A Summer Reading List: Some of My Favorite Self-Development Books for Personal Growth

I love those weeks before summer begins and the count down to the school holidays is on. These are the months that I start to work in a different way. I see fewer clients and have more time to read all of the books that have been accumulating on my bookshelf (and gathering dust) over the past months. For me reading is the supreme life hack. I can consume knowledge that likely took years to assemble in a matter of hours. I am struggling to think of a better way to empower myself more quickly or easily than that.

How can I make everyday decisions better? How can I live more in the moment? How can find happiness? Why on earth did I do that? How can I make better decisions? Chances are you’ve asked yourself at least one of these questions in the past week. So have I. Many times over in fact. They are also often the questions that clients come to therapy with and the ones that I spend a long time considering and trying to understand long after my clients have left the office. 

Here are a handful of books that I have recently read that have inspired me, and the clients I work with, to cultivate healthier lifestyle habits, consider how to make decisions, and ultimately how to live. Many of the books that I read, and have suggested here, were originally suggestions of my clients themselves and for that I owe them a debt of gratitude. So when you are packing your sunhat and the suncream throw in a few of these too, or download them on to your kindle before you go. Every suitcase deserves to carry more than just beachwear and flip flops. 


1. Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman

First on the list is Thinking Fast & Slow, which has received an incredible amount of recognition since it was first published in 2011. Kahneman explains in detail the two systems that control how we think and act. One of those systems being fast, and the other being slow. The knowledge contained within this book will help you to understand how your thought process takes place. Furthermore, you’ll be able to use this information to your advantage when trying to improve your life and adopt good habits.


2. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

In this incredible book Gladwell discusses how we all think, without really thinking. In other words, the book explains how our brains often make split second decisions without truly thinking about them. Gladwell explains these split second decisions are not as simple as they seem. This is a brilliant read for anyone looking to improve their decision making skills and learn more about the science behind making these decisions.



3. The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Ester Perel

In this book iconic couples’ therapist and bestselling author Esther Perel takes a provocative look at relationships through the lens of infidelity. Perel discusses the different expectations people bring to relationships, the expectation of sexual monogamy, and how culture informs these. She challenges the quick condemnation of the unfaithful and posits the idea that cheating in certain circumstances can be a liberating, even brave, act. This is a book not just for those who have had an affair, or those who have been affected by infidelity, but for everyone who has ever been in a relationship. It is a wonderfully written, fascinating and well researched read and it is one I will undoubtedly return to over and over again. 



4. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

If you’ve ever taken stock of your life and realized that you aren’t living the life that you want, then this is the book for you. Although career-focused this book can be applied to any aspect of your life, including work, marriage, and parenting. Filled with blunt and witty advice, do-it-yourself exercises in personal transformation, much of what Sincero covers is not new, but her frank manner packs a punch and helps to change our mindset and build motivation. As it stands on my shelf this book is a daily bright yellow reminder to pay attention and be awesome.



5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Do you ever feel too busy and stressed but find it difficult to actually accomplish anything? Do you ever find yourself thinking that there is simply never enough time? If so, this book is for you! McKeown argues that by doing less we can actually not only be more productive, but, more importantly, get more of the right things done in life. By offering practical solutions for how to get your priorities straight, this book helps you to eliminate the aspects of your routine that are keeping you from being productive and feeling fulfilled. 



6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a must-read for every artist….which, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, is all of us! Big Magic is the book that will give you the courage you need to pursue your creative interests by showing you how to deal with your fears, notice ideas and act on them and take the stress out of creation If you do something creative, like writing a blog, making art, playing music, or cooking, you will undoubtedly get something out of reading this book. It is as thought-provoking as it is inspiring.