Note: I removed the Amazon links for these books and replaced them with the book images, simply because I would much rather see us all supporting our communities by buying from local businesses. To learn more, see Why I Stopped Being an Amazon Affiliate.
The books listed below are those I have read cover-to-cover that have helped me on my journey in one way or another. I make no claim these writers endorse me, nor does my recommendation necessarily mean I agree with every word they write. But it does mean I am grateful to each author for sharing their knowledge, their passion, and their heart, so I might be changed, enlarged, healed and set free.
The Trance of Scarcity: Stop Holding Your Breath and Start Living Your Life – by Victoria Castle Life is a struggle, right? That’s what I used to think, but the author convinced me it doesn’t have to be this way. After reading the first line of the book, I realized she was right — if struggle were the way to get there, we’d all be there by now. She goes on to describe the trance of scarcity permeating our culture, keeping us trapped in a cycle of suffering. She also offers a refreshingly simple antidote. If you are ready to wake up to the flow of abundance all around you, this book will not disappoint. It woke me up and is still waking me up!
The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success – Andy Andrews The seven decisions aren’t untested ideas, but actual principles. They were gleaned from the author’s reading of more than 200 biographies of personally successful people. In the process, he identified seven common denominators in their lives and wove them into a compelling story of fiction.
(Note: Instead of reading this book all the way through, I read one chapter at a time and then put it aside while I worked through the 21 days of exercises in the journal. After completing the journal, I reread the book again straight through. Even if you don’t work through the journal, this is a worthwhile read, to be sure.)
The Traveler’s Gift Journal: Making the Seven Decisions for Personal Success Your Story – Andy Andrews This journal requires a hefty investment of time and attention. If you never miss a day, it will take 5 1/2 months to complete the twice-daily exercises. I must have missed a few days here and there, because it took me 7 months. If you want to apply the seven decisions to your life, and give them time to sink deep into your psyche, this journal will guide you on a journey sure to change your life!
The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything – Stephen M.R. Covey This New York Times Bestseller was written by the son of Steven R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. There is so much power packed in this book, I’m keeping it for reference to use in my coaching and consulting. My favorite takeaway is this quote: “The first job of a leader is to inspire trust. The ability to do so, in fact, is the prime differentiator between a manager and a leader. To inspire trust is to create the foundation upon which all truly successful enterprises — and relationships — stand.” And this book tells you how to do exactly that!
The Force of Character and the Lasting Life – James Hillman I wasn’t sure what to think at first, because the writing is tough to follow at times. I’m not embarrassed to admit there was a sentence in nearly every chapter beyond my comprehension, and a word here and there I didn’t know. Even so, I found the entire book incredibly fascinating. Although I don’t share many of Hillman’s beliefs, his views provided helpful insight into understanding my aging parents and my aging self. “We become more characteristic of who we are simply by lasting into later years,” he writes. “The older we become, the more our true nature emerges. Thus the final years have a very important purpose: the fulfillment and confirmation of one’s character.” That’s a far better view of aging than we get from all the messages telling us it is something to fear and stave off, is it not?
The Body Keeps the Score – Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. I purchased this book looking to discover the underlying cause of my suffering. The author, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, did not disappoint. This authoritative guide is a beautiful blend of science and human interest. I particularly benefited from the captivating stories of his three decades working with trauma survivors. Although it took awhile for all the information to sink into my psyche, I now have a clear understanding of how the body truly does keep the score. I also feel renewed hope as I seek innovative solutions for recovery.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell This book was recommended by a friend and although it is not quite what I expected, it is a fascinating read. It’s about how humans make rapid decisions unconsciously using a very different part of their brain than the conscious mind. We all do it, it turns out. We come to conclusions in the blink of an eye, and sometimes our snap judgments are good. Other times they aren’t so good. Using compelling real-life stories, the author breaks down what goes on in the brain during those two seconds, and why improving our powers of rapid cognition could very well be a matter of life or death.
How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie When this was first published in 1937, it was the first book of its kind on the planet. Dale Carnegie saw such a need for people (including himself) to learn the skills required for successful human relations, that he did more than write the book. He validated its principles with thousands of actual human beings. I picked up my 1982 edition from the library free shelf and wish I would have read it back then – when I was graduating from high school. Whether you are looking for tools to help you succeed in your professional or personal relationships, this timeless gem will not disappoint!
The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea – by Bob Burg and John David Mann Regardless of what kind of business you hope to build, this parable offers a compelling blueprint for real success. It’s about this guy named Joe who has always prided himself on being a real go-getter. But when the “getting” isn’t going so well, he ends up meeting a gentleman who teaches him the secret to success isn’t in getting, but in giving. As the story unfolds, Joe learns the five laws of stratospheric success, transforming him from a struggling go-getter into a happy and successful go-giver. We learn along with Joe that cultivating a spirit of generosity is the best strategy for building a business, a happy life and all-around good character.
Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur – by Derek Sivers If you are looking for inspiration to launch your dreams, this is it! The author encapsulates ten years of his experiences into a one-hour must read for anyone who wants to achieve the success of real happiness. His credentials are simple. He just wanted to help his musician friends have a platform for selling their music and it accidentally grew into a big business. In 2008, he sold CD Baby, the largest seller of independent music online, for $22 million. The endearing thing about his story is that he sounds like an all-around good guy who stayed true to his values, which were never about money.
The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters – by Sarah Susanka I listened to the audio book version shortly after resigning from an eleven year career due to severe job stress. It provided exactly what I needed at exactly the right time – a blueprint for remodeling my life from being a worker bee to living a life that reflects my passions and my dreams. As I embark on the exciting adventure of aligning myself to my own unfolding, I can see the author is right. All that is required is our presence. It is only when we choose to slow down and learn how to be fully engaged in living, that our life will become the expansive and meaningful journey it was meant to be.
Have a Little Faith: A True Story – by Mitch Albom Shortly after I experienced a trauma that nearly cost me my life, I came across this audio book at the public library. I decided to listen to it to give me hope and encouragement, and was not disappointed. It is the true stories of two very different men, woven together in a beautiful tapestry of faith, love, and the bigness of God. Not only did it provide a very real comfort to me in my adversity, but by the end of the book I had grown to love an old Jewish Rabbi as if he was my dearest friend and mentor.
Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women – by Sarah Bessey Bravo to the author for daring to explore the radical notion that women are people, too! After spending more than three decades of my life in churches that were often just as patriarchal and misogynistic as the surrounding culture, this book helped me throw off the yoke of suppression that Jesus never meant for me to wear. It encouraged and inspired me to stop hiding my God-given gifts and to start sharing them with the world.
Just Say YES: The Handbook that Guides You to Hear, Trust and Act on Your Inner Voice – by Erec Lindberg I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a literary event. After attending one of his presentations, I was totally sold on purchasing Just Say YES! This book, as well as Erec’s personal coaching, has changed how I think, how I make decisions, and how I lead myself into the life I have always imagined. If you want to put yourself in the driver’s seat of your own life, buckle your seat belt and be prepared for an exciting ride! Just Say Yes and let your inner voice do the rest!
Your Body Believes Every Word You Say: The Language of the Body/Mind Connection – by Barbara Hoberman-Levine The author’s 15-year struggle with a brain tumor lead her on an in-depth investigation into how our core beliefs affect our physical bodies. Offering compelling evidence proving the mind and body are functionally inseparable, she encourages the reader to become an active participant in their healing through the thoughts they think and the words they say. What surprised me was how it’s not just about what I tell my body, but what my body is trying to tell me!
Women Who Run with the Wolves – by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes I was amazed and transformed by this book. It beautifully nurtured to life the immense value of my instinctual nature through the use of ancient story telling followed by profoundly insightful interpretations I would never have figured out on my own. If it were possible to capture the essence of this phenomenal piece of work in one song it would be Shania Twain’s ‘Juanita‘. I wonder if Shania has read it?
Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind – by Joe Dispenza This book blows the doors off mere positive thinking by explaining in an engaging manner how our cells can become addicted to the chemicals produced by certain emotional states. The author provides compelling scientific and real-life evidence that proves we can rewire the neural connections in our brain to create the life we want to enjoy. If this book was part of every high school science or psychology curriculum we would empower the next generation to break free from all limiting thinking and instead bring into reality the highest ideal of their full potential.
The Last Lecture – by Randy Pausch I listened to the audio book version during a long road trip with a dear friend who thought I would be blessed by the author’s humor and wisdom, and indeed I was! It is the true story behind a Carnegie Mellon professor’s last lecture, his last chance to impart what he has learned about life, before terminal cancer ushers him into the next. He titled the lecture, “How to Really Achieve Your Childhood Dreams” and gave it to a packed auditorium on September 18, 2007. Yet, he makes it clear that it isn’t about how to follow your dreams, but about how to lead your life in such a way that your dreams follow you!
How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk – by John Van Epp Ph.D. In this scientifically-based book, the author combines relationship research with real-life stories and humor to provide a proven road map with practical tools to accurately discern a person’s true character. The goal of the book is to help people make healthy relationship choices, instead of ending up with jerks and jerkettes. One of the main truths I learned from the book, and from my own experience, is that when we give our heart away before we really know someone, we are more apt to make allowances for them, and give them second, third and fourth chances — because the thumping of our heart is so much louder than the still, small voice in our head. Now, I know better!
Your Body Book: A Head to Toe Handbook for Health – by Doranne Long If you have a body that you want to take care of, this is an extremely user-friendly guide for maintaining optimal musculoskeletal health. It’s like having a physical therapist at your beck and call. Bravo to Doranne for condensing over 30 years of her experience as an orthopedic manual physical therapist into something the average body-owner can understand! The easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations offer practical suggestions for giving your body what it needs to be its happiest and healthiest. I consult my copy whenever I am injured or in pain.
Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action – by Nick Vujicic If you have never heard of Nick Vujicic, I encourage you to learn about this amazing young man! He has written several books about his ridiculously good life, not despite the fact that he was born without arms or legs, but BECAUSE he was born without arms or legs. His faith in God and his belief that he was created for a purpose have made him unstoppable – on an off the surfboard!
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die – by Karl K. Truman This is a wonderful resource for identifying and resolving undesirable emotions that hinder our growth and steal our peace and joy. Through the use of a beautiful script, the reader is equipped with the necessary tools for transforming their mind, their emotions and their very life!
People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil – by M. Scott Peck This is the second book by the author of ‘A Road Less Traveled.’ It helped me to understand the narcissistic personality and how people with that disorder are incapable of facing their own shortcomings, and instead attack those around them. It isn’t necessarily good news, but it is a fascinating read that explains the evil that is among us.
The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond – by Patricia Evans Verbal abuse does not necessarily mean you are being yelled at. If you are suffering in a relationship, this book offers validation and understanding. More importantly, it offers encouragement to bring about change. It was instrumental in helping me understand what was really going on in my marriage, and although I was not able to change the dynamics, I did eventually find the strength and support to leave the relationship and create a joyful life.
The Courage to Be Yourself: A Woman’s Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem – by Sue Patton Thoele This book was previously subtitled “A Woman’s Guide to Growing Beyond Emotional Dependence” and the only reason I decided to read it was to prove that I was NOT emotionally dependent. In the process, I discovered how emotionally dependent I really was! Every few pages I would exclaim out loud, “That’s me! I do that!” I still find it amusing how God used my stubborn pride to humble me and heal me and start me on a journey of self-discovery. That was many years ago, but I will never forget it. It was the first step in the process of my growing a backbone!
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence – by Sarah Young This is by far my favorite daily devotional! It is written as intimate love letters from Jesus, inviting us to entrust ourselves into his tender care. If you have been wounded by the church or you think God is mad at you or wants you to try harder or do better, this book will set you free!
Well-Behaved Women Seldom Made History – by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich I was a rule follower for almost half a century, thinking that was among the noblest of virtues. This book helped me break out of that box and see the value in following your convictions as opposed to abiding by rules meant to maintain the status quo. I learned to applaud and esteem the many women who went before me who did NOT follow the rules so that I could wear pants, vote, own property, and take out a bank loan!
Grace of Gratitude Journal – by Deborah Purdue I won this journal in a drawing and found it to be the perfect tool for cultivating a spirit of gratitude. The illustrations by Tara Thelen are uniquely lovely and provided as much inspiration as the authors written expressions of gratitude sprinkled throughout the pages. Gratefulness is considered one of the noblest of virtues and is the key to not only a joyful life, but a healthful life. In fact, many people who have conquered life threatening diseases and chronic conditions report that one of their secrets was developing the consistent practice of being grateful. Even if you aren’t battling for your life or health, this journal is a beautiful way to grow in the grace of gratitude!
Why Women Should Rule the World – by Dee Dee Myers I was reading this on a flight home from San Francisco, when the gentleman sitting next to me became intrigued by the cover. We ended up having an engaging conversation and he was very excited to recommend it to his daughter when he returned home! Although the title might threaten some people, it is about the unique strengths women bring to the table and how all aspects of society benefit when more women are in leadership positions.