Hello dear readers! I had the great fortune of speaking at the Coastal Women’s Forum dinner meeting last week, and at the end of my talk, a woman in the audience asked a terrific question:

What books related to coaching would you recommend?

What a wonderful question! I was able to recommend a few books on the fly, but I promised her and her fellow attendees that I would follow up with a more detailed list after the meeting. And so tonight, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share with you…

 

Ten Books I Love (and Love to Recommend to Clients)

 

General Fulfillment

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown – OK, full disclosure: I am a huge Brené Brown fan. Like, enormous super fan. It may be partly because she’s also a social worker, but beyond that, her work is not only life-changing, it’s world-changing. Her TED Talk on vulnerability is one of the most-watched and most popular TED Talks of all time, and she is truly a thought leader and pioneer in the study of shame and vulnerability. I could have easily chosen any of her other books (Rising Strong is also fabulous), but for me, Daring Greatly is her seminal work – we are stronger when we are vulnerable, and we are powerful when we acknowledge our fear. Beautiful work.

The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz – Ruiz has created a gorgeous work grounded in the history and teachings of the Toltec tradition. He is devoted to maintaining this knowledge and practices, and in doing so has created a succinct, beautiful guidebook to life. He is a master storyteller, and explores the four agreements: Be Impeccable With Your Words; Don’t Take Anything Personally; Don’t Make Assumptions; and Always Do Your Best. This book is best read more than once, as with each reading, your understanding will deepen.

Energy Leadership by Bruce D Schneider – This book was required reading in my coach training program, and with good reason. Energy Leadership is an allegory of a frustrated, burned out, depressed business man who turned his life and his business around by understanding and harnessing the power of his energetic profile. According to Schneider, how we relate to our world, to others, and to ourselves is largely a result of our energy. When we are acting from a place of catabolic energy (energy that drains, constricts, and injures), we are less likely to create success and happiness than when we are in a place of anabolic energy (healing, creating, growth-oriented). How do we accomplish anabolic living? This book is a great place to start, and if you find it enlightening, send me an email!

Transitions by William Bridges – I read Transitions upon the advice of my mentor coach, Carrie Doubts, and am so grateful for her recommendation. This book breaks down the concept of “major life changes” into understandable stages, and navigates the reader through each stage and phase. Although at times Bridges gets too caught up in allegory to explain his main points, that doesn’t distract from his insightful thoughts on how society views change, and why individuals get stuck in the change cycle.

 

Mindfulness

10% Happier by Dan Harris – This book is for people who know meditation would be good for them, but they just can’t get into the idea of, you know, actually meditating. Harris recounts his own journey with meditation, first as a skeptical reporter, then as an almost-addict, and finally, as a convert. His journalist chops come shining through in this funny, poignant, and vulnerable examination of how mindfulness brought him more joy, peace, and yes, happiness. (About 10% more, actually.)

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris – In 2009, I was introduced to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a mindfulness-based approach to cognitive therapy. Learning ACT completely changed my professional and personal life, and I was eager to share it with my friends, family, colleagues, and clients. Unfortunately, most of the books on ACT were written by researchers and psychologists, for researchers and psychologists, complete with unpronounceable jargon and pages upon pages of footnotes. However, in The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris (no relation to Dan Harris) distils the main tenets of ACT into understandable concepts applicable to everyone – not just those in need of therapy. This book is a game changer.

 

Relationship Books

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – When I provided couples counseling, Chapman’s book was one of my top recommendations. His observations about how couples relate to each other are revolutionary, and his theories led to more “A ha!” moments with my clients than anything else I recommended. As the title suggests, there are five main ways we express and receive love, and we tend to express love the way we wish to receive it. Being aware of both our language AND our partner’s language allows us to effectively communicate while reducing the likelihood and frequency of misunderstandings and arguments. This book saves marriages – I’ve seen it firsthand. Powerful stuff.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – I’m a huge fan of Aziz Ansari. I first fell in love with him on Parks & Recreation, then discovered his stand-up comedy, and most recently enjoyed him in the Netflix series, Master of None. In Modern Romance, Ansari partners with a sociologist to research what it’s like to search for love in the 21st century. It’s a humorous, scholarly read – and even more fun as an audio book.

 

Books on Creative Living

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I will never forget reading this book for the first time and experiencing the wonderful feeling of being understood. Bird by Bird is a master class on writing, but Lamott’s guidance goes far beyond plot, structure, character, and theme. Instead, she weaves sage advice into her humorous personal reflections, the result being a funny, moving owner’s guide to life. I reread this book every few years when I’m in need of inspiration, and she’s never let me down yet.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Many of you may be familiar with Gilbert’s breakout hit, Eat Pray Love. As moved as I was by that novel (particularly the Pray section), I believe Big Magic may be her finest work to date. She has written a love letter to artists of all types, providing encouragement, guidance, and unconditional love for anyone who has ever felt the desire to create. Her accompanying podcast, Magic Lessons, is also worth checking out. Get out there and create big magic!

So that’s it! My top ten – or at least, today’s top ten – books that I love and love to recommend. And in case you’re interested, the following books are on my must-read list, and perhaps they’ll wind up on my list next time:

 

So tell me… what books are on your most loved list? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!