Whether it is for spiritual enlightenment, productivity, self-love, getting over emotional stumble, understanding human relations, or again making a career move, some books for the mind are treasure for fascinating information, or shall I say, life secrets.
Below is a list of all the self-growth books I have read and recommend, which each served me a different purpose at different phases of my life. I will express my honest opinion and review each one of these precious.
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BOOKS FOR LOVE RELATIONSHIPS
How to Love – Thich Nhat Hanh
Maybe you are already familiar with the author Thich That Hanh, Zen Master and ‘father of mindfulness’. In his book, Thich Nhat Hanh shares his wisdom on physical and emotional intimacy with our loved ones. How to Love is very easy to read as it is written page by page in elementary language and using metaphors, each page dealing with a different title and subject.
This book is therefore a great choice for you if you are looking for something to read a little bit every day, to learn how to feel true love for yourself and for others. When you feel closer to your loved ones, you are also more connected to life in general. All real understanding of love comes with truth and sincerity, which will bring more clarity, kindness and compassion to your love life.
One of the purpose of reading this book is to avoid succumbing to the Western tendency for hope and cynicism, which is a mechanism for self-protection when getting caught in our hopes to be loved and to love. This book teaches you that to truly love another, you need to first understand your own sufferings; physical, emotional or spiritual.
A few inspiring quotes from the book:
“Other people’s actions are the result of their own pain and not the result of any intention to hurt you.”
“A true partner or friend is one who encourages you to look deep inside yourself for the beauty and love you’ve been seeking.”
“Hugging mediation is a practice of mindfulness. ‘Breathing in, I know my dear one is in my arms, alive. Breathing out, she is so precious to me.'”
“Look deeply, and see the tenderness that is revealed, the suffering, the hope, and the despair that can be expressed during sleep.”
“Joy and happiness resonates from our eyes, and everyone around us benefits from our smile and our presence.”
The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman
Dr. Gary Chapman touches on the delicate subject of couples ending up splitting up or getting a divorce because they failed to mutually understand each other. When two people get caught up in long days and busy schedule, it is easy to forget why they fell in love in the first place and to stop embracing each other. The concept of the 5 Love Languages is simple: people have different backgrounds and personalities, and therefore express and receive love in different ways. A little bit of insight into these differences can help you understand and apply the basics of a healthy, long lasting relationships. It is not easy, but the challenge is what will make you a stronger and more understanding human being.
Now you could be happy with simply taking an online test to find out what is your primary love languages and what is your partner’s primary love language. But I think it is still important to read this book to understand some principles and differences that are not displayed in the online test. For example, understand the difference between loving someone, and experiencing the “in-love experience”. Illustrated with real life situations, this book will teach you secrets and habits for a strong and loving marriage.
“Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse.”
“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”
“True love cannot begin until the “in-love” experience has run its course.”
“The person who is “in-love” has the illusion that his beloved is perfect.”
“Love is a choice you make everyday.”
BOOKS FOR SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT
As a Man Thinketh – James Allen
As a Man Thinketh was the first self-help book I had ever read. Finishing this book is what gave me the desire to grow and become a better and more mindful human being. The book is centred on the power of thoughts. I found it relatively easy to read. I remember this book to have had a positive influence on my mental health when reading it at age 19, working patiently upon my thoughts.
Here are a few quotes from the book that may resonate with you:
“The universe does not favour the greedy, the dishonest, the vicious, although on the mere surface it may sometimes appear to do so; it helps the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous.”
“Change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts. When a man makes his thought pure, he no longer desires impure food.”
“Out of a clear heart comes a clean mind and a clean body. Out of a defiled mind proceeds a defiled life and a corrupt body.”
“Train your mind in strong, impartial, and gentle thought; train your heart in purity and compassion; […] so shall you enter the way of holiness and peace, and shall ultimately realise the immortal Love.”
Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know – Barbara De Angelis
I have particular affection for this book as I feel I have read it exactly at the time I needed it. I was often feeling low, letting my mind take over, with endless fears, worries, and “what ifs”. “What if I can’t afford to pay rent when moving out next year?”; “What if something happen and I loose my most loved ones?”; etc. These thoughts can take control over you if you do not learn to control them.
This book has thereby taught me how it is possible to experience long-lasting happiness by developing a sense of emotional security, and understanding how the flow of change that is inevitable can serve us rather than make us miserable. It has thereby taught me to honour obstacles rather than despise them; to truly love myself for spiritual and emotional fulfilment; and to make my mind a friend rather than an enemy.
The author recommends that you write down the 10 “secrets about life” contained in the book somewhere you can see them. I did this for myself and found it very helpful to remind myself of the secrets when feeling frustrated or unhappy.
Below is a pdf document I created for you, of the 10 “secrets about life” with a brief explanation for each of them. I highly encourage you to print out this document and hang it somewhere you can find it when needed. However, this document does not provide the depth and insight provided in the book, so I still recommend you to purchase and read the book if you find the secrets to be helpful.
What I loved about this book is that it is written in a woman’s voice, Barbara De Angelis. With examples from her real life to which we can all relate as women. Men can also benefit from this book. But I would particularly recommend it to women who desire to accomplish an inner state of confidence, clarity and peace. Fellow woman, if you feel like you are struggling with your mental health, this book is for you.
A few quotes I highlighted from the book:
“Hidden within the poison of our pain is our liberation.”
“What you experience as real is very dependant upon what you think is real.”
“God asked: -‘Where do you think we should hide the secret?’-‘Hide it deep within the human heart. They’ll never look for it there.’ God smiled, for He knew He’d found the answer. And that’s the way it has been ever since.”
The Miracle of Mindfulness – Thich Nhat Hanh
Another artwork from the great author and zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The Miracle of Mindfulness is an introduction to the practice of meditation and the reasons behind it. It is easy to read. I remember being so calm and spiritually happy at the time I was reading this book every morning for just 5 minutes. This book is a must read for you if you feel the need to quiet your mind.
Through gentle anecdotes and lucid guidance, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us how each and every moment, from going for walk to washing the dishes, can be an opportunity for peacefulness and self-awareness. Believe me or not, I actually love doing laundry and washing the dishes since reading this book. With this book you will learn various aspects of skills for mindfulness, which will help you see the beauty of things through the perceived darkness of this world.
Some quotes from the book to reflect on:
“Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work.”
“The mind is like a monkey swinging from branch to branch through a forest, says the Sutra. In order not to lose sight of the monkey, by some sudden movement, we must watch the monkey constantly and even be one with it.”
“Half-smile when you first wake up in the morning.”
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
This could be a book for you if you consider yourself a high level over thinker. This book teaches you how to find your true and deepest self by living fully in the present moment. By surrendering to the Now, to its silence and peace, you can start entering inner peace. This book is based on the belief that in the present moment, everything is already perfect as problems do not exist.
Personally, this book did not do me much good as I was already not much of an over thinker. So my mental health was actually going down when reading this book. I found myself negatively judging my thoughts a lot. This was due to the insistence of the author about the mind being “destructive”, being a “disease”, “taking over you” if you are not in the present moment. These recurring statements made me associate getting lost in my thoughts with something negative and unwanted.
It was important for me to make the critic statement above, as a disclaimer that this is not a book for everyone. I find it lacks realism regarding the pace of life we live in nowadays.
However, I do recommend this book to those looking for a deep understanding of what it means to be truly in the present moment. It is relatively easy to read.
A few quotes I highlighted from the book:
“Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all of the sense perceptions associated with the activity: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, and so on.”
“Make it a habit to ask yourself: What’s going on inside me at this moment?”
“Power over others is weakness disguised as strength.”
“Observe the mind. Smile at it.”
BOOKS FOR PROSPERITY MINDSET
The Magic of Believing – Claude Bristol
I will start by saying this is not an easy book to read, but it is worth the read. Unlike the books for the mind listed above, The Magic of Believing is based on the “science” side of positive projecting thinking, rather than the spiritual side of it. It is based on a lot of real life examples. This book, despite its title, has nothing to do with religions. The main idea of is that belief makes things happen and that you become what you contemplate. Sounds too good to be true?
I personally do believe that on the long-term, your success will depend on your mindset. And that mindset can be developed by harnessing the potential of unlimited power of your subconscious mind. Maybe you are familiar with this idea if you have heard of the law of attraction.
I would recommend this book rather for men than for women, but both can benefit from it. I am convinced you will benefit from this book if:
- you seek to become more assertive in business,
- you want to be more effective in what you do,
- or you need to build your confidence to make your dreams come true.
Believing can truly make you happier, especially if you generally lack faith. A few quotes from the book:
“If you can convince yourself, you can convince the other fellow.”
“It’s the fear of doing the wrong things that attracts the wrong things.”
“You bring into your life the new elements which your most dominant thoughts create within and attract from without.”
“Many people become confused and frustrated because they allow themselves to be influenced by negative thoughts of others.”
“We influence events by very great desires, and there is psychological proof on ourselves on the effects of our own desires.”
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Over 30 millions copies of this self-help book have been sold, which has guided many people to succeed in their affairs. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie teaches you interpersonal skills to increase your influence and earning power. In other words, he teaches you a little bit of What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School (another great business book that I have not read yet).
However, do not be mistaken, this book is not in any case about learning malignant schemes to influence people. Contrariwise, all principles taught in the book are based on honesty and compassion for others. If you are not being truthful in your approach, you would most likely fail in winning people to your point of view.
Reading this book, illustrated by many anecdotes, you will learn how to build up your confidence and make yourself a more likeable person. Which can serve a greater purpose for not only your professional life, but also your personal one.
Some quotes from the principles taught in this book:
“Customers like to feel that they are buying – not being sold.”
“Emerson said: ‘Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn from him.'”
“Many people fail to make a favourable impression because they don’t listen attentively.”
“Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.'”
“‘The average person’, said Samuel Vauclain, then president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, ‘can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.'”
“‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof,’ said Confucious, ‘when your own doorstep in unclean.'”
HOW TO READ CONSISTENTLY?
I have read all of these books for the mind and more, and yet I feel like I don’t read a lot at all! My way of reading consistently and getting to the end of a book is to include reading in my everyday routine.
In one my next “Resources” blog post, I will share with you my 30 Minutes Easy and Sustainable Morning Routine for wellbeing and productivity. Subscribe to TheDorkyFrench’s newsletter to be occasionally updated on new content coming on the blog.
It was important for me to share these books with you as they have really helped me and it would be a shame not to spread the word that there are books out there which will help you become a better, happier, more understanding human being.
Note that I may also update and improve this blog post with time as I read more books. Subscribe to TheDorkyFrench’s newsletter if you want to be informed on upcoming Books For The Mind.
I sincerely hope you will have found some inspiration from this post. As always feel free to contact me to tell me about the steps you took and the achievements you’ve made! Or join our Facebook Group to connect with like-minded individuals. We are in this together.