If you’re a book lover like me, you’re secretly relishing in the fact that it’s dark by 6 p.m., setting the mood for the perfect night in to read. Candles, hot chocolate, your favorite cozy blanket waiting for you on the couch…it’s a reader’s paradise. And, hey, it’s not like your friends are out partying without you, so there’s no risk of FOMO either. There’s only one question: what to read?
I reached out to Well+Good editors and some of our favorite wellness experts for recommendations on what to read this winter. Want to know something interesting? Every single person picked a non-fiction book. This has certainly been a year of learning and it’s a sentiment that is continuing into 2021. From books about the power of community, understanding how mainstream feminism fails women of color, and getting in touch with your soul, this is a reading list that will literally change your life.
Scroll down to see what non-fiction books to read this winter.
“In the genre of Books That Affected Me Greatly This Year, this one blew me away. Dr. Gordon, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, says trauma is not an anomaly outside of the range of normal experience. ‘It’s something that will come to all of us’—a sentiment that needs far less explaining in 2020 while COVID-19 rages on, and everyone is talking about their mental health… If, like me, you’ve read a million books on the power of breathing or meditation, some exercises like soft belly breathing and body scans might sound familiar. But this book is deeper than most of its shelf mates: It’s an over-the-counter guide to exploring the depth of your feelings, pain, and loss while it anchors you in the belief in our capacity to understand and heal ourselves.” — Melisse Gelula, Well+Good co-founder
“I’m a firm believer in the power of community-care and Mia Birdsong does an amazing job at giving readers an ability to see how broken and disconnected many of us are. She provides beautiful tips and insight on how we can learn the power of community-care in a world that only honors self-care.” — Minaa B., mental health educator and founder of The Lit Social.
Buy it now: How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong ($15)
3. Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty ($23)
“This is my favorite book right now. It’s a great read for everyone. Being yoga certified and dabbling with my own spirituality for years, I have read many books but Jay really simplifies it, gives great examples with today’s society on how you can learn to optimize your mind. I love it!” — Bindiya Gandhi, MD, family practice doctor, certified yoga instructor, and reiki master
Buy it now: Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty ($23)
“Trevor Noah’s memoir is authentic, refreshing, hilarious, and heart-warming. He offers an understanding of South African history, colonialism, and apartheid that is engaging, educational, and very relevant—this book evoked every possible emotion in me! Additionally, it’s also a beautiful love letter to mothers everywhere.” — Madi Murphy, intuitive healer and founder of The Cosmic Revolution
Buy it now: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah ($9)
“This is one of the best books I have ever read, hands-down. Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson combines extensive historical and sociological research with beautiful writing to identify and examine the racial caste system that has defined the U.S. since its very beginnings, and how it shapes all of our lives to this day. It’s eye-opening, powerful, and a must-read.” — Jessie Van Amburg, Well+Good senior food and health editor
“Sebene Selassi is someone I look up to in the wellness industry tremendously. She represents such power, grace, and true authenticity. You Belong is nothing short of that. I love this book because it helps us root in our collective connection through accepting our unique selves fully. Through vulnerable and raw storytelling that incites lessons from one’s own life, You Belong provides a road map back to ourselves in order for us to show up for others. It is truly brilliant!” — Maryam Ajayi, activist, energy healer, and founder of Dive In Well
Buy it now: You Belong: A Call For Connection by Sebene Selassi ($19)
7. The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris ($14)
“This is my all-time favorite book. It walks you through how to unhook from unhelpful thought patterns and live a life that is meaningful and aligned with your values. It’s perfect for a seasoned mental health professional and also accessible to folks who don’t have mental health training and would like to incorporate more mindfulness and acceptance into their life.” — Sarah Levine-Miles, licensed clinical social worker
“I love being reminded through the message of this book that we are not our personality, and that by allowing our soul to have the front seat we can explore our higher true self.” — Elisa Shankle, Healhaus Brooklyn founder
Buy it now: Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav ($15)
“I loved The Beauty in Breaking, the memoir of an African American emergency room physician who overcame a childhood marred by an abusive father to become a deeply empathetic, yoga-practicing doctor. Working first in the South Bronx and then at the VA hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Michele Harper writes with insight and candor about the racism she encountered and the inequities of our healthcare system.
Each chapter centers on a specific ER case that makes a larger point about our society and our current medical system, while also sharing her personal path—a painful divorce from her college sweetheart and finding balance through exercise, healing foods, acupuncture, and meditation. Dr. Harper dreams of opening a wellness center to augment the work of traditional medicine and encounters challenges and closed-mindedness as she tries to make this vision a reality. She sums it up with balanced hope: ‘I had been practicing medicine long enough to know that wellness was much more than anything we prescribe from a bottle. If we humans were to expand our definition of healing, there could actually be a good deal more of it.'” — Alexia Brue, Well+Good co-founder
Buy it now: The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper ($15)
“This read by Mikki Kendall is the perfect start—or continuation—to understanding how mainstream feminism fails women of color, particularly Black women. It’s made up of essays, examining different issues from the get: one of my favorites was ‘The Hood Doesn’t Hate Smart People,’ which challenges the harmful idea that being smart as a Black—or marginalized—student is a liability. It also tackles reproductive justice, gun violence, and much much more.” — Samantha Leal, Well+Good’s managing editor
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