The best books to help you understand and take charge of your health

Sharad P. Paul Author Of The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health
By Sharad P. Paul

Who am I?

I am a skin MD, family physician, and an adjunct professor at the Auckland University of Technology. My peers awarded me the Ko Awatea International Excellence Award for Leading Health on a Global Scale for “improving management, education and patient-centered care internationally, across several countries.” I have often said, “One cannot have bad health and good skin” and therefore my interests are using skin, our only universal organ, to help us understand not only human health and wellness, but also issues that affect humanity such as the changing climate, pollution, aging, and skin color. I am a global citizen as I was born in England, grew up in India, and I now live in New Zealand.

I wrote...

The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health

By Sharad P. Paul,

Book cover of The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health

What is my book about?

Personalized healthcare. My book takes us on a journey into our evolutionary past through the landscapes of evolution, genetics, health, and medicine. In the scheme of things, human footprints on our planet have been recent, yet our diets and lifestyles have migrated far from what we needed, to what we wanted. I have often said, “genes are our blueprint, not our destiny” and my book helps us understand our genetic links to our ancestral past, the connection between mind and body, and how we can optimize our health based on our individual genetic profiles.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Eat Like a Human: Nourishing Foods and Ancient Ways of Cooking to Revolutionize Your Health

By Dr. Bill Schindler,

Book cover of Eat Like a Human: Nourishing Foods and Ancient Ways of Cooking to Revolutionize Your Health

Why this book?

As I did in my book, this book uses evolutionary biology to explain how our diets and lifestyle impact our health. Ultimately it is not about the latest fad food or fancy diet, but understanding that the secret to becoming healthy, happy, and content is relearning how to eat like a human. Life has existed on Earth for 3.5 billion years, but modern human beings only migrated out of Africa 100,000 years ago, and yet our lifestyles bear no resemblance to that of our forebears. Here an archaeologist and chef explains how to follow our ancestors' leads when it comes to dietary choices and cooking techniques to achieve wellness. 


Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

By James Clear,

Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Why this book?

Diets and lifestyles impact our wellness, but many diseases are because of habit-forming or addiction. As a physician, I deal with the aftereffects of bad choices every day. When one is trying to build healthy habits to reduce disease, Atomic Habits offers actionable items that anyone can perform to help kick bad habits and make good ones. James Clear helps us understand and break through the mental, physical, and environmental constraints that limit us.


The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Why this book?

As someone who has been interested in the skin-brain connection, and the mind-body connection, and has written about how placebos can improve health, I found this book interesting. Bessel suggests that medications cannot 'cure' trauma; they can at best mediate the disruptive behavior of those affected. One of the foremost experts on post-traumatic stress disorders, Bessel has treated many military men. He shows how trauma and the associated stress literally rearrange a person’s brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust—and offers us innovative new treatments to reactivate these neurons. This book is less about drugs, and more about the doing. 


The Body: A Guide for Occupants

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Why this book?

Bill Bryson, in his imitable humor-filled style, takes us on a journey of the human body, exploring how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. The book covers various organ systems and then proceeds with a short history of the immune system, disease, and medicines. Medical heroes, mavericks, and villains feature—from Karl Landsteiner who described blood groups, Frederick Banting who discovered insulin, Henry Gray the anatomist, and Nazi medical doctors who performed unthinkably cruel experiments. One fact that stood out in the book for me is, in general, poorer people have worse health outcomes. No surprise here, except for the fact that all Americans, no matter their wealth, die sooner than their European counterparts.


Love Your Gut: Supercharge Your Digestive Health and Transform Your Well-Being from the Inside Out

By Megan Rossi,

Book cover of Love Your Gut: Supercharge Your Digestive Health and Transform Your Well-Being from the Inside Out

Why this book?

This is the only “How to” book in this selection that literally spoon-feeds us. Love Your Gut has over 50 recipes: from banana and fig breakfast loaves to chickpea crêpes, spinach pesto pasta to tofu satay skewers—there’s something for everyone. However, at the guts of it, this book deals with how our gastrointestinal tract is also inherently linked to our immunity. Taking charge of what we place in our guts, Rossi feels, is one of the best ways we can take control of our health and wellbeing.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the gastrointestinal tract, PTSD, and cooking?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the gastrointestinal tract, PTSD, and cooking.

The Gastrointestinal Tract Explore 6 books about the gastrointestinal tract
PTSD Explore 44 books about PTSD
Cooking Explore 61 books about cooking

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Gut, Gulp, and The Good Gut if you like this list.