I read a lot.

In fact, usually a book a week. I love learning and my curiosity about life is seemingly endless. Of course, I recommend books a lot. So I created this page to house a virtual library and book guide for anyone looking to see what I am reading now and over the past few years.

My Thoughts

by Susan L. Smalley PhD & Diana Winston

Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness

This is such a great beginner’s guide to mindfulness and meditation. I loved the way each chapter was broken into a science section (with studies and data to back up concepts), an art section (with insights and anecdotal experiences to make concepts clearer) and a practice section, with one or two meditations or experiments for readers to try at home. This book is filled with wisdom but it’s very approachable. I had many ‘aha’ moments.

Rick Hanson

Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness

I was surprised by how many facets there are to the process of building resilience. Author Rick Hanson dives into things like grit and mindfulness, but also gratitude, courage and generosity, things I would not have previously associated with resilience. In a nutshell, this book will teach you how to manage life’s challenges, increase your resources and honor your vulnerabilities. It’s not about becoming a super human; it’s about giving ourselves what we need so that we treat ourselves with kindness and cultivate more courage in the process.

Jennie Lee

SPARK CHANGE: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution, Lee

If you love to journal, this book will blow your mind! “The right question asked at the right time can be life-changing” author Jennie Lee writes. Questions are like doorways, leading us into deeper aspects of our introspection and self-discovery. In her new book, Spark Change, Lee guides readers through 108 thought-provoking prompts designed to deepen our awareness of our innermost inquiries and callings. Sometimes we need a little help to do our deepest excavations. This book is the perfect companion for a deep dive.

Timothy Dukes

The Present Parent Handbook: 26 Simple Tools to Discover that This Moment, This Action, This Thought, This Feeling Is Exactly Why I Am Here

Packed with wisdom over 26 short chapters, The Present Parent Handbook is an easily digestible collection of insights that can support our parenting regardless of where we are on the journey. There are thousands of parenting books on the market, each offering techniques and tools for better parenting. This one offers just one: be present. This simple yet profound ethos weaves its way into every chapter and serves as a constant reminder that our kids flourish when we inhabit their worlds and make them feel seen.

Joshua Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

I found my new favorite genre of book: experiential journalism. In Moonwalking with Einstein, writer Joshua Foer takes his research into the world of mental athletes to new heights as he not only learns from the world’s champions but trains to become one himself. Along the way, he contemplates memorization as an endangered form of learning and he explores our understanding of human memory. Foer eventually competes in the United States Memory Championship and his play-by-play storytelling of this experience is nothing short of spellbinding. I loved this book so much!

Marta Zaraska

Growing Young: How Friendship Can Add Years to Your Life

It take the craftiness of a clever writer to produce a book that is data and research-heavy but also lighthearted and fun! Marta Zaraska is just this sort of writer. In her deep dive into why things like kindness and connection are just as important as broccoli and bicep curls (maybe even more so!), she invites the reader to rethink all the billions of dollars we pour into the wellness industry in our quest for health and longevity. Turns out a hug is far more likely to impact our health than a pedometer.. and hugs are free! I loved this book. It’s very well written and very well organized.

Tiffany Shlain

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

Having had the practice of a weekly secular sabbath for nearly two years now, Tiffany Shlain is speaking my language in her book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. Not only does she use the pages to make a very strong case for why we need to unplug from technology and work for 24 hours, but she weaves in her own stories and experiences to inspire readers to see that it’s not only possible but deliciously necessary. She finishes the book with an entire section of resources, including ideas for things to do with your leisure time (and these lists were incredibly helpful!).

Alanna Collen

10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness

Drop into the nerdy world of gut biology and you’ll be as astounded as I was to learn how much our microbiome interfaces with all aspects of our health and wellbeing. Our gut, it turns out, is the epicenter of our immunity, which means it plays an integral role in helping us fight off disease. It also impacts our sleep (it’s where most of our melatonin is created) and our mood (it drives the production of serotonin). And if that wasn’t intriguing enough, we come to learn through Collen’s book that our microbiome is completely populated by foreign bacteria that we truly can’t live without. Many of us have greatly underestimated how important gut health is. Books like this one seek to make it a top priority if we want to live long, happy and healthy lives.

Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before

I just love the way Gretchen Rubin weaves her own life and anecdotal discoveries together with scientific data and research in this book about how habits are created, maintained and lost. I agree with Gretchen: habits form the architecture of our lives; it’s incredibly important that we understand them. Through this book, I learned so much about how to give myself the best chance of creating new behaviors and eliminating ones that no longer serve me.

Colin Beavan

How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness That Helps the World

I may need to read this book a few more times to let all of its wisdom sink in. Author Colin Beavan first captured my attention (and my deep respect) when I read his book, No Impact Man, about his year-long commitment to create zero waste. Perhaps realizing that such an endeavor would be much too difficult for the average consumer, he offers a more moderate approach in How to Be Alive, with an invitation to continue to scale up our efforts to be better global citizens bit by bit. In particular, I loved his insights on how we can intermingle the difference we want to make in the world with our job, hobbies and lifestyle rather than as something separate we do on the side. When we begin to see how ALL of our choices matter (where we live, what we do, what we buy, etc.)  we can begin to make subtle (and then grander) changes in the direction of our personal mission. I loved this book!

Wayne Muller

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

Our family has recognized a non-religious Sabbath for a few years now but I’ve never really dug into the tradition of the Sabbath (and the Jewish Shabbat) and all of its nuances. There’s so more to it, Muller explained, than simply not working for a day. There are rituals that honor it more deeply and intentional elements that bring it more alive. I learned so many things about our deliberate day of rest, including how we can use it to become more present to joy and love in our lives.

Holly Whitaker

Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol

It really doesn’t matter if you think you drink too much or not; there isn’t a woman on the planet who wouldn’t get value from reading this book. Not only do I applaud Holly Whitaker’s uncensored retelling of all the ways alcohol had made a mess of her life, but I so appreciated that in her recovery she focused on healing the parts of herself that needed it in the first place. Written with equal parts fury and love, this feminist manifesto rightfully rails against the alcohol industry and a western culture that is blinded by the (very profitable) idea that we need alcohol to not only celebrate and commiserate, but to regularly take the edge off of our pain, boredom and self-loathing. This book rewired my mind around alcohol. I will never forget it.

Henry Emmons MD

The Chemistry of Calm: A Powerful, Drug-Free Plan to Quiet Your Fears and Overcome Your Anxiety

I had the opportunity to interview Henry Emmons about this book on my 60 Mindful Minutes podcast and thoroughly enjoyed learning more about why he takes a holistic approach to depression and anxiety (versus simply prescribing drugs). Henry believes we all have a container of resilience that we draw from each day to feel confident, centered and content. And while some have a bigger container than others, we all have the ability to keep our containers replenished by doing things every day for our wellbeing. Things like sleep, diet, nutritional supplements, exercise and mindfulness all increase our ability to handle what life throws at us. Even those who don’t suffer from depression or anxiety will benefit from this book.

Tara Brach

True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

There are countless helpful insights and guided practices in this book. Tara Brach weaves her ageless wisdom with so much compassion and empathy for the ways we humans struggle. Her stories of people she has coached were immensely helpful for bringing her teachings into the real world. This is a book I’m sure I will pick up again and again. It’s one to read slowly and thoughtfully.

Glennon Doyle

Untamed

This book had me feeling so much. Fury. Righteous indignation. Peace. Love. Forgiveness. Joy. So many feelings. An unapologetic and fiercely vulnerable account of the recreation of the author’s life, Untamed invites us all to ask… what do we really, really want and what the heck is stopping us from claiming it? I was inspired and fired by the time I finished this book. Most of all, I am in awe of Glennon’s honesty, all the while knowing she’ll change, grow, evolve or see things differently by the time she writes her next book, but never shying away from saying what’s true now. So, so brave.

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

The Alchemist has long been a traveler’s companion. I came to it not unlike many of its readers: it was given to me by a fellow nomad, a must-read for anyone setting out to see the world and all of its wonders. I first read it in Australia in 2001 and have gifted it and reread it many times since. For those who have loved this Paulo Coelho bestselling phenomenon, the treasure Santiago seeks is an obvious metaphor. It is the thing that calls us to set our lives aside and with faith and courage embark on an unknown path, often facing trials and triumphs. For some that treasure could be a staggering view, a grand adventure, an unfathomable encounter. But perhaps what the author really wants us to see is that the treasure is the journey itself. And to trust that the universe is designed to aid our journey.

Andrew Forsthoefel

Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time

I was so endeared by Andrew Forsthoefel within the first few chapters of his book, and my respect and awe of him only grew with each passing page. Of course, I had the thought, “I wish I had his mindset and bravery when I was 23,” but mostly I just felt deeply grateful that he DID have the mindset and bravery to embark on such a soulful quest and that he shared (so eloquently and honestly) what he saw and learned with me, the reader. He’s such a good writer and this is such a heartwarming story. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Nancy Davis Kho

The Thank-You Project: Cultivating Happiness One Letter of Gratitude at a Time

A few years ago, I took on the challenge of writing 365 thank-you notes in a single year. The idea was to create action around my gratitude, to not just write what I was grateful for in a journal, but to express it to the person I was thankful for. It was such a fun project… but I think I might love Nancy Davis Kho’s approach to deliberate gratitude even more. As Nancy neared a milestone birthday, she decided to write 50 thank-you letters to express her appreciation to the many people who had influenced her, helped her, and inspired her over her life thus far. She shares her process and its outcome in her delightful book, which I highly recommend.

Dani Shapiro

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

I could read this book a hundred times and still find joy in it. In her usual poetry and rawness, Dani Shapiro takes the reader into her writing process, without editing away all the pain and the pleasure it entails. Whether you have aspirations to be a writer or just want to better appreciate what you read, pick up this book.

Isabel Gillies

Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought this book was about hygge (the Dutch practice of enriching our lives with coziness and comfort) but Isabel’s book actually runs several layers deeper. It’s less about candles and blankets and more about our innate ability to comfort ourselves, to come to our own rescue, to steady ourselves, and to come home to our moments. It’s about discovering the truth of who we each are and how we tick on a deep, deep level. Finally, it’s a book about mindfulness and the skill we can all develop with practice: savoring the living of our lives.

Kate Hanley

How to Be a Better Person: 400+ Simple Ways to Make a Difference in Yourself--And the World

Turns out the number one New Year’s Eve resolution these days isn’t to lose weight or to quit smoking… it’s to be a better person. But what does that even mean? Kate Hanley unpacks this concept over 400 easily digestible insights and ideas for how we could start orienting our lives to be our best for ourselves and the world. Pick it up and flip to random pages or work through all 400 ideas page by page (checking off the boxes as you g0). Either way, Kate’s book will give you a guide for easily implementing more intentional goodness in your day.

Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This book serves as an inoculation, when applied, to the addiction to “busy” so many of us face. I mistakenly assumed this book would be dry but McKeown has takes such a warm approach and weaves in several touching stories from his own life and experience that the book was anything but. At its essence, the book provides the inspiration and practical strategies for reordering one’s life to reflect what really matters. It renewed my commitment to the discipline of focusing on my essentials and gracefully eliminating everything else.

Raphael Cushnir

The One Thing Holding You Back: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Connection

What a thought-provoking book! Between its covers, author Raphael Cushnir ponders the idea that what stops us from achieving our goals and fulfilling our dreams isn’t a lack of time, money or opportunity… it’s our resistance to negative emotions! Any time we see a lack or progress or momentum in the direction of what we hope to achieve, we might look to see if perhaps something much more deep-seated is in the way. Listen to our discussion on episode 64 of the 60 Mindful Minutes podcast.

Gabrielle Bernstein

Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams

For those of us who have read “Ask and It Is Given” (Esther & Jerry Hicks), you may find, as I did, that “Super Attractor” is a great refresher or distillation of the earlier books key thoughts. Whether you believe in your power to attract or not, Gabrielle Bernstein lays a solid argument for why it’s important that we focus on feeling good. What we appreciate, appreciates.

by Glennon Doyle

Love Warrior: A Memoir

It took me far, far too long to finally get around to reading this book, and now it will be one I never forget. A raw and sometimes unbearably honest account of Doyle’s bulimia, alcoholism and heartache, Love Warrior takes readers on a journey of one woman’s discovery of who she really is and how she got back home. Her story-telling is riveting but also artful. Even if you don’t agree with her or find her confronting, no one can deny that Glennon Doyle is a magnificent writer. Now I finally understand why she is so celebrated.

Robin S. Sharma

Who Will Cry When You Die

You could fly through this book filled with 101 mini chapters and walk away with a countless number of thoughtful insights to continue to contemplate long after you set it on your book shelf. There were so many well-worded nuggets of wisdom; almost every page of my book has at least one line underlined or starred. Ultimately, Who Will Cry When You Die serves a handbook for anyone wanting to live more fully and intentionally.

Michael A. Singer

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Much like some people have a top shelf for their liquor, I have one for my books. Only a handful make my list of my “top shelf books” and this is definitely one of them. In fact, no book has changed my life and my mind like this one. Why? Because with clarity and simplicity, Michael Singer brings so much understanding to this critical foundation of our emotional wellness: “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice in your mind–you are the one who hears it.” Read this book and it has the potential to rewire who you are.

Robert B. Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

There is a power wielded over us that most, myself included, are mostly unaware of. This power influences so many of our decisions, including many that don’t bring about positive results in our lives (such as buying things we don’t need). This is a pretty nerdy book but the intel is solid, as is this message: we need to be aware of how we are influenced so that we can be more skilled at defending against these tactics.

Kate Northrup

Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms

I love it when a book blows my mind!  For starters, Kate Northrups’s insights into how we can start aligning our output with the lunar and menstrual calendar was truly revolutionary to me. I loved her chapters on how to ask AND receive help. I loved her ethos grounded in consciously curating what makes it into our calendars and to-do lists.  This book was refreshing, fun to read, thought-provoking and action-inspiring.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Falling Awake: How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life

This is the first Jon Kabat-Zinn book I have read. Being one of the world’s foremost teachers of mindfulness, I expected it to be filled with useful and thoughtful insights. Of course, it was. Unexpected was how beautifully it was written. On a practical level, it was filled with interesting ideas for dropping into the moment. In particular, I loved his idea of using yoga as a way to cultivate mindfulness by using the movement as the object of the meditation. I started doing this a few mornings a week (by candlelight). “Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can expand and deepen our sense of what it means to inhabit the body and develop a richer and more nuanced of the lived body in the lived moment.”

Stuart Browning

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul

Stuart Browning strikes the perfect balance between science/research-based arguments and his own anecdotal experience to make a case for why a lack of play should be considered akin to malnutrition. I closed this book with a deepened sense of awareness of how critical fun, novelty and whimsy is to our sense of wellbeing, social cohesiveness and overall satisfaction with life. One thought to ponder: “Sustained emotional intimacy is impossible without play.” Chew on that!

Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project

Gretchen Rubin is my spiritual animal. She tackles the goal of upgrading her overall happiness with her life like a surgeon, methodically devoting each of twelve months to making small but meaningful changes. The result is an inspiring, quirky and very entertaining account of how she brought more joy, love and simple contentment to her life.

Dani Shapiro

Hourglass: Time, memory, marriage

Dani Shapiro is a writer like Monet was a painter. She’s a true craftsman with her words. In this memoir, Dani vulnerably gives us access into her life, and more specifically, her marriage. It was so unwaveringly honest, almost raw in its intimacy. At times, I was uneasy with how much access she gave me to such an intimate space in her world. And yet, it was so beautifully written, as is all her work, that I could not put it down. It made me want to celebrate the utter magnificence and ordinariness of love.

Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air

How it feels to die is not a common topic in our culture. In fact, most avoid talking about death altogether, as if by talking about it we might catch it like a cold. So, it was equally refreshing and jarring to read Paul Kalanithi’s account of his cancer diagnosis and the quick descent into his debilitating illness. I felt grateful to be given a glimpse into such a private experience. Yet, what impressed me most about this book was not just the account, but that by writing his story the author fulfilled a longtime dream to be a writer. And a writer he was! This book was penned with a stunningly eloquent effort that adds a layer of atypical richness to the reading of it.

Light Watkins

Bliss More: How to Succeed in Meditation Without Really Trying

There must be hundreds, maybe thousands, of books written about how and why to meditate. I’ve read a handful of them but none have approached this time honored tool the way Light Watkins has. Instantly relatable and immediately applicable, the instruction Light offers up in his book changed my meditation practice for the better the moment I began applying his recommendations. This book is a must for anyone who thinks they can’t meditate.

A. J. Jacobs

Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey (TED Books)

A.J. Jacobs brings the reader on a journey deep into the world of the daily cup of Joe. This book was as interesting as it was funny. Through its pages, I learned so much about how coffee lands in my cup but also I was moved by the author’s devotion to being grateful not for what’s immediately in front of him, but for the invisible efforts that remain hidden from his daily view. I love that he went digging to find all the people to thank for his coffee. It was so silly but also so inspiring.

Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir

This book has received massive popularity and accolades. Read it and you will immediately understand why. A story of a girl rising, against all odds, beyond a unimaginably sheltered childhood, the book is at times unfathomable, scary, exhilarating and sad. I can’t imagine how many years of therapy Tara Westover needs to make sense of her life. Or maybe she just needed to write one amazing book! Pick it up and I bet you won’t be able to put it down.

William Stixrud and Ned Johnson

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

Authors William and Ned offer up a ‘parent as consultant’ approach to raising kids into thriving adults. As a child’s capacity to make and act on his/her own decisions, the parent slowly removes the scaffolding to provide counsel but not control, support but not domination. The result, in theory, is a child who sees him/herself as capable and skillful, no longer in need of his/her parent’s nagging and constant oversight. I loved this book!

Sebastian Junger

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

A raw and poignant rally cry for our undeniable need for more human connection, Tribe by Sebastian Junger offers the reader an invitation to see their role in their community as more vital than they may have believed. You can read this book in one sitting but its ferociousness and passion will linger for years.

Dr. Laura Markham

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life

If you’re a parent with more than one child, you know the feelings of heartbreak and frustration you experience over their bickering and battles. Through Dr. Laura Markham’s book, I learned that sibling conflict is not only a healthy way kids learn to deal with conflict out in the world, but how much my reaction to the conflict can either quell or exacerbate it. Modeling our own peacefulness, taking on the role as interpreter (rather than referee), and bringing more consciousness to how we might accidentally be the cause of much of the root of sibling rivalries. The concepts and ideas in this book were instantly applicable, many with immediate results.

Marshall Goldsmith

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts - Becoming the Person You Want to Be

Why do we do what we do, even when we say we want to behave differently? Through his own research and the scientific findings of others, Marshall Goldsmith lays out a case for why so much of our inability to harness our willpower has more to do with our environment than our self-control. Goldsmith makes a strong case for how we can set ourselves up for success, including being about to predetermine our usual saboteurs and plan accordingly.

Courtney Carver

Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead To So Much More

I have so much of this book underlined and starred. Rather than sit on a soap box and sermonize about the morality of minimalism, Carver merely shares her own, personal journey to discover that having more didn’t give her more joy, peace or love. In fact, quite the opposite. “Through the process, I discovered that it isn’t about organizing things or just getting rid of stuff. Those are the mechanics and certainly part of it, but simplicity is about more than making space in your home. It’s also about creating more time in your life and more love in your heart. What I learned is that you can actually BE more with less.”

I interviewed Courtney Carver in Season One of the Synced Life Podcast. You can listen to that conversation here.

Got recommendations for me?

I’d love to hear them.

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