The 26 Books I Read This Year

Hi, I’m Chelsi and I have the best of intentions to read books. I’ve always had a desire to learn (my friends say I’m a 5-holla at ya enneagrammers!) and a strong commitment to buying books that I only read the first 2 chapters of. 

I started setting a year-long goal of reading 25 nonfiction books a couple of years ago, and now I am hooked! These are the books I read this year (already over 25!) and what I thought of them. There is a mix of memoir, history, self-help, and parenting.

What do you think I should read next?

1: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Laugh out loud funny, memoir type essays about her life. I found her relatable.

2: The Self Love Experiment by Shannon Kaiser

Better than some self-help books, it’s a solid read about the author’s journey to love herself and concrete steps she took to do it. I wouldn’t say it changed my life, but I’m glad I read it.

3: Untamed by Glennon Doyle

I really enjoyed this one, and it seems that either you like her writing or you don’t (several friends who read this couldn’t finish it). Particularly if you feel like you don’t belong in the traditional Christian culture but love God and Jesus, I think you will find a friend in this book. 

4: Big Friendship: How we keep each other close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Reeeeally enjoyed this. There are a ton of romantic relationship books out there, but this is the first I have read about friendship relationships. If you are interested in working through difficult emotions and growing in friendship depth, this is a must read.

5: Self Compassion Step by Step by Kristen Neff

Dr. Neff is a self-compassion researcher extraordinaire and I have probably talked about what I learned in this book with most of my clients over the past year. It really is step-by-step how to do self-compassion and also does a great job of describing why this matters.

6: Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker

I heard about this book on a business podcast. It’s about using virtual assistants. Since reading the book, I have hired one myself (shout out to the amaaaazing Lynne!). I highly recommend hiring a virtual assistant-this book had some helpful information for someone (me) who had no experience with this. 

7: Health at Every Size by Lindo Bacon

Shocking information about weight that transformed how I help people work on their relationship with food. Though the author is recommending we read their subsequent book Body Respect (I also read that this year) over this one for more up-to-date research, I’m glad that I read this. It provided a good foundation for my new understanding of weight.

8: Why Aren’t You Writing by Sharon Zumbrunn

Definitely felt the most proud reading this one 🙂 One of my besties wrote it, and you can hear her humor, wisdom, and warmth throughout it. It’s targeted towards academic writing (students or faculty), but I think anyone who has a writing task would find it helpful. I definitely applied things from this book to my life.

9: Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

I’d recommend this as a primer for learning about boundaries, but even for that purpose there are other boundary books that I prefer (such as Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend). The examples that she used to illustrate her points I found unrealistic, which turned me off. Examples are what really help me integrate concepts into my understanding, and when this failed me it turned me off of the book as a whole.

10: Radical Belonging by Lindo Bacon

Same author as Health at Every Size, with a focus on how having marginalized identities create stress in our lives and how belonging provides healing. Some information about our relationship with our weight, but so much more than that. I would highly recommend this one for anyone wanting to learn more about how their identities (or others’) contribute to their wellbeing.

11: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I was about a decade behind the times in getting to this one, but I enjoyed it! Super inspiring. The author describes her journey of hiking the Pacific Coast Highway, as well as healing from the loss of her family. We can do amazing things, as humans.

12: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

This was the only parenting book I read this year. If you have read the Five Love Languages or taken the online test, you have much of the information found in this book already. They provided some useful applications to consider with children. I wouldn’t say it’s a “must read,” but I’m glad I read it. I’d recommend other parenting books over this one, though, such as The Whole-Brained Child by Siegel and Payne Bryson.

13: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

I thought this was more interesting than useful. Some new concepts about how we limit ourselves, but that’s about all that stood out to me. Wouldn’t say it’s a must read.

14: Think Again by Adam Grant

Realllly enjoyed this one. Particularly in this climate where there are a lot of things to have an opinion about, this book made a case for being open to new ideas and shared how exactly to do that. Highly recommend.

15: Try Softer by Aundi Kolber

I can’t really remember much from this book, but what sticks out to me is how when listening to it, it clicked for me about how much our nervous system influences our wellbeing. We can’t just think our way into change, we need to experience safety, love, belonging in order to be mentally well. For that alone, I am glad that I read this book. A Christian voice, but not in a cheesy or overly bearing way.

16: Is this Anything by Jerry Seinfeld

If you enjoyed the show, you will enjoy this book. I listened to the audiobook, which I highly recommend. Jerry reads it, and there’s nothing like having him read his jokes to you. Definitely not “woke” by today’s standards, but if you can get past the stereotyping I’d recommend it.

17. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

A lot of what negotiators are trained to do compares to what therapists are trained to do. I’d describe this as both useful and interesting.

18: Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

If you are a client of mine, you were probably recommended to read this book by me at some point this year. I learned so much BRAND NEW INFORMATION that is essential to working through stress effectively. I’d say THIS is a must read.

19: Group by Christie Tate

Simply. Fascinating. As a group therapist, I was clutching my pearls a bit at some of the methods described, but wow-inspiring. This is a memoir about a person’s experience in group therapy. I love group, and I don’t think people know much about this type of therapy. This is a great introduction into an amazing treatment modality that should get talked about more.

20: Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger

Super validating read for people who have relationships with folks that are difficult to be in relationships with. It’s originally written for the family of folks diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, but really, if you feel like you are walking on eggshells in any relationship, you would benefit from reading this book. In addition to feeling like you aren’t going crazy, it also provides tips for how to engage in these relationships more effectively.

21: The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

This is a true story about a woman who was committed to an insane asylum in the mid 1800s for disagreeing with her husband (basically). It’s as terrible an experience as it sounds. The author was able to write this using first hand accounts, and it reads like a novel. Would recommend.

22: Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski

Everything we should have been taught about how sex works and what is “normal” and how to be your best sexual self. Highly recommend!!

23: Why aren’t you apologizing by Harriet Lerner

If you are close to someone who sucks at apologizing-this is the book for you. I always learn a lot from Dr. Lerner, and this was no exception. She uses the best examples to illustrate her points and gives straightforward steps to follow. Also highly recommend!

24: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller

I took a lot from this book, even though I already had a background in attachment theory. It was a little pathologizing of avoidant personality types, but other than that, it helped set things up in my mind more clearly in terms of “I’m feeling this way because this is my attachment style” instead of “I’m feeling this way because I suck.” That’s a helpful distinction when processing feelings and figuring out how to work through issues in relationships. Would recommend.

25: Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

I was a decade behind on getting to this one, but it was great. I’ve read other Brene books, but somehow she doesn’t get repetitive. Great examples, great suggestions. Highly recommend.

26: Body Respect: ​​What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight by Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

This has become my first recommendation for people who are wanting to change their relationship with food. It’s shorter than Health at Every Size, updated, and has a more comprehensive explanation of the factors influencing weight bias (including poverty and oppression). 

What should be on my list for next year?!

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