Calling these titles “self-help” would hardly do them justice. Below are titles that range from the whimsical to the transformative. Each one has had a profound impact on how I approach life and leadership.

Live in Wonder: Quests, Quotes, and Questions to Jumpstart You Journey

by Eric Saperston

CreateSpace Publishing, 2012

We had reached the top of the heart-stopping road to Hana in Maui where I found this book in a gift shop. Each page has a short question or quote to ponder or take action on. Eric Saperston’s personal journey is inspiring in and of itself. It’s a book and a journal all in one.

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

by Pema Chadron 

Shambhala, 2004

An official career coach recommended this book to me many years back. It was quite a puzzle at first but I’ve returned to it again and again. It is gentle nudging towards accepting what is in the world and in myself.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

by Michael Pollan

The Penguin Press, 2013

This highly engaging and informative books explores the four natural elements of fire, air, water, and earth and how they relate to the history of cooked food. He connects the transformation of food through various cooking methods to how we have evolved as humans. It transformed me back into a writer.

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life 

by James Hollis

Avery, 2006

I learned about this book from reading Brené Brown. The premise – that we can’t escape where we came from – that choices we think we make about a profession or a mate for example – are inextricably linked with our upbringing – feels fatalistic. The more I read, the more convinced I became that the author was on to something. Even making the deliberate choice to behave other than we were parented is proof that we can’t escape the impact of the events of our childhood.

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

by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Crown Business, 2015

This was one of my favorite books of 2015. It is full of practical, actionable advice based on research and experience – my favorite kind. It was full of light bulb moments. I bought several copies to use in coaching situations, for gifts, and to have for myself. I ended up giving all mine away and just now realize that just like the author predicted, I didn’t follow through on the Daily Questions exercise. Better get back to that.

Many Top Athletes Battle Burnout. Here’s How Two at the Top of Their Games Did It

by Mike Plunkett

The Washington Post, 2016 

This article tells about Anthony Ervin, a US Olympic swimmer and Jax Mariash Koudele, an endurance runner and the steps they took to continue on their careers after burning out.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

by Gretchen Rubin

Crown Publishers, 2015

Because I think that people who burnout on the job often have reoccurring habits that lead to a pattern of burnout, I’m recommending this book for this topic. Rubin’s style of matching self-exploration with solid research makes her observations accessible and easy to relate to.

There was a section on when/then that I want to go back and explore. For example, when I get up, then I will put on my running gear. If I have my running gear on, I’m more likely to go for a run than to make waffles.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

by Gavin de Becker

Dell Publishing, 1998

My daughter recommended this book to me many years ago. It’s a tough read because it’s based on real world examples of people surviving some horrific situations. But the lessons learned cross over to other areas of life when fear responses come from the gut. deBecker’s book helped me see how to value instinctual responses and best respond according to the situation at hand.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story

by Dan Harris 

It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014

This book is for anyone who enjoys a good laugh and a good story about transformation. Harris’ breezy style belies some darker content. Harris goes through some self-inflicted hard times. His encounter with a hummingbird at a meditation retreat makes the whole book worth the read. If Dan Harris can learn how to meditate, anyone can.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

by Gretchen Rubin

Harper, 2011

I started being a Gretchen Rubin fan when I read this book. Her insights, humor and vulnerability are mixed with practical advice and engaging stories from her life. I also like that though written 5 years apart, both authors are aiming for the same thing: doing small acts to make themselves just a little happier.

“Humans Really Are Made of Stardust, and a New Study Proves It” by Elizabeth Howell, 2017

The Five Love Languages

by Gary D. Chapman

Oasis Audio, 2005

This might seem like an odd book to recommend, but it’s on my mind these days. If I understand my own love language and the love language of the people I’m spending so much time with these days at home and work, I think I can wait this out with more grace and less grumpiness.

Man’s Search for Meaning

by Viktor E. Frankl

Beacon Press, 2006

Don’t ask me why I’d read a book about the holocaust during a pandemic. Maybe I needed a break from all the books I’m reading about the horrors of slavery? Maybe the tragic inequities of COVID for BIPOC is creating a vortex where the universe is calling me to PAY ATTENTION and DO SOMETHING!