Life-Changing Non-Fiction Books.

Books to read to improve and change your life, as well as, your mind.

image Cesar Viteri from Unsplash.com

A roundup of my all-time favorite nonfiction reads. The ones I found to be most memorable, thought-provoking, as well as life-changing. Hoping you too will find thought and life-changing inspiration within the ones you might choose to give a read!

The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk. This book is excellent. Gripping and fascinating with regard to the science behind the human body and mind in how it copes with and handles trauma. How, even if our minds might forget, our bodies remember (and details on how this is made apparent).

Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto by Anneli Rufus. This one turned on its head, how I feel with regard to my own temperament and tendency toward loving alone time, as well as being an introvert. A much-needed book, in a sea of cultural messages which claim outgoing and an extrovert is the better way to be. (Not so. This book has tons of research and evidence that introversion is just as good, if not even better in some ways than extroversion).

The article I wrote inspired by this book, One is Company.

Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. My jaw hit the floor on reading this. I always knew wheat, flour, bread, pasta, and the like were not great for you, but whoa. They are way worse than I ever imagined or thought. This is a must-read for anyone who truly cares about health, and who wants to lead their healthiest, most disease-free life.

Click here for a more in-depth review of this book.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I was blown away by both, the content of Gay’s essays, as well as her prose in general. She is an insightful, wise, well-spoken woman, and a fantastic writer at that. Read this book. It will open your eyes to crucial aspects of our culture which everyone should be well aware of and informed of. As well as, over which we need to take way more action.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. So many life-changing, thought-provoking, inspiring insights in this book, which are relevant to everyone, and can easily be applied to all human lives. An inspiring and phenomenal read. I still think about certain passages and insights I gleaned from this one.

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson. This one changed everything I thought I knew about food. It offers a wealth of information on the health benefits we gain from each individual fruit and vegetable, as well as how to prepare them to get the most nutritional bang for our buck.

Example: did you know, the longer you cook tomatoes, the MORE cancer-fighting compounds you get? However, the longer you cook broccoli, the quicker you destroy them.

This book changed how I eat and prepare food. Further, her writing is engaging and conversational, not dry nor dull.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. Oh my gosh, what a fantastic book. If you either love the written word, or long to be a writer, you must read this one. The prose is unique and fabulous. Her writing style alone is enough to justify buying and reading this one. And the concepts she teaches about memoir, insightful and very worthwhile.

Click here for my more in-depth review of this one.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales. Wow, was this one jarring. The stuff in this book with regards to the private, inner lives of teen girls, heart breaking, very eye-opening, and riveting. A timely, important cultural read with regards to the mental and social health of young women which, as you will find in the book, has come to a precarious and alarming point. I highly recommend this read, to both women and men alike.

Necessary Endings: the employees, businesses, and relationships that all of us must give up in order to move forward by Dr. Henry Cloud. This book changed how I think of endings, whether in connection to relationships, a job, or a personal project or a particular life phase. It’s one that everyone should read. It will shift how you look at endings, into a much more positive and growth-stimulating light (as opposed to how we are currently taught to view them, as failures and devastations). This book teaches how to diagnose: should you have hope in a certain situation, or is it something that has reached its endpoint and should be let go?

Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Breathnach. I love this book as a whole. It’s a series of mini vignettes on topics of life, love, forgiveness, personal growth, etc. I found so many life-altering gems in it. Inspiring and thought-shifting insights, and important life lessons.

Click here for a full review, as well as several passages from within the book.

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, and Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano. This is a crucial and excellent read, on the topics of feminine stereotypes, and how much they harm and undermine women throughout our culture. She also writes in a voice that is witty, sometimes funny and fun, and very readable. Highly recommend.

Why We Get Fat, and What To Do About It by Gary Taubes. I was shocked by this one. With research-backed science, Taubes turns on its head, our belief that weight loss or weight maintenance is a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. It isn’t. It’s more about what specifically we are eating and has little to no correlation with calories. Don’t buy it? You need to read it for the science that proves it. It will change your life.

The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel. A very thought-provoking and thought-altering read, and a much-needed one culturally. Challenges the very black and white, automatic blaming, one-sided way in which we tend to look at infidelity. This read offers varying viewpoints which will expand your thinking and open your mind on this topic. A fascinating and engaging, as well as important topic.

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. Another one that will challenge an aspect with which we think of romantic relationships. This one, with regard to desire in long term relationships. Can we want what we already have? Is it possible to maintain desire when with someone over the long haul? To be excited by the same person for years? This book addresses those questions.

How to be an Adult in Relationships by David Ricco. The best book I have ever read on relationships. The title is misleading. Essentially, it’s a book about love in general. The stages of love that every single romantic relationship goes through. Healthy adult/child love, and what this looks like. How being a healthy, mature adult means that when a relationship is no longer working, this means letting it go. The list of topics it touches on is longer than this. It’s a phenomenal book. Chock full of inspiring gems and insights.

Click here for a bit more about what you’ll find within this book.

The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass. This is a great one for all aspiring writers. Maass offers some counter-intuitive thoughts with regards to what makes a story great. That it isn’t necessarily the prose, but more, the actions of the characters (check out the book for more in-depth on this) that elicits an emotional reaction in readers. And, that we do not tend to remember books with the best prose, but more, with the most emotionally affecting stories. He tells us in this book, exactly how to create that type of story.

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. One of the best books I have ever read about love, simply put. This one blew open my mind and altered my thinking, with regards to many ways I thought about this topic prior to reading it. Excellent.

For a cliff notes version of some great passages from within, here you go.

Fearless Writing: how to create boldly and write with confidence by William Kenower. Inspiring and validating for all writers and creators. He makes eye-opening points, such as the fact that “good” or “bad” writing (grammar aside) is subjective. Proving this with the example of showing the reader two contrasting reviews on one author’s book. One of the reviews mentioning how clunky and awful her prose is, while another reflecting on how lyrical and lovely it is! That good writing is, in fact, in the eye of the beholder.

He talks about how there will always be people who will find worth and joy in your writing, and what you have to say. While there will always be those who will not connect with, understand, nor be into your writing. That this is a given, and not to let it dissuade you.

There are many more worthwhile insights and lessons in this book.

It’s an especially uplifting book to read as a writer.

The Soulmate Experience: a guide to creating extraordinary relationships by Mali Apple. This is another phenomenal, as well as counter-intuitive-to-the-usual-relationship-advice-one-tends-to-read, book. Things such as being brave enough to venture to the edges of personal comfort with regard to your relationship. Exploring these edges together. Space in relationships. How we can and should challenge growth in one another. Handling attraction to other people outside of our relationship. How loving our bodies impacts significantly the quality of relationship we will have with others. And more.

Sugar Blues by William Duffy. As a dessert devotee and lover of all things sweet, this book delivered a sobering shock. I learned just how bad sugar is for you, having had no idea with regards to details of this prior to reading it. Such as, excessive sugar consumption causes hemorrhoids, how addictive sugar is, that it wrecks your skin, and serves you up a whole host of health problems. While I still enjoy sugar, I am much more aware, as well as careful with regards to my consumption. This book will change how you think of sugar.

Reality Bites Back: the troubling truth about guilty pleasure TV by Jennifer Pozner. This book shocked me, and opened my eyes wide to the truth behind “reality” TV, which could not be further from reality. All of it, yes all, is scripted, provoked, posed, and completely contrived and fake. People are manipulated and pushed into scenarios in order to elicit the most potential drama for viewers (and ultimately, profit for producers). Many of the actors and actresses are even flat out degraded and emotionally harmed by directors and producers of the show. This is a fascinating, jaw-dropping, and enlightening book.

Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. This book filled my heart with a sense of inspiration, hope, and comfort when reading it on getting divorced. It also was immensely helpful in getting through a significant leg injury, surgery, and then recovery.

The insights within, aligning with a typical Buddhist mindset. The idea that the universe does not make mistakes. Everything that happens to us, both positive and seemingly negative, is exactly what is meant to be coming our way. All of it, contributing to the person we are meant to become.

It is a great book with helping to shift one’s thinking with regards to stressful or upsetting things that will befall each of us throughout life.

The Friendship Factor: how to get closer to the people you care for by Alan McGinnis. The best book I have ever read on friendship, and certainly a phenomenal one with regards to all personal relationships.

I’ve read it several times, highlighted numerous paragraphs and passages, and found such worth in this book with regards to all relations in my life. This one is a life changer for sure.

The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant. While I do not identify as completely Paleo, this book was still revolutionary for me. Learning about the harms of not just wheat and grains, but also lactose, as well as sugar.

The book sheds light on the fact that our current Westernized lifestyle very much goes against the grain of how our bodies are meant to move, what they are designed to ingest, and how they are built to work.

It’s enlightening, inspiring with regards to health, and very worth reading.

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French. This book is an emotionally moving, gripping account of both: what life is like in a zoo for the animals, as well as the people who work there, and a weigh-in on the contrasting ethics of zoos. I’ve read it twice and both times was hooked as well as blown away.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. One of the quintessential must-read titles for those who both love the written word, as well as writing. It will fill you with excitement for writing, as well as inspiration. After reading it, I loved it so much that I bought my own copy.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This is a great book, giving one a reality check in terms of considering what in their life truly matters (hint: it’s roughly 20% of what you imagine are “all my priorities, important stuff, and must-dos”). This book helps to put that into perspective, starkly.

Toxic Parents by Susan Forward. This is an excellent one, in terms of giving perspective, as well as in offering feelings of support for those who have dysfunctional or toxic parents (sadly, that’s many of us).

And, even if your parents are not overly badly behaved or outright toxic, this book can offer valuable insight in terms of how to work through dysfunctional patterns of behavior with family members.

Click here for my cliff notes esque review of the book.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Ignoring the crass title, this book is surprisingly profound and inspiring. So many of his points are counter-intuitive, deep, thought changing ones. I’ve read it twice and highly recommend. Powerful insights, all while making you howl with laughter along the way.

On Writing by Stephen King. Part memoir, part how-to on writing, this is neither dry, nor dull. On the contrary, it’s a gripping read for both those interested in memoir and in Stephen King, as well as, for budding writers.

I was shocked to learn that one of those assumed tall tales heard about celebrities was, in this case, actually true. Stephen King was so addicted to coke that he did, in fact, sit and write with Q-Tips stuck up his nose, to prevent bleeding. Jaw-dropping, sad, and disgusting, for sure.

That gross tidbit aside though, the book is a great, informative, and inspiring read. Thus, this book can appeal to many differing interests. Loved it.

Originally published at http://brunchesandbooks.com on April 24, 2019.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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