Sunday, January 30, 2011

My asana, it changes

 I'm feeling particularly at ease in this moment, triumphant even because I managed yet-another home yoga practice this morning, something which still seems like an accomplishment, one focused hour despite the almost-infinite number of distractions available to my wandering eye. Sitting at the kitchen table now, eating a simple lunch, making a second cup of coffee and thinking about how my practice is changing and deepening in ways I couldn't have anticipated.

Last year was filled with yoga, classes with the Sausie Posse kula in Sausalito, Tahoe and Bali, and with the larger kula in San Francisco and Estes Park.  I spent a lot of time on the mat, deep deep deep in Anusara-land, and felt so strong and supported in my practice, surrounded by amazing people and soaked in the tremendous skill of master teachers.  It really is such a tremendous boon to live where I live, where the access to kick-ass teachers is truly remarkable.

And yet despite all that, I still managed to be a little manic in my practice last year: periods of intense, consistent, focused practice interspersed with stretches of being consumed by other concerns, mat rolled up for days, ignored, while I poured all my energy into other aspects of my life. The yoga never left me though, although my hours of asana were inconsistent.  Throughout, I had the abiding support of my kula to which I would return twice or so a week in person, departing plugged-back-in and ready to continue to tackle big changes in my life.  And everything that I was learning on the mat in those intense periods flavored my approach to everything else off the mat. It was pretty amazing all in all.

I think perhaps last year's intensity, on- and off-mat, really seated the yoga deep inside me in a way that is so much more integrated and solid than ever before.  Even as I was deciding to drop out of Teacher Training, I knew that I had moved to another place in my own practice.

So it's funny that in this self-pronounced year of viveka [discernment] in which I'm being super deliberate about everything I do, I'm suddenly and almost-easily finding ways to practice at home,something which was so much more of a struggle before.  It helps that we're on a super Austerity Plan at the moment, adapting to my reduction in salary and to the ongoing impacts of the economy on our small business -- it also helps that my spouse is developing his own home practice as an antidote to hours spent on the bike.  Neither one of us can find a studio to which we can commit as members either because of distance or offerings or cost (or all three), so that is really guiding this new direction, too.

But really and truly, I'm enjoying this!  The freedom of practicing when I want to, of not having to drive to a place, of picking and choosing what I'm going to work on -- although in the beginning I really floundered with staying interested in my own practice and coming up with what to do next, and not avoiding the poses that are hard for me.  This is really fun, actually, in a way I couldn't have anticipated, to have this liberated practice that I invent as I go along, built on the solid framework of years of study with true geniuses.  Really so fun and so deeply satisfying.  It's a new and different kind of consistency, so interesting.

I hear my teacher's voice always as I go through the asana, her words as I move from one pose to another.  This is true even when I'm in other teacher's classes, Laura's voice layered around the instruction, amplifying it with her own good sense.  Increasingly now, in the home practice, I hear my own voice as well, a sound that I'm still getting used to, but one that I know is actually the most important voice of all.  Guru inside, I'm learning to hear you.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Worshipping Mary Oliver's god of dirt

I'm back to an older habit of reading one Mary Oliver poem a day.  This one-a-day regimen allows me to truly savor just one group of words before moving on.  I'm nibbling my way through "Dream Work" (1986) and thinking about how my life might have been different had I heard these words at the time that they were published.  So very long ago, so many ages ago.

Yesterday I was running late so grabbed the book and took it in the car with me.  At a red light, I found myself with Mary Oliver in my left hand, my phone in my right.  And a big surge of happiness in the middle when yesterday's selection, "One or Two Things," made its way in through my eyes.

One or Two Things

Don’t bother me.
I’ve just
been born.

The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower.

The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,

and never once mentioned forever,

which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.

One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning — some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.

But to lift the hoof!
For that you need
an idea.

For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,

and vanished
into the world.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting comfy with slower and not-crazy

2011 has been regularly blowing my mind.  It really has been 26 consecutive days of awesome, no lie.  Well, ok, Monday was pretty tough only because the full fatigue of Chicks Weekend in Tahoe hit me at about 2pm.  [And yeah, Chicks Weekend was three days of awesome, beginning to end, so much fun, such great weather, so delightful to be part of a pile of 9 women on the sectional sharing blankets and passing tissues while watching Love, Actually on Saturday night after a day of skiing in gorgeous conditions.]  Monday was only hard because I'm still getting up to speed at work, and there was a big gap in my busy-ness that allowed the Monday doldrums to smack me down hard.  

Truly, emerging from years in a frenzied workplace is a real adjustment, even though dialing the tempo down to something more humane is so what I want.  And where I was before was the very opposite of humane.  I knew it was screwed up, but like a frog in the pot, it took jumping out and cooling off to realize the degree of insanity I was stewing in on a daily basis.  I'm still realizing the full extent of how bad that was for me, how unhealthy, as I stress-detox and adjust to a slower speed.

I've been reading a fascinating book (Connected, highly, highly recommend it) and was really struck early in its pages by the notion of emotional contagion.  I picked this book up a couple of weeks ago, following a weekend away with some friends old and new, and following a conversation in which someone I'd just met sneeringly dismissed Facebook as a "narcissist's dream."  That may well be, I think I responded, but that's not all it is or all it's capable of.  In the days that followed, I couldn't stop thinking about how social media can allow for the sharing of joy across space and time, how happy I feel when I real about someone else being happy, and how much I love sharing my own delight, whether it's a cappucino at Cibo, a newt I saw, or what-not.  The joy is contagious.

I love that.

Emotional contagion works both ways, however.  And that was so the problem with the last place I worked.  I know, now, how crucial it is to observe carefully and quietly the attitudes, posture, words, mannerisms of the person in the highest seat in an organization or company.  From that person the entire culture follows.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop where I am now, like a battered survivor crouching against the possibility of the next blow -- but all is quiet and calm.  It's very serious where I am now, but it's not crazy.

And not-crazy makes a huge difference, I am very happy to report.

I set aside this whole first month of the year for my stress detox, and it's really working.  But honestly the only way I could have accomplished this de-stress was to get out of the boiling pot I was in before, to save myself before I cooked through and through.

When there's a lull in the busy or when I look at my far-smaller paycheck, I remind myself of all that I am gaining by being in a better, not-crazy place.  As the habit of stress begins to fade and my head hurts less and my ability to sleep returns, I relax more and more and inhabit my best self more consistently.  Damn it, that's so Right.

Peace of mind.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Score One for the Amateurs: Nabokov's Butterflies

OK, so really, referring to Vladimir Nabokov (one of my heroes) as an amateur in anything, particularly butterflies, is a stretch, but how delightful to read the news in today's New York Times that DNA testing has just vindicated his theory of the evolution of Polyommatus blues.  For years, he was dismissed by other lepidopterists as a capable cataloguer who "did not produce scientifically important ideas."

Hah, not so.  It took DNA testing to verify what he was able to theorize on the strength of his own scientific discoveries + imagination.

Two things about things delight me:

1) Naturally, first and foremost, I am crazy about Nabokov's lepidoterist leanings, always have been ever since I learned about this side of the famous author in my undergraduate study of Russian language and literature.  There is something thrilling about people who have multiple passions, particularly when one or more of them involves the natural world.  It's such proof of how much we are capable of -- we are not confined to being good at just one thing.  We can be good at lots of things.  We can be fired-up by the natural world, run around with nets cataloguing butterflies just because we love it.

2) We now have the ability to sequence DNA and derive proof of shared ancestry.  But thoughtful observation and imagination still appear to be the essential ingredient in scientific understanding of the world around us.  Let it not all revolve around laboratories -- we, with our eyes and brains, even us amateurs, have a role to play in the great unwrapping of the mystery of how life has evolved on this beautiful planet of ours.

Feeling so inspired this morning, and so delighted. Leaving you with this poem by Nabokov, written in 1943.

On Discovering a Butterfly

I found it and I named it, being versed
in taxonomic Latin; thus became
godfather to an insect and its first
describer — and I want no other fame.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Personal Spanda: Then Expanding, Now Contracting

I'm certain that somewhere in my interminable blog-ramblings I've written about spanda before, this sense of reality and consciousness being in a constant dynamic state, expanding and contracting. In Anusara this is a common concept, embedded in every pose and every class, expanding first, then contracting, then expanding again.  What's wonderful is the way in which spanda appears to be a scientific truth.  The universe itself is ever-expanding, scientists say.  

Spanda is my mental companion these days, as I contemplate my jeans. 

That's right: my pants.

Like a little universe all of my own, I expanded my known boundaries last year, to the point that my jeans have become a too-snug container.  I can rationalize this all kinds of ways -- I was busy making other changes, I worked really hard, I expanded my consciousness in other directions.  But the bottom line (ha ha ha) is that I got fat.

Damn it.

I know it's a temporary state, that with self-awareness and some discipline I can shrink back down, but it's still demoralizing.  I wish I didn't care about it, that I could have a bigger ass and not care, but I'm sorry to announce that my enlightenment just does not so far encompass comfort with a large caboose.  And I'm not sure that any amount of meditation or yoga will make me OK with it.  So, it's on to contraction.

In my head I hear echoes of my sweet husband's words, when I gingerly mentioned my jeans the other day.  First, he blamed the pants, proving that he is awesome.  When I pointed out that it wasn't the jeans, it was me, he said, "Well, honey, they fit before, so they can fit again."  Yes, he is really and truly perfect.

This physical contraction that I need to make this year really is so ridiculously consistent with my overall theme of viveka, discernment, of pulling in to the mid-line, choosing what's best for me instead of saying Yes to everything like I did last year.  I'm being sensible about it, although I will admit that when insomnia strikes lately, the first thing my mind grinds through is my own expansion and how unhappy it makes me.  

So yes, contracting a little bit, pulling in, saying No sometimes instead of always Yes.  It's the way of the universe.  Now the way of my jeans.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the shadow of Elsa...

Neither Joe nor I can remember a time when we didn't know the story of Elsa, the orphaned lion raised by Joy and George Adamson in Africa in the late fifties, made into a film in 1966. Given when we were born, we grew up deep in the Elsa story, this beautiful story in which a lion and two humans clearly share a deep affection for each other. But we'd forgotten the source of our true love for animals until last night when we so happily, tearfully watched the excellent PBS Nature special, "Elsa's Legacy: The Born Free Story."

As a child, I only knew the movie "Born Free," not the real people behind the story. Born Free + regular watching of the tv show "Daktari," featuring Clarence the cross-eyed lion, fed and grew my animal-passion, one that drives me to this day..

Mostly as I watched last night, I felt that deep yearning to know the feeling of a lion's head pushing against me. What would that be like, to feel that bond to such an enormous, gorgeous animal, to have your love returned in that precise lion-y way?  So unscientific, but really, don't we all want to be friends with animals?

What a debt of gratitude I owe to the Adamsons, and to Virgina McKenna and Bill Travers, who played the Adamsons in the film "Born Free" and went on to found The Born Free Foundation.  Thank you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Forest cousins: tolerance & telephones

photo credit: Vanessa Woods, Bonobo Handshake

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that a lot of people don't know about bonobos.  After all, when The Kid proposed to write a report about them in the 5th grade, which was now a long time ago, his teacher refused to believe there was such an animal, necessitating a phone call.  And when I mentioned this morning to a friend that I was reading a fascinating book about bonobos, she too had never heard of them.  

Probably not for long, though, since Sara Gruen, who wrote Water for Elephants, has a relatively new book out, Ape House, available in paperback in April 11.  

One of the many remarkable things about bonobos is that unlike chimps (and us, just by the way), they don't make war.  Instead, to resolve tension, settle disputes, generally get along, they have sex.  They are, as my Mammalogy teacher liked to refer to them, the Make-Love-Not-War ape.  They are matriarchal, perhaps not surprisingly.  They are critically endangered, not least of which because of our hunger for cell phones and other electronics that use coltan, a mineral ore found almost exclusively in the Congo.  Read more about bonobos at Friends of Bonobos and in Bonobo Handshake, a lovely book by Vanessa Woods which I couldn’t put down and just finished this afternoon.

One of my favorite passages in Bonobo Handshake comes right toward the end, and really sums up why these animals should be protected, for what we have to learn about them and what they can teach us about ourselves:

Six million years ago, our last common ancestor with apes split into three different lines, which would eventually become chimpanzees, bonobos, and us.  Along our journey, something extraordinary happened.  We grew big brains.  We tamed fire.  We started to talk.  But all that would have been for nothing if not for one simple thing – tolerance.

Tolerance is what allowed us to cooperate so flexibly.  Every one of our great accomplishments comes from sharing ideas, building on the thoughts and concepts of others. 

In our very first experiments, we found chimps could cooperate, but only after we controlled for tolerance.  Intelligence wasn’t the problem.  They were smart enough to know they needed help from someone else, but their emotions got in the way.  Somewhere during our evolution, human emotions changed so that even on a battlefield, two groups of enemy troops can come together to share simple gifts and songs. 

Of course, tolerance isn’t always something we excel at.  From the ear-temperature and picture studies, we know that chimps have an involuntary physiological reaction when they hear or see a stranger.  To a certain extent, we have the same reaction.  Even as babies, we prefer faces we recognize to those of strangers.  As we grow older, we tend to have negative reactions to people we identify as “them” and not “us.”  …In the temperature studies, we found that bonobos do not have a negative response to strangers.  They don’t seem to care whether someone is part of “us” or one of “them.”

So if bonobos are more tolerant in some ways than humans, why did they never develop our level of intelligence?  …Why aren’t bonobos ruling the world?

The answer is, they don’t need to.  …Bonobos have enough food.  They don’t hunt each other like chimpanzees.  The females are safe.  Babies aren’t killed by their own kind.  Why would they want to change anything?

  Most of the time, bonobos have no hunger, no violence, no poverty.  And for all our intelligence, our things, bonobos have the most important of all possessions – peace.

And that is why bonobos are important.  Because they hold the key to a world without war. …  If we lose bonobos, we will never learn their secret.

Feeling very grateful to the amazing people I “met” in Bonobo Handshake, doing such great work to protect these animals, our forest cousins.  We great apes have so much potential for good, for altruism.  Tolerance is the key.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


photo credit:
Maybe this is my recompense for two hard years in a row, but damn it, 2011 is pretty much blowing my mind regularly.  So much great stuff has happened -- 12 whole days of AWESOME now, with no sign of let-up.  I could get used to this!

Yesterday the full force of the changes I've made really started to hit home.  I was already feeling pretty delighted that my orientation to new job included a field trip to our Indian Valley Organic Farm, smack-dab in the middle of the afternoon.  I stopped at home on the way for lunch and a change of get-up, to find that textbooks for Herpetology had been delivered -- so exciting to be able to get started on the reading early, plus I'm so eager to learn it all.  The Farm is gorgeous and so inspiring, in the most idyllic setting.  And then, if that weren't enough, I was treated to the sight of a bobcat first at a long distance, its distinctive shape and very cat-like walk emerging from the brush at the bottom of the Farm, then as we waited, quiet, entranced, it made its way up the fireroad right across from where we stood, pounced on something in the grass, missed, walked on, pausing to give us a long look though the fence.  Sheer fall-on-your-knees delight!

From that hour and a half interlude at the Farm, it was back to the office for an hour or so of work, then to Trixie's for the yoga pick-up, then to Laura's class, featuring live music by Todd Boston.  It was so great to see so many I know and love there, especially the special treat of Chrissy Graham, of whom I can never get enough.  

All around, just an amazing day.

And, throughout, I am amazed at the pace of my new life.  There is just so much more space in everything, between everything.  I am happy at my desk and in my work, happy learning new skills and a new business, happy to be home at 5:10 if I leave at 5.  Seeing the bobcat yesterday was icing on the cake, super-tasty affirmation that I made the right move.

This new slower tempo, this daily proximity to home and hubsand, came at a price, one I'll feel when I get my first paycheck.  But I just know it was the right thing for me.  And every day seems to bring with it more solid proof of how right was my decision to make this big change.  I'm happy on a daily basis in the same way I was happy in Bali, which seems funny, right, since daily life is a far cry from vacation life.  But I'm realizing that maybe the gap doesn't have to be so wide, that I can experience this spaciousness all the time, just by slowing down, stepping back, being a part of something that really, really matters to me.

Really, I'm Bali-happy and that's saying a lot, at ease in my skin, open, curious, learning. Long may it last!  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Six whole days of AWESOME so far

Big Change #1 of the year so far -- the new job -- is going great. As mentioned before, I did have two spates of boredom in the first few days, but that's in the past. There is something so utterly delightful about having nothing to do but numbers. Really, I know this is weird for the non-numbers folk, but man, how great to have a scope that requires that I spend hours with the calm simplicity of cash flow, balance statement and profit & loss. Ahhh, sweet peace of the numerical!

I've been feeling physically great -- with a big let-up of the stress I've been carrying for months and perhaps years. I'm sleeping unassisted, and enjoyed a day earlier this week during which I had absolutely no head pain at all. Fantastic! I am still adjusting to wearing glasses, though, which is weird. Sometimes they bother me so much, but generally they're on my face giving me a black-framed view of the world.

This morning I've been indulging in my favorite morning pastime of just following my train of thought around the interwebz, reading the paper, linking out to read in more depth about some phenomenon referred to in an article, finding little treasures and caching them for later, after work, when I have more time.

This morning's starting-point was a piece in the Marin IJ about yarnbombing on 4th Street in San Rafael, in front of the Dharma Trading company. That's a yarnbombed bike rack at left -- so pretty!   I'd heard of this phenom before, but am taking more time with it this morning, jumping from entertaining blog to entertaining blog.  It's so great how many forms of expression we have, how many avenues to be funny, creative, thoughtful and bold!

Naturally this is not new -- is there anything new under the sun? -- but it's lighting up the still dark morning for me.  And also naturally, there's a book!

For me, it's the the little things that support each day being AWESOME, having this time to wander quietly in the morning, to come across evidence of how fantastic and funny we people can be, how remarkable the world is.  Hard to have a bad attitude or bad day starting from this point, eyes laughing, delighted at the sight of guerilla knitting.

Resources, in case you'd like to wander where I wandered:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Escaping the bonds of memory

This was exactly one year ago today -- Joe and beloved Nurse Susan Jones taken on the occasion of Chemo #6 and Final.  Look how funny and sick my sweetheart looks, pobrecito.  He got through that whole ordeal with so much grace and strength.  I'm not surprised, really, having known him as long as I have that that's how he would get through the experience.  But still, he's pretty amazing, all in all.

So I'm thinking this morning about how held I am in memories, how much I date things.

I am hoping that as we pass the 365-day mark, this terrible event in our lives will cease to have such a strong grip on us.  With every passing anniversary, let it drift into the past and loose its hold on us both.

Such an amazing creature, that Joe!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Settling, settling, into a new routine

One of my strongest wishes for the year is to find myself comfortably enmeshed in a routine, in some comfortable regularity of schedule.  I don't think I felt this feeling for all of last year -- in some ways probably a post-cancer phenomenon of not knowing quite what to do with myself without the tight corset of chemo every three weeks and caring for Joe in between.  That diminishment of focus was so powerful, that once the need for it was removed, I think I kind of floundered around, regaling in freedom from it, flying after everything that was not It.  [I am enjoying that last sentence with its fishy-, then birdy-ness.]  But now, after a year of that flying flounder, I am craving the feeling of feet on the ground.

The image of the falling leaf feels right, though of course, seasonally-speaking, it's all wrong; I think I'm catching up on the seasons, in a funny way.  Autumn did pass in a blur for me, in my concerted work to plot my next move, to change my job.  And then the frenzy of labor I was in from mid-November through the end of last week -- phew, it's no wonder I feel like I missed entire months.

Now, with less to do, I'm experiencing the free-fall a bit.  I had moments yesterday and Monday afternoon, at work in my new office, of feeling bored.  Bored.  A bored sleepiness coming over me, afternoon doldrums, the product of not having enough to do.  I had to keep reminding myself that this is how it can be when you start a new job, that the new people don't want to scare you or overtax you so they mete out the information on some feeding schedule appropriate to that culture.  It will change, naturally.  This time of not having enough to do or read or think about will vanish, never to return, so I'm experiencing it as a novelty and appreciating its fleetingness, as I continue to fall through it, to the waiting ground below.

Part of the free-fall is the stress de-tox.  I have had three nights running of falling into bed, dead, at 9am, sleeping, dead, all night, and awakening a little less bleary every day.  This morning I feel pretty great, positive, ready to go, not filled with dread as I have been most week-day mornings for years.  That's good.  The particularly painful spot in my left cheek where I carry a lot of stress is relaxing more each day, so I obsess less and less about the notion that really, it's some kind of tumor.  It's not, it's a stress ball, a different kind of tumor, one I'm disappearing with sleep and peacefulness.

So, about that routine...  It will evolve.  Right now, I'm enjoying the settling and letting it be slow.  It's amazing to go from home to job in the morning in 15 minutes.  It's amazing to be able to walk to lunch with Joe.  It's amazing to leave work at 5, have time to stop by the pet store and the grocery store, and still be home by 5:45.

The falling is part of the landing, right, leads to the landing, so I'm enjoying it while it delivers me ever-downward, gently, to the ground.  Oh how wonderful to let go and fall, full trust in what lies below.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Day, New Job!

In the long tradition of taking photos of LT on the front step on his first day of school, we swapped roles and here's me, just a little excited about starting my new job today finally, finally, finally.

Wahoo, and it's gorgeous out -- cold and dazzling.  The fence is steaming in the bright light, birds are hopping about.  It seems like the perfect day for a new beginning, shiny and washed clean.  Absolutely perfect.

Leaving now to start the new adventure.  Oh, hip hip hooray!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

Happy, happy New Year!

Rainy first morning of 2011, pancakes and coffee, leisuring around before heading to New Year's Day class with Trixie in tow -- oh, frabjous, frabjous day!  After which I will hang about with the kula at our beloved Cibo, then return home for New Year's Ritual #1, the shelving of all of 2010's reads.  Could it get more frabjous?

At left, only the partial stack since the tiny shelf these are balanced on couldn't take the additional weight of books eaten after the Lethem.  Their brethren are stacked elsewhere, waiting for this day, on which I can lovingly take in their physical form as I  put them, in their assigned places, by category and/or alphabet.

Above them a gorgeous drawing executed by The Kid, one of his favorites, which makes it all the more special to me that he gifted it to me for my last birthday.  Beautiful.

I did "better" in 2010 than in 2009 or 2008, in terms of the number of books read.  I had wanted to break 30 in 2009, fell short with 29.  This year, wahoo, got all the way to 35, after excluding 5 books I started and didn't finish.  Counting them would be cheating.  In all, a fair number of yoga-related titles, memoir, non-fiction and animals, a little poetry, and some utterly delectable fiction.

And to think that as I write this, more books are making their way to me, courtesy of the used selection available on, to make a bold start for 2011.  YAY!

Here's wishing everyone a beautiful new year, filled with adventure on the page and elsewhere!

2010 Books!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Shop Girl, Steve Martin
In a Strange Room, Damon Galgut
Room, Emma Donoghue
Parrot & Olivier in America, Peter Carey
Chronic City, Jonathan Lethem
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt
Shackleton's Stowaway, Victoria McKernan
Tinkers, Paul Harding
Part of the Pride: My Life Among the Big Cats of Africa, Kevin Richardson
Invisible, Paul Auster
The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
Lit, Mary Karr
Brooklyn, Tolm Coibin
To Have Not, Frances Lefkowitz
Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
The Outlander, Gil Adamson
Little Bee, Chris Cleave
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
Spell of the Tiger: The Man-Eaters of the Sundarbans, Sy Montgomery
The Yoga of Discipline, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Sadhana of the Heart, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
The Weight of Heaven, Thrity Umrigar
Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
Away, Amy Bloom
Mary Queen of Scots, Antonia Fraser
The Children of Henry VIII, Alison Weir
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
Why I Wake Early, Mary Oliver
Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh