Help Yourself: January 2023 Reading Recommendations
January is probably my least favorite month. It’s still dark and cold. Spring is a distant dream and the excitement of the holiday season is done. I always feel like I need a little extra help. The recommendations this month are focused on ways that we can help ourselves. Whether that be processing trauma, moving into the woods and never looking back, or learning how to create better habits for ourselves.
Memoir and Biography
By Mark Sundeen
In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings-all thirty dollars of it-in a phone booth. He has lived without money-and with a newfound sense of freedom and security-ever since. Suelo doesn’t pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, forages wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an I.D. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs-for shelter, food, and warmth-but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement.
By Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways.
By Cicely Tyson
“Just as I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. Here, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” – from Just As I Am
By Michael Finkel
In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. A riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded
By Mark Manson
For decades we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. But those days are over. ‘F*ck positivity, ‘ Mark Manson says. ‘Let’s be honest; sometimes things are f*cked up and we have to live with it.’ For the past few years, Manson–via his wildly popular blog–has been working on correcting our delusional expectations for ourselves and for the world. He now brings his hard-fought wisdom to this groundbreaking book. Manson makes the argument–backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes–that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to better stomach lemons. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties–once we stop running from and avoiding, and start confronting painful truths–we can begin to find the courage and confidence we desperately seek.
By Brené Brown
Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives — experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. Now Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other.
By Michael A. Singer
What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul offers simple yet profound answers to these questions. Whether this is your first exploration of inner space , or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you.
*Please note that this is an ebook and only available through the Libby app
By Glennon Doyle
This is how you find yourself. There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.
*Please note that this is an ebook and available only through the Libby App
Learn more about the Chester Fritz Library’s new resource Libby and start listening to audiobooks and reading ebooks on your phone or tablet
By James Clear
James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.
By Bessel Van der Kolk
Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society. Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. He uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferer’s capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity.
By Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential.
By Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry
Our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and What Happened to You? provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand. When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It’s time we started asking a different question: what happened to you? It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future and open the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.