Finding Your Own North Star: How To Claim The Life You Were Meant To Live by Martha Beck
A classic for anyone looking to understand themselves better, this book by author and life coach Martha Beck has a compelling premise: you have an essential self and a social self, and by tuning into your essential self - the real you, the passionate, excited, authentic, truthful you - you orientate yourself towards what you really want and need, versus simply living for the social self - the public you; the one that only acts out of fear of what ‘everyone else’ thinks. With exercise after exercise, plus a relaxed and humorous-yet-sincere tone, Beck takes us step by step through not only finding our North star, but how to arrange our lives to follow it. As someone who always seems to be seeking ‘permission’ to do what I really want, I found it compassionate, revelatory, practical, and extremely readable.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Daring Greatly is one of sociologist and researcher Brene Brown’s bestsellers, and - like her other books - it does not disappoint. Riffing on her usual themes of accepting yourself and understanding the intricacies of shame, vulnerability and strength, it is written in her classic self-deprecating, honest and supportive style. Put simply, reading Brown’s books - and especially this one - is one of the most edifying routes I know towards self-acceptance, self-understanding, and self-confidence (plus, it’s an eye-opening look at how researching other people can shed light on your own life).
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
By identifying the five ways that partners show affection for each other - acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, and quality time - and explaining how to zone in on what love language you and your partner each speak, Chapman styles himself as an interpreter between the two, helping couples resolve avoidable conflict and misunderstandings that would otherwise get lost ‘in translation’. An incredible step forward in understanding how couples do - and don’t - relate to each other, and how to bridge that gap.
Living With A Black Dog: How To Take Care Of Someone With Depression While Looking After Yourself by Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone
Even the most successful couple might be struck with difficulties every now and again, and few feel more formidable or persistent than depression. Commonly known as the ‘black dog’, it’s no secret that depression can hit anyone at any time, and, although intensely dark for the sufferer, it can also prove incredibly distressing and catastrophic for anyone close to them, with partners liable to be both sucked into the downward spiral, as well as agonise over their apparent inability to help their loved one back from the brink.
The sequel to the classic ‘I Had a Black Dog’ illustrated book by depression-sufferer Matthew Johnstone, this follow-up from his wife Ainsley shows another angle to the illness, and has proven to be a veritable boon in my own life when trying to understand how to protect my own wobbly mental health while supporting that of my prone-to-depression partner. While the Black Dog itself understandably gets more airtime, those living with someone affected also need validation, support and the important knowledge they’re not alone. This touching, approachable and very human book is exactly that.
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Many people who suffer from regular bursts of depression often champion the need for healthy habits and routine - regular meditation and yoga, for example - in helping to combat any approaching clouds of doom, especially if they are to remain healthy and productive in their daily lives.
Enter this book by Currey, which does what it says on the cover, and is a decidedly-satisfying romp through the diaries, daily routines, habits, and working lives of some of the world’s most creative and prolific writers, artists and philosophers - both living and dead. If looking around other people’s houses is interesting, looking at their daily routines is totally fascinating - and this book offers a delicious insight into how some of the most successful names in history managed to create their masterpieces. Perfect inspiration for anyone today looking to combat procrastination, build new habits, and - who knows? - maybe even pen their life’s work!