If you know me, you know that I read…a lot. My favorite books are non-fiction, because I love learning. (Honestly, I don’t think I’ve read a fiction book in over 20 years.) Yoga philosophy, spiritual growth, the natural world. Those are my topics of choice, and the sorts of books I choose for my Book Club. In 2023 I read some really good books–so good that I want to share them with you. Check out my top 5 favorite books of 2023 below and find out why I loved these books so much.
The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Mate, MD + Daniel Mate
This book is described as “a groundbreaking investigation into the causes of illness, a bracing critique of how our society breeds disease, and a pathway to health and healing.” Pretty deep–but important–stuff. The Matés write about how Western medicine neglects the roles that trauma and stress, as well as the pressures of modern-day living, exert on our bodies and our minds.
Why I loved this book: As a holistic yoga and wellness educator, I feel validated when I discover a doctor who believes in the importance of treating the whole person. But what I really appreciated about this book was the authors’ belief that authenticity–finding meaning in one’s inner experience–is the antidote for the ‘hypnotizing influence’ of what our culture tries to tell us is ‘normal.’ Something for us all to ponder.
Real Self Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness by Pooja Lakshmin, MD
This book teaches that real self-care is an internal, self-reflective process–not something you need to buy or do. Instead of selling crystals, cleanses and bubble baths, it offers practical tools for real and sustainable change so that you are able to to prioritize and make meaningful choices about how you want to live your life.
Why I loved this book: It confirms everything I know to be true from doing my own work around self-care, and the advice Dr. Lakshmin shares is strikingly similar to what I offer in my self-paced Stop Sabotaging Your Self-Care online course (minus the bonus yoga videos)!
How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal From Your Past, and Create Your Self by Dr. Nicole LePera
Nicole LePera–known as the Holistic Psychologist on social media–teaches how adverse experiences and childhood traumas keep us stuck in patterns of codependency and emotional immaturity in adulthood, and how to do the work of breaking free from those destructive behaviors.
Why I loved this book: As someone who has been doing my own inner work for decades–especially around family dysfunction, perfectionism and learning to set healthier boundaries–I appreciate how candid LePera is about her own personal experiences with these topics, and find her advice to be very affirming and empowering.
Sensitive: The Hidden Power of the Highly Sensitive Person in a Loud, Fast, Too-Much World by Jenn Granneman + Andre Solo
In this book, the authors teach Sensitive readers (HSPs) about how to unlock the potential of their undervalued trait and leverage it across the important areas of their lives: in friendships and relationships, the workplace, leadership, and parenting.
Why I loved this book: As a Sensitive person myself, one of the things I appreciated learning about was the concept of the Sensitivity Boost: HSPs get a bigger boost from the same things that help anyone–mentoring, a healthy home, supportive parents, a positive group of friends–which allows us to do more, go further in life, and contribute to the world in positive ways. Unfortunately, the inverse is also true. If we don’t get this kind of support in our younger years, we have a harder time being well-adjusted, resilient adults.
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain
At a time of profound discord and anxiety, this beautifully written book explores how to acknowledge our own sorrows and longings so we don’t end up inflicting them on others. It also highlights the power of the bittersweet personality: those who, at their worst, despair that the perfect and beautiful world is forever out of reach. But who, at their best, try to summon it into being.
Why I loved this book: I realized I was going to love this book in the first few pages when the author shared that exploratory studies show a high correlation between high scorers on the Bittersweet Quiz and High Sensitivity. This book is validation that healthy people don’t shut out emotions like joy and sorrow from their life. In fact, these emotions are only felt by those who are deeply alive.
Are these the kind of books you like to read as well? I warmly invite you to join my Book Club in 2024. You’ll find some of these titles on the docket!
For more of my favorites, check out my My Top 10 Reads from Yoga Book Club.