Reading and writing save my life on a daily basis, and I can’t help but share some of my favorites with you. These writers, researchers, and creatives all write from the heart and discover things I simply refuse to live without. I recommend them because these folks are honest in their works, act with integrity, and call me to a higher way of living.
My Favorite Books
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
Grealy’s first and only memoir showcases a brilliant mind gone too soon. Her endurance in the face of a cancer diagnosis at age ten and thirty-six reconstruction surgeries on her face matches her beautiful mind and generous heart in her lyrical and deep writing.
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
A celebrated spiritual classic on everything from finding God in addiction recovery, the wonders and pitfalls of single motherhood, and celebrating imperfect communities of love.
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett’s luminous prose about her literary friendship with the tortured writer Lucy Grealy is filled with wit and pathos, beautifully depicting how women friendships can be just as deep, lasting, and loving as any romantic love.
The Buddha and the Borderline by Kiera Van Gelder
Van Gelder’s quest for liberation from the constraints of borderline personality is a courageous self-love story, exploring meditation and various forms of therapy to help. Highly recommended for anyone dealing with this condition who is looking for hope, humor, and healing on the path.
The Great Belonging by Charlotte Donolon
Although written from a Christian perspective, Donolon’s wise and insightful book is a sweet companion for anyone who desires to befriend loneliness, reminding us of ways we already connect to others, ourselves, and the Holy throughout our lifetimes.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
May’s short but uplifting book is part memoir, literature review, and science exploration of how our view of winter can nurture and empower us.
The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr
An excellent book on the science and theology of the divine presence in our lives. Read this and watch your loneliness vanish as you realize we are more loved than we know!
The Road Back to You: an Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Suzanne Stables and Ian Cron
One of the best introductory books on the Enneagram written by two fabulous spiritual directors and therapists.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown
This book is a fabulous introduction to Dr. Brown’s shame resilience work, and her ten guideposts are practical steps for creating an embodied and meaningful life with the one you have now.
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
Essential reading for anyone interested in how practicing mindfulness can help you generate peace on a daily basis.
The Long Night: Readings and Stories to Help You through Depression by Jessica Kantrovitz
Jessica is a writer who knows exactly what it’s like to survive the hell of depression. Her words will meet you where you’re at with well-researched tips and a big dose of kindness.
Try Softer by Aundi Kolber
Aundi Kolber’s first book is a powerful combination of neuroscience insights and spiritual wisdom written by a caring trauma-informed therapist. A must read for anyone who’s ever wanted to navigate trauma with lots of compassion.
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff
Dr. Kristin Neff’s compelling first book details exactly how being kind to ourselves can help change the world, one heart at a time.
Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John Cacioppo and William Patrick
Loneliness explores the evolutions of social connection with an extensive review of primate studies and fascinating cross-cultural observations.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
This amazing book is considered the Bible of trauma, and for good reason: Bessel writes compassionately about trauma from the perspective of a scientist with the heart of poet.
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Dr Dan Siegal
Written by neuroscience psychiatrist and counselor, Dr. Siegal’s book is a fabulous introduction to interpersonal neurobiology, which is all about the power of mindsight to move us towards safety and connection in all most important relationships.
My Favorite Blogs, Podcasts & YouTube Channels
Dr. Marisa Franco is a clinical psychologist who studies the power and importance of friendship. What makes her work relevant is studying adult platonic friendship and how these relationships enrich our lives. Her monthly newsletter offers important tips on exploring how to make our friends a priority.
My friend Taylor is a fabulous human and an atypical Aspie, a newly diagnosed woman on the Autism Spectrum. She is a brilliant woman who is a clear and dynamic communicator and sheds light on what it’s like being autistic and female. Her YouTube channel is an excellent resource for anyone looking to learn more about being a female autistic.
Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist and author from North California who has taught extensively on increasing your inner strengths and cultivating everyday happiness. He and his son Forest co-host a podcast called Being Well which offers a treasure trove of mindfulness-based psychological approaches to healing from depression, anxiety, trauma, and so much more.
Dr. Brene Brown has changed millions of lives with her groundbreaking work on vulnerability and shame resilience. Read The Gifts of Imperfection first as that’s a great introduction to Brown’s work and then dive into the rest of her books.
Dr. Kristin Neff’s seminal work on the benefits of a self-compassion practice will help ease worries and cultivate kindness towards yourself. A clinical psychologist, Neff’s guided meditations are pure gold. Consider using them before bed if you struggle with insomnia.
Richard Rohr is a Catholic priest and mystic in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Center for Action and Contemplation. His writings center on cultivating non dualism and radical action to alleviate suffering for the marginalized.
Zen Master Henry Shukman is the spiritual director of the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe. With online retreats, free drop-in meditation sessions everyday, and dynamic teachings, this zendo is a wonderful way to dip your toes into the peace of a meditation practice.
I’m always willing to listen.
Please call or text my practice number which is (817) 642 – 7305, or send me an email at jenn at theholyabsurd dot com (to prevent spam bots). I look forward to hearing from you!