The best books to keep your body, mind, and spirit awake, alive, and free

Connie Sobczak Author Of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)
By Connie Sobczak

Who am I?

I’ve been a free spirit since I was born, but as an adolescent I got trapped by diet culture and believed I needed to change my body. I struggled for six years with an eating disorder and my sister Stephanie died at age 36 from faulty breast implants and malnutrition. Because of these experiences, and wanting my baby daughter to grow up staying lovingly connected to her body (she has!), I created The Body Positive, a nonprofit that has freed millions of people to love and respect their precious bodies. I’m now a full-fledged Wild Woman teaching and freeing other aging women to connect to their soul’s innate wisdom.


I wrote...

Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)

By Connie Sobczak,

Book cover of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)

What is my book about?

Embody lovingly reconnects readers to their precious bodies, life force, and authentic beauty. The book’s message is rooted in the belief that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to create positive self-care behaviors and live peacefully in their bodies. It emphasizes self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care as fundamental to achieving physical and emotional health.

Rather than receiving a prescriptive set of rules to follow, readers are guided through patient, mindful inquiry to find what works for their unique lives to bring aboutand sustaina joyful relationship with their bodies and freedom in their lives. It’s a book that can be read cover to cover, or digested in small, delicious bites.

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).

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

By Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

Book cover of Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Why this book?

I am in love with Women Who Run with the Wolves! I was given a copy of it a few years ago, and though I'd read parts of it in the past, this time it felt like every word was written for me! I have been transformed by reading this book, and I now use it as a source book for teaching my women’s groups. Every time I read a passage, I feel deeply connected to my soul and my wild nature and am reminded of what I know deep within: that I am powerful beyond belief when I listen to and trust my intuitive voice! The stories touch all parts of my life, and provide inspiration for my decisions, both small and large. I feel free because of this book!


The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

By Sonya Renee Taylor,

Book cover of The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

Why this book?

I met Sonya Renee Taylor in 2017 at a training organized by my nonprofit, The Body Positive. We hugged when we met, and it was one of the warmest hugs I’ve ever received. During Sonya’s keynote address, I was mesmerized by her wisdom and by the incredibly poetic way she shared her ideas about why and how to love our bodies. Her book was published the following year, and it is just as powerful as she is in person. The Body Positive has been teaching people to think about self-love as a radical act since the 1990s, so it’s good to hear a powerful, radical, and poetic voice take up the charge. If you’re needing a boost of self-love and body-love, this book is for you.


The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us about Living Fully

By Frank Ostaseski,

Book cover of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us about Living Fully

Why this book?

I recommend this book to everyone I know, because it really is as the subtitle suggests—a way to be more fully alive by remembering that we are all going to die! Something that really helped me was the chapter on how to “find rest in the middle of things.” I don’t know about you, but my life is filled with a lot of responsibility, including being a caregiver for my 94-year-old mom. Then there’s everything happening in the world that adds to increased stress levels. Since reading this book, I’ve had more rest, from getaways to 10-minute walks to one simple but conscious breath. The stories shared are profound, and Frank’s gentle manner and wise teachings have been a true inspiration to me. 


Untamed

By Glennon Doyle,

Book cover of Untamed

Why this book?

What I love about Glennon’s writing (and her podcast) is that she gives people permission to be fallible human beings. Her honesty and vulnerability in sharing her own struggles make her message accessible to all, and validates how I’ve lived my own life—wearing my heart on my sleeve! My mission in life is to continue to peel off the layers of social conditioning so I can express my authentic self a bit more each day, and this book, even simply with the title, inspires me to stay on my path to freedom. I love that she’s not trying to “fix” anyone, but rather to inspire readers to find the courage needed to make the changes that allow us all to feel like we are enough, just as we are.


A New Earth

By Eckhart Tolle,

Book cover of A New Earth

Why this book?

After being transformed by The Power of Now at a time when my whole world came unglued, I was delighted to go further into Eckhart’s work with this book. It’s done wonders to help me recognize and release ego when it shows up. I thought I’d “done” my ego work but realized how much my ego still controls my life. I come back to this book when I need tools to help me soften. I’m someone who likes being right (and believes I am most of the time!), but knowing this is just ego allows me to let others have their experiences without me correcting them! Every time I read this book, I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and experience more compassion for myself and others.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in body image, spirituality, and folklore?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about body image, spirituality, and folklore.

Body Image Explore 16 books about body image
Spirituality Explore 155 books about spirituality
Folklore Explore 144 books about folklore

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Fun Home, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, and Notes of a Crocodile if you like this list.