We have put together a selection of 'good reads' that we hope you will find interesting and thought-provoking and will prompt you to reflect on your own wellbeing. Split into different categories, there are various styles and genres including self-help, personal stories, insightful novels and a bit of science.
Happy reading and best wishes, from the Wellbeing Team.
The Inflamed Mind
Written in 2018 this is not a traditional ‘self-help’ book, but rather described as a ’game-changing’ in terms of how breakthrough science is moving to understand depression in a new comprehensive way. how mental health disorders ‘can have their roots in the immune system and explores a whole new way of looking at how the mind, brain, and body all work together in a sometimes misguided effort to help us survive in a hostile world’ .
If you want an up to date understanding of the biology of depression, which helps to neutralise some of the old assumptions about mental health, then this book will be of interest to you.
Sane New World: Taming the Mind
Take your pick, Comedian turned psychotherapist, Ruby’s book are laugh out loud funny, poignant, insightful and understanding. She breaks down science and mental health and shows you how to make space to breathe, reduce stress, and quieten your mind. Mindfulness based, but with a shed load of science and evidence of why it really can help, if you want a comprehensive understanding of why this approach does help with anxiety, stress, and depression, along with guided simple changes you can make, then give Ruby’s books a go.
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
From the back cover...'We are all frazzled, all of us...'
Five hundred years ago no one died of stress: we invented this concept and now we let it rule us.
In A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, Ruby Wax shows us how to de-frazzle for good by making simple changes that give us time to breathe, reflect and live in the moment. It's an easy-to-understand introduction to mindfulness, weaved together with Ruby's trademark wit and humour.
Let Ruby be your guide to a healthier, happier you. You've nothing to lose but your stress...
'Whip-smart on the subject... she teaches the art of doing nothing in a way that doesn't send you to sleep' The Times
How to be Human
"It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now - completely brilliant and yet, some might say, emotionally dwarfed. The question is: can our more empathetic side catch up in time to save us and the world? I've got nothing against smarts, but it's smarts without emotional awareness that got us into this position of being able to nuke each other into oblivion and rape the earth for oil."
With a little help from a monk (who tells us how our mind works) and a neuroscientist (who tells us how our brain works), Ruby Wax answers every question you've ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, sex, kids, the future and compassion.
Filled with witty anecdotes from Ruby's own life, and backed up by smart science and practical mindfulness exercises, How to be Human is the only manual you need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you've upgraded your iphone.
Reasons to Stay Alive
If you feel that no body quite understands how you feel, then this book might be for you. Matt is a well-known author of fiction books, but he has also written about his own personal mental health issues with anxiety and depression. This was his first book on this subject. A very personal account, , it describes his journey , from when he first started to struggle with anxiety and depression, through to his life now, what helped him, realisations he made along the way, and how he learned how to look after himself and learned to live again. The words on the back cover “ Moving, funny, and Joyous….it is a book about making the most of your time on earth”
Notes On A Nervous Planet
Another by Matt Haig, this time to help us realise that most if not all of the anxiety and low mood we may experience by living in the modern world isn’t actually a reflection of some personal deficit. Matt opens our eyes to how the way we live, the media and stress that we are exposed to in this modern technological, non stop, 24 hour rolling news world, really has an impact, and what we can do to negate it and learn how recognise this and to look after ourselves whilst navigating our way through. Insightful.
‘An honest and human guide to coping with the modern world’ - Guardian
The Confidence Gap
‘This is a hands-on, self-help guide to gaining long-lasting confidence and overcoming fear using mindfulness-based therapy. The author explains how many of us are playing the 'confidence game' using the wrong rules, and guides the reader through clear, simple exercises designed to help you manage difficult emotions such as anxiety and build genuine confidence. "The Confidence Gap" has a gentler, more thoughtful approach to teaching confidence than the typically aggressive/peppy self-help approach. It is instructive, reassuring and gentle in tone, which will appeal to women as well as men and the business market.’ Amazon
‘Russ Harris’ book… was a game-changer for me! He defines the “confidence gap” as the difference between what we want to achieve and what we believe we can do. His unique perspective on this age-old problem has shifted my thinking and started to change what I do and how I see the world. Harris provides a collection of “confidence rules” that not only help us come to terms with the nature of fear and confidence, but also provide some surprising guidance about how to grow confidence.’ Professionally Speaking Website
Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway
So okay, this book may be just over 30 years old now, but there is a good reason why it is still be published (and updated and revised by the author). It’s about improving our ability to handle challenging situations from public speaking, to intimacy, to making decisions and changing jobs. All those things which we feel require a certain level of confidence, that if we think we lack, results in us often finding ourselves feeling paralysed. Written with understanding and humour, Susan’s book may just help you help you to peel back the layers of what confidence actually means, be less fearful of ‘fear’ and take a fresh look at all those things you thought were stopping you.
The Art of Procrastination
‘A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing (or getting things done by putting them off)’ ….is what is written on the front cover of this little book! John Perry is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, and introduces himself by telling us that he is now writing this book, which he had been putting off for ages, because he is putting off doing others jobs on his list (marking papers, proposals to review, dissertations to read..!). Which goes to show even the most intelligent of minds procrastinate, so it’s not just you. Funny, wise, and warm, it may help you just rethink your procrastination, so that it can actually work for you.
Quiet – The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking
‘Shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as being negative. Introverts feel reproached for being the way they are.
In Quiet, Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. She gives introverts the tools to better understand themselves and take full advantage of their strengths. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with real stories, Quiet will permanently change how we see introverts - and how you see yourself.’
'I can't get Quiet out of my head. It is an important book - so persuasive and timely and heartfelt it should inevitably effect change in schools and offices' Jon Ronson, The Guardian
A link to Susan's Ted Talk : https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts?language=en
Quiet - Journal
For those of you who like to write your thoughts and reflect, there's the accompanying Journal guide to compliment 'Quiet'.
Nasty People, How To Stop Being Hurt By Them Without Stooping To Their Level
Not quite as harsh as the title suggests, this book is all about navigating and protecting yourself emotionally from those challenging relationships we come across with other people in our lives. From your Parents to your boss, partner, friends, or colleague, Jay Carters book helps you to recognise an ‘invalidator’ (and even help us recognise our own invalidating behaviours to others) and offers strategies, techniques, and psychological tips & insights to help you side step and stop this type of emotional abuse and the anguish that it can cause.
Jay is a Psychologist who has over 30 years of experience treating couples and individuals.
ACT with Love
Another in the acceptance and commitment range, as you guessed, yes this is all about how we can develop, deepen and improve our relationships, by understanding how our head can trip up our heart and vice versa. Covering the nuances and complications of any relationships, and acknowledging that ‘popular myths about love set us up for a struggle with real life….and the inconvenient truth there’s no such thing as a perfect partner, all couple fight, and feelings of love come and go like the weather.’ Doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, happy, loving relationship, and learn how to handle painful thoughts and feelings in a happier more effective way. The book has been described as “Warm, engaging, and infinitely valuable”
Essays on Love
Alain de Botton
The first thing to say here is that both of these are stories, not traditional style self-help books about relationships with prescribed ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. But…they do not lose anything as a result, because as Alain takes us on a journey through the dynamics of a relationship, (early adulthood in the ‘Essays in Love’ and love and marriage in ‘The Course of Love’, the journey in both stories reflects on the pitfalls, assumptions, ideals and human fallibility that is inevitably entwined within opening up, developing, and growing in all intimate relationships.
Essays in Love – ‘A unique love story and a classic work of philosophy, rooted in the mysterious workings of the human heart and mind. Each stage of the relationship is illuminated with startling clarity, as de Botton explores emotions often felt but rarely understood.’
‘With the verve of a novelist and the insight of a philosopher, Alain de Botton uncovers the mysteries of the human heart. Essays In Love is an iconic book - one that should be read by anyone who has ever fallen in love.’
The Course of Love
Alain de Botton
The Course of Love – ‘is a love story for the modern world, chronicling the daily intimacies, the blazing rows, the endless tiny gestures that make up a life shared between two people. Moving and deeply insightful, The Course of Love offers us a window into essential truths about the nature of love.’
'Engaging, sympathetic, acutely perceptive... There's a refreshing honesty in what de Botton has to say' Guardian
The Examined Life
Educated at Berkeley and Oxford, Stephen Gross has worked as a practicing psychoanalyst for ovr 30 years, and teaches at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and in the Psychoanalytic Unit at University College London. This is his first book, and is about ordinary process, talking, listening and understanding.
‘This book is about learning to live.’
‘These are stories about everyday lives: from a woman who finds herself daydreaming as she returns home from a business trip to a young man loses his wallet, to the more extreme examples: the patient who points an unloaded gun at a police officer and the compulsive liar who convinces his wife he's dying of cancer. The resulting journey will spark new ideas about who we are and why we do what we do.’
Happiness – A Guide To Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
Three books here (this and the next two below) are all by Matthieu Ricard as the main author, and in collaboration (see below). All three look at how we go about developing and creating inner wellbeing, from understanding our emotions, their fluidity in our daily lives, to realising our ability to handle emotions skilfully and with compassion and patience. From disappointment, frustration, rejection, through to happiness and acceptance, Matthieu combines Buddhist wisdom with modern psychology and neuroscience to help us manifest a kind, nurturing, patient philosophy of life within ourselves.
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk and has authored several books, including The Monk and the Philosopher and The Quantum and the Lotus. He is a major participant in the research collaboration between cognitive scientists and Buddhist practitioners, spearheaded by the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute.
‘In this revolutionary book, …Matthieu Ricard, shows that happiness is not just an emotion, but a skill that can be developed. Free of arcane jargon, his ground-breaking step-by-step guide contains 20-minute exercises to train the mind to recognise and pursue a lasting happiness’
In Search Of Wisdom: A Monk, A Philosopher, And A Psychiatrist On What Matters Most
Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien
"What I love most about In Search of Wisdom is the fragrance of friendship of the authors, the quality of conversation that arises from the seedbed of their companionship, and the openhearted invitation they offer us to sit around the hearth and join with them in an exploration of what it means to be human."
"Reading this extraordinary book is like being present for a fascinating and profound conversation with three brilliant, wise, and large-hearted people. It is delightfully stimulating for the mind, plus full of soulful and practical suggestions for a happier and more loving life. Wow. Highly recommended."
The Monk and the Philosopher
Jean Francois-Revel & Matthieu Ricard
'Jean Francois-Revel, a pillar of French intellectual life in our time, became world famous for his challenges to both Communism and Christianity. Twenty-seven years ago, his son, Matthieu Ricard, gave up a promising career as a scientist to study Tibetan Buddhism -- not as a detached observer but by immersing himself in its practice under the guidance of its greatest living masters.
Meeting in an inn overlooking Katmandu, these two profoundly thoughtful men explored the questions that have occupied humankind throughout its history. Does life have meaning? What is consciousness? Is man free? What is the value of scientific and material progress? Why is there suffering, war, and hatred?' Their conversation is not merely abstract: they ask each other questions about ethics, rights, and responsibilities, about knowledge and belief, and they discuss frankly the differences in the way each has tried to make sense of his life.
Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and accessible, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives.
Alain de Botton
Have you ever noticed how when comparing ourselves to others, we always compare upwards!? So if you wonder why this is, or why we have anxiety about what others think about us, or are bamboozled by the ‘myth’ of a perfect life, then these three are for you.
‘Alain de Botton presents a one-stop shop for solving the problems of everyday life through the wisdom of history's great philosophers.’
Of ‘Status Anxiety’ the Independent had this to say ‘Singlehandedly, de Botton has taken philosophy back to its simplest and most important purpose: helping us to live our lives’.
The School Of Life
Alain de Botton
‘The School Of Life’ - THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ‘The essential guide to how to live wisely and well in the twenty-first century, a book about everything you were never taught at school. It's about how to understand your emotions, find and sustain love, succeed in your career, fail well and overcome shame and guilt. It's also about letting go of the myth of a perfect life in order to achieve genuine emotional maturity.’
The Consolations of Philosophy
Alain de Botton
‘Consolations of Philosophy’ – ‘Alain de Botton has set six of the finest minds in the history of philosophy to work on the problems of everyday life. Find out what Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche would say about the things that bother us all the most: lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety, the fear of failure and the pressure to conform.’
A Brief Guide to Self Help Classics: From How to Win Friends and Influence People to The Chimp Paradox
James M Russell
Just in case you were wondering what other options are out there…
50 Self Help Classics: Your Shortcut to the Most Important Ideas on Happiness and Fulfilment
....and 50 more
Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World
Dr Tasha Eurich
Integrating hundreds of studies with her own research and work in the Fortune 500 world, organizational psychologist Dr Tasha Eurich shatters conventional assumptions about what it takes to truly know ourselves – like why introspection isn’t a bullet train to insight, how experience is the enemy of self-knowledge, and just how far others will go to avoid telling us the truth about ourselves. Through stories of people who’ve made dramatic self-awareness gains, she offers surprising secrets, techniques and strategies to help readers do the same – and therefore improve their work performance, career satisfaction, leadership potential, relationships, and more.
The Everybodies Guide to the Drama Triangle
"Due to its simplicity, the insights gained by having an understanding of The Drama Triangle can stay with people for life. This is because, once people see for themselves how they are acting out The Drama Triangle and its dysfunctional role with their loved ones, co-workers, friends, and strangers for that matter, they are less likely to respond using old patterns of behaviour. It is a great tool for helping us to raise self-awareness and can act as a ‘go-to’ model when we need to step back and analyse what’s really going on."
With help from the much-loved Everybodies family, The Drama Triangle booklet offers us all the gift of transformation. Simply by raising awareness of how we play certain 'roles' in our dialogues with others, we can begin to transform every area of our interpersonal relationships.
It explores the science behind why each activity works, and offers a prescription for exactly what you should do to make sure you're getting the rest you need. This book can help you achieve a more restful, balanced life. Claudia Hammond is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, and a lecturer in psychology.
Rest, as opposed to sleep, has been surprisingly neglected when it comes to sustained and comprehensive scientific study. As collaborator on the world’s most authoritative study on rest, Hammond understands both the benefits of getting quality down-time and the secrets to how to achieve it in the first place. A truly enlightening and ground-breaking volume
The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness
Prof Steve Peters
The Chimp Paradox is an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person. Prof Steve Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life so you can:
- Recognise how your mind is working
- Understand and manage your emotions and thoughts
- Manage yourself and become the person you would like to be
Never Let Me Go
One of the most acclaimed novels of the 21st Century, from the Nobel Prize-winning author.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.
Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul
Pocket-sized and ideally portable, The Poetry Pharmacy presents the most essential poems in Sieghart's dispensary. From everyday worries to finding the strength to tackle life's greater hurdles, this is the perfect volume to have by your side.