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Healing Books


A large number of books could be offered here as potentially healing. I’ve chosen a handful–well, a rather large boxful–that resonate especially well with writing and healing.

The list begins with books of general interest. Following that, books are listed according to the month of One Year of Writing and Healing with which they best fit. Underlined titles link to a brief piece in which I’ve written about the book–or in which I’ve written about a topic that springs from the book.

Books of General Interest

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow

Opening Up by James Pennebaker

The Writing Cure by Stephen Lepore

Month One: Creating a Healing Place

Fern Garden by Deborah Schenck

Soul Garden by Donald Norfolk

Writer’s Retreat Kit by Judy Reeves

Noah’s Garden by Sara Stein

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Month Two: Gathering Resources

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Still Life with Chickens by Catherine Goldhammer

Month Three: Finding a Healing Language and Healing Images

Healing Circle An anthology edited by Patricia Foster and Mary Swander

Poemcrazy by Susan G. Wooldridge

Speak the Language of Healing by Susan Kuner, Carol Matzkin Orsborn, Linda Quigley, and Karen Leigh Stroup

Month Four: Writing through and with Grief

Broken Vessels by Andre Dubus

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

What the Living Do by Marie Howe

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

Keeping Katherine by Susan Zimmermann

Writing to Heal the Soul: Transforming Grief and Loss by Writing by Susan Zimmermann

Month Five: Discovering Form(s)

A New Path to the Waterfall by Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher

What You’ve Been Missing by Janet Desaulniers

Wishes, Lies and Dreams by Kenneth Koch

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Month Six: Figuring Out the Good Part

I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse by Suzy Becker

Staying Alive, a poetry anthology edited by Neil Astley

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Month Seven: A Different Perspective: Thirteen (or More) Ways of Looking

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

Writing with Power by Peter Elbow

Month Eight: Writing and Healing as a Quest

The Wounded Storyteller by Arthur Frank

Swimming to Anarctica by Lynne Cox

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Margaret Hodges

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Estes

Month Nine: Two Steps Forward and One Step Back: Writing in the Face of Resistance

Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg

The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness by Karen Armstrong

A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield

The Resilient Writer by Catherine Wald

Month Ten: Healing Conversation

Altars in the Street by Melody Chavis

The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

Jamesland by Michelle Huneven

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer by Sharon Bray

Month Eleven: Deep Revision and Creation

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock

Month Twelve: Looking Ahead: Writing About Dreams and Goals

Stronger than Dirt by Kim Schaye and Chris Losee