I hate labels, but I will admit to you that I was an English major in college. So now you immediately have a judgment about me. Well read. Smart. Literate. Poetic. Good writer. Whatever.
I LOVE SELF HELP BOOKS! Can English majors love self help books? Hell yeah!
A short history of how I came to love self help books.
I don't remember having lots of books around when I was a child. I don't remember my parents reading to me. Maybe they didn't? I have a vague memory of Dr. Seuss books in my house and the Highlights magazines in Dr. Bush's office where you'd try to find the hidden objects in the trippy, distorted images.
I definitely remember reading romance novels in junior high with my best friend, Allison. We would sit for hours at different places in her house and read and talk about these silly, amazing, wonderful, exotic novels. I loved those days.
In high school a class called College English led me to appreciate 18th and 19th century authors like Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Hawthorne, Twain and many more.
In college I was infatuated with the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Keats, Walt Whitman, T. S. Elliot, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound and Shakespeare.
And more favorites through the years, thanks to book clubs and recommendations of friends - Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Woolf, Orwell, Steinbeck, Irving, Dillard, Tyler, Wiesel, Golding, Atwood, Maugham, London, Cather...
But in all of these books from early childhood through my 30's, never one self help book! What?!? I guess I thought I had my shit together and didn't need them. Oh, but I did read the Bible a couple of times, I guess that's a self help book.
When the time came for me to gaze at my navel and realize I didn't have my shit together like I thought I did, I easily gravitated toward self help books. This was the same time I was trying to save my marriage and figure out what the heck was going on with my soon to be ex husband.
When I started reading these books, right before, during and after the breakup of my marriage, I made a list, with notes!, to help anyone else who might want to check out some of these resources. I just pulled out this list for a dear friend who is sadly going through a marriage breakup right now. She suggested I share the list. She also said my notes were hysterical and I should re-read them with a glass of wine. So here goes, with the top 3 listed first (because these 3 helped me the most):
I particularly liked this book because the author did not cheat on her husband, but was the one who was betrayed. It’s written for women, but men who have been cheated on could gain much from it.
2. Meditations from the Mat by Katrina Kenison and Rolf Gates
I’ve re-read this book many, many times, reading one short passage a day. It is full of yoga inspired messages have helped me enormously through many battles. Another great bathroom book!
3. On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
Kubler-Ross developed the 5 stages of grieving. Even though I didn’t lose my husband to death, I found this very relevant and helpful as I learned about DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance).
4. He’s History, You’re Not: Surviving Divorce after 40 by Erica Manfred
Even though the author cheated on her husband, and that bugged me, I still got a lot of practical age-appropriate advice from this book.
5. Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser
Even though the author was the one to cheat on her husband (and that still really bugs me) I still gained insight from this book, once I got past judging her for her infidelity.
6. Vicki Lansky’s Divorce Book for Parents by Vicki Lansky
Good resource for parents, covers many scenarios and all age children.
7. After the Affair by Janis and Michael Spring
Recommended for those truly wanting to reconcile after an infidelity, not the case with me.
8. Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life by Abigail Trafford
Talks a lot about the division of power struggle within relationships. Gives lots of scenarios.
9. Conscious Living by Gay Hendricks
For anyone, divorced or not, doing self-reflection and trying to achieve personal growth.
10. The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness by Epictetus, translated by Sharon Lebell
Short, inspired chapters with daily reminders about how to achieve an authentic, happy, good life. This is one of my bathroom books! I’ve re-read it dozens of times.
11. The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer
I not only read this book, but also bought the CDs and listened to him lecturing about the book on many road trips. Lots of positive affirmations about life, making good choices, rethinking how you look at things.
12. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D.
13. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston
Ideas for changing your brain by changing your life patterns. The focus of this book was on weight, nutrition, exercise, energy, stress, sleep, memory and passion. A good read for those suffering from depression and neglecting their bodies due to divorce or other trauma.
If you suspect your mate, or someone you care about, has bipolar disorder, this is a good read.
14. Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask by Hilary Smith
If you suspect your loved one has bipolar disorder, this is a great read because the author was diagnosed with bipolar and is very frank and thorough about her experiences.
15. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
I liked this book on bipolar because it was written from a medical and personal perspective.
16. Why Men Must Lie to Women by Philip B. Storm
This was a silly, irritating book but it still intrigued me.
17. Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
This was recommended by my therapist when I thought I was working on the relationship, before the divorce.
18. The Female Brain by Louann Md Brizendine
I loved this book. I think every woman should read it, especially the chapter on female orgasms. It covers lots of mental and physical health issues.
19. The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson
The author describes the healing process through five stages. I found it helpful, especially for those who have been betrayed. It describes how abandonment is, in some ways, worse than death, according to the author.
20. Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater
Short, inspirational chapters with daily mantras. Helpful and insightful.
21. Energy Anatomy: The Science of Personal Power, Spirituality and Health by Caroline Myss – audio CD
An exploration of the 7 chakras of the body and what that means for us each of individually.
22. Change Your Brain Change Your Body by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
So there you go. Twenty two suggestions to let the healing begin!