The best books for living your best life

Why am I passionate about this?

To paraphrase the old Hair Club for Men ads from 1980s late-night TV, I'm not only a life coach, I'm also a client. I’ve been a self-help junkie since before the term was a book category. I started out with Eastern thought, added in meditation and psychology, and eventually became a therapist and life coach myself. Like the authors of several of the books I’m recommending here, I’ve crystalized into one easy-to-access volume the essence of what I’ve learned from 20 years of working with clients and from my own struggles. I hope these books help you move ahead confidently, knowing you can take on whatever comes your way.

I wrote...

The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World

By David J. Bookbinder, Stephanie C. Bond (translator),

Book cover of The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World

What is my book about?

The Battle for Balance is a life-and-death struggle. Stay balanced, and we enjoy life to the fullest. Lose balance, and life gets hard.

In The Art of Balance, you’ll learn how to stay on top of the forces that unbalance us, bounce back if you get knocked down, and stay on your feet when life throws you a curveball. This book is much more than a laundry list of tips and tricks. Time-tested self-help tools and techniques are integrated into a system that helps you create your own tools, techniques, and strategies — and become the master of your destiny. The Art of Balance doesn't just "give a man a fish" so he can eat that day. It teaches you how to fish.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Being Peace

David J. Bookbinder Why did I love this book?

I read Being Peace about 30 years ago. It’s the first of many books by this Zen Buddhist monk that I’ve read since then.

In one short volume, it captures the essence of what he teaches in his writings, retreats, and videos. Each short segment has layers of meaning and emotion that, over time, settle into the soul.

Despite years of therapy and meditation, my periods of inner peace were few and far between. This book planted a seed that led to more books, a new meditation practice, and eventually to my going to a large retreat, joining a community of Buddhist practitioners, and becoming a therapist myself.

I’ve passed on many of Thich Nhat Hanh’s wise insights and observations to my own clients.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Being Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestseller with over 250,000 copies sold, Being Peace is the seminal founding work by Zen Master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh. With a new introduction by Jack Kornfield and the first update since its release over fifteen years ago, this eloquent meditation on "being peace in order to make peace" is more relevant than ever. A book for everyone concerned about the state of the world and the quality of our lives, it has lost none of its timeliness since it was first published in 1987. It is filled with practical suggestions how to create a…

Book cover of Focusing

David J. Bookbinder Why did I love this book?

In the late 1960s, Eugene Gendlin teamed up with pioneer psychologist Carl Rogers to try to figure out why some people got better with therapy while others did not.

After screening for all the factors that might explain this phenomenon, they identified the most important one, and it was something people either came into therapy already doing (and they got better) or didn’t do (and they didn’t improve). Gendlin created Focusing to teach us all this simple, powerful technique. It’s the best self-help tool I know.

Along with meditation, Focusing is at the heart of my personal and professional life.

By Eugene T. Gendlin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Focusing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic guide to a powerful technique that can increase your mindfulness and lead to personal transformation

Based on groundbreaking research conducted at the University of Chicago, the focusing technique has gained widespread popularity and scholarly acclaim. It consists of six easy-to-master steps that identify and change the way thoughts and emotions are held within the body. Focusing can be done virtually anywhere, at any time, and an entire “session” can take no longer than ten minutes, but its effects can be felt immediately–in the relief of bodily tension and psychological stress, as well as in dramatic shifts in understanding…

Book cover of When I Say No, I Feel Guilty

David J. Bookbinder Why did I love this book?

When I Say No, I Feel Guilty is the book I most often take off my shelf to show clients.

Even if all you take away from it is the Broken Record technique for saying no and sticking to it, and you accept that the author’s Assertiveness Bill of Rights really does apply to you, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty will change your life for the better.

I wish this book had been published 50 years ago. It’s the perfect antidote to guilt-tripping and a trusty companion for staying true to your own needs, wants, and desires.

By Manuel J Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When I Say No, I Feel Guilty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The best-seller that helps you say: "I just said 'no' and I don't feel guilty!"  Are you letting your kids get away with murder?  Are you allowing your mother-in-law to impose her will on you?  Are you embarrassed by praise or crushed by criticism?  Are you having trouble coping with people?  Learn the answers in When I Say No, I Feel Guilty,  the best-seller with revolutionary new techniques for getting your own way.

Book cover of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

David J. Bookbinder Why did I love this book?

The Highly Sensitive Person is another book I wish had existed when I was growing up. It helped me understand that I’m someone who takes in, on both a sensory and emotional level, more than most people do—an HSP.

Often misdiagnosed as anxiety, being “highly sensitive” is a mixed blessing. We HSPs can’t screen much out, so we’re bothered by sounds, smells, and internal sensations that most people don’t even notice. But, because we have more data to work with, often we can make connections that non-HSPs cannot. HSPs are often highly creative.

The book includes a simple test to identify high sensitivity and practical advice for making the most of this trait in yourself or in your highly sensitive child.

By Elaine N. Aron Phd,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Highly Sensitive Person as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the original ground-breaking book on high sensitivity with over 500,000 copies sold.

Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams? Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water? Are you noted for your empathy?  Your conscientiousness? Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you? If your answers are yes, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP) and Dr. Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person is the life-changing guide you’ll want in your toolbox.

Over twenty percent of people have this amazing, innate trait.…

Book cover of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

David J. Bookbinder Why did I love this book?

The War of Art is an essential book for any creative person who feels blocked, stuck, gets off track, or is held back by self-doubt.

Pressfield’s identification of the many faces of Resistance, along with his distinction between the professional and the amateur, helped me fend off an inner critic that had hindered me for decades, allowing me to finish four books (and counting) I had previously abandoned.

Pressfield hammers home this crucial point: “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”

And then he gives us the tools to get that work done.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…

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Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

Book cover of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

Lisa McCourt Author Of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t always a joyful person. But today I’m freaking sunshine, and full-out committed to being an effective member of the team that’s elevating the level of love and joy in the world! My positions on that team have included writing dozens of mega-selling books (my own, and as a ghostwriter), founding my online Joy School at, hosting my Do Joy! podcast, and collaborating on projects with many other popular teachers of consciousness and joyful living. My books have sold over 9 million copies, earned 7 publishing industry awards, and garnered over 9,000 glowing Amazon reviews. Joy is my jam. I know a joyful book when I read one! 

Lisa's book list on igniting joy despite all the crap in your life

What is my book about?

We all want peace. We all want a life of joy and meaning. We want to feel blissfully comfortable in our own skin, moving through the world with grace and ease. But how many of us are actively taking the steps to create such a life? 

In Free Your Joy, millions-selling author and podcaster Lisa McCourt takes readers through the life-altering principles of vibration elevation that she has taught for 20 years through her online Joy School, sharing her unique formula for raising your “joy setpoint” to cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life. Joy is…

Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

What is this book about?

Bestselling author and creator of Joy School Lisa McCourt outlines her unique formula for sustainable happiness, offering a year's worth of activities, prompts, and techniques that raise your "joy setpoint" so you can cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life.

Unprecedented global events have left many of us feeling depleted, depressed, isolated, and disconnected from many of the things that made us happy. Lisa McCourt, host of the Do Joy! podcast and founder of Joy School, helps people raise their joy setpoints regardless of what is happening around them.

Learning about joy is one thing, but it's…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about stress management, procrastination, and personality.

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