100 books like Momma and the Meaning of Life

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Here are 100 books that Momma and the Meaning of Life fans have personally recommended if you like Momma and the Meaning of Life. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

Will Meyerhofer Author Of Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

From my list on Irvin Yalom.

Who am I?

I am a psychotherapist, with a private practice, and the author of several books. Like me, Yalom is a psychotherapist as well as an author, and the best of his writing takes place in that heightened zone where emotions seem to crackle because two people are sustaining an authentic contact, actually being “there” with one another – like the very best, life-changing moments in psychotherapy. I dreamt last night about Irvin Yalom. So yeah, Yalom can get into your head, in a good way.

Will's book list on Irvin Yalom

Will Meyerhofer Why did Will love this book?

Probably the best place to start with Yalom, this book is a must-read for therapists, and I recommend it regularly to anyone getting started in the business, or even contemplating pursuing a career in psychotherapy. The hardest guide to write about psychotherapy is the book about “technique” - not the highfalutin theory laced with opaque language book, but the hands-on, “this is what you say when someone says this” or “here's what you can do when you run into someone in this sort of situation” book.  This is that book, and only Yalom, with his immense experience and humility, could pull off this slender guide, packed with the wisdom of decades of working, alone, in a room with another human being in pain.  I return to this book regularly and always find something new and useful in his words.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Gift of Therapy is the new book from the bestselling author of Love's Executioner. The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr Irvin Yalom's forty-five years' work as a therapist, this book illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. Presented as eighty-five 'tips' for 'beginner therapists', Yalom shares his own fresh approach and the insights he has gained while treating his patients. Personal, and sometimes provocative, Yalom includes some unorthodox suggestions: - Let the patient matter to you - Acknowledge your errors - Create a new therapy for each patient -…


Book cover of The Schopenhauer Cure

Anna Caltabiano Author Of The Seventh Miss Hatfield

From my list on exploring the transitions through life.

Who am I?

I have always been interested in people—specifically exploring what makes us human from different angles and often different disciplines. Overtime, this has taken the shape of writing novels, studying biological anthropology, psychology, and medicine, and sometimes even just people watching. My novels have explored topics such as nonsuicidal self-injury, the pains of growing up, and growing up multicultural. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology.

Anna's book list on exploring the transitions through life

Anna Caltabiano Why did Anna love this book?

Dr. Irvin Yalom is a writer and clinical practitioner who is beloved by many in the field of mental health and therapy. I, like many, admire the way in which he tackles the most difficult human dilemmas through intimate stories highlighting the universality of many of these topics. It was difficult for me to pick which of Dr. Yalom’s books to recommend, as I have thoroughly enjoyed each one I’ve read. However, The Schopenhauer Cure is particularly about confronting mortality—the realization of the ephemerality of life and the limitations and acceptance of what we can achieve. Through Dr. Yalom’s adroit depictions of Philip Slate and Julius Hertzfeld, we see the blurred edges of philosophy and psychology, where some of our most basic questions may best be addressed by the melding of the two.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the internationally bestselling author of Love's Executioner and When Nietzsche Wept, comes a novel of group therapy with a cast of memorably wounded characters struggling to heal pain and change lives

Suddenly confronted with his own mortality after a routine checkup, eminent psychotherapist Julius Hertzfeld is forced to reexamine his life and work -- and seeks out Philip Slate, a sex addict whom he failed to help some twenty years earlier. Yet Philip claims to be cured -- miraculously transformed by the pessimistic teachings of German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer -- and is, himself, a philosophical counselor in training.

Philip's…


Book cover of Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist's Memoir

Will Meyerhofer Author Of Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

From my list on Irvin Yalom.

Who am I?

I am a psychotherapist, with a private practice, and the author of several books. Like me, Yalom is a psychotherapist as well as an author, and the best of his writing takes place in that heightened zone where emotions seem to crackle because two people are sustaining an authentic contact, actually being “there” with one another – like the very best, life-changing moments in psychotherapy. I dreamt last night about Irvin Yalom. So yeah, Yalom can get into your head, in a good way.

Will's book list on Irvin Yalom

Will Meyerhofer Why did Will love this book?

An absolutely gorgeous autobiography that never for a moment bogs down in the details, but soars above the timeline of Yalom's life by concerning itself chiefly with glimmers of insight, events that have lived on in his unconscious and formed him into the healer he became. Like all of Yalom's best work, I found myself reading it slowly, savoring every word. The honesty, if you open yourself to it, and accept that he really is telling you the honest to god truth, smacks you in the face like few authors I've ever encountered. I kept thinking, if I do enough psychotherapy for long enough, I might be able to pull off this degree of self-knowledge.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'When Yalom publishes something - anything - I buy it, and he never disappoints. He's an amazing storyteller, a gorgeous writer, a great, generous, compassionate thinker, and - quite rightly - one of the world's most influential mental healthcare practitioners' Nicola Barker, Guardian Best Books of 2017

'Wonderful, compelling and as insightful about its subject and about the times he lived in as you could hope for. A fabulous read' Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

Irvin D. Yalom has made a career of investigating the lives of others. In Becoming Myself, his long-awaited memoir, he turns his therapeutic…


Book cover of A Matter of Death and Life

Helen Epstein Author Of Getting Through It: My Year of Cancer during Covid

From my list on getting through cancer treatment.

Who am I?

I'm a long-time journalist, wife, mother, and grandmother, who was diagnosed with GYN cancer at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in the spring of 2020. My usual subjects are the arts and trauma, but since I’m now one of the more than 600,000 American women with GYN cancer, I decided to write this report about my year of treatment. 

Helen's book list on getting through cancer treatment

Helen Epstein Why did Helen love this book?

A Matter of Life and Death is a deeply personal double memoir, written in alternating chapters by a long-married couple in their late 80s. Irvin Yalom is a psychiatrist and well-respected novelist; Marilyn Yalom, diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2019, was a professor of literature and women's studies. Emotionally intelligent and unusually articulate, the couple was married for 65 years. Though plodding at times, they document in detail the last year of Marilyn's life, from diagnosis to experimental treatment to hospice to physician-assisted death. It is written as a testament as well as a guide.

By Irvin D. Yalom, Marilyn Yalom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Matter of Death and Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A year-long journey by the renowned psychiatrist and his writer wife after her terminal diagnosis, as they reflect on how to love and live without regret.

Internationally acclaimed psychiatrist and author Irvin Yalom devoted his career to counseling those suffering from anxiety and grief. But never had he faced the need to counsel himself until his wife, esteemed feminist author Marilyn Yalom, was diagnosed with cancer. In A Matter of Death and Life, Marilyn and Irv share how they took on profound new struggles: Marilyn to die a good death, Irv to live on without her.

In alternating accounts of…


Book cover of Existential Psychotherapy

Zachary Elwood Author Of Verbal Poker Tells

From my list on understanding human behavior.

Who am I?

I’m a former professional poker player and the author of a trilogy of books on poker behavior (aka poker tells). I have a psychology podcast called People Who Read People. I also do some independent research and writing: my research into online deception has been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post, and other places. I’ve been interested in psychology since I was a kid, probably due to my dad’s eclectic bookshelf that included a bunch of psychology and philosophy books.

Zachary's book list on understanding human behavior

Zachary Elwood Why did Zachary love this book?

This is a psychology book, maybe not what some would consider about “behavior,” and it’s a fairly heavy and dense one. But I feel I must include it as it has helped me understand human mental struggles more than any other book I’ve read. And a key part of understanding human behavior, especially the broader societal and political aspects, is understanding those dark, often under-the-surface struggles that we all deal with. It is the wisest book I’ve ever read, and I have bought it for many people. Yalom has become a sort of secular guru for me. It is that good.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Existential Psychotherapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Existential therapy has been practiced and continues to be practiced in many forms and situations throughout the world. But until now, it has lacked a coherent structure, and analysis of its tenets, and an evaluation of its usefulness. Irvin Yalom, whose Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy has rendered such a service to that discipline since 1970, provides existential psychotherapy with a background, a synthesis, and a framework.Organized around what Yalom identifies as the four ultimate concerns of life",death, freedom, existential isolation, and meaninglessness,the book takes up the meaning of each existential concern and the type of conflict that springs…


Book cover of Lack & Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism

Alvin Raja Hornstein Author Of Working With the Dying: Compassion, Shame, and the Illusion of Loss

From my list on how psychotherapy and meditation work together.

Who am I?

I've been a meditator for fifty years, learning from many teachers. I've been a psychotherapist for twenty years. The connections between meditation and psychotherapy are subtle and powerful. When I started my psychology studies, I went to my Zen teacher and asked for his guidance. I knew I couldn't survive the academic path without more depth in my meditation practice. There were two professors who captured my attention: one, the most psychoanalytic teacher at my school, and one, a student of the same Zen master who taught Leonard Cohen. They guided my research. If you're a psychotherapist, are in psychotherapy yourself, or are a meditator, you will love these books.

Alvin's book list on how psychotherapy and meditation work together

Alvin Raja Hornstein Why did Alvin love this book?

Loy's path has been unusual. He is an American who studied Zen in Hawaii and is now a Zen teacher in Japan and a professor at a Japanese University. In this book, he adds existentialism to his study of Buddhism and psychotherapy. His thinking was key for me on my own path of becoming a psychologist. The main lesson I took from him is the importance of how the feeling of lack affects our understanding of what death and nothingness mean to us. He also discusses the meaning of compassion in Buddhism, something that informed my own understanding of how compassion is central for psychotherapy.

By David R. Loy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Loy draws from giants of psychotherapy and existentialism, from Nietzsche to Kierkegaard to Sartre, to explore the fundamental issues of life, death, and what motivates us.

Whatever the differences in their methods and goals, psychotherapy, existentialism, and Buddhism are all concerned with the same fundamental issues of life and death—and death-in-life. In Lack and Transcendence (originally published by Humanities Press in 1996), David R. Loy brings all three traditions together, casting new light on each. Written in clear, jargon-free style that does not assume prior familiarity, this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers including psychotherapists and psychoanalysts,…


Book cover of Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Ben Alderson-Day Author Of Presence: The Strange Science and True Stories of the Unseen Other

From my list on understanding the uncanny feeling of felt presence.

Who am I?

I’ve been either studying, researching, or teaching psychology since I was 16 – but before that, I was a reader. I have always been drawn to books that pose fundamental questions about the mind, and to this day I still go back to fiction and non-fiction that can generate ideas and hypotheses for new experiments. I’ve even used fictional stories in brain-scanning experiments to explore how the mind represents voices and characters: our findings show that we are experts at automatically simulating both the sound and the intention of other people when they talk in a story (even when the stories are very simple ones). 

Ben's book list on understanding the uncanny feeling of felt presence

Ben Alderson-Day Why did Ben love this book?

An obvious influence on the style and format of my book is Oliver Sacks, whose example looms large over anyone seeking to explain the mind and brain primarily via story and narrative.

But a writer who provided as big an influence for me in writing this book is the psychiatrist Irvin Yalom, and his 1989 book, Love’s Executioner. The book contains several tales from Yalom’s practice in psychotherapy, and the title story concerns a story of obsessional and unrequited love that must be dispelled – Yalom must be the executioner of the misplaced affection.

The human ability to create whole relationships in our minds – as if another mind is constantly with us – is sensitively expressed and navigated by Yalom, and crucial to how we can understand the personal meaning and significance of many experiences of felt presence. 

By Irvin Yalom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love's Executioner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The collection of ten absorbing tales by master psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom uncovers the mysteries, frustrations, pathos, and humour at the heart of the therapeutic encounter. In recounting his patients' dilemmas, Yalom not only gives us a rare and enthralling glimpse into their personal desires and motivations but also tells us his own story as he struggles to reconcile his all-too human responses with his sensibility as a psychiatrist. Not since Freud has an author done so much to clarify what goes on between a psychotherapist and a patient.


Book cover of Goodnight Beautiful

Sylvie Perry Author Of The Hawthorne School

From my list on psychological manipulation.

Who am I?

Psychological manipulation is a special interest of mine. In my “day job,” I am a psychotherapist with a focus on survivors of narcissistic abuse. I understand this dynamic well; I seek to understand it better; and I continue to be fascinated by it, both in my therapy practice and in my writing.

Sylvie's book list on psychological manipulation

Sylvie Perry Why did Sylvie love this book?

If you don’t mind having your notion of what is really going on upended—again and againthis is the book for you. Maybe what I love most is that the voice of our main actor is so authentic—and often funny. In my opinion, this novel is a masterpiece. Again, if you like audiobooks, this one is extremely well done.

By Aimee Molloy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From 'master of clever misdirection' (Kirkus Reviews) Aimee Molloy, author of the New York Times bestseller The Perfect Mother, comes an irresistible psychological thriller featuring a newly married woman whose life is turned upside down when her husband goes missing.

'Aimee Molloy is a master of deception and Goodnight Beautiful is a thrill-ride packed with twists. Enthralling, sharp, and clever, this book will keep you guessing' SAMANTHA DOWNING, bestselling author of MY LOVELY WIFE

'Goodnight Beautiful isn't only the most suspenseful novel you'll read this year; it's likely to be the funniest, too. I wish that every book, in every…


Book cover of Shame, Pride, and Relational Trauma: Concepts and Psychotherapy

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

From my list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma.

Who am I?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

Antonieta Contreras Why did Antonieta love this book?

Shame is often more traumatizing than we realize, and there hasn't been enough exploration of its connection to prolonging the impact of initial traumatic events. In my first book, I dedicated an entire section to shame, and it was this work that significantly aided in delving deeper into its various forms and consequences.

This book's ability to distinguish between shame and guilt is particularly enlightening. While it may not be the most enjoyable read, it was undoubtedly a valuable reference for me when I needed to develop a better understanding of this crucial aspect of trauma.

By Ken Benau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shame, Pride, and Relational Trauma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Includes inter-relational, intra-relational, emotion focused and somatic approaches to this work.

Includes session transcripts that discuss both what's happening within the patient psychologically and neurobiologically, and between patient and therapist

Provides guiding principles, concepts, and attitudes when working with shame and pride in relational trauma, regardless of theoretical orientation of reader.

Book cover of Beyond Fear

Stephen Palmer Author Of Beautiful Intelligence

From my list on that explain the mystery of consciousness.

Who am I?

For thirty-five years I’ve studied and written about consciousness, the evolution of the mind, and the development of human social and cultural forms. I think we’re all fascinated by who we are and why we have minds. In my case, that fundamental question, which we must all answer in some way during our lives, has become a drive to bridge our theory of consciousness with a full description of the human condition. I believe we cannot progress ethically without such a bridge. Although in my novels I don’t usually write explicitly on such themes, they’re always present, providing the framework in which my characters live their lives.

Stephen's book list on that explain the mystery of consciousness

Stephen Palmer Why did Stephen love this book?

Dorothy Rowe’s books I discovered by accident in a Winchester second-hand bookshop, placed in the psychology section. A woman of considerable wisdom gained through her psychotherapy practice and her experience of the vicissitudes of life, Beyond Fear deals with something we all have to encounter, yet which so few of us properly understand and therefore disempower. Rowe explains in this life-changing book how fear manifests through various conditions, such as depression, a subject on which she is an acknowledged expert. I love it that she refused to simplify life, confronting it in all its difficult complexities. Life isn’t easy—we all discover that.

By Dorothy Rowe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dorothy Rowe shows us how to have the courage to acknowledge and face our fears - only through courage can we find a sustaining happiness.

'Beyond Fear', first published in 1987, has changed the lives of thousands of people. In this edition, the renowned psychologist Dorothy Rowe examines the changes in the psychiatric system since 1987 in the context of showing how most of our suffering comes from our greatest fear, that of being annihilated as a person, when we shall disappear like a puff of smoke in the wind, never to have existed.

We feel this fear whenever others…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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