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Gary Szenderski

If I had to give this assignment a label, it would be “Spiritualty Through the Lens of Self-Discovery” which I define as having the capacity to have a relationship with a higher presence through the process of becoming self-aware. That’s why these books that I’ve chosen have an aspirational element like “Pure Potentiality” (Chopra) or Infinite Possibilities (Dooley) but also talk to being grounded and connected to science, (The Art of Loving by Fromm) or maybe better said, reality (Callings by Levoy). For me, it’s been a journey which I’ve found both frustrating and rewarding. There is hard work to be done to come to grips with who we truly are and once realized, only then can we connect with the world of spirit.

I started the book selection process by remembering where I was when I got glimpses of who I was. I can’t remember the exact order these books came into my life and easily half were not on my bookshelf, (I had to repurchase many) so I put a stack together of all that have touched me somehow and landed on these 10. A couple of these books have been written by psychologists which is where I started my self-discovery/spiritual journey in college. As I learned more of what makes people tick, I grew to understand my own motivations and sensibilities.

It might seem strange to include my own book, but it was cathartic and enlightening to grow through the process and be able to capture my own sense of purpose. On the cover of The Book of Szen it states “Whereas ZEN is of the moment and what is, the Book of SZEN celebrates what could be.” That’s me in a nutshell – open mind, pure potential. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

Gary Szenderski is an author, speaker, teacher, professional leadership coach and branding specialist, internationally acclaimed as an expert on the subject. He specializes in helping people and organizations navigate change, and frequently speaks and writes on the topic of emerging brands, personal branding, and companies in transition.

Gary is an award-winning writer, author of three books, often quoted marketing expert, and recipient of the Outstanding Instructor Award from the University of California in Irvine where he has been teaching marketing and branding since 2003. Email him at

My 10 Best

(In no particular order)

The Art of Loving
by Erich Fromm


I found this book early in my years at university. I was drawn to it because the notion of “love” being a form of art was provocative to me. Turns out the book was more of an introduction to spirituality through learning about and practicing love on ourselves and, if desired, turn love to our version of God or a higher presence. Fromm say this: “To love God, if we were going to use this word, would mean to long for the attainment of the full capacity to love, for the realization of that which ‘God’ stands for in oneself.” Pretty heady for a college freshman but it got me started on the path to self-discovery with a better understanding of how to use love to get there.

by Gregg Levoy


This book was introduced to me through a group called The Inside Edge which met on my campus and featured self-help authors and generally spiritually-minded folks like Jean Houston and Joseph Campbell. The author Gregg Levoy was a successful newspaper reporter and had travelled extensively and witnessed a series of synchronicities and events that helped him postulate what it means to have a “calling” and how to identify it. It’s the book I recommend when someone tells me they don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. Jean Houston says: “Callings strikes right to the soul. It’s like the remembrance of everything you knew but then forgot.” At the time I was searching for my own calling, and it helped me recognize that I already was living the dream.

Coming Home to Who You Are
by David Richo


The author has been able to effectively connect the dots between our values, beliefs, and innate talents to better align ourselves with our own true nature and to use what we know about ourselves to discover our spiritual path. He quotes B. Alan Wallace from his book Buddhism with an Attitude: “The key to spiritual maturation is transforming all of life, adversity included, into spiritual practice.” Richo says:“This is a way of understanding Karma: all events, all people and all they, or we do, produce consequences. The richest consequence is our opportunity to practice integrity and love.” I’ve actually picked this book up and have been enjoying the read all over again.


The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
by Deepak Chopra


Deepak really hit the nail on the head in this book and in a way that was easy and yet so deep. I think his seven laws have been copied, paraphrased, manipulated, and celebrated by anyone that has an open mind to how the universe works and is searching for the words and context to describe it.

Chopra is a Master and his simple and profound teachings here are timeless and have served me well in my own writings and life.

Infinite Possibilities
by Mike Dooley


Mike Dooley has established a very simple premise which he follows, teaches, and writes about – Thoughts Become Things. Reading this book was eye-opening in terms of my own self-discovery as I began to recognize the power we all have to live our dreams by simply thinking about them.

In the movie “The Secret”, Dooley and other spiritually-minded folks shared their versions and stories of how this essential perspective can set us free and manifest our grandest thoughts. I still read Dooley’s daily email, A Note from the Universe, and find humor and profound insight into the art of living our dreams.

Beauty – The Invisible Embrace
by John O’Donohue


I was only a couple of degrees away from being able to meet this Irish theologian who I saw on the TV show Between the Lines with Barry Kibrick on PBS. I knew Barry, and after I saw his interview with O’Donohue I reached out to see if he could make an introduction. I found out that John, only in his 40’s, had passed away in his sleep, only a few days earlier. I was so taken by and drawn to his brilliance I attended his funeral and participated in the Mass. His words and his delivery is so powerful that every time I listen to him on his audio book I feel like such a “hack.”

In this book on how to discover the true sources of compassion, serenity and hope the author reintroduced me to God, who is Beauty.

The Magic of Believing
by Claude M. Bristol


This book is on the list because of the influence it had on a dear friend and colleague. In 1992, I merged my small consulting business in Los Angeles with a firm in Orange County California. I assumed the role as President and reported to the Chairman and Founder who, by his own admission and experience, had proven that positive thinking works. He introduced me to this book and shared how significant Claude Bristol’s teachings were to his life. In fact, for his birthday party, he presented audio tapes of the book to all the guests who attended to help him celebrate his life of positive affirmations. Prior to the party I struggled to find a gift for this man who seemingly had everything. With that in mind I went shopping for a book to add to his growing library of inspiration and self-help wisdom. What I found in a used book store was an original copy of The Magic of Believing signed by the author. Unbeknownst to me, he had been looking for such a book and put out a search across the county to find one and the price was no object. My gift to him cost $1.25 and his reaction was simply priceless.

Out of Mind, Out of Sight/Book of Szen
by Gary Szenderski


At the risk of seeming self-serving I’ve included my own writings as part of my spiritual journey. The greater my self-awareness became the more inclined I became to share my own insights and perspective on how to navigate change as a pathway toward spirituality. It was cathartic, personal. and fun to write. Its premise is simple: We have the power to decide how to create change and how to live with it when it’s created for us. Change is the one constant in the Universe and I have spent most of my professional life helping people get from where they are to where they want to be. Before this book I wrote “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” which was never published but I was able to update, add to, and repurpose the stories under the new title. I followed with two other books all centered on the theme of change and how to create positive outcomes.

The Untethered Soul – The journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer


This book helps us to take a deep dive within ourselves. This is what Singer calls our inner connection to the Divine. Of course, any discussion of moving toward the spirit or God is fraught with opinion and bias. The Untethered Soul directs us on how to free ourselves from thoughts and habits that limit our consciousness. Once we understand that the power to see God lies within, we also begin to recognize just how much we are made in the image and likeness of our Creator.

The Book of Awakening
by Mark Nepo


This book had been around for a while and was off my radar until some friends and colleagues involved with The Modern Elder Academy invited Mark to speak at a virtual event. I bought the book the next day and even though his entries are designed to be read a single day at a time, I couldn’t put it down. It’s deep and very practical too in that as a cancer survivor, the author pleads with us to be present and in the now. This is where peace lies and where the fertile ground for new versions of ourselves can be found. He quotes Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Nuff’ said.