10 books like Momma and the Meaning of Life

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Momma and the Meaning of Life. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Gift of Therapy

By Irvin D. Yalom,

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

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.

The Gift of Therapy

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 -…


The Schopenhauer Cure

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Book cover of The Schopenhauer Cure

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.

The Schopenhauer Cure

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…


Becoming Myself

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Book cover of Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist's Memoir

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.

Becoming Myself

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…


A Matter of Death and Life

By Irvin D. Yalom, Marilyn Yalom,

Book cover of A Matter of Death and Life

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.

A Matter of Death and Life

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…


Existential Psychotherapy

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Book cover of Existential Psychotherapy

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.

Existential Psychotherapy

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…


Lack & Transcendence

By David R. Loy,

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

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.

Lack & Transcendence

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,…


A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens

By Katie Hurley,

Book cover of A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens: Daily Motivation to Beat Stress, Inspire Happiness, and Achieve Your Goals

Katie Hurley is a highly respected child and adolescent psychotherapist who really knows how kids think and feel. She wrote this book during the pandemic, and she offers reassurance and lots of practical motivational strategies to empower kids when they feel stressed, overwhelmed, or stuck. The book is beautifully organized—day by day over the course of a full year—and it includes many resources as well. A Year of Positive Thinking is a book that kids can refer to often, including whenever they need a boost to increase their confidence, embrace uncertainty, confront change, or maximize their potential.

A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens

By Katie Hurley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Transform your thoughts and find the confidence to navigate your teen years with positive thinking

Being a teen can be an emotional roller coaster. When you’re overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations from your friends, family, social media feed, teachers, and even yourself, it’s normal to have thoughts and feelings like This is too hard or I'll never measure up. With A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens, you'll discover how to overcome these anxious thought patterns, and build a happier, more positive mindset to achieve your goals.

Let go of stress with relatable prompts and reflections―all grounded in positive thinking and…


The Transforming Power of Affect

By Diana Fosha,

Book cover of The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change

Before I learned about emotions, I believed my anxiety and depression had to be managed but could not be healed at the root. Learning that emotions were not under conscious control and that they were physical experiences that had purpose and meaning changed the way I understood myself for the better. It changed my mental health permanently and in the best ways. It gave me permission to be more authentic. I felt less ashamed of my feelings and more confident that I could help myself and be better in relationships.

The Transforming Power of Affect

By Diana Fosha,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first model of accelerated psychodynamic therapy to make the theoretical why as important as the formula for how, Fosha's original technique for catalyzing change mandates explicit empathy and radical engagement by the therapist to elicit and harness the patient's own healing affects. Its wide-open window on contemporary relational and attachment theory ushers in a safe, emotionally intense, experience-based pathway for processing previously unbearable feelings. This is a rich fusion of intellectual rigor, clinical passion, and practical moment-by-moment interventions.


The Couch and the Tree

By Anthony Molino (editor),

Book cover of The Couch and the Tree: Dialogues in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism

This collection of essays contains pieces by many of the same authors in my first recommendation. But this begins with the historical roots, including early psychoanalytic arguments that meditation was an attempt to return to the womb. Also, there are Buddhist writers emphasizing that in meditating you're trying to get to a state of "no mind," so what good was psychotherapy? But the book moves to a conversation between a Japanese Zen teacher and C.G. Jung, and then towards the Dalai Lama's thoughts about the unconscious. It even includes a writer who is both a psychoanalyst and a Zen priest.

The Couch and the Tree

By Anthony Molino (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new collection of writings, psychoanalyst Anthony Molino offers a bold new conjunction of the two major disciplines. This book spans and documents a unique cross-fertilisation of Eastern and Western thought.'


Provocative Therapy

By Frank Farrelly, Jeff Brandsma,

Book cover of Provocative Therapy

Learning Provocative Therapy with Frank Farrelly over many years changed my life. Well, more truthfully it enabled me to release the humour and directness that is so very characteristic of the culture of my upbringing in Liverpool. I had studied NLP for several years when I met with Frank and he took ‘coaching and therapy’ to an entirely new level in a shockingly different way. There is very little written about this (I plan to address this in a future book!) and I do have a chapter on this approach in my own book. 'To provoke a healing response' - that is how Frank described it. He could also have added to provoke the truth, laughter, and learning. This book is a history of how this approach evolved inevitably filled with stories of the powerful results that this achieved. This can certainly contribute to growing to any age disgracefully (and…

Provocative Therapy

By Frank Farrelly, Jeff Brandsma,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Provocative Therapy will shock and provoke you as it challenges many traditional assumptions about the limits to be respected by professional communicatiors in the same provocative, earthy and humor-producing style that characterizes Provocative Therapy.
This book is a rich source of examples with extensive commentary as it chronicles the adventurous, warm and humorous journey undertaken by Farrelly in his highly successful quest for tools. These tools have gained for him an ever-growing reputation as a highly effective and dramatic practitioner and teacher of his system of psychotherapy. These tools were forged in the experiences of more than 20 years of…


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