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Ten Books to Enrich Your Summer
Take a break from the news and look within....
In the olden days I would set off on holidays with an extremely heavy suitcase filled with books for the beach/mountain/piazza. I think the record was 16! Thank goodness for the Kindle, especially in the era of Ryanair and Easyjet.
I thought that this week I would put together a list of ten of my favourite reads by The Meaningful Life podcast authors. I’d love to hear your suggestions in return, too - comments with summer reading recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
I’m linking to one of my favourite social networks - Goodreads - so that you can find the book at the retailer of your choice. Books are in no particular order!
1. Listen: How to Find the Words for Tender Conversations (Dr Kathryn Mannix)
I think most of us have a conversation we need to have, but that we are avoiding. It’s often just easier to immerse ourselves in busy-ness and ignore that nagging voice.
Dr Kathryn Mannix, author and palliative care physician, has used her decades of experience talking with bereaved families to show us where to start and how to prepare when it comes to talking through difficult subjects.
The book is also a fascinating guide to the art of listening itself, which I believe we all need to revisit regularly and consciously practice and improve.
2. How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Public Speaking (Viv Groskop)
Many of us, particularly women, experience endless frustration because we don’t feel heard. At work and at home, it seems like we are constantly interrupted and rarely feel in control of a conversation. Many of us are also guilty of self-sabotage: pre-judging our own contribution as “not good enough”.
Viv Groskop, journalist, podcaster, stand-up comedian and writer, writes an entertaining and highly practical guide to voicing your opinion effectively. She draws on her stand-up experience to write about pacing, pausing and gauging people’s reactions; but most importantly, about quieting your own ego and tuning into your audience.
“Good people can be bad at relationships” asserts Matthew Fray, who leapt to internet fame as the author of the viral article “My Wife Divorced Me Because I Left the Dishes By the Sink”.
This book is chock-full of the lessons of personal experience. Fray writes about the lessons he learnt out of his own painful divorce, which left him emotionally crushed: struggling not to cry all the time, and finding it hard even to breathe.
It is far from a pessimistic read, though - Fray has spent his life post-divorce working to help couples, and especially men, build the toolkit they need to stay together and enjoy their marriages.
4. Motherhood: Facing and Finding Yourself by Lisa Marchiano
It isn’t hard as a parent to find advice on breastfeeding, your child’s education or managing their behaviour. What’s rarer is insight into how the parenting journey changes us as a person. Yet becoming a mother is a unique opportunity for self-realisation.
Lisa Marchiano, a Jungian analyst and co-host of This Jungian Life podcast, takes a deep dive into motherhood: how it connects us to previous and next generations, how easy it is to be “devoured” by the experience of mothering, and what it means to feel rage as a mother.
5. Us: Getting Past You & Me to Build a More Loving Relationship by Terrence Real
Is society setting you up to fail in your marriage? World-renowned relationship therapist Terrence Real sees a toxic culture of individualism troubling society at every level.
We are told to strive for personal productivity and perfection, ignoring the fact that we exist in a web of crucial relationships.
Real shares research showing that in fact the mind exists in a social context, and that couples co-regulate each other’s nervous systems.
Getting this right is very tricky, though, if you grew up without enough emotional support. The survival strategies that got you through childhood may, in fact, “torch your personal relationships”.
This is a brilliant read on the challenges of working together and feeling a close connection in a society that priorities individual success.
6. Shame Factor: Heal Your Deepest Fears and Set Yourself Free by Stephan Poulter
Shame is one of the emotions we find hardest to talk about. It can feel paralysing, and is linked to despair, imposter syndrome, fear and the sense of an impending doom.
Dr Stephan Poulter, an LA-based author and psychologist, writes about how shame makes us feel - paralysed, unclean, not good enough, defective - and how we can reduce its impact on our lives.
As Dr Poulter writes, “the best analogy is this gold brick inside you. Shame covers it with mud. Our work is to hose off the mud, and find the gold brick”.
7. Outside, the Sky is Blue: A Family Memoir by Christina Patterson
Christina Patterson, a London writer, coach and journalist, found herself in the heartbreaking position of being the last one left in a loving and beloved family. She took on the task of writing this story of her family and her place in it.
The book explores living with mental illness, finding and losing religion, and grief, loss and how to heal. It’s a complex and compelling family memoir that looks at many of life’s big questions without providing easy answers.
8. The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry.
This one has been on MANY reading lists, because it’s just brilliant, and because therapist and author Philippa Perry is so hugely popular. I’m including it here because it sparked such a chord with me and with podcast listeners.
Perry writes about the generational aspects of parenting - how we are “links in a chain", and why parents must recognise that and ensure that their own links are shaped to the needs of their children.
Parents like to feel they are independent individuals making their own decisions, but in reality parenting is hugely influenced by our own experiences of childhood.
9. Great Sex Starts at 50: How to Age-Proof Your Libido by Tracey Cox.
This one might get a few sideways glances poolside, but it’s well worth it. International sex therapist and author Tracey Cox looks at how sex changes as we age, and some simple things you can do to build a deep level of intimacy with your partner.
After decades of marriage you may not want to rip each other’s clothes off, but you CAN plan time to devote to each other, to try new things and create desire. Trying new things is something the majority of couples never do - but it’s a simple recipe for exciting, meaningful sex, and Tracey has plenty of tips on where to start.
10. Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxieties and Finally Calm Down by Kathleen Smith.
If you can’t sleep, can’t focus and are constantly pushing down the frustrations you experience in your relationships, you will know that you probably need to deal with your anxiety.
Kathleen Smith, a therapist and author from Washington D.C, is unique in her calm, warm, practical advice for coping with anxiety. She writes about making sure you observe and understand how your anxiety works (and the ways it might actually be helping you) before you dive in to try and change yourself.
In other news, on Saturday June 11th I will be speaking at the MANN SEIN men’s conference in Berlin on “Men in Times of War”. You can find tickets here.
And as always, if it feels like the right time to start marital therapy, send an email to Tricia (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a virtual or in-person appointment with one of my team of therapists in London, or with me here in Berlin.