The best healing books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about healing and why they recommend each book.

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Yoga for the Wounded Heart

By Tatiana Forero Puerta,

Book cover of Yoga for the Wounded Heart: A Journey, Philosophy, and Practice of Healing Emotional Pain

Yoga, like any discipline designed to integrate us humans with ourselves, works for those who work it. Some, however, have a more challenging path, and this includes survivors of trauma. In this beautifully written work -- part memoir, part self-help -- the author details how finding yoga, and practicing it as if her life and sanity depended on it, brought her out of intense grief and PTSD. She shows us how it can work for us, too, if our life saga includes great sorrow, or if we'd simply like to deal better with the generic ups-and-down.


Who am I?

I'm an American author of thirteen books (so far). Some are on vegan living (Main Street Vegan, The Love-Powered Diet); others (Creating a Charmed Life, Shelter for the Spirit, Younger by the Day) are about wellbeing and crafting an inner life. My passions are spirituality -- yoga primarily, but all the ways people find meaning; compassionate living: extending loving-kindness to ourselves and all beings; and creating vibrant health through yoga, Ayurveda, plant-based eating, and a grateful outlook. (Here's a little preview: I'm in the early stages of a book about aging like a yogi.)


I wrote...

Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World

By Victoria Moran, Adair Moran,

Book cover of Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World

What is my book about?

This is my heart's work for a way of life that's dear to me -- and to my daughter and co-writer Adair, a lifelong vegan who now works as an aerialist and stunt performer. People often think that going vegan is extreme, or that it's only for young celebrities and old hippies. Not so! It's a beautiful way of being on earth, of dining gently, living wisely, and making a difference.

I wrote Main Street Vegan because I'm a Main Street gal, originally from Kansas City where we're known for steak and barbecue. I learned that I can love my hometown and also choose to eat without harming animals (or my arteries) and help the planet deal with some of its troubles, too. This book is welcoming to you wherever you are on your vegan or veg-curious journey, and in it, you'll find everything you need to thrive.

Radiant Rest

By Tracee Stanley,

Book cover of Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity

In our house, we now talk about having a Tracee Stanley day, or hour, or time out. A time to nurture deeply and find peace and rejuvenation. In the busy world we all live in, this is a must-do practice.  Tracee’s book is wonderful, clear and comprehensive, and gives so much valuable information on why it is important to rest, why we resist rest, and what we gain by taking rest. Many people think working harder is the way to go, but Tracee lovingly and convincingly teaches the opposite. The more you nurture yourself, the more you are able to show up in your life with wisdom, calm, and energy.


Who am I?

I remember being a kid and wanting to know everything about everything. After I’d been teaching yoga for several years, and finding myself struggling with stress and trauma that the yoga wasn’t helping, I really started to dive into the world of Energy. That world is fascinating, endless, and powerful. And the more I study and learn, the better my life gets. I’ve created my own teaching methodology from all the studies I’ve done and helped thousands of people find their own inner strength and healing. I love learning how other people overcame their struggles and how at the root, we basically all want to help each other! That's the kind of world I aspire to. 


I wrote...

The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom From Stress and Trauma Through Energy Medicine Yoga

By Lauren Walker,

Book cover of The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom From Stress and Trauma Through Energy Medicine Yoga

What is my book about?

We all struggle with stress and most all of us have had at least one traumatic experience in our lives. It takes a lot of energy to get through these experiences, but most of us don’t fully complete, process or release that energy. We just move on in our lives, and the stagnant and toxic energy of stress or trauma remains in our bodies and quietly goes to work breaking us down. Imagine if you had simple, practical, and gentle tools to actually heal from your traumas and stressors? The Energy To Heal gives you just that!

Perfected over years of study, Energy Medicine Yoga is a customizable program with step-by-step practices that help you recover from trauma and gain resilience. 

Spontaneous Healing

By Andrew Weil,

Book cover of Spontaneous Healing: How to Discover and Enhance Your Body's Natural Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself

The perennial classic on a healing mindset, legendary integrative medical doctor Andrew Weil, shares stories of natural healing with case studies covering many disparate health challenges, including a chapter dedicated to cancer. Dr. Weil reviews his eight-week program for optimal healing and how to avoid obstacles to wellness, such as medical pessimism and environmental toxins. Spontaneous Healing leaves little doubt that the body’s natural ability to heal can be enhanced when the power of the mind and spirit are properly leveraged.

Who am I?

I was 32 when diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a clinician, and now cancer survivor, I’ve become increasingly focused on empowering cancer patients through and beyond remission. Nearly two decades of clinical practice have taught me that an informed and committed patient makes better decisions about their care, harmoniously interfaces with their healthcare team, and stays focused on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve read countless books about cancer, but this list outlines the essentials that I recommend to patients beginning their healing journey.


I wrote...

Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

By Brandon LaGreca,

Book cover of Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

What is my book about?

I believe the most important anticancer strategy is an engaged and healing mindset. Cancer, Stress & Mindset explores the contribution of stress to the initiation and progression of cancer; how stress affects the body and mind; and simple strategies to cope with the stress of being a cancer patient, from diagnosis through remission. This is the book I needed at the onset of my cancer journey, mired in the stresses of decisions related to my care. Years later, I wrote this as a starting point to help patients and caregivers cultivate an anticancer mindset.

Sacred Rest

By Saundra Dalton-Smith,

Book cover of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity

If you desire to be well this is the first step on the journey. Dr. Saundra is a truly kind and compassionate doctor. She guides us through the tough issues of not taking proper care of ourselves and offers inspiration on how to give us a soft place to rest. She gives us action steps we can do every day to reclaim our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I was thrilled to be an invited guest on her ground-breaking I Choose My Best Life podcast to talk about resilience and recovery from addiction. I hope you love this book as much as I did!


Who am I?

I’m a psychologist, an award-winning author, and a yoga and meditation devotee. Growing up in the Bronx, New York I saw firsthand the devastating impact addiction can have on individuals and families. That is why I have dedicated my professional life to understanding and supporting people recovering from addiction, mental illness, and life's challenges. I’m also the co-author of The Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways to Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction, which offers lots of strategies to manage daily stressors. I wholeheartedly believe there is a path back to wellness. It takes a foundation of self-compassion and daily focus on your healing. You deserve to be healthy and happy.


I wrote...

The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress, and Anger That Trigger Addictive Behaviors, 2nd Edition

By Rebecca E. Williams, Julie S. Kraft,

Book cover of The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress, and Anger That Trigger Addictive Behaviors, 2nd Edition

What is my book about?

If you struggle with addiction, know that you are not alone. Addictive behaviors are often the result of a significant loss. If you’re like many others, you may have turned to drugs, alcohol, or other troubling behaviors to avoid the pain of loss. But this only delays your healing, and can lead to a destructive cycle that leaves you feeling trapped. So, how can you break free?

This second edition of The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction will help you identify the root of your addictive behaviors while providing coping strategies to deal with the strong emotions that come from experiencing a loss. With these powerful mindfulness exercises and lifestyle tips, you will be able to replace addictive behaviors with healthy behaviors to begin healing.

Who Switched Off My Brain?

By Caroline Leaf,

Book cover of Who Switched Off My Brain?: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions

Caroline Leaf is a brain scientist who has specialized in the science of thoughts for decades. She is also a Christian. In this book, she explains scientifically (though in layman's terms) how our thoughts affect our bodies, and even our genes (epigenetics). She shows how to utilize this knowledge to better our mental and physical health. I really believe this is an important book that should be read by almost everyone at some point in their lives. I see that she has a new book called 101 Ways to Be Less Stressed: Simple Self-Care Strategies to Boost Your Mind, Mood, and Mental Health which may be even more pertinent to the subject, though I haven’t yet read it.


Who am I?

I’ve experienced crippling anxiety personally, to the point of nervous breakdown. I’ve researched this topic extensively and have been panic-free for over a decade due to the knowledge and coping skills accrued.


I wrote...

How I Overcame Panic Disorder Without Drugs

By Roxane Lapa,

Book cover of How I Overcame Panic Disorder Without Drugs

What is my book about?

Constantly having panic attacks for no good reason is no way to live. Yet so many people are living this way. This very common anxiety disorder is most often treated with SSRI drugs. These pharmaceuticals do not address the cause of panic attacks though and are arguably not terribly effective at treating the symptoms either.

In this book, I will show you how I was able to overcome panic disorder in two periods of my life without pharmaceuticals. You will discover the different methods of overcoming the many faces of this mental disturbance, and ultimately you will learn how to eliminate unwarranted panic from your life.

Anatomy of an Illness

By Norman Cousins,

Book cover of Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient

This is the book that started the therapeutic humor movement. Cousins reveals how laughter helped him heal from a life-threatening illness. When he was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is truly inspirational reading.


Who am I?

Allen Klein is the world’s only “Jollytologist®”. Through his books, workshops, and keynote speeches, for the past 30-plus years, he has been showing audiences worldwide how to use humor and positivity to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is a pioneer in the therapeutic humor field and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”


I wrote...

The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting Through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

By Allen Klein,

Book cover of The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting Through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

What is my book about?

The Healing Power of Humor has become the quintessential book in the therapeutic humor field. Brimming with pointed, humorous anecdotes and learn-to-laugh techniques, this book combines the wisdom of the world’s great spiritual teachers with the insights of famed humorists, comedians, and others to help you turn life’s negatives into positives. It is the ideal book for anyone going through troubled times—whether it’s the loss of a wallet, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or a stay in the hospital.

Perhaps one Amazon reviewer captured the essence of the book best when they wrote: “I was taking a training that was particularly difficult. At lunch and breaks I would open this book and read. It is like the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. It is fun and serious at the same time.”

Rest

By Alex Soojung-Kim Pang,

Book cover of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

The objective of a minimalist, anti-materialist, simple life is to open ourselves up to whatever “something greater” the universe has in store for us. Drawing on rigorous science and historical evidence, Alex Pang helps us understand how the act of slowing down helps bring us closer to that something greater. As a farm kid, I was raised in a culture that embraced overwork and shunned slowing down. So learning to have a simpler life meant I had to buck that culture and develop an understanding of how rest benefited my brain and well-being. 

This book helped me move my business to a place where all owners and employees enjoyed more freedom and lower stress, and where greater fun and creativity unfolded.


Who am I?

I’m an entrepreneur, chef, homeschooler, and third-generation farmer living in the northern Catskill mountains. With that many passions, I had to remove all other distractions from my life so that I could put my attention on what mattered most. My writing has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio, and national television. During the growing season, I broadcast The Hearth of Sap Bush Hollow podcast, chronicles and lessons from a life tied to family, community, and the land. You can also taste my cooking by coming to my restaurant, Sap Bush Cafe, on Saturdays, 9-2 (I’m too busy living the good life to be open the other days).


I wrote...

Redefining Rich: Achieving True Wealth with Small Business, Side Hustles, and Smart Living

By Shannon Hayes,

Book cover of Redefining Rich: Achieving True Wealth with Small Business, Side Hustles, and Smart Living

What is my book about?

Redefining Rich is the ultimate quick (and funny) go-to guide to help you get started on a life where less is more, whether you want to start your own business, live off the land, quit a job, or just build a life more resilient and pleasurable than your current rat race.  Drawing on research & personal experience, it shows readers how to identify their core quality-of-life needs and dreams, then build a personal, family, and economic survival strategy that works for everyone in the household.

Singing to the Plants

By Stephan V. Beyer,

Book cover of Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon

I suspect that many of us now know someone who’s been to the Amazon to take the psychedelic beverage, ayahuasca, returning with wide eyes and tales of profound healing. Here, anthropologist Stephan Beyer cuts through the romanticisation to present an accurate and engaging picture of ayahuasca shamanism in the Upper Amazon. He asks difficult questions, such as how well shamans actually cure sickness and why so many shamans engage in sorcery, but his inquiry is never less than sympathetic. That he peppers the book with his own psychedelic, ayahuasca visions, makes this one of the most accessible and engaging books on the subject.


Who am I?

I've been fascinated by psychedelics since I was a teenager, and along with my book I’ve written a number of academic papers and book chapters on the subject. It intrigues me how subtle changes in the brain’s chemistry leads to such profound changes in perception, cognition, and feeling, including religious feeling. I want to know what those experiences mean, and what they can tell us about the world. For if all they are is some derangement of the senses, why is it that so many writers, thinkers, philosophers and artists return to the experience, again and again? There is a riddle here, a mystery, and I love that I’m able to devote my research time to trying to answer it.


I wrote...

Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom

By Andy Letcher,

Book cover of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom

What is my book about?

Psychedelics are rarely out of the news and never far away. In this book, I wanted to tell the phantasmagoric story of how the strange and perplexing effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms came to be so influential on contemporary culture. A lot of mythology and folklore had built up around the purported history of psychedelics, so I went back to the original sources to see what evidence there was for psychedelic use in the past. You’ll be as surprised as I was by what I found.

Were the druidic builders of Stonehenge inspired by eating magic mushrooms? Is Santa Claus really a Fly Agaric-eating shaman? Which Oxford Professor of Poetry advocated the religious use of mushrooms? I answer all these and more.

Different After You

By Michele Neff Hernandez,

Book cover of Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself and Healing After Grief and Trauma

This is an inspiring book of hope after loss. Michele provides readers with current and relevant ideas on how to integrate the love of your past with the pain of the present to find joy in the future.  She shares her personal journey with great vulnerability, emphasizing the self-doubt that occurs while navigating the endless decisions that arise following the loss of a partner. As you read Michele's candid personal stories you will find her words relatable, sharing tears with her as well as great laughter. It is uplifting, practical, and written in a very caring way. 


Who am I?

Rachel is a heart-minded professional specializing in current and relevant approaches in support of individuals and workplaces following a loss or trauma. She is a best-selling author, seasoned keynote speaker, and business consultant. She began her career serving in management of Fortune 500 companies, overcoming her own adversity following the sudden death of her husband while raising a 2-year-old. She was immediately confronted with the see-saw created when personal and professional trajectories collide, giving her the opportunity to provide invaluable insights about loss. Her books include best-selling Living with Loss One Day at a Time, Finding Peace, and Grief in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide for Being Prepared.


I wrote...

Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to Do with Your and a Loved One's Personal Possessions

By Rachel Blythe Kodanaz,

Book cover of Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to Do with Your and a Loved One's Personal Possessions

What is my book about?

Personal possessions tell a beautiful story of a person’s life regardless of age. But when we find that we have accumulated too much or a loved one passes, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do with all of these belongings. Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time provides tools for how to thin, repurpose, and redistribute these possessions in a way that can capture and cherish our memories and those of our loved ones so they continue to be with us today and for future generations.

Storytelling with Children

By Nancy Mellon,

Book cover of Storytelling with Children

If you feel inhibited about making up stories and telling them to children, this is the book for you. Encouraging you to spin golden tales, Nancy Mellon shows how you can become a confident storyteller and enrich your family with the power of story. Children love the unique and human quality of storytelling, and parents and teachers alike can learn this practical, magical art with Nancy’s methods, tips and resources. This book may help give you storytelling wings - even if you didn’t think you could fly this way! It is a must for any adult who seeks to enrich and deepen communications with the young ones in their life.

Who am I?

My name is Susan Perrow. I am an Australian whose ‘work’ passion is stories and storytelling. I am an author, storyteller, teacher trainer, and parent educator. For the last 30 years, I have been documenting stories from other cultures, writing stories, and telling stories to groups of children and adults – all this woven in with a career in teaching, lecturing, and consulting in Australia, Africa, Asia, China, Europe, and North America. I currently have four published story collections, in a total of 14 languages. Three of my collections are Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour, An A-Z Collection of Behaviour Tales, and Stories to Light the Night: A Grief and Loss Collection for Children, Families and Communities.

I have chosen my fourth collection to introduce to you below.

I wrote...

Therapeutic Storytelling: 101 Healing Stories for Children

By Susan Perrow,

Book cover of Therapeutic Storytelling: 101 Healing Stories for Children

What is my book about?

Working with imaginative journeys and the subtle power of metaphor, Susan has developed the art of therapeutic storytelling for challenging behaviour and difficult situations. She encourages us to adopt the premise that ‘stories know the way’. She offers a tried and tested method for creating a unique story to help resolve issues, build emotional resilience and character, and nurture positive values. The 101 examples of therapeutic stories include many for children’s behavioural challenges as well as some for community and global issues, for all ages. The book also provides motivational thoughts and tips for creating your own stories developed from Susan’s work in practice, in many cultures and many countries.

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