The best books for moving through anxiety toward what matters most

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Brazil facing poverty and adversity, I was helped by my grandmother, who instilled in me a profound lesson: be the water, not the rock. She taught me the significance of adaptability in confronting uncertainty, stress, and discomfort. Later in life, while pursuing my PhD in clinical psychology, I discovered her teachings aligned with leading mental health practices. Today, I'm an associate professor at Harvard, a renowned global speaker, and an author, ardently committed to empowering individuals globally with evidence-based techniques to transform anxiety into power. Every book in this list resonates with my grandmother's wisdom about boldly navigating life and underscores the transformative potential of embracing discomfort. 


I wrote...

Bold Move: A 3-Step Plan to Transform Anxiety Into Power

By Luana Marques,

Book cover of Bold Move: A 3-Step Plan to Transform Anxiety Into Power

What is my book about?

Bold Move: A 3-Step Plan to Transform Anxiety into Power is an empowering book from Harvard-based psychologist, Dr. Luana. With decades of experience aiding clients from CEOs to at-risk teens, Dr. Luana introduces a clinically proven method that shifts anxiety into a force for transformation. Rooted in cognitive-behavioral therapy, her 3-step plan unpacks psychological avoidance, illustrates harmful thinking patterns, and offers strategies to align actions with personal values. Enriched by real-life stories and insightful exercises, the book is a testament to the resilience Dr. Luana developed from personal adversity in Brazil to professional success at Harvard. Bold Move is a compassionate, humor-infused, scientifically-backed guide to turning anxiety into a bold and meaningful life.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Alchemist

Luana Marques Why did I love this book?

My encounter with The Alchemist dates back to my childhood in Brazil. A cherished gift from my grandmother during a time of personal confusion, it presented a transformative narrative that resonated deeply.

The tale of Santiago, a humble shepherd boy who embarks on a global quest for treasure, is an affirmation of the potency of pursuing one's calling. His adventure symbolizes a resounding theme in the book: "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

It's a reminder that every bold step toward my dream doesn't necessitate a complete roadmap but the courage to venture forth.

By Paulo Coelho,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked The Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book - a beautiful parable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life's path and, above all, follow your dreams.

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is…


Book cover of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Luana Marques Why did I love this book?

My journey with Simon Sinek's Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action began during my tenure at Massachusetts General Hospital, where I was tasked with the integration of two research labs.

As I grappled with unifying two distinct cultures, I grabbed with motivating and integrating two distinct teams. On my quest for innovative methods to articulate ideas, I chanced upon Sinek's Golden Circle—a potent formula for inspiring action. This strategy begins with 'why', segues into 'how', and culminates with 'what'.

Since immersing in Start with Why, I've employed the Golden Circle in countless presentations, workshops, and meetings, tapping into the strength of collective values and a sharp sense of purpose. If you find yourself in a leadership role and feeling cornered, my recommendation is: Start with Why.

By Simon Sinek,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Start With Why as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MILLION-COPY GLOBAL BESTSELLER - BASED ON THE LIFE-CHANGING TED TALK!

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT START WITH WHY:

'It's amazing how a book can change the course of your life, and this book did that' Reader Review

'Imagine the Ted Talk expanded to 2 hours long, with more depth, intrigue and examples' Reader Review

'What he does brilliantly is demonstrate his own why - to inspire others - throughout' Reader Review

'Wow. Wow. Wow. I cannot rate this book highly enough to take a different, positive approach to life and work' Reader Review

Discover your purpose with one simple…


Book cover of The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living

Luana Marques Why did I love this book?

I recommend this book because it resonated deeply in my professional life, as I often encounter patients seeking to eradicate anxiety, convinced that happiness lies in the absence of negative feelings.

Harris debunks this notion, revealing it as a trap. His philosophy aligns with my own—true satisfaction and happiness stem from navigating through anxiety towards what genuinely matters. Harris masterfully imparts wisdom and techniques rooted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Those grappling with stress and the elusive pursuit of happiness will find solace and direction in Harris's pragmatic advice.

This book is a valuable guide for anyone seeking a more fulfilling life.

By Russ Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Popular myths about happiness are directly contributing to our epidemic of stress, anxiety and depression - and popular psychological remedies are making it even worse!In this easy-to-read, practical and empowering self-help book, Dr Russ Harris, M.D., reveals how millions of people are unwittingly caught in The Happiness Trap! He then provides an effective means to escape, through a revolutionary new paradigm in Western psychology.Mindfulness is a transformative mental state of awareness, openness and focus. Although mindfulness is worlds apart' from the methods of popular psychology, it is easy to learn, and will rapidly and effectively help you to reduce stress,…


Book cover of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

Luana Marques Why did I love this book?

Throughout life, we often find ourselves stuck on negative thoughts —truths we’ve rehearsed until they become unshakeable beliefs, like the damaging mantra, “I’ll never be enough,” which I personally have fought my entire life.

Grant’s book, however, urges us to step back and reassess these thoughts. He extends an invitation to weather the discomfort of rethinking as a route to growth. Filled with authentic narratives of individuals shifting their perspectives for the better, Think Again is a crucial nudge towards the transformative power of challenging our own thinking. 

By Adam Grant,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Think Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

"THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more-it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I've never felt so hopeful about what I don't know."
-Brene Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead

The bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking:…


Book cover of The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times

Luana Marques Why did I love this book?

I've always held immense admiration for Michelle Obama's honesty, empathy, and resilience—all of which are vibrantly evident in her latest work.

She delves into the ubiquitous yet unsettling realm of uncertainty, offering her own experiences and the tactics she's employed during times of change. I particularly resonated with her chapter on avoidance and how avoidance is the true enemy keeping us stuck, which is the core premise of my own book.

Obama's candid narrative inspired me to reveal my personal journey in my book and might just be the catalyst you need to surmount the upcoming hurdles in your life.

By Michelle Obama,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Light We Carry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The powerful, inspiring follow-up to the critically acclaimed, multi-million #1 bestselling memoir Becoming

In The Light We Carry, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today's highly uncertain world.

She considers the questions many of us wrestle with: How do we build enduring and honest relationships? How can we discover strength and community inside our differences? What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much? Michelle Obama believes that we can all lean on a set of tools to help us better navigate change and remain…


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The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

Book cover of The Last Whaler

Cynthia Reeves Author Of The Last Whaler

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Arctic adventurer Eternal optimist Unrealistic realist Foodie Teacher

Cynthia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This book is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station in the Svalbard archipelago when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. 

Beyond enduring the Arctic winter’s twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold, as well as Astrid’s unexpected pregnancy.

The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…

The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

What is this book about?

The Last Whaler is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive under extreme conditions. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. Beyond enduring the Arctic winter's twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold as well as Astrid's unexpected pregnancy. The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…


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