As we approach the last day of the year, we have a perfect opportunity to reflect on our previous twelve months. One way to reminiscence is to think of the essential inspirations that shaped us, so here is a list of my top book recommendations.
This year was very intense because I was finishing my counselling qualification, so I dedicated most of my time to academic reading on mental health. However, I also read stories for entertainment and inspiration in smaller pockets of time. Some books were suggested to me by friends; other titles showed up in my recommendations. Some arrived in my bibliotherapy prescription bundle. One book found me on a street market. One is not even a book, yet still, it became one. Each and every book listed here changed me deeply for the better. All of those books were wonderful discoveries, so I would like to share them with you today. Here we go.
- “The Climate Book” created by Greta Thunberg – wonderful project collecting science of climate change for all of us, mandatory reading for all of us.
- “Symptoms of Being Human” by Jeff Garvin – a sublime introduction to a life of a teen exploring their gender and identity in a world that is not always kind to us – as we know it.
- “The Book of Trespass” by Nick Hayes – wake up call to consider who owns the land and Nature – written in and about the UK with explorations relevant to all of us, globally.
- “Lasoterapia” (in Polish) by Katarzyna Simonienko – reading about forest bathing in Polish gave me additional, more practical insights on how to enjoy Nature connectedness and how to prepare to guide people who want to venture and explore their wellbeing in their local woods.
- “The Wilderness Cure” by Mo Wilde – a brilliant story of a man who spends an entire year eating only foraged food which turned out to be an excellent introduction to how we connect with the food we consume and how we can live more sustainably too.
- “Handmade: Learning the Art of Chainsaw Mindfulness in a Norwegian Wood” by Siri Helle – I picked up this book at the Cheltenham Festival in response to a venue which felt a little bit too serious for my liking, I admit it: I was simply entertained by the title. However, the book turned out to be a magnificent tribute to the importance of craftsmanship in a world that seems to value cognitive thinking over physical creations and a serious call to consider how we can feel and think with our hands too.
- “The New Nomads: How the Migration Revolution is Making the World a Better Place” by Felix Marquardt – a much-needed call to finally start embracing the benefits of migration – a book which doesn’t bring new value to those of us who are first-wave migrants, however, it validates our experiences and highlights the agency and societal benefits of our journeys.
- “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire – a sad but helpful read and a fantastic exploration of internalised oppression, which is a great addition to my liberation studies this year.
- “Black Identities and White Therapies: Race, respect and diversity” edited by Divine Charura and Colin Lago – a collection of essays about the complexity of the anti-racist work in the counselling profession curated by two giants of this topic here in the UK, mandatory read for therapists and coaches alike.
- “Toward Psychologies of Liberation: Critical Theory and Practice in Psychology and the Human Sciences” by Mary Watkins and Helene Shulman – extensive introduction to the origins, principles and practical applications of liberation psychologies across the globe – a treasure chest of case studies and brilliant ideas opening our perspectives to innovative work.
- “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others” by Laura van Dermoot Lipsky with Connie Burk – for those of us who resist the myth of neoliberal self-care, this one is a real treat; for starters, it is based around the medicine wheel teachings (wonderful alternative to the medical model of healing) and explores not only the reasons of professional burnout but also specific aspects and practical ways of preparing for working in carrying professions; I am so surprised this is not mandatory on counselling courses (yet)
- “Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale about That Which Can Never Die” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. – this book found me on a market stall in Geneva during my business travels, and moved me to tears – and I do not cry easily! – a story of resilience written by an American of Mexican and Hungarian heritage (known to us from her iconic “The Women Who Run With Wolves”), the book reminded me of the importance of our Elders and their wisdom
- “Homecoming: Overcome Fear and Trauma to Reclaim Your Whole, Authentic Self” by Thema Bryant-David, Ph.D. – the President-Elect of the APA published a wonderful guide to arrival to our own selves in times of discriminatory adversity while also defining how liberation moves beyond anti-oppressive work through healing and resistance to advocacy and wellbeing.
- “Mad Women’s Ball” by Victoria Mas – a book (followed by a movie) taking us back to the times just before the birth of Freud’s psychotherapy – we go back a step to Charcot’s Paris to experience madness and hysteria through the eyes of Parisian women.
- “Practice You: a Journal.” by Elena Brower – a book in the making, if you like, because it’s actually a beautifully illustrated journal for those of us who wish to explore our identity. I came across it in my work and worked with it myself – it was a soothing, grounding and incredibly validating journey.
Listing my top book recommendations is a great way to pay tribute to all the incredible authors who helped me and inspired me this year. I digest and carry every story, so as I move forward in life, they now live within me and shape my work. I would love to hear about your book inspirations too, so if you have titles that moved you, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.
I wish you a wonderful 2023!
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