[updated with some book reviews and two additional books for the challenge on august 7]
over the past few months, I’ve been taking a LOT of overdue time to slow my roll, unplug, detox (not just with food), and 100% hone in on self-care. I’m sure some of you can relate to this, but I felt as though life was drowning me … I’d been so caught up in the overwhelm of work and life that I was starting to short circuit and couldn’t breathe. and my health was suffering.
I had to hit the panic button. pull the e-brake. after months of panic attacks, hospital and urgent care visits, invasive medical procedures, weeks upon weeks of never-ending, recurring flus, and more tears than I’d care to recount, my meltdown culminated in a pile of takeout containers and ants in my room from not getting out of bed to go to the kitchen, and with a panic attack that involved clutching my knees under my desk at work, in a full-blown state of shock for seemingly no reason whatsoever.
this got pretty heavy pretty quick. ur prob like ‘excuse me where tf are the books this is depressing.’
my b. anyway, onto the good stuff?
long story short, I’m taking a pause to come up for air. and it feels pretty incredible. I made a long list of objectives of what I was going to do to feel better, that comprises physical activities (not just exercise), diet stuff, digital detoxing in different mediums, offline de-stressing activities, and chiefly — reading.
I collected an amalgam of books. some were gifts, some were things I found through my job, some I bought, some I honestly don’t know where they came from. I decided I was going to devour the lot of them and have the most self-care, self-help reading marathon there ever was. whether I was curling up on the couch under a blanket, sitting by a sunny part of the windowsill, lounging in bed, or laying on the sand at the beach with ocean waves as my soothing background noise, I’d have one of these books in hand.
though I’ve just started, I’ve read a few so far. I’ll update with my review of each below the list, and bold each title as I get through.
the goal is to learn more about health, happiness, wellbeing, and emotional strength and fortitude. if you feel like any of those areas of your life could use some TLC, then join me in this summer reading challenge! I would love to hear which ones spoke to you.
- Perfectly Yourself, Matthew Kelly (one of my favorite authors of all time!)
- The Clarity Cleanse, Dr. Habib Sadeghi
- Off, Tanya Goodin
- The Judgment Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein
- You 1, Anxiety 0, Jodi Aman
- The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
- You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
- The 7 Principles of Stress, Ori Hofmelker
- Balanced Body Breakthrough, Caroline Jordan
- The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
- Feeling Good, Dr. David Burns
- The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
- Healthy Brain, Happy Life, Dr. Wendy Suzuki
- Fulfilled, Anna Yusim
- Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
- Medical Medium, Anthony William
also read a book that’s more specific to my personal circumstances relating to emotional wellbeing, plus three books about raising a dog, but that’s another (very exciting!) story for another day. also put GOT book 2 on hold for all of these, so that’s saying something.
if you’ve always wanted to do a reading challenge but want to take your mental health to the next level simultaneously, this list will not only get you off your phone for a while (major bonus), but teach you so much about yourself in the process. I hope you’re as excited as I am for the healing and happiness that awaits in the pages.
[reviews coming soon! sneak peek: the first two books on the list are GAME changers and I super recommend both of them.]
Perfectly Yourself, Matthew Kelly
OK let’s get this out of the way: Matthew Kelly is a Catholic author. He is also my favorite author. This book has some spiritual references because the premise is that God’s dream for you is to be the best version of yourself. I think many of us can agree that “becoming the vest version of ourselves” is a pretty ideal goal, yeah? This is not a religious book, and it’s not a Catholic book, but there are references sporadically to God and a handful of bible verses. Some of you will love this, some of you will be averse to this. If you’re averse but can look past it or replace “God” with “the Universe” or whatever you believe in, there is SO much good in this book, and one of the best things I could recommend to anyone. If you’re ready to let go of societal and parental expectations, “shoulds,” social media standards, and whatever else doesn’t feel authentic to you — all in an effort to live a more authentic, happy, fulfilling, and productive life — YOU NEED TO READ THIS. Kelly is a charming, lighthearted author with a witty sense of humor and a knack for explaining his thoughts in creative yet practical ways that make sense to a variety of people. Do yourself a favor and read this one first.
You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
Another disclaimer up front: Jen Sincero’s approach to and language around mental illness is flat-out inappropriate, irresponsible, and inaccurate. If you have ever had depression or clinical anxiety, or you’re currently suffering from it, please proceed with caution as there are two or three bits in this book that flagrantly gloss over the reality of these illnesses while also ignoring the fact that Sincero is not actually a psychotherapist or any kind of authority on mental health. She is however, an awesome life coach and entertaining writer with lots of good things to say. Aside from the bits I warned about, there is plenty of helpful advice about getting what you want out of life. Get ready for a dose of tough love, high vibes, powerful metaphors, aha moments, and real talk about making money. I would recommend reading this second, after Perfectly Yourself.
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
A dear friend recommended this one to me. What are the agreements? Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, always do your best. If you’re like “cool… guess I don’t need to read it” — think again. This will take you a couple hours to read, and it’s an essential life compass. There’s a lot of explanation around those four principles, and examples of how they’ll apply to your life.
Off, Tanya Goodin
If a handful of great blog posts became a book, it’d be Off. This book is a helpful reminder and guide to disconnect — a sort of instruction manual on what to do when your phone is OFF. Some of you know I turned my phone off for a week for a digital detox (one of the best things I ever did) and I took this little book down to the beach for a tech free read (took one hour lol) before following the advice and ordering adult coloring books and a jigsaw puzzle. It’s not the most profound read you’ll ever come across but I’d still say it’s useful — especially if you’re particularly tech-dependent.
Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
I had the privilege of listening to this book on audible, narrated by the author; it was such a treat to get to hear it in her voice! I had a three-hour drive from LA after my best friend’s birthday, and figured I’d make good use of the time trapped in the car by adding a fresh book to the list. It was the #1 recommended book, and I have to say, I was seriously impressed. I laughed aloud. I cried (for real). I got chills and goosebumps. I felt inspired. From career advice to dating to self love to manifestation, this really has it all. Like Perfectly Yourself, this has some religious references as the author is Christian. I would tell you straight up if I thought it was too Jesusy for an agnostic, and I really don’t think it’s overbearing whatsoever. This will have you visualizing your dream life and then feeling equipped to go out tomorrow and make it real.
The Clarity Cleanse, Dr. Habib Sadeghi
When I first opened this book, I was overwhelmed by the testimonials from Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, and more celebrities than I can’t even remember. I dove into The Clarity Cleanse on a sunny morning at the beach during my digital detox, and found myself lost in the pages. Several hours had passed before I thought to check the time; I realized I was halfway done with the book and should probably get some lunch! That’s how good this is. Not only is Dr. Sadeghi’s writing so captivating (his stories of healing patients — himself included — will bring you to tears and have you audibly gasping), but he really is onto something incredible. If you’re reading these books because you’re suffering from some serious physical and/or mental issues and you’re looking for solutions, this is a MUST. His whole schtick is that emotions, thoughts, and certain emotional traumas in our lives can manifest physically and result in chronic illness (hello, stress digestion!). The concept of healing yourself through the creation of an “emotional septic system” is profound, practical, and absolutely genius. Please do yourself a favor and read this book now.
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
This is less “how to transform your life” and more of the science behind habits that transform individuals, organizations, and societies. Within this powerfully educational book you’ll find the legitimate science behind believing in yourself, information about how understanding habits can make you a more effective leader or marketer, and examples about how crises transformed people, businesses, and culture for the better. If you’re a boss, business owner, marketer, or someone remotely fascinated with how the mind works (or if you have some habits in need of changing!) I’d highly, highly encourage you to pick this one up.
Next to be reviewed: You 1, Anxiety 0, and The Judgment Detox.