96 books directly related to self-actualization 📚

All 96 self-actualization books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Double Blind

By Edward St Aubyn,

Book cover of Double Blind

Why this book?

I read very few novels, but Edward St Aubyn is my favourite contemporary novelist. His writing is brilliant, funny and always intelligent. Of all his books, this new novel is my favourite because it not only tells a good story but also explores the very frontiers of contemporary science and of the paradigm shift going on within it. And it is amazingly well informed scientifically. In some cases it may be anticipating scientific advances that will occur in coming years; it does not simply describe what has already happened.


Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life

By Shakti Gawain,

Book cover of Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life

Why this book?

Creative Visualization never mentions the word Witchcraft and yet the principles that this book’s teaching puts forth serve as the basis of my Mental Magick education. I added this book to my recommended reading list in my first book in 2000, because it teaches in a calm, straightforward practice how to develop an inner seeing. Creative Visualization demonstrates several methods of how to transform ideas and desires into mental images. You cannot do magick without the ability to envision the outcome of your spellwork. This book is the quintessential guide to accessing creativity and a life of your choosing through the power of visualization.


A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

By William B Irvine,

Book cover of A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

Why this book?

This book is solely responsible for hooking me on Stoic philosophy, prompting my deep exploration of practical aspects of life in my own book and, most importantly, the application of them to my daily life. William’s writing is easy to follow, and his advice is very practical. I’d advise you to start reading the book from chapter four; and then when you are done with the book, come back to the first three chapters.


Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow

By Chip Conley,

Book cover of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow

Why this book?

I wish I had written this book. Chip Conley takes Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and applies it to employees and customers. Sharing lessons from hotel leadership, Chip demonstrates how managers and frontline workers should prioritize primary needs of those they serve while stretching to address higher level belonging and self-expression needs. With precision and clarity, Chip Conley offers a template for assessing the wants, needs, and desires of others


More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age

By Antonia Macaro,

Book cover of More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age

Why this book?

This informative book looks at the similarities and differences between Buddhism and Stoicism. It provides a philosophical framework for those practicing mindfulness and interested in dealing more effectively with life’s challenges. Antonia Macaro has packed this book with wisdom and actionable steps to put it into practice right now. This lesser known book has definitely not yet received the attention it deserves.


You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

By Jen Sincero,

Book cover of You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

Why this book?

It's one thing to learn how to manage money; it's another to understand your mindset around money. Many of us have an unhealthy relationship with money due to what we saw, heard, and experienced while growing up. Did you see wealth as something unattainable? Were you taught that all rich people were bad? Maybe you often hear the words "we can't afford that." If so, your mental mindset around money needs a shift so that you can begin to allow it to flow into your life. I love how Jen Sincero humorously shares her experiences with shifting her financial reality from negative to positive and offers readers tangible methods to do the same in their lives. 


Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning

By Tom Vanderbilt,

Book cover of Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning

Why this book?

A big part of lifelong learning involves experimenting, trying new things, and picking up new skills. I must confess this can be challenging for me; I’m one of those people who sometimes gets frustrated or embarrassed when I try something new and find it doesn’t come easily to me. Maybe you’re the same way--if so, all the more reason to take inspiration from Vanderbilt’s book, which chronicles his efforts to learn how to play chess, surf, sing, juggle, and more. Woven in with those entertaining experiences are larger lessons about how we learn, and why it’s so beneficial to keep doing so. In the hands of a less skilled writer, a book like this--in which a journalist tries on a series of new hats--might seem gimmicky. But Vanderbilt is an insightful observer and storyteller who can even make traffic fascinating (that was the subject of a previous book of his, which I also recommend).


The Art of Extreme Self-Care: 12 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Love Yourself More

By Cheryl Richardson,

Book cover of The Art of Extreme Self-Care: 12 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Love Yourself More

Why this book?

One of the keys to getting through divorce is to make a commitment to self-care. This book, by life coach Cheryl Richardson, offers powerful self-care exercises, which can be practiced one month at a time. Richardson’s tips go well beyond booking a massage or taking a bubble bath, as she explores establishing boundaries, managing anger, and learning to say no. I’ve recommended this book countless times to clients and friends.


It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

By Mark Wolynn,

Book cover of It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

Why this book?

Looks further back than the previous book and how the trauma of previous generations can be passed down the line. The first half is full of examples of how even unknown incidents are reflected in the problems of Wolynn’s patients today. The second half is about how to use these insights to heal. I use it a lot with my clients and they are full of praise for the book. It is particularly helpful to understand how your grandparents impacted your parents. I used this book to throw light onto how the First World War and my Great Uncle’s death on the Somme still affects my family one hundred years later.


Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters

By Kara Goldin,

Book cover of Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters

Why this book?

Kara is the founder/CEO of Hint Water, and this book chronicles her rather unconventional career on her way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. She was told time and time again that what she wanted to do could not be done, yet she remained, UNDAUNTED in her pursuits. The book has all kinds of advice for overcoming both career and personal obstacles. Her attitude has always been, “No means maybe and maybe means YES.” This book will change your outlook when it comes to facing challenges.


Awaken the Giant Within

By Tony Robbins,

Book cover of Awaken the Giant Within

Why this book?

The book will help you better understand yourself and everyone around you; It provides you with the necessary tools required to take full control over all aspects of your life. It has shown me how to take personal responsibility for my words and actions and how mindset and the course of one's destiny can be immediately altered through the simple act of questioning and decision.


Love Is Letting Go of Fear

By Gerald G. Jampolsky, Jack Keeler (illustrator),

Book cover of Love Is Letting Go of Fear

Why this book?

When I first read this book decades ago it was a revelation, showing me that there are only two core emotions in life – ‘love’ and ‘fear’ – and which one we choose to feel will determine our quality of life and day to day experiences. This book was paramount in my understanding that addressing the stress we feel, (that eventually sits on our faces), is often much simpler than we think it is. A great read that I highly recommend for understanding our thought processes and how we can learn to feel happier.


Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind

By Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, Jill Mattuck Tarule

Book cover of Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind

Why this book?

This book was part of my women’s studies in nurse-midwifery school at the University of Florida. It affirmed what I already knew on a soul level about how women’s senses hold unique sub-strata. We “know” but have been unable to define the “why” over the centuries.  As an empath, this book resonated with me and helped me understand how my gift brought to the bedside when caring for women at the most primal moments of their lives, was innate. It taught me how to trust my instincts.


American Daughter: A Memoir

By Stephanie Thornton Plymale, Elissa Wald,

Book cover of American Daughter: A Memoir

Why this book?

What I loved most about this book was the determined persistence of the author to rise above the negligence and abandonment she suffered in childhood to become a decent, functioning, compassionate adult, one who ultimately takes the time to understand her mother’s history. Stephanie Thornton Plymale had every reason to walk away from her damaged mother and never look back, but she doesn’t. I love that she found the courage and empathy to move beyond her own difficult past to understand her mother’s history. I was riveted by this compelling, beautifully crafted book.

Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind

By Joyce Meyer,

Book cover of Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind

Why this book?

There’s a reason this book has sold over 1 million copies. All of us, divorced or not, benefit when we learn how to recognize damaging thoughts and keep them from coloring our lives. This is especially true when dealing with the negative and haunting thoughts that can come with divorce.

Your thoughts can determine whether you grieve forever or find a new life full of peace and joy. Like Chapter 6 in my book, Peace after Divorce, this book embraces the concept of Proverbs 23:7; “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Learning to win the battles in your mind represents one component of healing from divorce.


Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, Book & Online Audio

By Kenny Werner,

Book cover of Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, Book & Online Audio

Why this book?

When I read Werner's Effortless Mastery, the first thing that happened was that my style of piano playing and composing transformed. What was once very methodical became free-flowing. Secondly, whatever I learned at the piano, then seemed to transfer to my writing and other projects. An absolute unsung hero of both mastery and productivity, Werner does a fantastic job of describing the work of getting your mind into that state of play where learning and creating happen best. 


Discover Your Dharma: A Vedic Guide to Finding Your Purpose

By Sahara Rose Ketabi,

Book cover of Discover Your Dharma: A Vedic Guide to Finding Your Purpose

Why this book?

This book is a powerful companion to support you in shifts within your personal, business and spiritual life. As many are waking up each day to a very deep yearning to discover who they truly are and what their true purpose in life is, Discover Your Dharma will guide you in unearthing these most potent truths, all while delivering said guidance in a down-to-earth, relatable and digestible way. This book will empower you to take aligned action to finally live the life your soul is seeking.


Living The 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More

By Richard Koch,

Book cover of Living The 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More

Why this book?

We come more up-to-date with my third book recommendation. However, this book was no less transformative for me. Richard Koch’s books around the 80/20 principle were a paradigm-shifting fork in the road for me personally. They came at a time in my life when I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed and really needed them. I credit them with being one of the main reasons I became invested in my own simplicity journey.  

This book (and others by the same author on 80/20) had such a profound effect on me that they influenced the name of my own company when I set it up 10 years ago. 80/20 is a concept I return to often in my own writing and I believe it is a close relative to simplicity. A powerful tool we can all learn to leverage. 


The Secret

By Rhonda Byrne,

Book cover of The Secret

Why this book?

The Secret describes the law of attraction; everything in your life you attract to you, by images you hold in your mind.  Think thoughts of abundance and wealth, and don't allow contradiction to enter your mind. The law responds to your thoughts, whatever they may be. I loved this book as a foundational pillar to set your mind around whatever it is you want to accomplish. Trust the universe, have faith. Take the 1st step.


Comeback & Beyond: How to Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks

By Tim Storey,

Book cover of Comeback & Beyond: How to Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks

Why this book?

If you’ve been alive longer than 15 minutes, you’ve probably suffered a setback. I know I have! When hopes and dreams turn into a nightmare, it may seem like life is over and there’s no way out. But this book reminds me that God is in the business of resurrecting dead visions, and He has already prepared a comeback. Tim shares the strategies and motivation I needed to turn tragedy into triumph! 


Soulcraft: Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

By Bill Plotkin,

Book cover of Soulcraft: Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

Why this book?

A depth psychologist and wilderness guide, Plotkin is director of the Animas Valley Institute in Durango, CO. Building on the work of Joseph Campbell and others, he proposes various exercises, rituals, and disciplines to use in nature wandering as a soulful practice. These include dream-work and drumming, vision quests, and cross-species dialogue. His later book, Nature and the Human Soul (2007), offers a nature-based pattern for understanding stages of human development.


The Five Elements: Understand Yourself and Enhance Your Relationships with the Wisdom of the World's Oldest Personality Type System

By Dondi Dahlin,

Book cover of The Five Elements: Understand Yourself and Enhance Your Relationships with the Wisdom of the World's Oldest Personality Type System

Why this book?

Dondi Dahlin’s book was a total surprise to me! I thought I knew a lot about the 5 Element theory, and wondered what she might add to the conversation. This was another book I could not put down. Her storytelling chops are amazing, and even if I wasn’t interested in the subject, she had me at hello. I was thrilled with the journey she brought me on. And I learned so much about myself, and about how people act the way they do. But more than that, I also learned valuable tools on how to interact better with people, how to extend compassion to myself and others, and how to see the world through a different lens. I adore this book!


The Princess Saves Herself in This One

By Amanda Lovelace,

Book cover of The Princess Saves Herself in This One

Why this book?

This book mixes prose and poetry and breaks every rule of writing a novel that one can imagine, but in doing so, it brings you into the author’s world so deeply, that you forget that you are reading or that you haven’t even met her.

This is the first book that I started and finished in one sitting. Many readers remember that first and how amazing it feels to indulge in a book without interruptions. The author portrays emotionally heavy issues and comments on society while completely entertaining the reader. If you want to fall into a fictional work of art all inspired by the author’s real life, but learn something at the same time, this book is for you.


The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)

By Gretchen Rubin,

Book cover of The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)

Why this book?

As far as books that help you understand yourself go, this one is at the top of my list! I never understood why I was so resistant to the pressure of others, why accountability buddies didn’t work for me (even though they worked so well for other people), and why my husband was always so insistent about following the rules! Understanding that my superpower is asking great questions is what ultimately led me to coaching and writing my own book. I promise knowing more about how you respond to expectations will help you in so many ways.


Personality Isn't Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story

By Benjamin Hardy,

Book cover of Personality Isn't Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story

Why this book?

There's a theory in psychology that alongside our basic traits, our personalities are also defined in part by the stories we tell about our lives – what's known as your narrative identity. In this inspirational book, Hardy shows how you can change who you are by reinterpreting your own past and, in effect, retelling your own story. As part of this process, you can think of past events as happening 'for you' instead of 'to you'. What's especially compelling about this book is that Hardy has made these changes in his own life and personality. You get to hear how he left behind his difficult youth, transformed into a dramatically more conscientious person, built a successful career as a psychologist, and became a loving husband and father.


The Interrogative Mood

By Padgett Powell,

Book cover of The Interrogative Mood

Why this book?

In the pages of The Interrogative Mood, Powell pulls off a seemingly impossible feat: he writes an entire novel structured as a series of questions (no answers!), all asked by the same unnamed and never described narrator. The questions range from “In your view, do children smell good?” to “Could you lie down and a take a rest on the sidewalk?” to “Are your emotions pure?” The questions force the reader to do some serious—and often deeply funny—introspection, mostly about hypothetical situations; and as they accumulate, so too does the psyche—the character, to use the word loosely—from which this riveting, rapid-fire interrogation originates.


The Soul of a Woman

By Isabel Allende,

Book cover of The Soul of a Woman

Why this book?

In The Soul of a Woman, renowned novelist Isabel Allende tells her own story of a woman living through several iterations of the feminist movement.  Allende learns how to open and grow as a woman, with and without a partner—when to commit, and when to step away—and how to embrace her own sexuality. Her journey is all of our journey, and has strong parallels with the journey of the protagonist in my own novel.


Mentalligence

By Dr. Kristen Lee PhD,

Book cover of Mentalligence

Why this book?

Mentaligence takes conscious mind development one step further. It suggests that we are burdened with an indoctrination dictating how to behave and meet preordained goals pressed upon us by parents, teachers, religious leaders, and society in general. Its premise is that we must recognize these factors and any negative effect on our well-being; learn how to throw off their shackles; and develop a new attitude of thinking. In short, acquire what Dr. Lee calls mental agility.

Indoctrination, group-think, and social brain-washing are related terms for the negative force. While some indoctrination may be considered beneficial, few would disagree with the negative effect of Nazi group-think or that leading to mass suicides in Jamestown. They illustrate the need for objective thinking to all manifestations of indoctrination.


Your Erroneous Zones: Step-By-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life

By Wayne W. Dyer,

Book cover of Your Erroneous Zones: Step-By-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life

Why this book?

This book was originally published in 1976. It was the first time I internalized the concept that we may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to things. This simple thought was – and is – transformational. It’s something that guides my actions to this day. Dyer provides readers with the tools to identify faulty thinking and to change our behavior to become happier and more successful. 


Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You

By Terri Trespicio,

Book cover of Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You

Why this book?

Essential Skill #2 for Creatives: Practicality, not Passion

Creative professionals tend to be “passionate practitioners” but if you need to “love” every single aspect of your business, you won’t get very far. That’s why I love Terri’s book. It’s the funniest business book I’ve read! Part comic autobiography, part business handbook, Unfollow Your Passion provides practical, clear, and excellent advice. It also happens to be beautifully written, the stories so compelling and hysterical that you’ll learn the practical skills in spite of yourself. The message of this book – forget about passion – is so important, something I’ve espoused for years, but not nearly as eloquently and clearly as Terri has.


The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome

By Harriet Braiker,

Book cover of The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome

Why this book?

Are you a people pleaser? A lot of my clients are. They worry about people liking them. They end up taking on tasks they really don’t want to do because they don’t know how to set boundaries or say “no” effectively. This book looks at the mindsets, habits, and emotional components of people-pleasing, and provides a 21-day plan to teach yourself specific skills to overcome these tendencies. When you do, you will automatically be treating yourself better.


Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

By Martha Beck,

Book cover of Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

Why this book?

First, I love how Martha Beck writes. She’s funny! Also wise and candid. I would happily recommend any of her books. This particular one is helpful in treating yourself better because it guides you through specific exercises to evaluate your essential self, to appreciate it, and to pursue your unique, authentic path. 


Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child

By John Bradshaw,

Book cover of Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child

Why this book?

I read Homecoming before becoming a therapist and at the height of struggling with inner conflicts, the sorts that were born from a neglectful childhood. John Bradshaw taught me how to have those necessary conversations that I would have had as a child, if only I had been an adult. As a child, we haven’t got the experience, skills, or authority to point out what we need to feel protected, supported, or loved. I learnt a lot from following the exercises in Homecoming; one very important realisation was that I needed to re-parent myself and I did the best I could.

If I could have a conversation with John Bradshaw, I’d thank him for his book because without it I would probably have repeated some of the damage done to me, on my own child.


Gorilla Mindset

By Mike Cernovich,

Book cover of Gorilla Mindset

Why this book?

Cernovich is famous for not giving a shit about what people think. He made his own reputation with his own journalism and gives gloriously hard-nosed advice for being an independent thinker and an emotionally strong actor in a world that tells everyone to whine whenever something goes wrong. I really admire people who can be independent, who make their own way and stir up hornet’s nests. Like comics, they poke society and make us all think harder. Cernovich makes me examine where I’m being a cowardly conformist. Gorillas walk head first into situations, says Cernovich, and so should you.


This Is Where I Leave You

By Jonathan Tropper,

Book cover of This Is Where I Leave You

Why this book?

Haha, it would be a nightmare having to spend seven days with the members of your family of origin, amirite? This book's main character is forced to do just that, as the Jewish ritual of shiva after a death requires it. After his father's death, not only can Judd Altman not get away from his oversharing mother and weird siblings (and everyone's exes, including his own), he's forced to keep secrets about, among other things, his own relationship status. Trust me, if you're about to head into a period at close quarters with your FOO, you can take heart at the fact that Judd made it through! (Also, I loved how this one made me realize that even most normal-seeming families are...not.) 


Just Listen

By Sarah Dessen,

Book cover of Just Listen

Why this book?

Just Listen has one of my favorite male protagonists of all time, the guy I wish I would have met in high school. As a music-head, I also love the way Annabel and Owen bond over their favorite songs. Getting over an assault requires support. On one hand, you have to be incredibly strong to tell the truth about what happened. But once you tell your people, they hold you up as you walk through healing. Telling is so hard, but support is key.


Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness

By Vex King,

Book cover of Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness

Why this book?

This is one of the first self-help books I read that didn’t feel like too much ‘hard work’ and was still incredibly helpful. What I mean by that is that often self-help books can get a little too theoretical, or hard to digest, and this makes it difficult to uncover the tools that we need without getting lost in all the words. Vex’s book wasn’t like that at all. Vex King breaks down self-love into positive vibes, emphasising that the way to become your greatest self is to welcome and experience these good vibes in various areas of your life. Vex’s approach to self-love is to unpack concepts such as lifestyle, mindset, acceptance, manifestation, and good habits and what they can do to promote your best life. 

To love yourself, then, would be to ensure that you’ve adopted a healthy way of practising all, or most of the above. The book is highly intuitive and loved by millions around the world, finding a place for itself even with those who aren’t avid readers because of how accessible the writing is, making it easy to comprehend and practice in our day-to-day life. 


The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

By Judith Orloff,

Book cover of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

Why this book?

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have more active mirror neurons, which means they can more acutely sense other people’s emotions. I have found that my empathy can be a tremendous gift, but without the right tools, feeling others’ energy can be draining. I enjoyed that Dr. Orloff’s presented a comprehensive toolkit, particularly for navigating relationships at home and work. This book isn’t a one-time read. It’s the type of book you reference and revisit over time. 


The Illusion of Money: Why Chasing Money Is Stopping You from Receiving It

By Kyle Cease,

Book cover of The Illusion of Money: Why Chasing Money Is Stopping You from Receiving It

Why this book?

I loved this book because it is not only Inspiring in how it makes you understand your current money beliefs, but the exercises are easy to do and I found profound in what they reveal. Kyle explains spot-on how you can shift yourself from your current viewpoint into one that allows abundance and your true potential to shine through. And the book’s wonderful nuggets translate into all areas of your life! 


Pick Three: You Can Have It All

By Randi Zuckerberg,

Book cover of Pick Three: You Can Have It All

Why this book?

This book takes on the question that every successful woman is asked, “How do you balance it all?”  Randi lives the concept that you can have it all, just not at the same time. Life is full of choices and this book breaks down a daily strategy to prioritize the most important areas of your life. She makes it so real, I could almost hear her voice, cadence, and smile. There is an honesty and vigor in the pages that really hit me hard to look in the mirror!


E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

By Pam Grout,

Book cover of E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Why this book?

I have listened to the audio version of this book so many times that I can almost recite it. It features nine scientific experiments readers can perform on their own to demonstrate the validity of the spiritual principles Grout teaches—mainly that what we focus on we energize and draw to us. I absolutely love this book and have been amazed by the positive outcomes that have transpired in my life when I practice gratitude and focus on what I want rather than what I fear.


The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

By Meg Jay,

Book cover of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

Why this book?

Jay points out that the decade of the twenties, once regarded as the core of young adult life, has become for many a kind of extended adolescence - or an early retirement. The skills, knowledge, habits, and talents which would ordinarily be developed during this time are put off for a later that may prove too late. She makes the case for treating the decade seriously - while still having fun and laying the groundwork for yet more enjoyment later on in life.


How to Survive in Ancient Rome

By L.J. Trafford,

Book cover of How to Survive in Ancient Rome

Why this book?

This is quite simply the best entry-level guide to the ancient culture, world, and city of Rome I have found. Written in a humorous and engaging manner, it walks the reader through the history of Rome from its legendary founding to the date the book is nominally set (the reign of Domitian), all from the point of view of someone of Domitian’s time. It covers every subject from the dos and don’ts of dinner parties to the importance of gods. A perfect start for someone new to the subject, and equally entertaining for the scholar.


The Way Of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments

By William Bridges,

Book cover of The Way Of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments

Why this book?

This is a poignant and beautifully written book filled with the wisdom and lived experience of the author. Major life transitions (like leaving a religion, job loss, or ending a relationship) throw us into the ‘neutral zone’ that can only be navigated with time and care.


Everything Is Figureoutable

By Marie Forleo,

Book cover of Everything Is Figureoutable

Why this book?

This isn't the obvious book anyone would recommend when it comes to Stoicism. But if you already know the basics of Stoicism, this will be a good addition as it's applied wisdom. Marie's book is immensely practical and fun to read. And it will offer you the invaluable mindset that everything is figureoutable. 

Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

By Scott Barry Kaufman,

Book cover of Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

Why this book?

You’re probably familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an undergraduate psychology staple that explains how a person’s basic needs (such as security) are foundational to higher needs (such as self-actualization). But did you know Abraham Maslow never actually drew that pyramid? Popular psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman follows in Maslow’s footsteps, tracking down his later research and personal writings to uncover what the famous humanist really thought about personal development. It turns out that the image of the pyramid is both misleading and incomplete: it is missing its top level, self-transcendence.

Kaufman walks us through an updated vision of Maslow’s work, culminating in our ability to rise above everyday affairs and connect with our higher aspirations and ideals. In the process, we learn how to cultivate the proper mindset for growth and turn our aspirations into reality. Transcend is not about parenting per se, but it is chock full of insights into reaching your own potential and, in turn, helping other people reach theirs.


Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

By Cameron Bloom, Bradley Trevor Greive,

Book cover of Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

Why this book?

Cameron Bloom, his wife Sam, and their three boys were a normal, happy family - until a near-fatal fall left Sam paralysed and she sank into a deep depression. But in the darkest days of Sam's struggle a new and unexpected member of the family came into their lives: an injured magpie chick abandoned after she fell from her nest, who became known as Penguin Bloom.

The Blooms rescued Penguin, and in return, she saved them in ways they could not have imagined. As her damaged little chick grew into a strong and beautiful bird, Sam found a joy and strength of her own. This is a wonderful true story of courage, love, commitment, and inspiration.


Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams

By Barbara Sher,

Book cover of Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams

Why this book?

Refuse to Choose is the original book for people who are curious about many unrelated subjects. It is a comforting and fun read, with lots of real-world examples. Highlights include her breakdown of the different “types” of scanners and her project organization method, the Scanner Daybook.


Astrology, Karma & Transformation

By Stephen Arroyo,

Book cover of Astrology, Karma & Transformation

Why this book?

When I read his expose of the Saturn Return I knew that I had hit upon a hidden gem. His description of how to read and use the conflicts of planets, signs, and houses within the chart changed the way I approached my readings, and to Stephen, I am eternally grateful.


The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

By Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga,

Book cover of The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

Why this book?

A profound little philosophy book from Japan, communicating the psychology of Alfred Adler - a rival of Freud. Told as a conversation between an angry student and a patient teacher. A little book so good that I rushed home from other activities to keep reading it, and finished in a day. A surprisingly fresh perspective on how to live. (The “disliked” part is not the point, so don’t let the title distract you.)


The Art of Quiet Influence: Timeless Wisdom for Leading Without Authority

By Jocelyn Davis,

Book cover of The Art of Quiet Influence: Timeless Wisdom for Leading Without Authority

Why this book?

When we’re transforming our stories, we’re not only asking ourselves to do something different, but we’re also asking the people, places, and things around us to evolve as well. The Art of Quiet Influence fosters awareness of self by bringing in Western and Eastern philosophical wisdom – from Confucius to Rumi to Buddha to Gandhi – to shed light on influencing best practices. While the title implies an influence of others, it emphasizes knowing yourself through your mind, body, and soul prior to seeking changes for anyone else. The book offers a focused presence where output is more important than outcomes and the use of words outweighs yelling and domination. Such inner peace and calmness allow us to be authentic in our abilities to transform.


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

By Peter Brown,

Book cover of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Why this book?

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild mixes an amazing yet simple illustration style, with a powerful message about letting yourself go and letting everyone be. The bold mixed-media compositions, the color palette, and the right amount of words help kids and readers to complete the story while learning about individuality and self-expression.


Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

By Ingrid Fetell Lee,

Book cover of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Why this book?

This is such a fun book. There are things we know (I love my new orange club chair!) but we don’t know why… or you don’t, but I do, because I read Joyful and now I understand why we are neurologically primed for certain shapes, colors to bring us joy. This book explained so much for me about the push-pull so many of my clients have between craving abundance but also wanting order, and why we are all such suckers for novelty items. Fetell Lee also has a fun chart at the back, so you can try to bring some joy to your interior. Everyone should read this book because minimalism is boring and people need to stop painting their walls grey.


The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More

By Michael Breus,

Book cover of The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More

Why this book?

One of the major stressors of our lives is that we’re not following our natural daily energetic cycles (called chronotypes) and are doing the wrong things at the wrong time. You’ve experienced this when you’ve tried to write in the afternoon if you’re a morning person or if you’re a night person who’s tried to think deeply first thing in the morning. It’s not just a matter of what you’re doing, but when you’re doing it, that will make your activities more easeful or stressful.


The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron,

Book cover of The Artist's Way

Why this book?

Not unlike Rico, this author’s goal is to unleash creativity, which is way harder than it sounds. Like me, she believes that creativity leads toward spiritual wellness, and The Artist’s Way strives to help us grow by battling our inner enemies, reclaiming our sense of identity, experimenting with possibility, and having faith in our imaginations. Julia Cameron is sometimes known as the mother of morning pages and, likening this writing practice to prayer, she promises it can “acquaint us with what we think and what we think we need.”


The Blue Castle

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of The Blue Castle

Why this book?

The Blue Castle is my favourite Montgomery book. The heroine, Valancy Stirling, is not depicted as suffering depression per se, and yet something in it resonates. Her life is grey, dreary, and sad, until she rebels against her oppressive family and the daily belittling, nagging, and inducement of guilt she endures, and breaks free. The book is pure escapist romance, and Montgomery, who suffered from depression and dealt throughout her married life with her husband's extremely severe depression, seems to have written it as consolation to get herself through a particularly bad time. It’s a story of friendship growing into romantic love, which is always satisfying to read, and a celebration of the comfort and healing powers of the natural world. 


Summer Hours at the Robbers Library

By Sue Halpern,

Book cover of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library

Why this book?

A teenage girl in Maine steals a dictionary at the mall and is sentenced to do community service in her small town’s library. The middle-aged head librarian there has exiled herself from a divorce accompanied by public scandal. A much younger New York City stockbroker who had piles of money turns up in town after losing everything in the 2008 crash. He believes his aunt’s savings booklet from a bank long subsumed by another—he just needs to figure out which one—will put him back on his feet. I love how gently this novel reveals these damaged characters’ foibles and hopes. They seem to have nothing in common, yet they heal each other. And there is (spoiler alert) a sexy little romance between the librarian and the stockbroker.

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

By Scott Barry Kaufman, Carolyn Gregoire,

Book cover of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

Why this book?

This book is perfect for anyone who likes to see research that supports what they believe. There’s science behind the study of creativity and Wired to Create does an excellent job explaining it. Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research, this book offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire study the latest findings of neuroscience and psychology, and the practices of well-known “creatives,” concluding that we are all, in some way, wired for creating, and everyday life presents endless opportunities to express that.


The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday

By Rob Walker,

Book cover of The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday

Why this book?

I only got a few pages into this book before I had to grab a pen to take notes. A mindful attitude is crucial to increasing your creativity, and Rob Walker’s exercises not only jumpstarted my creativity, but increased my mindfulness. I’ve always said I would make a terrible eyewitness because I’m living inside my head most of the time. The Art of Noticing made a difference in that after I read it, I began noticing little things around me that I wouldn’t have paid attention to before. Not only did I try some of the mindfulness exercises, I incorporated at least one into a creativity workshop I do. I also find Rob’s weekly e-mail newsletter inspirational.


Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

By Beth Pickens,

Book cover of Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

Why this book?

Most creatives struggle with maintaining a creative practice in the face of busted water heaters, draining day jobs, and pesky emotions especially anxiety and depression. Beth’s refreshingly honest handbook is built on the premise you must find a way to make your art no matter what. She’s also been a guest on my podcast Create Out Loud and I loved everything she shared.


The Secret Lives of Dresses

By Erin McKean,

Book cover of The Secret Lives of Dresses

Why this book?

The vintage fashion descriptions are killer diller with little mini-stories about each dress featured that evoke nostalgia and often melancholy. The mini-stories were sweet, delightful vignettes that reminded me of the way I think of my vintage clothing. They were beautifully written and I loved them all but most noticeably, I loved the story about the wartime mother splashing in puddles with her children. Dora’s character was likable and believable and I rooted for her. The supporting characters were perfectly quirky and delightfully despicable. Plus there is a nice romantic element with a fun love-triangle with wonderful supporting characters.


Calling My Name

By Liara Tamani,

Book cover of Calling My Name

Why this book?

What can I say about Liara Tamani’s beautiful tale of coming of age? The novel carries Taja from middle school through high school, the span of time in which Taja learns her place in her family and the world around her. One of the things I love about this gem is the method in which the story unfolds—in short chapters, reminiscent of the ever-changing whims of the teenage mind. As such, Taja feels as real and breathing as any living soul. Perhaps even more pertinent is the setting of Houston, Texas. While some novels set in fictitious towns do their diligence in supporting realistic characters, Tamani’s decision to drop Taja into Houston only adds to the realism.


Lock and Key

By Sarah Dessen,

Book cover of Lock and Key

Why this book?

You know a book is really good when you reread it. I read this one twice. When 16-year-old Ruby is sent to live with her married older sister Cora after their mother vanishes, she doesn’t know what to expect. She’s neither seen nor heard from Cora since Cora went away to college years earlier. As they fumble their way toward becoming reacquainted, the two sisters discover they’re more alike than they realized. While Ruby is falling for the boy next door, she’s learning to love and depend on the sister she didn’t know. This is a book you’ll want to recommend to your sister or sisters if you have one or more. I did, and my sister Karen loved it too.    


The Sugar Queen

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of The Sugar Queen

Why this book?

This book is full of quirky characters, mouth-watering food, fairy tale elements, and magical realism. It was the first book I read of Sarah Addison Allen’s, and it wasn’t the last. All her books are amazing, but quite simply The Sugar Queen is my favorite. Not only is it cute and clever, it’s also a charming, quick pleasure read. Be warned though, you will get hungry, so have snacks nearby.


The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life

By Lisa Miller,

Book cover of The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life

Why this book?

As a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, and a life-long researcher into psychology and spirituality, Lisa Miller is well-placed to write about the hard scientific data that validate the awareness of a deeper meaning. Her own pioneering study of the relationship between spirituality and mental health was the first to demonstrate that people with strong belief systems are less vulnerable to depression. In The Awakened Brain Miller builds on this discovery by exploring her own and others’ experiences of depression, synchronicity, premonition, and intuitive “knowing” in a sweeping, fascinating, and highly readable account of how spiritual awareness leads to a “visibly stronger brain.”   


Hot Milk

By Deborah Levy,

Book cover of Hot Milk

Why this book?

While Olga’s live-wire, imperfect mothering fuelled me with a sort of righteous approval — or recognition — Rose, the mother in Hot Milk, left a metallic distaste in my mouth. Rose is limp and passive. She is the apparent sufferer of a mysterious bone disease. Her 25-year-old daughter, Sofia, has been lassoed along as “an unwilling detective” of this ailment, as well as her mother’s primary caregiver.

Sofia is her mother’s laundrywoman. Her walking stick. She dares not protest even when her mother rests her head on her shoulder, which is burning from a jellyfish sting. Admittedly, it’s not the mother that tugs me into this book, but Sofia herself. As Sofia explores her own individuation, her own eros, her own obsessions, the story grows increasingly hypnotic and propulsive.


The Voices We Carry: Finding Your One True Voice in a World of Clamor and Noise

By J. S. Park,

Book cover of The Voices We Carry: Finding Your One True Voice in a World of Clamor and Noise

Why this book?

I love the way the author uses honest stories to impart valuable life lessons. He humbly shares what a jerk he had been and how he learned to be more tolerant and loving in relationships.

As a hospital chaplain he hears intimate life stories and often, dying wishes. This is where such profound wisdom comes from, I believe. God is mentioned a few times but there is no judgment or preaching from this guy.

I highlighted so much in this book I almost ran out of ink! I will be going back whenever I need inspiration.


You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

By Jen Sincero,

Book cover of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Why this book?

I don't want to read average self-help / the same old thing. This is not the same old thing. Well, it is, but it is written in such a refreshingly honest and amusing way that I was gripped by every word. If you want to dip your toe into self-help but are not sure where to start, you can't go too wrong with this gem of a book. From meditation to money, the author has covered all the basics for getting your life in order. 


Living Your Life Out Loud: How to Unlock Your Creativity

By Salli Rasberry, Padi Selwyn,

Book cover of Living Your Life Out Loud: How to Unlock Your Creativity

Why this book?

Here is a book that I found to be highly engaging. The Greek philospher Plato was quoted as saying that "you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." If so, he has offered us a valid rationale for taking a stroll with someone whom we've just encountered, versus meeting at, say, a restaurant. The authors discuss one study where up to 90% of 5-year-olds tested as being highly creative. Yet by age 7, this figure declines 10%, and then declines to 2% after age 8. Hence, creativity seemingly declines as structured education begins.

Creativity involves the pressure to 'keep up' along with a bombardment of information. The accelerating pace of environmental damage is symptomatic of damage to the human spirit. One centurion said, “I lived my life" so that I would exceed age 100. For nearly all of his life, he proved to be an avid walker. A doctor, some 50 years younger, was flabbergasted and amazed to learn that this senior citizen walked four to five miles each day, even when rainy. The doctor asked, "What do you do then?" He was told, "I wear on a raincoat." Indeed.

The authors illuminate 12 characteristics of very creative people such as flexibility, receptivity to new ideas, emotional sensitivity, a preference for disorder (at least in the short term), tolerance of ambiguity, fluency of ideas, curiosity, originality, intuitiveness, perseverance, openness to risk, and even playfulness. Napping was also in the mix.

In summary, risk is basic to "living your life out loud." Ensure, however, that the risks you pursue are for yourself, deep-down seem right for you, and are entirely worth taking. Then, prepare a list of steps needed to decrease the risk as much as practical. Also, converse with other people who have been successful risk-takers.


The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

By Shannon Kaiser,

Book cover of The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

Why this book?

I really enjoyed reading Shannon’s book! There were some really useful tools in this one and although Shannon’s self-love journey stemmed from her insecurity in relation to her weight, it is still very applicable to other self-love journeys. The principles that Shannon mentions at the start of her book are life savers, and she is a true beacon of light for those who are struggling with their self-worth. Shannon demonstrates, through her book and her own experiences that changing the way you think about yourself is the key to journeying towards true joy and contentment. 


The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crisis

By Christina Grof,

Book cover of The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crisis

Why this book?

Stanislav Grof co-authored The Stormy Search For The Self with his then-wife Christina. It was a follow-up to his earlier work, Spiritual Emergency, which emphasised that this was a global transformation in the understanding of mental illness and included contributions from other professionals in the field. It also indicated that more primitive societies viewed this situation with more sympathy than Western medicine did at the time. It was also the start of inclusion about how other phenomena related to this subject, including drug-induced states and UFOs. Current thought in recent years has also brought into the near-death experience and understanding has linked them all under the umbrella of consciousness studies.


The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

By Elaine N. Aron Phd,

Book cover of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

Why this book?

I first read this book in my 20s and it changed my entire life. Up until that point, I had always felt different than my peers. I never understood why I was more affected by everything, held onto criticism for days (or weeks), and experienced more stress. Discovering there was a term for deep thinkers and feelers like me was enlightening and empowering. Dr. Aron is the foremost researcher on high sensitivity and I appreciated that this book is both evidence-based and practical. It’s a seminal must-read. 


Breakfast with Buddha

By Roland Merullo,

Book cover of Breakfast with Buddha

Why this book?

True, it’s fiction, so not really a memoir at all. But it reads like one in part because it’s the spiritual journey of a likable doubting Thomas (named Otto Ringling) who thinks that all that New Age-y stuff is a bunch of malarkey (there’s also an actual journey from the east coast to North Dakota). If you’ve ever questioned anything “woo-woo,” you’ll be charmed by Otto’s unlikely travel companion—an enigmatic spiritual teacher named Volya Rinpoche. At the onset, Otto is a dry, snarky, judgmental guy but he learns to listen to his heart and accept others. I used to be a lot like Otto, so his path from doubter to a believer-of-sorts spoke to me personally. Merullo has also written sequelsinvolving lunch and dinner, of course.


Feeding the Soul: Finding Our Way to Joy, Love, and Freedom

By Tabitha Brown,

Book cover of Feeding the Soul: Finding Our Way to Joy, Love, and Freedom

Why this book?

I absolutely enjoyed this book from cover to cover. This book carries the heart and soul of many of the ancestors. It is unapologetically spiritual, charming, heartwarming, and downright funny. 

In a world of fiction and nonfiction as an author, I do believe we can mix it up. This nonfiction book will leave its reader feeling like they just ate a big bowl of gumbo. It highlights the complexities of life, family, community, and self. But, it intertwines the importance of lessons learned, value-added, and compassionate care.


Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

By Kara Richardson Whitely,

Book cover of Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

Why this book?

Hikers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Kara proves that the summit does not belong to people who look like Patagonia models, but to anyone who is willing to carry their weight and offload their burdens. An inspiring read for anyone who wants to climb Kilimanjaro and individuals who have dealt with eating disorders.


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

By Caroline Leaf,

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

Why this book?

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.


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

By Timothy Ferriss,

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

Why this book?

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.  


A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator)

Book cover of A Monster Calls

Why this book?

This is a quick and heartfelt read that explores loss, love, and truth. It centers around Conor, a boy with a sick mother, who is struggling with bullies in school. One night, a monster visits him, demanding his truth. Throughout their encounters, the monster tells Conor original stories that smack with all the weight of ancient fables. It offers a classic story-within-the-story that helps Conor understand his circumstances through new eyes and access a deeper part of himself


Reasons to Stay Alive

By Matt Haig,

Book cover of Reasons to Stay Alive

Why this book?

Haig pulls back the curtain and paints a powerful picture of what depression looks like and feels like. His writing is infused with raw vulnerability, and gives voice to what so many people all around us are experiencing. He shows that even when we’re feeling lost in the darkness of depression, we can make it back to the light.


The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s

By Maggie Doherty,

Book cover of The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s

Why this book?

Maggie Doherty tells the story of five women artists—Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin, Barbara Swan, Tillie Olsen, and Marianna Pineda—who were among the first fellows at Radcliffe’s new Institute for Independent Study. The fellowship was originally designed for women who needed a room (and a paycheck) of their own to resume work interrupted by marriage and motherhood. Doherty weaves a history of Radcliffe’s pioneering venture with moving stories of the first fellows, whose friendships strengthened their resolve to pursue art in the face of male skepticism.


The Knowing: 11 Lessons to Understand the Quiet Urges of Your Soul

By Serena Dyer Pisoni, Saje Dyer,

Book cover of The Knowing: 11 Lessons to Understand the Quiet Urges of Your Soul

Why this book?

This powerful book will return you to the remembrance of how to trust your own intuition and get into a most miraculous and co-creative space with the Divine. Filled with personal stories of growing up with their father, the late renowned spiritual teacher Dr. Wayne Dyer and their mother, Marcelene, The Knowing is a trusted ally in opening yourself up to remembering the spiritual wisdom within you. The book also clearly shares 11 lessons to understand the quiet urges of your soul, which provide a comprehensive pathway to reconnect to the power you’ve always had, but now know how to unlock.


Tomorrow I'll Be Brave

By Jessica Hische,

Book cover of Tomorrow I'll Be Brave

Why this book?

This inspirational book for young explorers offers uplifting messages for kids, encouraging them to try new things and not fret about failure. Hand-lettered words of wisdom help to define what it means to be brave and confident, while teaching patience and tenacity. The colorful illustrations are memorable and immersive, offering opportunities for discussion about each page of positive values.


Paint the Wind (Scholastic Gold)

By Pam Muñoz Ryan,

Book cover of Paint the Wind (Scholastic Gold)

Why this book?

This book contains two stories that intertwine: that of a girl who has lost her mother, and a mustang mare struggling to keep her foal safe. I like how the mare is portrayed as intelligent and brave, just as the girl is. Both living beings are important characters in the plot, which is wonderful. The prose is skillful and beautiful, and suits competent, older middle-grade readers who will be transported into the wild landscape. 


Seraphina

By Rachel Hartman,

Book cover of Seraphina

Why this book?

I’ve always had a thing for dragons and consider them a go-to for a good fantasy read. But Seraphina is one of the most inventive takes on the dragon trope I’ve ever seen, and it works so well! (Not to mention, the dragons in this book are incredible musicians, and being a musician myself, I found that very cool.)  I think I blasted through this entire book in a day or two, so be prepared to put life on hold when you pick this one up!


A Monster Calls: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd

By Patrick Ness,

Book cover of A Monster Calls: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd

Why this book?

Conor’s mother is sick, and for three nights, a monster comes to tell Conor a new story. On the fourth night, the monster demands that Conor tells his story. A true story. In this way, the monster helps Conor to grieve and come to terms with the fact his mother is dying. A Monster Calls is a beautiful novel, hauntingly illustrated, for anyone—young or old—who has struggled to grieve and accept that death is a part of life.


Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear

By Alysia Ssentamu, Michael Ssentamu, Noor Alshalabi (illustrator)

Book cover of Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear

Why this book?

Sticky Icky Vicky is an educational, entertaining, well-written book for children. The big, bright illustrations will help engage readers. They will want to know why Vicky is so terrified of water that she even hates bathing. What happened to make her fear water? How did Vicky overcome her fear? Readers will want to keep turning the pages to see how Vicky changes her thought process. What occurs in the story that helps Vicky make an important choice? Readers will cheer for Vicky as she tackles her fear.


The Peach Keeper

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of The Peach Keeper

Why this book?

Sarah Addison Allen novels enchant readers with lovely prose, multi-layered, engaging characters, and a tone balancing gentle humor against melancholy. In The Peach Keeper, Paxton and Willa are forced to face and overcome their pasts, revealing frailties and strengths as they reluctantly link to solve a decades-old, magic-tinged mystery involving their grandmothers. I loved the unusual mystical quirks in the story, like two dozen snooty women unwillingly shouting out their secrets at a society club meeting. Allen further captures us with heart-rending romance as she builds the allure of the small town, Walls of Water, NC. I’ve been equally compelled by her books The Sugar Queen and Other Birds, a recent release. 


The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

By Julia Cameron,

Book cover of The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Why this book?

When I first heard about The Artist’s Way, I doubted that this was a book for me. Was I wrong! Over the next year, I met monthly with a visual artist to process each chapter. We discussed prompts, our artist date, or what we wrote from the suggested journaling. The invitations at the end of each chapter led me to work that fed my spirit. Transforming theory into action exercised my creative muscles. The variety of creative engagements encouraged a rich body of work and a new confidence, while the book’s quotes introduced me to other thinkers. Artist’s-Way work not only strengthened my words on the page, but my nonprofit and library work flourished as well. I credit The Artist’s Way for pushing my work into award-winning territory.


What Happens at Night

By Peter Cameron,

Book cover of What Happens at Night

Why this book?

Anyone who reads one Peter Cameron book will read them all. In his latest novel, a married couple ends up at a grand hotel in a strange European country of fading glory, amid guests who are both eccentric and troubling. At times it’s hard to know whether what is happening is really happening; at times it’s all too acid and real. I hesitate to call this book a comedy, because it’s unsettling. But it’s also magical and memorable, and you won’t want to check out and depart its pages.


Stepsister

By Jennifer Donnelly,

Book cover of Stepsister

Why this book?

This is a unique take on the Grimm brothers' version of Cinderella, told from one of the ugly stepsister's point of view. It's a tale about finding who you are and learning to be true to yourself, and it reveals the beauty of the human heart. The author does a remarkable job by giving us a conflicted main character, with both negative and positive traits. Donnelly also doesn't take the easy road and make Ella (Cinderella) the pretty bad guy everyone loves to hate, with flaws of her own despite her kindness and perfect beauty.

It's a story every young girl should read, and one that I will carry with me for a long time.


Leaving Paradise

By Simone Elkeles,

Book cover of Leaving Paradise

Why this book?

First things first, Simone Elkeles is my favorite YA author, and I couldn’t do a list of recs without mentioning one of her books, and my all-time favorite has always been Leaving Paradise. I also recommend LP because it’s close to my own book in that it features a reformed bad boy, Caleb, freshly on probation who’s trying to navigate his way into society and fix his “mistakes.” I so love the sorta forbidden dynamic between him and Maggie, because Caleb is actually on probation for hitting Maggie in a hit-and-run while drinking and driving. So not only is he trying to win over his former friends, parents, and town, he’s gotta make things right with Maggie, who is not giving him any play whatsoever—in the beginning! Love love Caleb’s voice in this novel.


Mind Platter

By Najwa Zebian,

Book cover of Mind Platter

Why this book?

The key to loving yourself is knowing yourself and accepting that person entirely. That is, not just the polished, perfect parts of you but the inner layers. The insecurities. The vulnerabilities. The pain. The mistakes. Written as a bite-sized self-help book of prose that can be easily digested in one or two sittings, Mind Platter is brimming with pieces that changed my perspective of my healing journey for the better. 

If you’re learning to love yourself better, Mind Platter is a great book to dive into for many reasons. It’s a book that unveiled many truths for me, such as the cause of my discomfort and pain (often hidden in my unrealistic expectations of myself and me ‘making a home’ in other people), how to be more forgiving, and the importance of growth and moving on. This book taught me how to be kinder to myself through its discussion of human imperfection, failure, and emotions. It’s a book that paves the way out of the darkness that so many of us believe lies at the end of the tunnel for us. 


Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

By Timothy Ferriss,

Book cover of Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

Why this book?

The magic of Tim Ferris is that his attention to detail is second to none. Thus, when he decided to turn his insanely insightful podcast with an ‘A List’ of some of the most amazing, goal-achieving maniacs on the planet, I was excited to see how it would turn out. And, let me tell you, he did not disappoint! If you want a detailed list of the habits, tactics, rituals, routines, diets, supplements, exercise routines, and mind/body practices of the world’s best of the best, then you’ve got the book of all time. I can’t recommend it enough. If this book doesn’t help you to level up, then go back and reread it, and take notes this time.

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan

By Mary Williams, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Book cover of Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan

Why this book?

30,000 children some of whom were as young as six were orphaned and displaced from their homes when their villages were attacked in the Civil War. They met and banded together to trek across Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya, looking for a new home. This was a journey of almost 1,000 miles. Thousands died on the way, but over 3,000 survived and many were resettled in America. I learned what can happen to children when their village is attacked and their parents killed. It's a fascinating story of perseverance and the importance of hope.


Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself and Healing After Grief and Trauma

By Michele Neff Hernandez,

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

Why this book?

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. 


Become The Most Important Person in the Room: Your 30-Day Plan for Empath Empowerment

By Rose Rosetree,

Book cover of Become The Most Important Person in the Room: Your 30-Day Plan for Empath Empowerment

Why this book?

This book changed my life when one of my first holistic healers/life coaches I ever worked with recommended it to me. The practices blew me away and helped me to start cultivating an awareness of my sensitivities and subtle energetic perceptions. I can’t recommend this enough especially for someone just starting out on their path of empath empowerment. The simplicity in exercises is incredible – reminds me that the most simple practices can lead to the most potent transformation.