I like reading. (In another life, I'd be a librarian/PT/baker/dog whisperer.) At the end of the year, writers and bloggers tend to make top ten (or 15 or 20) lists, so I'm here to offer you my top ten of what I read (or listened to) in 2014, in no particular order. In some way or another, these all relate to music, movement, teaching, or general life experiences.
1. Move Your DNA, by Katy Bowman- This book completely changes the way I think about natural movement, from how I sleep and what I wear to how I move throughout the day. Although I own the book, I listened to this as an audiobook and had a great time. Katy read it herself, and paced it so that you can listen and walk 20ish miles over the course of the whole audiobook (which I did). If you want a primer on biomechanics without thinking about complex physics or calculus, this is a solid start!
2. The Liberated Body Podcast with Brooke Thomas- I love this podcast because Brooke is incredibly knowledgeable, and she interviews a huge range of people from Alexander and Feldenkrais teachers to manual therapists, science folks, and everything in between. If you want to know more about a specific movement or manual practice (NKT, Yoga Tune Up, or even Katy Bowman, the author above) take a listen!
3. The Roll Model by Jill Miller- Given that I love balls and I teach people how to do self-massage with balls, I highly recommend this book, end of story (thus the giveaway in the end of November). Get a set of squishy balls, find a teacher, and/or get the book. Change the way you relate to pain and work on trigger points in your upper back, neck, back, and shoulders on your own.
4. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida- I used to teach students diagnosed with autism, and this book tells a first person experience of that diagnosis. Naoki is a teenager in Japan, and tells his own reasons for why he might do things differently than his classmates, and why some things are harder for him than for others. It expanded my capacity to understand autism, and I highly recommend it, even if you aren't teaching someone with that diagnosis
5. Sad Dog Happy Dog: How Poor Posture Affects Your Child's Health by Kathleen Porter. While this book deals with posture for children, it applies to grown ups as well! This would be a great read for someone who teaches an instrument played seated, whether in ensemble or solo (piano/cello/harp). If you've noticed your students' (or child's) poor posture and wondered what you could do to help them move better, this is definitely the book for you!
6. The 28 Days Lighter Diet by Ellen Barrett and Kate Hanley. This is a terrible title for what the book is about, which is really about female menstrual cycles and understanding how to support the hormonal fluctuations that occur. It is not a fad weight loss book, nor is it a gluten-free/paleo/cleanse/whatever book, as the title suggests. As someone with an endocrine issue, I highly recommend this, especially if you may have underactive thyroid, irregular hormonal issues, or menstrual issues and you want to learn more about what's really going on.
7. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Although this was published in 2013, I only got around to reading it this past summer. As a female musician/educator, I often take the opportunities I've had for granted and this was a potent reminder that not everyone has the opportunity to have an education, to study music, or to work in a field of their choice. She has an incredible story (and she's only 17!), and I think she's an incredibly inspiring young woman.
8. The Trail Guide to Movement by Andrew Biel. Almost every yoga teacher, movement teacher, or manual therapist has seen Biel's "Trail Guide to the Body," and now comes a companion text addressing kinesiology and movement. It's an amazing book with clear and entertaining images, and a great resource for expanding knowledge or reference.
9. Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book is quite old in fact, and I first read it in college before I began meditating. Thich Nhat Hanh is an incredible writer and explains that mindfulness is secular and can deepen your awareness and your experience of the present. That applies to mundane tasks, but can also improve your capacity to practice, audition, and perform. WIth the abundance of flashy technology and distractions everywhere, this is a great reminder to pay attention to whatever it is you are doing.
10. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. Let me preface this by saying that I might not have loved this if I did not get the audiobook, but I did, and it was terrific, especially the bits with Patrick Stewart. Many of the anecdotes and stories in this book relate to music and the crazy journey of self reflection and hard work that leads to success. She has a few poignant chapters on body image, as well as an excellent finale on how cellular phones will take over the world (and us).
That's all I can think of for now, so let's hope 2015 is as fruitful in learning, reading, and listening!