Here you’ll find my favorite reads of the year. I’m always looking for a good book, so please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite as well! (I’ll add new books to the top of the page.)
The Way of Integrity: Find the Path Your True Self
Following Dante (The Diving Comedy) and pieces of her own story, Beck uses her unique and comedic voice in a way that helps us to modernize a rites of passage, or transition, that anyone can take to be their true self and live a life they actually choose.
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing make Us Whole- Susan Cain
Every bit as wonderful as I thought it was going to be. Susan Cain, thank you for making me and other bittersweet introverts feel seen.
No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model
As a therapist I love this one because just understanding the theory of IFS is easily applicable and can be immediately used, even if you don’t do all the exercises in the book.
Do Hard Things: Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness -Steve Magness
Easily one of my favorite books on sports psychology, and really, parenting. This pulls apart the myth I grew up as a midwesterner that you have to be tough and theory of survival of the fitness (this is not a Darwinian concept!). Magness goes deeper than the useful, but not always sufficient mindset tips into what I would call a more therapeutic and holistic approach to what strength really is.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants – Robin Wall Kimmerer
Poetry, nature, science, story, indigenous wisdom…one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace
Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow – Elizabeth Lesser
Dying to be Me: My journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing -Anita Moorjani
Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experiences – Brené Brown
Like Streams to the Ocean: Notes on Ego, Love, and the Things That Make Us Who We Are – Jedidiah Jenkins
As you can see if you look at the below read first…I liked Jenkins’ first book so much that I had to get the second. This one was a beautiful compilation of his writings divided into 8 categories: ego, family, home, friendship, love, work, death, the soul. Its a smooth read through while also giving you pause for reflection, if you so choose.
To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret- Jedidiah Jenkins
Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas- Alexi Pappas
Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls- Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
A wonderfully written book that includes research and stories on the pressures teen girls are facing in our world today. There’s also plenty of helpful insight and tips for parents or anyone who works with teen girls.
One Life- Megan Rapinoe
Rapinoe is a woman of power. She uses her strength on the field, with her voice, and how she acts in the world.
Wolfpack- Abby Wambach
“Too short!” is really all I have to say for this one. I could have listened (my sister, Pacer, and I had this on audio cd while driving to Ohio) Abby much longer! Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle are re-defining what it means to be a power couple.
2020 List (Below)
City of Girls- Elizabeth Gilbert
Went off my normal “non-fiction” path with this one…but I mean, it is Elizabeth Gilbert. This book did not disappoint. The main protagonist, Vivian, is one to fall in love in this “delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person.” (Amazon book review). I love that line ” you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person”, don’t you?
Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior- Dan Millman
No less prophetic and no less profound than Millman’s first book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In a beautifully told story, one can find the wisdom of ancient teaching and practices, as well as the knowns inside our beings.
Untamed – Glennon Doyle
I don’t have much to say. If you’ve read other work by Glennon Doyle, you already know this book was destined to be good. It encompasses all that I want for myself and every little girl.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism- Robin DeAngelo
You’ve probably already heard about this one. And yes, I highly recommend it. Currently, you can get the audio version of this book for free: https://www.amazon.com/White-Fragility-People-About-Racism-ebook/dp/B07638ZFN1
What happened- Hillary Rodham-Clinton
After Elizabeth Warren was out of the primaries, along with other talented women, I figured I better start learning more about why some of the best leaders weren’t getting all the votes they deserved. No, this book is not on gender, though there is a wonderful chapter on it. Yes, I was/am a H. Clinton supporter. Regardless of if you are or are not, this is an extremely important read, looking at the role of the media, fake news, and foreign interference. As they say, knowledge is power.
Witches : the transformative power of women working together- Sam George-Allen
Truly, this is a book on feminism with unique perspectives from the author.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed – Lori Gottlieb
As a therapist, I obviously love reading a book about a therapist who also doesn’t completely have her sh*t together. Additionally, Gottlieb weaves in some beautiful stories and lessons from her clients.
Running is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier- Scott Douglas
I was intrigued but a little concerned with the book’s title “Running is My Therapy” as my personal and educational background thought it sounded quite limiting.
I’m glad to report that the book was much more expansive than the title suggest, which includes looking at all the research studies that suggest exercise/running is an effective treatment for mental health challenges, but also looking at other modalities such as talk therapy, mindfulness, connection, and medication, in addition to acknowledging the limits of running. I definitely recommend this book for anyone interested on the topic!
(Spark is another awesome books that looks at exercise and the its effects on the brain.)
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do- Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD
Full of stories and statistics on prejudice against people of color. For me as a human and counselor, it is important for me to always be aware of the biases (that I’ve gained growing up and living in mostly/all white communities) so I can call out the myths in my own mind.
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World- Melinda Gates
A thorough account of how and why empowering women brings everyone up.
Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way To Victory – Deena Kastor
I’ve read more positive mindset books than I can recount. They inspire, and then I forget. Kastor’s boot was a great reminder, but her words have stuck with me a bit more. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I like her running stories and I can relate as a running coach. Or maybe because her positive oozes through the page. As I read, I kept thinking “I want to be more like that.” As so my practice has begun.
The Push: A Climber’s Search for the Path – Tommy Caldwell
I’m not a climber, but I loved this book. Tommy has a way of connect with the audience with his description of the mental challenges he faced both on the wall and in life. The reader can also feel him come alive has he climbs his favorite routes amidst beautiful scenery.
What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of An All-American Teen -Kate Fagan
I won’t say too much about this one, mainly that anyone involved in a young person’s life, especially young people who grow up in middle to upper class neighborhoods with constant pressures to perform and go to college. In this book, author Kate Fagan follows the story of Maddy Holleran, who ran track at and Ivy League school. Kate pieces the story together through Maddy’s family and friends, also doing extensive research on mental health and the current world of our young people.
The Newcomers: Fining Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom – Helen Thorpe
Another accidental find at the library that I am so happy I picked up. For a year and a half, Thorpe observes an ELA class at South High School in Denver of newly arrived immigrants (or newcomers) just starting school in the United States and learning a new language (though may already speak several languages). A large part of her words are dedicated to the students growth and development in class and in school, but Thorpe also visits some of the student’s families to get a better idea of what her students have survived and what they’ve carried with them into the new country. Thorpe also adds in a visit one of the countries in which a few of the students hailed From, exploring what life was life for them living in a refugee camp. As a backdrop, the book was written from 2015-2016, in the midst of controversial president election.
The Magnificent Mountain Women- Janet Robertson
I highly recommend The Magnificent Mountain Women to any of my friends in Colorado who want to learn more about the general history of the Rocky Mountains as well as the women who left their impact on the state. The book includes the first summits of Longs Peak and Pikes peak by women, homesteaders, botanist, “The Women’s Park” (Mesa Verde National Park), and modern climbers. (Robertson started off in her preface acknowledging that she left out the history of Native American women, and that much of the written records came from people with some privilege.)
Educated: A Memoir- Tara Westover
Wow. This is Tara’s first book and I can’t wait to read her next! In this first book, she tells the story of she was raised in a Mormon family on a farm, homeschooled until her father decided the kids should help him with work. Amazingly, she studied for the ACT and got a score high enough to get into BYU…and eventually earning a PhD. There’s a lot more twists in her story that that, but I’ll stop typing before I give any spoilers. (On a side note, I was reading this on the plane and the woman next to me started telling me how much she loved the book!)
Becoming- Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is a true story teller, and in her stories are lessons about life, love, and challenge. Not only am I amazed how about her journey and her achievements, but how she dealt with raising a family in the White House in such a authentic and elegant style.
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone- Brene Brown
If you’re like me, you may have never felt like you ever fit in. School groups, work peers, family, etc…always the different one. This book helped me realize that actually, that’s okay. It’s not about fitting in, but belonging…and knowing we belong everywhere.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior- Dan Millman
The spiritual book that is not a “how to”, but a non-fictional/fictional story mix that inspires, makes the reader think, and captivate the reader in Dan’s descriptive words. This book was recommended to me by my sister, and then I heard the Spiritual Adviser at the rehab center where I intern recommends it to his clients…and I have grown from the wisdom the story holds.
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs- Johann Hari
Hari wrote this book before writing Lost Connections, though you could see the elements of this book leading to the former. In this book, the controversial Hari dives into the history of the war on drugs, describes horrific stories of what it’s like for some addicts in prison, reveals terrifying yet remarkable information from interviews with addicts, drug dealers, and drug lords. And, with insight from leading doctors, countries who have changed their laws from arrest to help, and advocates from all backgrounds, Hari offers suggestions on how we can help put an end to the drug war.
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression- And The Unexpected Solutions- Johann Hari
I don’t know where to start my praise for this book, but then again, I don’t have to when it has already been praised by Elton John, Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Arianna Huffington, and more. Without the least bit of exaggeration, I truly believe that if everyone read this book, the world would be a better place. For a very brief summary, Hari uses research (and a ton of it), journalism, and personal stories that delve into what depression is not (a brain disease), what it’s true causes (re: not symptoms) truly are (often societal), and what we can do to start making things better.
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail-Scott Jurek with Jenny Jurek
I’ve read a lot of athlete books over the years. Most I like, though they just tell a chronological story. Others have heart. There’s lessons and meaning behind the story. The suck you in. That’s North. Like most adventure books I read, I flipped to the last page in a matter of days, making myself close the book at night to get some sleep. And yet it also made me pause and reflect later on, philosophically thinking about ego, adventure, death, relationships, and a human’s ability to endure. The book was made even better as Scott’s wife and AT crew chief, Jenny Jurek, shared her own perspective on their adventure.
Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Goes Bad- Renee McGregor
I first hear Renee McGregor speak about orthorexia on the Tina Muir podcast. Orthorexia is a relatively new term (my computer keeps trying to spell check it!) that revolves around the ideas of correct and clean eating. Having suffered from anorexia nervorsa as a teenager and still having disorder eating many years after that, Renee’s words instantly resonated with me. With that being said, I didn’t agree with everything in her book, but I did agree on her main messages. Anytime we obsess over anything, things get dangerous and remove joy out of life. Additionally, orthorexia and eating disorders are primarily mental, not physical. They revolve around attempts to feel good enough, to achieve, to create harmony in one’s life by displacing anxiety elsewhere.
In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost: Close Encounters with Addiction- Gabor Mate
Honestly, I can’t say this better than Amazon’s Review:
Based on Gabor Maté’s two decades of experience as a medical doctor and his groundbreaking work with the severely addicted on Vancouver’s skid row, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts radically reenvisions this much misunderstood field by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Maté presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak-willed few, but as a continuum that runs throughout (and perhaps underpins) our society; not a medical “condition” distinct from the lives it affects, rather the result of a complex interplay among personal history, emotional, and neurological development, brain chemistry, and the drugs (and behaviors) of addiction. Simplifying a wide array of brain and addiction research findings from around the globe, the book avoids glib self-help remedies, instead promoting a thorough and compassionate self-understanding as the first key to healing and wellness. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts argues persuasively against contemporary health, social, and criminal justice policies toward addiction and those impacted by it. The mix of personal stories—including the author’s candid discussion of his own “high-status” addictive tendencies—and science with positive solutions makes the book equally useful for lay readers and professionals.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Body, Mind in the Healing of Trauma- Bessel Van der Kolk
This book is revolutionary on how we (our society) looks at trauma and our approach to treating it. The book presents a holistic view on trauma and recognizes how the body stories trauma and gives techniques on how to release stored trauma.
The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity- John Mackey, Alona Pulde, and Matthew Lederman
For those of you who know me, you know that I am self-proclaimed nutrition, plant-based, and vegan nerd and have read many of the top books on the topic. This new addition to the library gives a wonderful summary of the top research, insight from leaders and well-renowned doctors, stories of personal transformation, and some great (and pretty simple) menu ideas. John Mackey also makes a compelling case in the books last chapter on the ethical side of vegan diet.
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success- Brad Stulberg, Steve Magness
Now one of my favorite books in the performance genre, Brad and Steve fill the pages with top research and stories to make a captivating read. The topics they explore, like stress, sleep, habits, purpose, and much more, not only give the reader personal insight into their own life, but give opportunities to expand and enhance your own life (whether it has to do with athletics, business, or all-around).
Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time- Andrew Forsthoefel
Honestly, I picked this book up not really expecting to like it, especially as he was walking the road and not a trail. However, the book beautifully intertwined his philosophical musings, the stories of those he met (the stories of America), and the introspective insight one can only achieve by making peace with solitude.