Bookworming W/Marci Shimoff

December 16, 2011 by Chris Grosso
Books That Have Inspired Me by Marci Shimoff

There’s been so many books that have made an impact on my life, but I’ll talk about four that come to mind right away and my experience with them.

I remember in my younger years, when I was six, seven, eight years old, I’d ask my parents questions about God, and while they always tried to answer these questions the best that they could, it didn’t satisfy my yearning. I felt fairly troubled by this yearning because it seemed like nobody understood. I lived in California at the time and while I was spiritual on one hand, I was also a California girl on the other. I’d go out into the back yard to get sun tans. So one day while I was in the sixth grade I gathered up my baby oil, because that’s what we use back then, and went into my twelve year-old sisters bedroom to get a book to read. She had all these sophisticated books, and I wanted to borrow one, the skinniest one I could find, as I was a slow reader, which turned out to be Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I took it out in the back yard, applied my baby oil and started reading it. Within ten minutes, I was in tears, crying because I realized I was not alone on this search. Here was this story of Siddhartha and the realization that there were others on this search with me. I felt so moved and relieved and believe it’s fair to say that was the beginning of my formal search on the spiritual path.

Two years later, in the eighth grade, I decided to stay home one day from school. I wasn’t sick but had never done that before so my Mom let me. I sat in bed, turned on the T.V. and interestingly enough, there was a show on that we didn’t get, on a channel that we didn’t get. It was the Phil Donahue show and he had on this little Indian man, sitting in white robes and speaking about the purpose of life. His name was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and again, I burst into tears. I thought to myself, “This is what I’m on the planet for, I’m on the planet to find and understand what he’s speaking about.” I wrote down his name and the name of his book, The Science of Being and Art of Living. After the show, I proceeded to call the bookstores in my home town of San Mateo and all the libraries but nobody had heard of it, so I shoved that little piece of paper away into a drawer. Three years later, while walking in downtown San Mateo I saw a poster that read, “Life is here to enjoy” and it had a picture of that man who’d been on the T.V. show, Maharishi. It also advertised an introductory lecture, which I attended and then proceeded to learn TM, which truly changed my life. Maharishi’s book The Science of Being and Art of Living also presented a beautiful explanation for me of understanding how life and creation works, which has helped me to this day.

Then in my freshman year of College at UC Santa Cruz I picked up the “College Handbook”, the book that everybody carried with them which was Be Here Now by Ram Dass. It played such an important role in the catalyst of my awakening. I actually still have my original copy. I have loved Ram Dass over all of these years and when my book, Love For No Reason came out a couple of years ago, I had the great joy of interviewing him. His sequel, Be Love Now had just come out and we were both speaking about the same concepts of love, love as the essence of who we truly are and how to move into that state of being love. So to be able to interview Ram Dass, thirty five years after I had read Be Here Now, it  felt like I’d come full circle.

And lastly, another book that has been a huge influence on my life is one I read in 1993 called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, which to this day I believe is the best treatise of love that there is. Marianne also went on to become a colleague and dear friend. In fact, she wrote the forward to Love For No Reason, but I consider A Return To Love as the seminal book on the subject of unconditional love.


“10 Questions: Life, Music, God, Film, The Human Experience & More” coming in 2012! With contributions from Krishna Das, Lama Surya Das, Stephen & Ondrea Levine, Andrew Cohen, Marci Shimoff, Gary & Cindy Renard, Dr Amit Goswami, Gangaji, Snatam Kaur, Dr Andrew Newberg, Rick Jarow, Nouk Sanchez, Dustin Kensrue, Pablo Das & many more to be announced! Click HERE for more information!

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.