hard drive of our necktie computer, and thus we start operating at a higher frequency, with a different speed, endowed with tremendous mental acuity — a quality that alters our very REALITY and pushes us to a far perspective and a new vista, a vantage point, from which we can see the World afresh.

Start reading the Odyssey and the Iliad, by the same old blind dude Homer, who was a syllogistic poet at heart, yet a lyrical writer, and a great warrior, none the less.

Follow that up, with William Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and maybe some of his plays. You shall not be disappointed, because the Bard defines the English language and our AngloSaxon heritage of Culture and Civilization. Look out for his Humour and learn from his largess.

Again – please do not miss out on reading “The Plague” by Albert Camus, because it is the perfect book for these times and it can be found with.

And of course as I said earlier — our virtual Mental Health professional Victor Frankl, has a treat for us in his eternal book “Man’s Search for Meaning” and his commentary in serving and surviving the Holocaust, as he was shuffled by the bloody NAZIs from one concentration camp to another while losing all the members of his immediate and distant family in this purge of human beings, by the banality of German Evil, that some people refer to as the Great Culling — is also free on the web, as are all the other books that I recommend herein.

Try reading also “When Things Fall Apart. Heart Advice for Difficult Times” by Pema Chödrön, whose quote “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” still is a guiding light for me. This is resilience in practice as it represents the spirit of true awakening, because it is all about letting go of everything.
In this book “When Things Fall Apart,” Chödrön points out that all times are difficult times, and things are always falling apart.

As a Physicist I can tell you that Entropy is the ultimate Law of the Universe and that “Everything Changes — everything flows” is my cardinal rule of a unified Grand Theory of How the Basic elementary Physics as well as Astrophysics and Quantum Mechanics work.

Groundlessness is the essential feature of existence. So to the extent that we choose to “lean into the sharp points” of life instead of running away or seeking comfort in our own cocoons — we become resilient.

“When Things Fall Apart” is a blissfully short book that I like to hand out to my friends like a bracing piece of advise, and I make an effort to re-read it at least once every few months, since my Life is a testing ground for my metal, traveling through a pit of troubles and difficult challenges all the time.

“Radical Acceptance. Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha” by Tara Brach. “Radical Acceptance” reverses our habit of living at war with experiences that are unfamiliar, frightening or intense. It is the necessary antidote to years of neglecting ourselves, years of judging and treating ourselves harshly, years of rejecting this moment’s experience. Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our life as it is. A moment of Radical Acceptance is a moment of genuine freedom. What people may not know about Brach, a well-regarded Buddhist teacher and psychologist, is the chronic disease that keeps her in a state of constant pain. This may be why people experiencing hardship resonate so deeply with her writing. Think of this as a fountain head of compassion where you can come back to drink from often & regularly.

“The Power of Now.” A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle. This is spiritual balm in book form. You may think you already know what’s in it, either because you’ve seen it everywhere (Oprah!) or you’ve read it. And you would be wrong, because this is one of those books that changes every time you read it. Not interested in being spiritually enlightened? No problem — the book is still super useful. I’ve come back to this one several times during personal crises.

“The Choice – Embrace the Possible” by Dr Edith Eva Eger, who goes on to say: “Now, if you ask me for the most common diagnosis among the people I treat, I wouldn’t say depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, although these conditions are all too common among those I’ve known, loved, and guided to freedom. No, I would say hunger. We are hungry. We are hungry for approval, attention, affection. We are hungry for the freedom to embrace life and to really know and be ourselves.”
Edith Eva Eger was interned at Auschwitz (spoiler alert: she survives). She was forced to dance for Josef Mengele, which is why some foreign editions of the book are called The Ballerina of Auschwitz.
After many other harrowing incidents, Eger makes it to the US, where she ends up rebuilding her life from scratch twice. Then she goes to college at 32, finishes her PhD at 50, and becomes a world-renowned psychologist. Mentored by Dr Viktor Frankl himself, she publishes this remarkable book at 90. This is a story of many things — trauma, survival, luck, resilience, regret, guilt, triumph — that is as uplifting as it is wise. Read it to live a few extra lifetimes through Dr Eger, and check out her YouTube videos as well…

“Crisis in the Red Zone. The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come” by Richard Preston. This is an astonishing book. The reporting, the writing, the pacing, the compassion, the scientific accuracy are world-class. It reads like a thriller, except that all the characters are real and everything described within, has actually happened.
The story of the outbreak of Ebola virus is one that not enough people are familiar with, presumably because it happened over there in some God forsaken place within the dark continent of Africa, and it happened to those unknown and unknowable dark skinned people out there.
Yet, now it’s become clearer that in an interconnected world, there is no “over there” and “those people” — the whole planet is your backyard. Preston tells the story of how a virus can jump from animals to humans, and then spread like a really contagious virus the likes of which we see playing havoc with our lives today. Aided by poor sanitation, local custom and superstition, mistrust, institutional inertia, and lack of data on a new pathogen, Ebola cut a swath of death and terror through Africa.
But the coordinated courage of frontline medical workers (many of whom sacrificed their lives), public health officials, and top-notch scientists eventually contained the contagion.
COVID-19 does has neither the contagion profile nor the 50%-57% fatality rate that the Ebola virus infection causes. But this book is an excellent case study of what happens when a new zoonotic disease rips through an immunologically naïve population. You’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on with corona virus, and thank your lucky stars that it ain’t nearly as bad as it could be.

“An Elegant Defense.” “The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System” “A Tale in Four Lives” by Matt Richtel. Every day, billions of malign agents are trying to kill you, and fail only because your immune system is on guard. How to recognize and ward off the infinite pathogens that could invade and lay you low? How to tell invaders from self? And how to put the brakes on itself when it’s in full defense mode?
The inner workings the immune system should make you gasp at something so insanely intricate and effective. Now is a good time to get acquainted with the system that saves our asses every minute of every day of our lives.
Richtel compellingly interweaves the science and history of immunology into the lives of four patients, each dealing with different aspects of immune function & dysfunction: overreaction, underreaction, recognizing self as enemy, recognizing enemy as self, and much more.
It’s an ambitious premise, and he pulls it off magnificently; I read the whole thing in one sitting. What makes the book supremely compelling is the vivid story of his childhood friend Jason’s cancer treatment. The result is an unusually well-rounded psychological portrait of a patient, along with the tortuous course of his treatment that reads like a detective story. These are poignant tales; I found myself crying (and laughing) multiple times.

“Vaccinated.” “One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases” by Paul A. Offit, M.D. Dr Maurice Hilleman arguably had the greatest positive influence on human health in the history of the world. By number of human lives saved, he’s the #1 scientist of the 20th century, hands down. Yet hardly anyone knows his name.
Through ingenuity, drive, and sheer chutzpah, he developed not one, not two, but NINE modern vaccines: to prevent measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, Hep A, Hep B, pneumococcus, meningococcus, and Haemophilus influenzae type B. Most remain in use to this day, and have collectively prevented billions of cases of disease and death.
Dr Paul Offit, himself a prominent vaccinologist, does a fantastic job of telling the story of the poor orphan from seriously hardscrabble Montana beginnings. Read it not just for a gripping story of the triumph of 20th century medicine and one helluva mensch, but also to appreciate the gargantuan boon that vaccines are: where they come from, how they’re made, how they work, and how many lives they save. Get one copy for yourself, and another for your favorite anti-vaxxer friend. Required reading for all humans who dislike dying of preventable disease.

“Emotional Agility.” “Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life” by Susan David. The book is full of practical, immediately usable strategies, this gem of a book will keep you in good stead no matter what’s happening in your life, especially in time of crisis. Her TED talk based on Emotional Agility is supremely moving and uplifting, with 6.7 million views as of this writing. She also has a March 2020 45min interview with Chris Anderson, the director of TED, on specific strategies for mentally coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. who is the closest thing we have to a Boddhishatva in America, and whose Youtube interviews with Tim Ferriss, he shares strategies for mental resilience and reducing anxiety, drawn from his 40+ years of experience as a meditation teacher and psychologist. And of course, all of his books are fabulous, too.

“The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav is an American Book Award-winning by the author of “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” who masterfully introduces the layman to quantum and particle physics, as well as Einstein’s theory of Relativity and attempts for a Grand Unifying Therory…
“The Seat of the Soul” encourages you to become the authority in your own life, and it will surely change the way you see the world, the way you interact with other people, and also the way that You understand your own actions and motivations. Beginning with evolution, Gary Zukav takes you on a penetrating exploration of the new phase humanity has entered: we are evolving from a species that understands power as the ability to manipulate and control—external power—into a species that understands power as the alignment of the personality with the soul–authentic power. Our evolution requires each of us to make the values of the soul our own: harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. Using his scientist’s eye and philosopher’s heart, Zukav shows us how to participate fully in this evolution, enlivening our everyday activities and all of our relationships with meaning and purpose.

The Seat of the Soul has sold millions of copies around the globe, and as it changes lives, more and more people begin to live by the values of the spirit. Indeed, a new world is emerging, and this book brings its message to you.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Should you feel that you miss school — you can certainly join up again and go ahead to enjoy “The Great Courses” by the Teaching Company.

Because this is what happens when universities, cherry-pick their top-rated professors and make audio and video courses based on what they teach best for the whole world to enjoy and participate.

The Great Courses, is a full on menagerie of classes on everything from Astronomy and Archeology to Roman history, Physics, Psychology, Photography, Secret Societies and Zoology.

With a very inexpensive access to the entire “Great Courses” catalog, there are few deals in this world that are better for your neck top computer. And to boot — it is free to join and enjoy for the first month, and it is here that the breadth of knowledge and richness of choice makes it hard to find a good place to start your smorgasbord of learning, so I suggest that you start with the music courses of Professor Robert Greenberg, quite possibly the greatest lecturer alive, whose breadth of knowledge and wit, is breathtaking. Start with his course on opera or Bach and the High Baroque and you’ll never forget it, and you shall be thankful to me as well…

And of course — when you get through all of these — read “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” by Gary Zukav to complete your feast of the Mind with a nice desert.
“The Dancing Wu Li Masters” with its unique combination of depth, clarity, and humor that has enchanted millions, this beloved classic by bestselling author Gary Zukav opens the fascinating world of quantum physics to readers with no mathematical or technical background.
“Wu Li” is the Chinese phrase for physics. It means “patterns of organic energy,” but it also means “nonsense,” “my way,” “I clutch my ideas,” and “enlightenment.”
These captivating ideas frame Zukav’s evocative exploration of quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Delightfully easy to read, The Dancing Wu Li Masters illuminates the compelling powers at the core of all we know.

Now, go ahead and enjoy your solitary confinement, and maybe once you get through this list — you’ll be asking for more time in Solitary….


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