8 Books that Changed My Life
"You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope-building people." - Zig Ziglar
Oh I do love a cozy blanket, pot of tea, and a fabulous book! I have always loved the texture and smell of a book in my hands, getting to explore some foreign world or adventurous story. I love to expand my mind and reading allows me to access so many different pools of knowledge.
When I was working in the states, I often had long drives and really got into listening to audio-books. I became instantly hooked to Audible and love to explore Amazon's suggestions each month. More recently, as I travel the world, I have abandoned physical books for my Kindle. While not ideal, Kindles are lighter than carrying around a bunch of books. Plus, I can read in the darkness of an overnight bus, in the sunshine on the beach, and it is easy to toss in my purse.
I love asking my friends and life teachers about book suggestions. If you are impressed with the way someone lives, acts, etc., I would ask what books they have been reading or what books impacted their life. Such useful information!
I am excited to share some of the books that have impacted my life the most, and why. I also grabbed a couple reviews from friends who have read them too. These books are all very different and may not be for you, but they have incredibly changed my life!
By the way, my list is in no specific order, as there is no ranking for the different lessons I have learned.
Skinny Bitch by Kim Bardouin and Rory Freedman
While this may not be the best book on veganism, I had to put it on the list because it is what introduced me to the entire concept. Back when I was about 12-years-old, I became really stressed out about keeping my body skinny. I had a lot of misconceptions about my size, as I was starting to grow into my woman body and I struggled with the changes. I picked up this book because I liked the title and wanted to be a "skinny bitch". I had no idea that this would be such a turning point for my life! There was something about the harsh facts and the profanity that really spoke to my angsty adolescent self. I started my path of vegetarianism and veganism immediately upon finishing the book, much to the frustration of my family who are still big meat eaters. I'm so glad I started young, as it forced me to start leaning to cook for myself at a young age and I don't have any craving for meat.
Peace is in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
This is a more recent book to be added to my list! Although the concepts that TNH present in the book are not new to me, the simplicity in which he provides realistic steps to peaceful living were so refreshing. He gives easy steps for adding calm to your life.
One of the Remote Year leaders, Travis King, suggested this book before we went on our mindfulness weekend. He said, "When I first found Peace is Every Step at a hostel in Australia I read it in a day, then read a random passage out of it every morning for months, Then I bought copies for everyone in my family for Christmas - that's how much I love this book. Reading Thich Nhat Hanh's writing makes me feel peaceful, like I'm in his presence, and also makes my mind slow down and puts my feet on the ground to connect with the moment, my breath and the earth. He also has the ability to make people enjoy doing dishes (it's one of my favorite chapters) which is pretty special in itself."
Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein
Holy cow I love this book! This was my first introduction to the ideas in a Course in Miracles, but it was perfectly presented in an authentic, youthful, and relatable way. Gabby shares the stories of her life, including her battles with anxiety and drug abuse, and how the Course in Miracles offered her a path to love. She shares the concepts of love vs fear, the importance of learning lessons within relationships, and the necessity of forgiveness. This book was very helpful to me during my marriage, when I couldn't quite understand how I could love my ex husband and still strongly desire a divorce. Gabby offered a lot of insight and gave me peace. I have since picked up every book she's written and love her speeches on YouTube.
Daring Greatly and Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Brene Brown is another author who continues to amaze me with every book she writes. Her TED Talk on vulnerability has been viewed by over six million people and she is doing impressive work to facilitate better conversations about shame and the power of being vulnerable. Dating Greatly is all about how to live wholeheartedly and authentically through embracing our imperfections. Rising Strong is all about the necessity of our failures and hardships to give us the courage we need to rise from situations stronger and on a clearer path to meaning.
My dear friend, Kim, is another fan of Brene's work. When I asked her for a review, she said, "Brene Brown's books have been incredibly transformative in my life. I love the way she mixes both data and emotions into her research and writing, and how her books always remind me that the ultimate act of courage is showing up vulnerably and authentically in our lives."
Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
BKS Iyengar was an incredible yoga guru and spiritual leader. This was one of the books requested when I signed up for teacher training a few years back, although I had already shuffled through the pages a few times before the course. I think this is a book that every yogi should read! Iyengar wanted yoga to be accessible to all and offers detailed instruction on how to practice yoga, with proper alignment, on your own. More importantly, he dives deeper into the spiritual practice of yoga and pranayama (breath practice). His instructions are clear and easy to understand, plus he shares a lot of Sanskrit, which is a nice bonus. If you are into yoga, read this book!
Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski, Ph. D.
Forewarning: This review share personal details about my sex life...
This book has given me so much relief and knowledge about my own sexuality. I had always felt shameful about sex and had serious performance anxiety. I often struggle with lubrication and previous partners have been frustrated with me and blamed me for this, so I would avoid mentioning when I needed lubrication, resulting in painful experiences. I have also struggled with a bit of sexual trauma. This book has done incredible things to help me take ownership of my sexuality and really understand my body. I always recommend this book to my lady friends, but it would be a good read for men who are trying to understand their female partners.
Reality Unveiled by Ziad Masri
Okay y'all, this book is pretty "woo woo" and it may not vibe with everyone's beliefs, but I had to throw it on here. Have you ever read something and you feel like you already know everything it's teaching you, but at the same time, it's completely new? That's exactly how I felt reading this book, which I read entirely in one sitting. I couldn't get enough. It's instantly making such a profound change on my mindset. This book is full of spiritual concepts and "new age" beliefs, such as life on other planets, reincarnation and past lives, and what happens with our souls after physical death. May not be your jam, but I would love to know if you read it!
Bonus book: Harry Potter
Sorry folks, I had to do it! Sometimes, fiction can be just has transformative and helpful in your life. I speak all about Harry Potter's role in helping me deal with and understand my depression in this blog post, if you're curious. I am forever grateful for the books!
As I stated before, I am always looking for new books to read, stories to explore, and ideologies to investigate. I would love to hear about books that have made major impacts in your lives.
In the comments below, tell me: What books have changed you? Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think?
Thank you for reading, as always! <3 Taryn