🦊 Greatest Hits 2023
A tour of my best newsletters and favorite books of the past year
I’m throwing an online launch party at 4PM PST on January 23rd to celebrate—join the fun and RSVP here: lu.ma/wandering-spirits.
2023 was a tough year filled with many personal challenges for me, but I also reached several milestones, including finishing my book.
Today I’m taking a look back at some of my best newsletters that resonated with you most, followed by a quick list of some of my favorite reads of the year.
#1 — On doing whatever’s necessary to get over the hurdles and finish:
#2 — The wayward story of how I started drawing, and the mindset shift that kept me going:
#3 — A fable of a fish, described by one reader as an “Inspiring story which reminds me of all the lessons I learned from Buddhism, Alan Watts, Thich Nhat Hanh. ‘Be here, accept what have you. Look for the beauty in.’”:
#4 — On the brittleness of life, and slowing down to appreciate it:
#5 — A tribute to my beloved cat Scooby, who we lost earlier this year:
A few favorite books
This year, I spent a lot of time reading through an assortment of books of fables, old and new. Here are just a few I’ve delved into:
The Black Sheep and Other Fables by Monterroso
Fables and Fairy Tales by Leo Tolstoy
Friedman’s Fables by Edwin Friedman
Turkish Folk-Tales by Barbara Walker
I also explored some of the ancient classics which gave birth to fables:
And I’m just getting started! I find these old tomes of wisdom endlessly enjoyable and insightful, and they offer great inspiration for my own fable writing. In the coming year, I hope to find ways to share some of their best stories with you (alongside my own originals).
I strongly believe the modern world could use more old wisdom.
Beyond fables, here are a few books I really enjoyed this year:
Starting Point by Hayao Miyazaki (1979-1996) — I loved this book. It’s a collection of lectures by Hayao Miyazaki, filled with wisdom from his early years making films. I love that he is honest about the pain and struggle of creating something that truly moves people. It’s not easy to do great work. There are no tricks, no shortcuts. There are many days where you are exhausted, deflated from pushing yourself so hard. But for those of us that are driven in this way, those that want to make something that evokes, moves, and touches people, it’s not really a choice. I relate with and deeply appreciate the wisdom he shares in how he makes his films.
50 Greatest Short Stories — Most short story collections I’ve read have been somewhat disappointing. They’ll include a few great stories, and the rest make me wonder why I bothered. But with this collection, I found almost every story was worth its words. So many riveting, surprising, and delightful gems are found in this book.
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind — I haven’t quite finished this, but I’ve gotten deep enough into it to say that it is one of the most insightful books on Zen I’ve ever read. I wish I had found it sooner!
I’ll leave you with some lovely compositions by Paul Oscar Droege (1898-1983) shared by Tohad, highlighting the importance of shapes and depth: