My Holiday Reading: Susan Cahill
The book show presenter likes to take a spiritual journey
My last trip through Dublin airport was to produce a radio documentary about climate change for Irish Aid, which took me to India and Nepal. I brought The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, by the Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön, and read it in the Thar Desert.
My accommodation was very basic. I had no air conditioning, and it was roasting hot, but Chödrön really carried me through.
I like to go into more mindful spaces with books, so spirituality books such as Chödrön’s and poetry are top of my list when travelling. You learn a lot about life, and of course yourself, within a few pages.
One of my most special holiday-reading memories is the Franciscan writer Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. I read it under a mango tree in a beautiful old Jesuit mission village in Santa María de Fe in southern Paraguay. There was something about the old, crumbling, dusty square that mixed so beautifully with his words. The world stood still for a very short moment. It was sublime.
I’ve read most of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books while travelling, too. He is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist with an extraordinary gift for storytelling, so his ideas are hugely accessible.
It’s funny, but you can dip in and out of one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books on a crazy, hot, dirty bus trip in the middle of Africa and still understand the message. That, to me, is the test of a truly good writer.
Susan Cahill presents Talking Books on Newstalk 106-108fm at 7pm each Sunday