91 books like Kitchen Table Wisdom

By Rachel Naomi Remen,

Here are 91 books that Kitchen Table Wisdom fans have personally recommended if you like Kitchen Table Wisdom. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

Ricardo Sunderland Author Of The Energy Advantage: How to Go from Managing Your Time to Mastering Your Energy

From my list on non fiction mastering your energy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My purpose is to help leaders connect to and manage their energy. I help them bring coherence to how they lead and reach their full societal impact. For more than a  decade, I have coached 300 of the most senior leaders at some of the largest and most recognizable companies in the world. My recommended to-read book list represents crucible moments in my life and my calling to learn about human energy. Representing different lenses, which are key to adding to a mix of ingredients, allows the reader to drink a potion that will exalt all your buckets (physical, mental, emotional & spiritual) of energy holistically. 

Ricardo's book list on non fiction mastering your energy

Ricardo Sunderland Why did Ricardo love this book?

Besides being one of the best psychologists in mankind's history, Viktor is a masterful storyteller. It's as if I was transported to Auschwitz at the time, where Viktor was imprisoned along with thousands of Jews; in a very compelling way, he leaves no hint of a doubt that it was thanks to his meaning in life that he was able to survive, and the minute that others let go of theirs, they let go of life itself.

In addition, Viktor also shares his logotherapy framework and how it was updated after his terrible experience. If you doubt the power of doing the work to search for your life’s meaning, this book is a must-read. 

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

43 authors picked Man’s Search for Meaning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Hugh Warwick Author Of Cull of the Wild: Killing in the Name of Conservation

From my list on animals and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved animals—my adopted parents were not particularly interested, but when I met my biological mother in my mid-30s, I found out where it came from! That innate passion has driven my life. Writers like Jane Goodall were the gatekeepers—showing me the way forward and giving me permission to study and care. We need to learn more about nonhuman animals and the ecosystems that we share to better understand how to redress the damage we have caused. And while facts are important, stories are even more so. Each of these authors manages to weave both together with such great skill.

Hugh's book list on animals and nature

Hugh Warwick Why did Hugh love this book?

I have guru-phobia, so I had avoided this book because so many people I knew were declaring it one of the best books ever and that Robin Wall Kimmerer was wonderful. Stupid, right?! But then I read it and could understand.

More than reading and listening to it, I met the author at a literary festival and was even more impressed by her gentle wisdom. She writes about the importance of reciprocity—about the rest of life being just as important as we are. Her work merges wonderfully with Jane Goodall’s, and I would recommend reading them in tandem. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

48 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…

Book cover of Untamed

Miles Borrero Author Of Beautiful Monster: A Becoming

From my list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a trans, Latinx yoga teacher, writer, and musician who transitioned at the age of 40. Before that, I’d spent most of my life trying to live by someone else’s rules…only to realize, when my dad was dying, that I was not truly living. The funny thing is, as an artist and teacher, I’d dedicated myself to helping others live their lives to the fullest but had not granted myself the same courtesy. Sometimes, our lessons are hard-won. The books on this list have been beacons of hope and treasure trove chests of inspiration for me, as I hope they will be for you, too. 

Miles' book list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest

Miles Borrero Why did Miles love this book?

Like the cry of a caged animal, this book reminds me that the systems in place aren’t working, but more than that, it points to the open cage door, offering me the option of a different way of living. It is a wake-up call and a deep, nuanced examination of what makes life worth living.

Glennon is not only a deep thinker but also quick as a whip; nothing escapes her. Her insights are priceless and sharp and cut through the densest of binds.

This book sits on my shelf as a daily reminder that my life is my own, and living it fully and outwardly as the most honest version of myself is the way in which I can create the greatest impact with my time on this earth. 

By Glennon Doyle,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Untamed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OVER TWO MILLION COPIES SOLD! “Packed with incredible insight about what it means to be a woman today.”—Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club Pick)

In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker, bestselling author, and “patron saint of female empowerment” (People) explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • Cosmopolitan • Marie Claire • Bloomberg • Parade •…

Book cover of When Breath Becomes Air

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is surprisingly uplifting. A non-smoker, he was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2013. He was an American neurosurgeon, and his wife Lucy, an internal medicine doctor, is now a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford.

I find it brave that they decided to have a child in the midst of Paul’s treatment. Cady was eight months old when her father died in 2015 at the age of 37. His jargon-free writings from a doctor-patient point of view show they lived intentionally, finding joy and meaning, regardless of a terminal diagnosis. Medical training is based on empirical science; however, Paul’s despair caused him to return to the devout Christianity of his youth. He found its language better suited to grasping hope and love in human life. 

By Paul Kalanithi,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked When Breath Becomes Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Rattling. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.' Atul Gawande, bestselling author of Being Mortal

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and…

Book cover of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Peggy Dean Author Of Mindful Sketching: How to Develop a Drawing Practice and Embrace the Art of Imperfection

From my list on creative books for the wildly imperfect artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

My journey into art began as a serendipitous discovery that unfolded through curiosity. As a “can’t-be-tamed” creative, I understand the tug-of-war artists feel – craving to learn skills and create “quality” pieces, while also thumbing the snooze-fest of sticking to one thing. Been there, done that, got the paint-splattered t-shirt. This has ignited a passion for encouraging others to find their own creative voice, as I've navigated the same path while building a multifaceted career in watercolor, gouache, line drawing, urban sketching, brush lettering, and calligraphy…need I go on? The thing is, I will because there is still so much to be explored.

Peggy's book list on creative books for the wildly imperfect artist

Peggy Dean Why did Peggy love this book?

Engaging with this book, I recognized how fear of imperfection often held me back, not just in my art but in various aspects of life. I feel like the importance of showing up and being seen, even when there are no guarantees, is a reminder that I can continue to revisit time and time again.

This book has empowered me to approach my art practice with a heart open to risks and imperfections, which transforms not just the art I produce, but also how I lead, love, and connect with the world around me.

By Brené Brown,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Daring Greatly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**Now on Netflix as The Call to Courage**

'She's so good, Brene Brown, at finding the language to articulate collective feeling' Dolly Alderton

Every time we are faced with change, no matter how great or small, we also face risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings - or feel guilt for feeling them in the first place.

In a powerful new vision Dr Brene Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it's a weakness. She argues that, in truth, vulnerability is…

Book cover of The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life

Vincent Doumeizel Author Of The Seaweed Revolution: How Seaweed Has Shaped Our Past and Can Save Our Future

From my list on the world is getting better and the best is yet to come.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an optimistic citizen of the world, I travelled the globe to witness famine in Africa and seaweed farming in Asia. Having worked on food systems for twenty-five years and being the father of three children, I was looking for solutions to feed the coming generation with hopes instead of fears! That’s how I ended up working for a visionary charity (Lloyd’s Register Foundation) and leading a “Seaweed Revolution” for United Nations Global Compact as well as writing book to spread the gospel of neglected Ocean Based Solutions. The books I have recommended here all give hope through examples from the past and present and provide readers with practical toolkits for creating positive change.

Vincent's book list on the world is getting better and the best is yet to come

Vincent Doumeizel Why did Vincent love this book?

This is another book that can inspire you in your daily life and change your perspective. A call for happiness!

Despite what we believe, happiness breeds success, and not the other way around… quite an important distinction. This very well-researched book by a specialist from Harvard University also argues that our brain is flexible enough to change whatever our age, and that it is always possible to mitigate our negative perception of reality.

This leads to a more positive way of thinking that will create the conditions to achieve what we want and lead an exciting life! After reading this book, you’ll be able to make happiness contagious and promote the cause like an activist! A must-read for the next generation. 

By Shawn Achor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most people want to be successful in life. And of course, everyone wants to be happy. When it comes to the pursuit of success and happiness, most people assume the same formula: if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you'll be happy. The only problem is that a decade of cutting-edge research in the field of positive psychology has proven that this formula is backwards. Success does not beget happiness.

Based on the largest study ever conducted on happiness and human potential (a survey conducted by the author of more than 1,600 students),…

Book cover of God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

Kay White Drew Author Of Stress Test: A Memoir

From my list on women physicians about their own healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman physician who struggled with depression, the words “Physician, heal thyself” have particular resonance for me. In my own quest for healing, I’ve explored alternative modalities like acupuncture and reiki, as well as conventional psychotherapy. I’m always interested in reading about other women who faced the ever-present sexism of medicine, as well as those who dealt with mental health challenges and traumatic events before and during their medical training. I want to know what the factors were that helped them and healed them. Therapy? Other healing modalities? Mentors, friends, lovers? Finding a loving life partner? We all have so much to learn from each other. 

Kay's book list on women physicians about their own healing

Kay White Drew Why did Kay love this book?

This thoughtful, well-written memoir of a medical doctor and historian reminded me of why we doctors practice medicine.

The story of her years at Laguna Honda, a long-term rehabilitation hospital for indigent patients, presented me with a kind of medical practice as different as possible from the intensive care I myself practiced: Slow Medicine, which promotes close observation and deep listening, just sitting together, allowing time to do at least some of the healing. Laguna Honda was a place of hospitality, community, and charity.

I take comfort in knowing that there is still a place for these values in today’s highly fragmented, technologized, and speeded-up “healthcare system.” I was particularly moved by Sweet’s reflectiveness and vibrant humanity as she allowed “God’s Hotel” to heal her even as it—and she—healed her patients. 

By Victoria Sweet,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked God's Hotel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victoria Sweet's new book, SLOW MEDICINE, is on sale now!

For readers of Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, a medical “page-turner” that traces one doctor’s “remarkable journey to the essence of medicine” (The San Francisco Chronicle). 

San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (God’s hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves—“anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times” and needed extended medical care—ended up here. So did Victoria Sweet, who came for two months and stayed…

Book cover of No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear)

Jennifer Cramer-Miller Author Of Incurable Optimist: Living with Illness and Chronic Hope

From my list on inspiring you to hug your life and savor every second.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello, I am Jennifer Cramer-Miller—an author, speaker, and joy seeker. Thirty-some years ago, at 22, I had a cozy apartment with my best friend and a promising PR position. Then I was diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune kidney disease, and suddenly, doctors discussed my “quality of life.” At a very young age, life’s uncertainty fueled my will to survive. And I’ve learned that life is a mix of beauty and bummers. So as long as we’re alive, we should appreciate all of it. That’s why I’m drawn to books that illuminate what it means to be a human managing uncertainty, holding onto hope, and finding joy. 

Jennifer's book list on inspiring you to hug your life and savor every second

Jennifer Cramer-Miller Why did Jennifer love this book?

There’s something special about Kate Bowler. At 35, diagnosed with cancer, she started questioning our culture of positivity that emphasizes can-do achievement.

Her insights are beautiful, and her buoyant humor is icing on the cake. I feel like we’re soul sisters, my friend Kate and me (we’ve never met). Her words resonate with my belief that life is a mix of beauty and bummers, and sometimes there is even beauty within the bummers. I believe we should show up for life and appreciate all of it. So, I’m drawn to Kate Bowler’s account of how her hard-won uncertainty has shifted her perspective.

By Kate Bowler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked No Cure for Being Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn’t choose?

“Kate Bowler is the only one we can trust to tell us the truth.”—Glennon Doyle, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed

It’s hard to give up on the feeling that the life you really want is just out of reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. Everyone wants to believe that they are headed toward…

Book cover of Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

Kathryn Betts Adams Author Of The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

From my list on Memoirs illness aging death moving vivid prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was first a clinical social worker and then a social work professor with research focus on older adults. Over the past few years, as I have been writing my own memoir about caring for my parents, I’ve been drawn to memoirs and first-person stories of aging, illness, and death. The best memoirs on these topics describe the emotional transformation in the writer as they process their loss of control, loss of their own or a loved one’s health, and their fear, pain, and suffering. In sharing these stories, we help others empathize with what we’ve gone through and help others be better prepared for similar events in their own lives.

Kathryn's book list on Memoirs illness aging death moving vivid prose

Kathryn Betts Adams Why did Kathryn love this book?

When I read this memoir by Suleika Jaouad soon after its release, I couldn’t put it down. Another illness memoir that is also a coming-of-age story, here the author must navigate her love life and budding career amid horrendous cancer symptoms and treatments over several years.

It’s a gripping story as she slowly realizes and must adapt to the fact that life will never be the same for her. She is destined to live “between two kingdoms” – the living and the dead – in the realm of the sick.

I was drawn in by her experiences, her humor, and her literate references to history, literature, and culture. I’m a huge fan of Suleika, and I recently reread this memoir to remind myself of her wise and beautiful writing. 

By Suleika Jaouad,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Between Two Kingdoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission to re-entry into “normal” life—from the author of the Life, Interrupted column in The New York Times

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Rumpus, She Reads, Library Journal, Booklist • “I was immersed for the whole ride and would follow Jaouad anywhere. . . . Her writing restores the moon, lights the way as we learn to endure the unknown.”—Chanel Miller, The New…

Book cover of Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life

Margo Steines Author Of Brutalities: A Love Story

From my list on horrible things happening to your body.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated with bodies: the meaning we make of them; the suffering, joy, and indignities we receive through them; the outer limits of what we can do to and with them. I’ve worked in careers that have asked a lot of my own body, and I write about the brutalities humans inflict upon our own and other bodies. My work is obsessed with questions of how and why we endure suffering. Also, I’ve done a lot of dumb shit to and with my own body that has given me (in addition to a lifetime of medical problems) a highly specific perspective about intensity, hazard, and pain.

Margo's book list on horrible things happening to your body

Margo Steines Why did Margo love this book?

What if you got hit by lightning? What if the lightning came from inside your body? What if you are such an obsessive writer and researcher that you then had to trace the supply chain of the failed medical device that did that to you?

KS does body writing as a research quest, taking her battered heart back and forth across the Atlantic in pursuit of answers to the question of what, exactly, she’d been carrying around in it. The sense of vulnerability—medical, economic, and otherwise—that she creates within the narrative is so felt that I couldn’t shake it when I was done reading.

By Katherine E. Standefer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lightning Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if a lifesaving medical device causes loss of life along its supply chain? That's the question Katherine E. Standefer finds herself asking one night after being suddenly shocked by her implanted cardiac defibrillator.

In this gripping, intimate memoir about health, illness, and the invisible reverberating effects of our medical system, Standefer recounts the astonishing true story of the rare diagnosis that upended her rugged life in the mountains of Wyoming and sent her tumbling into a fraught maze of cardiology units, dramatic surgeries, and slow, painful recoveries. As her life increasingly comes to revolve around the internal defibrillator freshly…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in doctors, self care, and Edward III of England?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about doctors, self care, and Edward III of England.

Doctors Explore 90 books about doctors
Self Care Explore 15 books about self care
Edward III Of England Explore 24 books about Edward III of England