100 books like The Fruitful Darkness

By Joan Halifax,

Here are 100 books that The Fruitful Darkness fans have personally recommended if you like The Fruitful Darkness. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Donald B. Stewart Author Of Past Medical History: Recollections of a Medical Miscreant

From my list on surviving a life-changing challenge.

Who am I?

When life’s experiences fall dismally short of expectations, many of us find ourselves lost at a crossroads. When my path to becoming a doctor began to exact an unacceptable toll, I had to find a way out; discharging myself from the hospital was the solution, and by far the best clinical decision of my brief medical career.  As a result, I’m still fascinated by choices others make when faced with what seem like impossible obstacles, and where those decisions lead. Following the medical dream from age five, it wasn’t easy to change my life’s course, but that crucial choice allowed me to grow in ways I couldn’t imagine.  

Donald's book list on surviving a life-changing challenge

Donald B. Stewart Why did Donald love this book?

Shifting from one career to another offers no guarantee of success in the new venture. This is especially true for those of us answering a creative vocation.

The War of Art acknowledges the thousand difficulties any artist faces when trying to render ideas into a livelihood, and reduces them to a singularity: Resistance. Pressfield takes no prisoners, and offers no sympathy for the creative wannabe who can’t find time to work, or edit, or refine, or take whatever next step is required to continue moving forward.

He teaches the reader how to identify a blockage and eliminate it, again and again, as that is the requirement for generating an original product, and making it pay for its upbringing.

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

Jon Marro Author Of The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

From my list on 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.

Jon's book list on to help you become unafraid of the dark

Jon Marro Why did Jon 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…

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.


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

Jon Marro Author Of The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

From my list on 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.

Jon's book list on to help you become unafraid of the dark

Jon Marro Why did Jon 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…

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

Jon Marro Author Of The Keepers of Color: A Creative Hero's Journey Into the World Within

From my list on 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.

Jon's book list on to help you become unafraid of the dark

Jon Marro Why did Jon 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 The Essential Sangharakshita: A Half-Century of Writings from the Founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

Maitreyabandhu Author Of Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)

From my list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy.

Who am I?

Maitreyabandhu started attending classes at the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in 1986. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1990 and given the name Maitreyabandhu. Since then he has lived and worked at the LBC, teaching Buddhism and meditation, and leading retreats. He has written three books on Buddhism, Thicker than Blood: Friendship on the Buddhist Path, Life with Full Attention: A Practical Course in Mindfulness, and The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Guide in Enlightenment. Maitreyabandhu is also a prize-winning poet having written three poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books. Maitreyabandhu founded PoetryEast in 2010 where he interviews well-known artists and writers, including Antony Gormley, Wendy Cope, and Colm Tóibín. He is the co-founder, with Dr. Paramabandhu Groves, of Breathing Space, the LBC’s health and wellbeing project.

Maitreyabandhu's book list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy

Maitreyabandhu Why did Maitreyabandhu love this book?

Buddhism is still misunderstood in the modern world. It can seem all fuzzy ‘being-in-the-moment’ meditation or a rather cold, analytical non-self philosophy. Sangharakshita is the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and my own teacher (I knew him personally). This book collects together some of his essential teaching and thought, illuminating ancient Buddhism wisdom for a modern world.

By Urgyen Sangharakshita, Emily Stout,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Profoundly knowledgeable and articulate, and equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry, Urgyen Sangharakshita uses every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma to the Western mind. Engaging both the intellect and the heart countless times in a single chapter, the author draws remarkably apt examples from sources as diverse as Orwell, Aeschylus, and Jane Austen. This distilled volume is a primer to the breadth and depth of Buddhist thought and practice.


Book cover of A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

Linda A. Curtis Author Of Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

From my list on endings and beginnings.

Who am I?

Linda mentors individuals who are going through major life events to experience honorable closure and move into the future, unencumbered by the past. The best-selling author of Shunned – How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself  her work draws on contemporary neuroscience, wisdom traditions, social science, and her own life experience navigating ends large and small.

Linda's book list on endings and beginnings

Linda A. Curtis Why did Linda love this book?

This book by the revered Buddhist teacher was a balm to my soul at a time when I’d left all my previous religious beliefs behind and was searching for ways to think about good and bad, right and wrong. I did not become a Buddhist but here I discovered practical techniques, guided meditations, stories, and other gems of wisdom that eased my journey through the world.

By Jack Kornfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Path with Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart has been acclaimed as the most significant book yet about American Buddhism-a definitive guide to the practice of traditional mindfulness in America today.

On this audio edition, Kornfield teaches the key principles of Buddhism's cherished vipassana (insight) tradition, and puts them into direct service, with the unique needs of the contemporary seeker in mind.


Book cover of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist — One Woman's Spiritual Journey

Cyndi Lee Author Of May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind

From my list on Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs.

Who am I?

I've been a practicing yogi and Buddhist for 50 years. For me these lifelong practices started with reading, or as my Zen teacher calls it, being a “Book Buddhist.” Buddhism and Yoga are not typically called “faith-based” practices, but there is an element of faith — it is faith in the process. But you can’t have faith until you have experienced the benefits of practice. The unconventional lives of the yogis told in these books illustrate for all of us how we, too, can develop wisdom, joy, and compassion. I found each of these books really, really fun to read and I’ve gained much insight and inspiration for my own spiritual path.

Cyndi's book list on Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs

Cyndi Lee Why did Cyndi love this book?

Jan Willis is one of our most respected American Buddhist teachers and scholars. Like so many Americans who identify as Buddhists, Jan Willis’ story begins with a Christian background. Willis was raised in the Baptist church in Alabama where she endured Jim Crow racism and later marched with MLK, Jr. She writes about the obstacles she faced in her Ivy League education and how she eventually met her Buddhist guru in India. This story is so resonant for me because it reminds me that we can evolve and grow on our spiritual journey without rejecting any part of who we already are. I read this book when it was published in 2001 and it continues to inspire me as a Buddhist, an American, and a writer.

By Jan Willis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dreaming Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jan Willis is not Baptist or Buddhist. She is simply both. Dreaming Me is the story of her life, as a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, dealing with racism in an Ivy League college, and becoming involved with the Black Panther Party. But it wasn't until meeting Lama Yeshe, a Tibetan Buddhist monk living in the mountains of Nepal, that she realized who the real Jan Willis was, and how to make the most of the life she was living.


Book cover of Aging with Wisdom: Reflections, Stories and Teachings

Katharine Esty Author Of Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness

From my list on aging well and flourishing as you age.

Who am I?

When I turned 80, I was in a bit of a funk until I began interviewing people in their eighties for my book. I was astonished to find how happy the vast majority of them were and what active and exciting their lives were leading. I realized that life after 70 and 80 was not the same today as in the past. As a psychotherapist, a social psychologist, a writer, a mother of four, and a grandmother of 10, I realized I was the perfect person to write about this good news. And for the last 8 years my mission has been to spread the word about aging today.

Katharine's book list on aging well and flourishing as you age

Katharine Esty Why did Katharine love this book?

This book is a collection of reflections, stories, teachings, and poetry from a wide variety of writers from many perspectives. The theme of the book is that the older decades are a wonderful time to explore the mysteries of life, our spirituality, and our inner worlds. Hoblizelle also shares engaging stories from her own life. This is the kind of book you will keep by your bedside and that you will read slowly, savoring each gem and reflecting on its wisdom.

By Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aging with Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we find beauty and meaning in old age? How do we overturn the paradigm of ageism? How do we age consciously and cultivate an inner life resilient enough to withstand the vicissitudes of old age? An extended meditation on how to age consciously and embrace life in all its fullness and wonder, Aging with Wisdom answers these questions.


Book cover of No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

Yong Kang Chan Author Of The Disbelief Habit

From my list on calm the inner critic and make peace with thoughts.

Who am I?

I grew up with low self-esteem. As an introvert, I found it difficult to make friends in school and I feel I wasn’t good enough for others. Even when I had my first job, I found myself tearing up in the restroom cubicle one day, feeling defective and unable to fit in. That set me off on a journey to improve my self-esteem. I began reading a lot and taking courses on this topic. For years, I felt more confident and worthy. However, it wasn’t until I had a depression that I was truly transformed. After I recovered, I become committed to living peacefully.

Yong's book list on calm the inner critic and make peace with thoughts

Yong Kang Chan Why did Yong love this book?

I have read almost 40 books from Thich Nhat Hanh and every time I read his books, I feel a deep sense of peace.

I recommend this book to deal with the inner critic because it is about transforming suffering. Instead of running away from our emotional pain, the book teaches us to be present with it. I love how the author uses lotus as an analogy to help us see the beneficial aspects of all things. 

In his book, he wrote “We need to have mud for lotuses to grow. Without mud, there can be no lotus.” This reminds me to not reject the inner critic, but use it as an excellent teacher for my own growth.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Mud, No Lotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not to run away from it. Here, Thich Nhat Hanh offers practices and inspiration transforming suffering and finding true joy.

Thich Nhat Hanh acknowledges that because suffering can feel so bad, we try to run away from it or cover it up by consuming. We find something to eat or turn on the television. But unless we’re able to face our suffering, we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us.

Nhat Hanh shares how the practices of stopping, mindful breathing, and deep concentration…


Book cover of Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Author Of Just Write: An easy guide to story writing

From my list on books that helped shape me as a writer.

Who am I?

I can’t remember a time in my life without stories in it. I grew up in an English/Italian family where everyone’s tales about their lives captured my imagination. Books also opened a window into the wonderful world of stories and my ambition to be a writer was born. I decided to write for children in 1971 after our son was born. Ten years of rejections later, my author dream came true and my first picture book was published. It was a stranger danger story that attracted some publicity, which led to invitations to speak at schools. Inspiring children to go on their own story writing adventure has become one of my greatest joys.

Teena's book list on books that helped shape me as a writer

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Why did Teena love this book?

Natalie Goldberg is an internationally acclaimed teacher of writing and Zen practice and her autobiography Long Quiet Highway resonated deeply with me. I’ve considered myself a spiritual seeker since the age of 13 and knew from much earlier that writing is an intrinsic part of my creative expression. Yet I had never considered these two important aspects of my life together. After I read this book, my workshop presentations for adults took a different direction where I was no longer teaching what I knew but sharing a learning experience together. 

By Natalie Goldberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Long Quiet Highway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A moving memoir of a journey of self-discovery through Zen Buddhism
In this autobiographical work, Natalie Goldberg takes us on a journey from her suburban childhood to her maturation as a writer. From the high-school classroom where she first listened to the rain, to her fifteen years as a student of Zen Buddhism, Natalie Goldberg’s path is by turns illuminating, disciplined, heartbreaking, hilarious, and healing. Along the way she reflects on her life and work in prose that is both elegant and precise, reminding the reader of what it means to be fully alive. This ebook features an illustrated biography…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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