The best books to help you become unafraid of the dark

Who am I?

From the time I could hold a crayon, I was drawing. I often don’t know how I truly feel about something until I make art about it. Led by imagination and curiosity, I'm a seasoned traveler in liminal spaces and love guiding people between the mystical and the mundane. With 20-plus years of experience as an Artist and Creative Director, I've discovered that solutions to any problem can be found through triumphs in imagination and a willingness to view the situation from a different perspective. By peeking into my own shadow, darkness, and hidden places, I've gained a profound reverence for the human soul and deeper compassion for what it is to be alive.

I wrote...

The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

By Jon Marro,

Book cover of The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

What is my book about?

Inspired by Joseph Campbell and his lifelong study of The Hero’s Journey, The Keepers of Color is designed to take you on an adventure into yourself. It is aimed at reawakening your sense of wonder, imagination, and boundless creativity, as you move from your fears and doubts into your hopes and dreams. 

Part coloring book, part journal, and part folktale, The Keepers of Color will ask you to contemplate the very simple, but profound question of why you are here. It serves as a reminder to the life you are capable of living and a training ground where you can practice playing full-out by giving your whole heart to something. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom

Why did I love this book?

I have to admit, part of me squarely into midlife, is still scared of my own shadow. This was the first book I read after my father passed away, and not only was it the perfect guide through the grief, loss, and rite of passage, but also a homecoming of sorts. Roshi Joan Halifax has clearly wandered the vastness of her own inner landscape and offers up treasures from the dark, mysterious depths. She makes it clear, that yes, darkness exists. And also, yes, evil and other unspeakable things may hide within it. But upon her travels and fearless exploration, she has found other luminous gifts that only the soul houses, and only a valiant seeker could discover. The Fruitful Darkness as she calls it is akin to the night sky filled with stars, the fertile soil with seeds, or the womb brimming with new life. It is alive, inviting our awakening, and reminds us that beyond the threshold of our fears, is a realm teeming with imagination, dreams, and Muses. What better allies to take with you into the inherent uncertainty of Life and whatever lies beyond it! 

By Joan Halifax,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fruitful Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Buddhist teacher and anthropologists Joan Halifax delves into - the shadow side of being, found in the root truths of Native religions, the fecundity of nature, and the stillness of meditation.

Book cover of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Why did I love this book?

For me, as an artist, there is no greater feeling than bringing a vision into reality and welcoming the formless into form. Having to wrestle with the angels of creativity and the demons of resistance is exhausting, soul-enlivening work. Steven Pressfield brilliantly describes and guides readers through this process in his seminal work The War of Art. Steven invites us to square our shoulders towards all that we’ve been resisting, as a means of facing the life we know we’re capable of and called to live. The book is divided into three parts, or books within the book: Book One is called, simply “Resistance: Defining The Enemy.” Book Two is titled “Combating Resistance: Turning Pro” and outlines the differences between an amateur and a professional, and Book Three is my personal favorite: “Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm” where he waxes poetic about our connection to the Muses and the mystical—which can be cultivated by practicing going beyond what our reluctant-egoic selves don’t want to do, but so desperately long for.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…

Book cover of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

Why did I love this book?

If I only had one book I could bring on a deserted island, The Great Work of Your Life, would be that book. It focuses on what is known in the Hindu tradition as one’s “dharma” or our soul’s unique duty or mission we are called to endeavor. Using The Bhagavad Gita—an epic Hindu folktale as an analogy, TGWOYL follows the lives of culturally known (Beethoven, Gandhi, Harriet Tubman, Susan B Anthony) and everyday characters from the author’s life, as an exploration of what it means (and requires) to live one’s dharma in the world. We all know the heroic and courageous sacrifices these well-known icons made, but often we don’t know that they too were faced with paralyzing doubt, setbacks, inner criticism, and a sense of purposelessness amidst their remarkable lives. The book brings these larger-than-life characters down to earth and in essence says, if they could do it, so can you. The book is not only historically nourishing but infectiously inspiring. As you read it, you’ll realize no matter how lonely the road you are walking feels, you are joined by a luminous procession of countless individuals who have humbly tread this path before you. 

By Stephen Cope,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Great Work of Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the deep purpose hidden at the very core of your being

To know your true calling-your dharma, as the yogis say-is perhaps the greatest desire within each of us. And yet, few can say we know our purpose with absolute certainty. Fortunately, there is a time-tested guide-an ancient map-for discovering and fulfilling your unique calling. In The Great Work of Your Life, Stephen Cope walks you through each step of the journey.

Cope teaches that the secrets to unlocking the mystery of your dharma can be found in the spiritual classic, the Bhagavad Gita-a timeless tale about the path…

Book cover of After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path

Why did I love this book?

“There is no such thing as enlightened retirement” states the book’s opening chapter. Taking a compassionate “chop wood, carry water” approach to life, After The Ecstasy, the Laundry reminds us that there is always work to be done and wisdom to gain. That after the honeymoon comes the difficult task of sustaining and nurturing a marriage, that after winning an elected seat in office, comes the hard part of governing an organization or political body. After the bliss of any ecstasy, comes the prosaic of the everyday – or the “laundry” as the title suggests. I particularly love this book because it grounds me in the menial, tedious task of the everyday. As an artist and a dreamer, I can be prone to escaping in my imagination, and this book serves as a loving and fierce reminder that our real work is always here and now.

By Jack Kornfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked After the Ecstasy, the Laundry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When does enlightenment come? At the end of the spiritual journey? Or the beginning? On After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, Jack Kornfield-author of the modern classic on American Buddhism, A Path with Heart-brings into focus the truth about satori, the awakened state of consciousness, and enlightenment practices today.

"Perfect enlightenment" appears in many texts, Kornfield begins. But how is it viewed among Western teachers and practitioners? To find out, Kornfield talked to more than 100 Zen masters, rabbis, nuns, lamas, monks, and senior meditation students from all walks of life.

The result is this extraordinary look at the hard work…

Book cover of Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature

Why did I love this book?

I feel like this book was the best college course I never got to take. Meeting The Shadow is a collection of essays from psychologists, therapists, scholars, and artists who have scoured the depths of the psyche. I love the work of Carl Jung, but I’ve found it quite difficult to parse through entire books of his. This book however, by drawing from such a diverse group of thinkers makes shadow work incredibly accessible, captivating, and illuminating. It is also formatted into specific sections like Emotional Suppression, Sexuality, The Dark Side of Spirituality, The Psychology of Evil, The Shadow of Politics, Dream Analysis, Shadow in Gender, and Owning Your Dark Side Through Art & Creativity. There’s something for everyone in here, every chapter a dark and alluring cave inviting you to explore its harrowing and majestic landscape. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone being called to look within…or to finally take that college psych class they never got to take.

By Connie Zweig, Jeremiah Abrams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Meeting the Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author offers exploration of self and practical guidance dealing with the dark side of personality based on Jung's concept of "shadow," or the forbidden and unacceptable feelings and behaviors each of us experience.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in spirituality, good and evil, and procrastination?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about spirituality, good and evil, and procrastination.

Spirituality Explore 259 books about spirituality
Good And Evil Explore 119 books about good and evil
Procrastination Explore 15 books about procrastination