The best books on self-awareness

3 authors have picked their favorite books about self-awareness and why they recommend each book.

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From Sole to Soul

By Audrey Boxwell,

Book cover of From Sole to Soul: A Daily Prescription For Moving Forward In Your Life

This book inspires the reader to connect their mind with movement. The author has filled the days of the year with practice prompts, ideas to help boost self-awareness and push past adversity, and wisdom from artists and scholars as well. Sole to Soul motivated me to connect with nature, my own stillness, and with others. A great daily devotional. And a great gift especially during these tough times.


Who am I?

Cultivating connections is Debra Fine’s passion. Her previous life as an engineer and introvert left her longing for connections. Inspired to learn and then teach, Debra’s programs and books are designed to supply the tools and skills for great conversations, networking, and building relationships. Now the author of the bestselling book The Fine Art of Small Talk How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills - and Leave a Positive Impression Debra delivers keynote programs and training workshop to hundreds of clients both face-to-face and virtually.


I wrote...

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression!

By Debra Fine,

Book cover of The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression!

What is my book about?

Nationally recognized communication expert Debra Fine reveals the techniques and strategies anyone can use to make small talk--in any situation. Do you spend an abnormal amount of time hiding out in the bathroom or hanging out at the buffet table at social gatherings? Does the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger make your stomach do flip-flops? Do you sit nervously through job interviews waiting for the other person to speak? Are you a "Nervous Ned or Nellie" when it comes to networking? Then it's time you mastered The Fine Art of Small Talk.

I Am Sovereign

By Nicola Barker,

Book cover of I Am Sovereign

Hint: You have to read a hard copy of this book because the comedy is designed into the fonts and layout, which could never be translated into an ebook.

This is a free-for-all bumper car ride between people and their ids, filled with abrupt and perfect transitions that are so logical in their illogic that they are funny. 

But not only is it unique and funny, but it is founded on a profound understanding of silence—its essential healing and our inability to find it. 

This book is so inventive I’m kind of amazed (1) that it got published and (2) that author Nicola Barker and this book appear to be wildly popular in the U.K.


Who am I?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.


I wrote...

The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

By Betsy Robinson,

Book cover of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

What is my book about?

The Hilarious Story of a One-Woman Train Wreck--Winner of Black Lawrence Press's Big Moose Prize

Meet Zelda McFigg. She is 4-feet 11-inches tall, 237 pounds, and convinced that she could be somebody, if only someone would recognize her inner beauty and star quality. Cousin to Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces) and Homer Simpson, Zelda runs away from home at age 14, and at age 49 ¼ writes this furiously funny memoir to "set the record straight" about her lifetime of indiscretions. Behind Zelda's rollicking tale of destruction lies a story of exile. Exile from oneself. Readers will see much more about Zelda than she knows about herself.

Preparing for Parenthood

By Stephanie Dueger,

Book cover of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

What I love most about this journal-type workbook is how practical and easy to digest it is. The book doesn’t give specific advice but provides prompts and worksheets for couples to focus on the most frequent topics of concern for new parents so they can plan ahead for how to manage them. The book poses thought-provoking questions for partners to learn more about their own and each other’s experiences, values, and hopes and discover where both their challenges and strengths may be. Couples can pick it up, open it to any page, and have conversation prompts as well as an action item that can help them to move forward. I can imagine couples revisiting these conversations again and again over time to see how they’ve progressed and where any sticking points might still need to be worked through.

Best for: expecting couples or those who are thinking about having a…


Who am I?

Around 25 years ago, I thought my husband and I were ready for parenthood…until we got there. And as a relationship counselor, I was listening to countless stories of couples struggling through the rollercoaster ride of becoming a family too. So I wondered: can couples actually prepare for this? For years I waited for a book to recommend to my clients to guide them after our sessions ended and I ended up writing (an award-winning) one instead. This turned into training for professionals, and now expectant couples are doing Becoming Us courses at the hospitals where our three children were born. And, thankfully, there are more books to support new families too!


I wrote...

Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

By Elly Taylor,

Book cover of Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

What is my book about?

For expecting couples to plan ahead, new parents in the thick of it, and those wondering what to expect next, Becoming Us is a map for the journey. There are insights and practical step-by-step guidance on every page to navigate the wilds and wonders of life and love during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Topics include work/life balance (is this our new normal?), financial pressures (can we afford this?), including grandparents and inlaws (bring a casserole!), identity shifts (who am I now?), common relationship issues (are we OK?), intimacy, sex and more. There’s also help and hope for perinatal anxiety and depression, relationship distress (what happened to us?), a challenging birth experience—and how to support each other through it all. Parents at any stage of the journey will find places to circle back, get on track, and move forward together as a team.

Best for: expecting and new mothers, fathers, and parents, and parenthood-related professionals wanting to work in a holistic, “whole family” way.

Strengthening Her Essence

By Fila McMillan-Antwine,

Book cover of Strengthening Her Essence: A Woman's Guide to Liberation Through Truth

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the topic of Divine Feminine. Fila Antwine is a self-love and relationship coach who specializes in helping women finally feel worthy of the love that they deserve. Her book is a powerful guide to self-reflection that leads her readers through the process of self-awareness and rediscovery.


Who am I?

I am all about support, and support is a big part of Black Girl Magic. I believe that every woman should have a support system and community that values each and every person in it. Many of these authors have been featured on my podcast Support is Sexy, an interview-based podcast that introduces dynamic women professionals and the stories of their journeys to my audiences around the world. I recommended the books of these women because I love their message of self-care, self-love, support, and nurturing a healthy community. 


I wrote...

Get Over "I Got It"

By Elayne Fluker,

Book cover of Get Over "I Got It"

What is my book about?

If you’re an unapologetically ambitious woman, Elayne is cheering you on—but she’s also encouraging you to recognize how imperative it is that you stop struggling to do it all alone. Too many women suffer from “I Got It!” Syndrome as they strive to accomplish their goals. This mindset can lead to major stress and anxiety. Elayne offers a better approach.

In this book, you’ll learn how establishing a solid support network and enrolling others in your vision are crucial to achieving success and how these healthy strategies have helped billionaire entrepreneurs such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Spanx founder Sara Blakely—and ambitious women just like you—reach their next level. It’s time for you to get some support. Get Over “I Got It” tells you how.

Pensées

By Blaise Pascal, A.J. Krailsheimer,

Book cover of Pensées

I am cheating a bit here since this was never a complete work, but a set of notes that Pascal was using for a far greater text. It confuses some people to hear that one of the greatest scientific and mathematical minds of his age was also a devout Christian, but that should not trouble someone with an open mind and an open heart. His intention was to show that there is a gaping hole inside of all of us, and that no diversion can ever fill it, except for a desire to know and to love what is Absolute. 

“All of humanity's problems stem from a man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”


Who am I?

Building upon many years of privately shared thoughts on the real benefits of Stoic Philosophy, Liam Milburn eventually published a selection of Stoic passages that had helped him to live well. They were accompanied by some of his own personal reflections.


I wrote...

A Stoic breviary: Classical wisdom in daily practice

By Liam Milburn,

Book cover of A Stoic breviary: Classical wisdom in daily practice

What is my book about?

This book serves as a breviary in the classical sense: a collection of 365 passages from the great Stoic philosophers, for meditation on each day of the year. 
The author offers his own experiences, thoughts, and reflections on the original texts, so as to encourage the reader to apply ancient lessons to modern life.

Dubliners

By James Joyce,

Book cover of Dubliners

Engaging stories about James Joyce as a young man. This is a perfect read for young aspiring authors for reasons of content and style. It is a classic, and deservedly so, and was my inspiration for writing fiction. As a young man I bubbled over with enthusiasm to write and express my creativity but to do so well needed focus and discipline. So did Joyce and I learned vicariously from him.


Who am I?

My childhood, very much shaped by World War II, led me the study of international relations and political psychology. I have written numerous books on conflict management and prevention, and also on ancient Greek thinkers and writers, and the elusive nature of knowledge. In recent years I have begun to explore these themes in fiction. This shift has been exhilarating and liberating and provides me the opportunity to present the tragic understanding of life and politics to a larger audience.


I wrote...

Rough Waters and Other Stories: Facing Ethical Dilemmas

By Richard Ned Lebow,

Book cover of Rough Waters and Other Stories: Facing Ethical Dilemmas

What is my book about?

Rough Waters is a collection of short stories about people and political leaders facing ethical choices. These choices arise in extraordinary situations but also in everyday life. Collectively my stories make the case for a tragic approach to ethics. 

The Complete Stories

By Flannery O'Connor,

Book cover of The Complete Stories

Southern Gothic author Flannery O’Connor is an incredible storyteller with characters often described as grotesque and morally flawed. Having been raised in the South, I find her characters so real it is as if I know them or have met them personally.

I know she disliked any of her stories being labeled ‘horror’ and instead called them ‘hard’. But you have to admit that a lot that happens naturally in life is indeed ‘horror’, so I use the term as a high compliment to her. But that alone would be too much, so she tempers it with her sardonic wit and has me chuckling at all the characters in “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” but the story itself hits in a very different way.


Who am I?

I can’t remember a time I haven’t been drawn to and fascinated by the link between absurdity/humor and horror. Both genres involve setups and payoffs. The tension built up needs to be released in either a gasp or a laugh. In my own writing, I try to make myself giggle in joy at the ridiculousness of a situation and then recoil at the underlying horror that anchors it to the real world. It’s a balance I constantly try to reach and that I personally find is a joy to read.


I wrote...

The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales

By Thersa Matsuura,

Book cover of The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales

What is my book about?

Beautiful, haunting, and grotesque, The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales offers stories reminiscent of traditional Japanese folktales alongside contemporary horror fiction. Matsuura’s unique voice, in its poignancy and lightheartedness, is unforgettable.

Find a Way

By Diana Nyad,

Book cover of Find a Way

I love this book. It's such an incredible story about conquering challenges that appear near-impossible. Diana Nyad was the first person in history to swim 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida which she did successfully on her 5th attempt at 64 years old! What is fascinating is how she managed to separate herself from negative thinking - from doctors and the public, not to mention her own.⁣


Who am I?

Dominique Antiglio is a Qualified Sophrologist, former Osteopath, and best-selling author based in London. Sophrology is a simple practice for mental well-being supporting everyone to tap into the unlimited resources of consciousness and become empowered in daily life. Having used Sophrology to overcome her own issues as a teenager, Dominique is passionate about how each one of us can find resilience and meaning through difficult times. She is a world-leading Sophrologist, founder of BeSophro, a leading Sophrology clinic in London and a Sophrology platform so everyone can learn to practice the method based on relaxation, breathing, visualisation and movement. Dominique gained her Master's in Caycedian Sophrology under Professor Caycedo.


I wrote...

The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology: Breathe and Connect with the Calm and Happy You

By Dominique Antiglio,

Book cover of The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology: Breathe and Connect with the Calm and Happy You

What is my book about?

In a world that can feel uncertain and overwhelming, this comprehensive guide on the practice of Sophrology will help you access resilience, confidence, and serenity in your daily life.

Sophrology is a mental well-being practice and self-development system already extremely popular in Europe, growing worldwide, and used successfully by people from all walks of life, including athletes, CEOs and mum-to-be. This simple method combines Western science and Eastern wisdom using relaxation, breathing, body awareness, and visualisation into a step-by-step practice which has the power to radically transform your life. Featuring practical tips, case studies, and 13 audio downloads, this leading book on Sophrology is a must-have self-help resource.

The No-Nonsense Meditation Book

By Steven Laureys,

Book cover of The No-Nonsense Meditation Book: A Scientist's Guide to the Power of Meditation

It is difficult to find books that have both a solid research background and explain concepts in a manner that is easy to understand. As a Sophrologist, I have a strong interest in scientific studies that measure how meditative practices like mindfulness, sophrology, or transcendental meditation can transform our brain and therefore our consciousness. Dr. Laureys has written a captivating book, sharing his rigorous scientific approach while using an accessible tone throughout on how the brain of meditation masters of our time have transformed their brains. This book makes you want to take up meditation and explore the infinite possibilities of the mind.


Who am I?

Dominique Antiglio is a Qualified Sophrologist, former Osteopath, and best-selling author based in London. Sophrology is a simple practice for mental well-being supporting everyone to tap into the unlimited resources of consciousness and become empowered in daily life. Having used Sophrology to overcome her own issues as a teenager, Dominique is passionate about how each one of us can find resilience and meaning through difficult times. She is a world-leading Sophrologist, founder of BeSophro, a leading Sophrology clinic in London and a Sophrology platform so everyone can learn to practice the method based on relaxation, breathing, visualisation and movement. Dominique gained her Master's in Caycedian Sophrology under Professor Caycedo.


I wrote...

The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology: Breathe and Connect with the Calm and Happy You

By Dominique Antiglio,

Book cover of The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology: Breathe and Connect with the Calm and Happy You

What is my book about?

In a world that can feel uncertain and overwhelming, this comprehensive guide on the practice of Sophrology will help you access resilience, confidence, and serenity in your daily life.

Sophrology is a mental well-being practice and self-development system already extremely popular in Europe, growing worldwide, and used successfully by people from all walks of life, including athletes, CEOs and mum-to-be. This simple method combines Western science and Eastern wisdom using relaxation, breathing, body awareness, and visualisation into a step-by-step practice which has the power to radically transform your life. Featuring practical tips, case studies, and 13 audio downloads, this leading book on Sophrology is a must-have self-help resource.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

By Frances Trussell,

Book cover of You Are Not Your Thoughts: The Secret Magic of Mindfulness

The author of this book, Frances Trussell, explains so succinctly why the blessing of our self-aware mind can so easily become a curse for so many humans. So mindfulness and meditation is not so much about having no thoughts or making your mind go blank. Rather it is about coming to a different relationship with your thoughts. On the other side, lies a life of bliss and freedom.


Who am I?

I started meditating in my min-40s as I was in a stressful job. I resisted at first, thinking I was too busy and that I couldn’t make my active mind go quiet. I persisted though and soon discovered that I had a better day all around on days when I meditated and seemed to be pushing water uphill when I missed my morning meditation. Intrigued by this, the engineer in me researched why this might be. I started writing books on how it can help and I learned how to script and record my own meditations. Over fifteen years later, I find myself as one of the top meditation guides on the Insight Timer app, with over 4 million listens.


I wrote...

The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness: How to improve your productivity, creativity and focus by slowing down for just 10 minutes a day

By Tom Evans,

Book cover of The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness: How to improve your productivity, creativity and focus by slowing down for just 10 minutes a day

What is my book about?

Daily meditation does more than help us relax. It is becoming well accepted and understood how our well-being benefits from the regular practice of mindfulness meditation. This book explores how even more tangible benefits can be delivered from just treating yourself to 10 minutes of ‘me time’ each day. Indeed, each of the ten chapters comes with a free ten-minute meditation.

Just imagine having more time in each day and clients and opportunities finding you. Just imagine being able to tap into unlimited inspiration. It is the key to living a blissful existence. This book is not just theory but also practice as each of the ten chapters is accompanied by a ten-minute meditation.

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