The best quality of life books

17 authors have picked their favorite books about quality of life and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Long Game

By Dorie Clark,

Book cover of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Dorie Clark has a way of identifying the challenges that derail careers and then proposing clear, nail-on-the-head solutions that can be executed. The Long Game clarifies that we can achieve our goals if we define our goals and then are purposeful in taking a long-game view and creating the environment that can support those goals. We need to focus, persist, and make space for thinking. I have followed the guidance in this book to help me achieve some very specific goals that were previously vague ideas.

Who am I?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 

I wrote...

Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

By Gena Cox,

Book cover of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

What is my book about?

In this well-researched book, organizational psychologist and executive coach Gena Cox delivers the message that although human variation is normal, true inclusion that embraces these variations remains elusive in the workplace. She argues that this state of affairs will continue until executives lead inclusion from the top of their organizations. Drawing on psychological science, interviews with corporate leaders, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts, and her own experience in corporate America, Gena goes beyond the “business case” and answers the clarion call for human-centered organizational leadership.

Leading Inclusion is not a “how-to” book; it is a “how-to-be” book that educates, challenges, and empowers you and your c-suite and board colleagues to change your organization—and America—one employee at a time. 

The 4-Hour Workweek

By Timothy Ferriss,

Book cover of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Most of all, I love that the focus here is on freeing up time for your non-work life. This book is packed with practical advice to work smarter, rather than harder. Rather than toiling for long hours, figure out how you can leverage other people to do the work that you do have to do yourself and automate the processes you can. See what processes you can “batch” so that you do them less often, more efficiently – like responding to your email only once a day.  

Who am I?

In order to earn my Ph.D. in Psychology before I turned thirty, I had to learn how to be efficient and productive. As a life coach and author of two dozen books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people overcome challenges, get things done, and get more out of life. 

I wrote...

You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

What is my book about?

It doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on or what you’re trying to do, this book is designed to help you be more productive. Inside you'll find: three essential keys to get things done; seven effective time management strategies; a five-part process to figure out what you really want; how to prioritize; how to devise and implement a plan; eight ways to get started; six essential tools to stay on track; how to overcome obstacles and common setbacks; how to identify and overcome self-sabotage; how to know when it’s okay to quit a project (and when it’s not); four common challenges to finishing — and their solutions; and how to finish something well.

Being Mortal

By Atul Gawande,

Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Death is the exam we all have to take. And yet not only are we afraid of it, we are afraid to talk about it. Atul Gawande is a second-generation MD, gerontologist, and surprisingly graceful writer who takes us on a compassionate journey through all topics of aging, end-of-life care, and how we deny our own mortality. We often inappropriately extend the suffering of our loved ones with excessive medical intervention because we haven’t examined our own fears. I love this book and reread it when my own mortality or a close death gives me pause. It opens our hearts and helps us become more comfortable with the inevitable. 

Who am I?

I am an emotional intuitive with a background in psychology, five decades of hands-on experience, and a love and fascination for language. You could call me a Body-mind Translator or a Body Whisperer. I started systematically “listening” to bodies when I was seven, and have worked with thousands of bodies since then. In my books and in sessions, I have the words to translate the body’s messages so people understand what their body is communicating through tension and symptoms and make lasting improvement. My purpose and greatest joy are to catalyze deep healing where physical and emotional interconnect – directly in the body.  

I wrote...

Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out

By Denise LaBarre,

Book cover of Issues in Your Tissues: Heal Body and Emotion from the Inside Out

What is my book about?

What happened to the energy of the tears you had to suck down as a kid? Or the anger you weren’t allowed to express? It accumulates in your body with like-energy to become pain, illness, and disease. 

Issues in Your Tissues is a practical, easy-to-read guide to exploring the unexpressed emotions you carry. My book offers the insights and tools you need to go into your own body, allow the energy to release, and get the healing answers you've been looking for. Its stories, cartoons, quiz, and exercises show you how you can reconnect to your internal communication system, shed your energetic “armor,” and heal the roots of even chronic illness. The health and aliveness you were born with are yours to reclaim with understanding and love.

On Being Human

By Jennifer Pastiloff,

Book cover of On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard

The author's story is heart-wrenching yet uplifting, excruciating yet freeing, and extremely personal yet spoke to me in volumes. It is hard to pick out the wisdom I loved the most but from 'doing love' to busting out of 'just-a-box' to 'come back,' it is all that I needed to hear in these banana-pants crazy times. I have put on my bucket list to attend one of the author's retreats one day. Can't think of anything better than yoga, writing, and wine.

Who am I?

I have read a ton of self-help books. A ton. I have a whole library of them – a bookcase of "shelf-help." And I have now written 7 of them as well! I love it when a little or a lot of the author’s story is woven into a self-help book as it demonstrates the author’s personal growth. I don’t need more self-help tools or trite suggestions. I want to feel emotionally connected and moved in a way that encourages me to reflect on and enhance my one precious life. For me, reading a well-written self-help memoir is one of life’s greatest joys. 

I wrote...

Rediscover Your Sparkle: Revive the Real You and Be Rebelliously Happy Every Day

By Julie Schooler,

Book cover of Rediscover Your Sparkle: Revive the Real You and Be Rebelliously Happy Every Day

What is my book about?

This short book has all the ingredients YOU need to create a delicious and simple recipe to rediscover your sparkle. It provides ‘sparkle strategies’ to take your daily life from tired, stressed, and overwhelmed to being full of fun, love, and energy.  

Read this book and you will immediately start to feel more light, energized, and cheerful. Find out just how meaningful and exciting life can be, right now and for the rest of your life.

Wow, No Thank You.

By Samantha Irby,

Book cover of Wow, No Thank You.: Essays

A writer with a hyperactive inner world makes a life with her partner whose existence seems wildly different from her own. It is easy to fall in love with Irby and her rollicking humor. Someone whose brilliance, independence, and talent sets her apart enters into marriage, stepmotherhood, and full small-town regalia. How does that work? Very well, in fact.

Who am I?

I am an editor and writer in New York. Over twenty-five years, I have edited novels for Harlequin Books. Ironically, the more romance I edited, the stronger my belief that I would remain single—and that was just fine. I am still shocked at how wrong I was and that you can still be surprised. I gravitate toward these kinds of stories, where characters wander into unexpected territory. My surprise came in the form of Sam Bloom, the class clown from high school, a boy I’d never thought I’d see again, much less date. We now share a last name, a remote, and an adorable blue-grey cat named Yossi. 

I wrote...

Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last

By Patience Bloom,

Book cover of Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last

What is my book about?

Why isn’t real-life romance more like fiction?

Patience Bloom asked herself this question, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like their heroines: That shy guy she had a crush on would sweep her off her feet and turn out to be a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Patience kept hoping. Years later she found her dream job, editing romances for Harlequin itself. Every day, her fantasies came true—on the page. Her dating life, however, remained uninspired. She nearly gave up hope. Then one day Patience got a real-life chance at romance, but Sam lived thousands of miles away. Was it worth the risk? Could love conquer all?


By James Wallman,

Book cover of Stuffocation: Why We've Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More Than Ever

A large part of our environmental issues, including climate change, arises from the massive amount of materials needed for our consumption habits (and the resulting waste when we tire of our things). And we all consume a lot! James Wallman’s thesis is that both we and the environment would be better off if, instead of buying things, we had experiences. Experiences often (though not always, I might add—flying to your experiences is problematic) engender less material consumption and, topping it off, tend to make us happier and stay with us longer.

Who am I?

I’m an architect, ecodesigner, economist, environmentalist, author, and professor. I like making use of all or parts of these to break down silos between fields in order to better understand and communicate sustainability. As a professor who is hoping to entice the next generation to not repeat our environmental mistakes, I try to emphasize carrots rather than sticks. I look to the win-win-win approaches: the symbiotic overlaps between sustainability, health, happiness, and economics. I call this EcoOptimism, and it’s the focus of my blog by the same title. Though it can be harder to remain optimistic amidst the worsening climate crisis and other environmental issues, I still find it one of the most viable routes.

I wrote...

Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide

By David Bergman,

Book cover of Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide

What is my book about?

This is a book about sustainable architecture and interior design, but it’s not only for professionals. Too much of the literature on environmentalism and ecodesign is dense and therefore exclusionary, not to mention unenticing. My response to this is a book on green design that’s written for both professional and lay readers. Wherever possible, I avoided jargon and tried to simplify complex topics, often through straightforward illustrations and photos. It’s not a textbook—you don’t need an engineering degree to understand how to make buildings more energy efficient or how to utilize some of the cool things nature can teach us.


By Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Ola Rosling

Book cover of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong about the World--And Why Things Are Better Than You Think

For many, the most mysterious thing about science is the way that it relies on mathematics. Many find the way that numbers are used and presented impenetrable. Yet in this wonderful book, the late Hans Rosling shows just how and why our biases make it so difficult for us to put realistic numbers to what’s happening in the world around us. All around the world, people were asked questions about the state of the world and consistently their answers were worse than choosing at random—because we almost always think things are far worse than they really are. Rosling uncovers the real numbers and presents them in an impressively easy-to-absorb way.

Who am I?

I’m a science writer with over 40 books published. Science is central to all our modern lives—but for many people it feels remote, and difficult to understand. I love the opportunity to communicate science—to turn it from a collection of facts into stories that people can relate to. I always read popular science before I got into writing, but, if anything, I read it even more now. My own background is physics and math—and I enjoy reading and writing about that—but sometimes, it’s particularly interesting to pull together different aspects of science that affect all of us, crossing disciplines and uncovering the wonders that science bring us.

I wrote...

What Do You Think You Are? The Science of What Makes You You

By Brian Clegg,

Book cover of What Do You Think You Are? The Science of What Makes You You

What is my book about?

In What Do You Think You Are?, I investigate what makes you the unique individual that you are. From the atomic level, through life itself to consciousness, genetics, and personality, we explore how each aspect of you—your DNA, your memories, your flesh and bone—has come to be.

Full of fascinating true stories—featuring royal ancestors, stellar deaths, real-life hobbits, and a self-reproducing crayfish, to name a few—this wide-ranging exploration of what makes you you is a one-of-a-kind voyage of (self) discovery.

Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer's Journey

By Jolene Brackey,

Book cover of Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer's Journey: A Guide for Families and Caregivers

Full of practical solutions and insights to help navigate the often difficult dementia care journey.  Ms. Brackey’s positive and “can do” approach is valuable to both the family care provider as well as professionals, helping to maintain individual dignity and enhance the quality of life for those being cared for.

I found the way that the author broke down the information into five sections easy to understand, even with all of the complex information she shares. Her advice to let go of expectations and savor the simple surprises instilled hope from the beginning to the end of her book, truly helping to create more moments of joy, for not just the individual with dementia symptoms being cared for, but for the caregivers as well! 

Who am I?

During my decades of working with caregivers as a dementia care expert, I have heard many accounts of what the experience is like—from the sad and hollow to experiences rich in significance. Everyone faces obstacles when caring for a loved one; some of these obstacles come in the form of uncomfortable or painful emotional histories or past unresolved conflicts. After each opportunity to raise awareness and understanding about how dementia impacts individuals, their families, and their communities, I have been gratified to witness enhanced feelings of hope and comfort for all involved. It is my hope that through this book I will enter your home or your professional caregiving setting and work alongside you. 

I wrote...

A Loving Approach to Dementia Care: Making Meaningful Connections While Caregiving

By Laura Wayman,

Book cover of A Loving Approach to Dementia Care: Making Meaningful Connections While Caregiving

What is my book about?

Caring for someone with dementia means devotedly and patiently doing a hundred little things each day. But few care providers are trained to meet the challenges of dementia—despite the fact that millions of people will struggle with it. In A Loving Approach to Dementia Care, Laura Wayman, who is known professionally as the Dementia Whisperer, offers practical, compassionate advice on overcoming caregiving obstacles and maintaining meaningful relationships with loved ones who have dementia and memory loss.

Each chapter contains two sections—"Lessons Learned" and "Perceptions and Approaches"—which provide details about how readers can apply lessons from the stories Wayman tells to their own caregiving practice. A Loving Approach to Dementia Care is an empathetic guide filled with respect, calm, and creativity. It will leave readers feeling empowered and inspired.

Driving Miss Norma

By Tim Bauerschmidt, Ramie Liddle,

Book cover of Driving Miss Norma: An Inspirational Story about What Really Matters at the End of Life

Recently widowed and diagnosed with cancer, Norma the nonagenarian skipped the chemo and hit the road with her son and daughter-in-law, who penned this account of taking Norma across the USA in an RV. 

Formerly seen as a quiet wife and mother, her travels restored the adventurous, fearless woman she had been in her younger days. She reminded me that loss and fear can be part of your life, but don’t have to define it. That life is about more moments, not more minutes. And that it is never too late to have an adventure. Miss Norma is not just an inspiration for who I want to be when I’m 90, Miss Norma is an inspiration for who I want to be right now.

Who am I?

I love travelogues and wrote a dual POV travel memoir with my husband. Travel writing allows us to see the world through others’ eyes, and my favorites are by those who used travel as a way to escape or heal. I’m more invested when I know this person not just wants, but needs this journey. I understand this feeling. I empathize with them, I root for them, and I am happy for them when they reach their destination. I adore Eat, Pray, Love and Wild, and want to recommend five other memoirs that have stayed with me as examples of brave people who left home behind in search of something better.

I wrote...

The Backpack Years: Two Memoirs, One Story

By Stefanie Wilson, James Wilson,

Book cover of The Backpack Years: Two Memoirs, One Story

What is my book about?

Part travel, part romance, part failing at life, The Backpack Years intertwines two memoirs, charting Stef and James’s six-year journey from happily wandering to miserably settled and back again.

Stef left America to study abroad in Spain, letting loose and falling for a handsome local and travel. Travel won out. Fueled by debt and a deteriorating relationship with his father, James fled to Australia and found a better life. When Stef and James eventually meet at an Irish pub in Sydney, they ditch the single life to forge a path together. Spanning thirteen countries and four continents, The Backpack Years is a story about how far we’re willing to go to be with the one we love.


By Francesc Miralles, Héctor García,

Book cover of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

When I traveled for research in Japan, one word I kept hearing was “ikigai”. Ikigai does not have a perfect equivalent in English, but is often translated either as “purpose in life” or “life worth living.” And, as science shows, it’s a very important reason for why the Japanese are among the longest-lived people on the planet. For me, García’s and Miralles’s well-written book was a rewarding deep dive not only into the Japanese culture but also into the science linking meaning in life, happiness, and longevity.

Who am I?

I’m a science journalist published in The Washington Post, Scientific American, The Atlantic, etc., and the author of bestselling Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100. I’m also a slightly obsessive parent who really cares about her family’s health—that’s how “Growing Young” was born. To write the book, I’ve read over 600 scientific studies, talked to dozens of scientists and had some experiments conducted on myself (some a bit painful, some rather fun)—and ended up changing my own outlook on what it means to live healthily. 

I wrote...

Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism, and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100

By Marta Zaraska,

Book cover of Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism, and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100

What is my book about?

A research-driven case for why optimism, kindness, and strong social networks will keep us living longer than any fitness tracker or superfood. 

We are fixating on all the wrong things—miracle diets, miracle foods, miracle supplements etc. We swallow vitamins. We obsess about BMI. While healthy nutrition and physical activity are important for health, there are things we all too often sacrifice that have an outsize impact on our centenarian potential. Friendships. Purpose in life. Empathy. Volunteering. Science shows that these 'soft' health drivers are often more powerful than diet and exercise.

Or, view all 13 books about quality of life

New book lists related to quality of life

All book lists related to quality of life

Bookshelves related to quality of life