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The self-help industry in the USA perpetuates the notion that understanding our pain better leads to recovery. In many cases, I have read self-help books that left me feeling even more “disordered” than I thought I was at the outset.

In my experience, the most helpful books were the ones that have given me context and focused on helping me move forward with my life instead of there being something wrong with me. With that in mind, I’d like to begin this new year by recommending some readings/books that have made a difference in my personal and professional life.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book presents lessons in the interrelationships in nature and offers that wisdom to humanity for understanding our own relationships with the earth and amongst each other. I highly recommend the audiobook read by the author.

all about love by bell hooks

She provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation.”

Recipes for Self-Love: How to Feel Good in a Patriarchal World by Alison Rachel

“Through bite-size essays and the same beautiful illustrations that inspired the original Instagram account, Recipes for Self-Love delivers powerful lessons in self-care, intersectional feminism, body image, consumerism, and holding your own in a patriarchal society.”

Wellness Recovery Action Plan by Mary Ellen Copeland

This book helps people develop their own list of activities for everyday well-being, track triggering events and early warning signs, prepare personal responses for when they are feeling badly, and  create a plan for supports to care for them if necessary.” 

The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

“Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.”

The Possibility Principle: How Quantum Physics Can Improve the Way You Think, Live, and Love by Mel Schwartz, Tom Parks, et al.

“The Possibility Principle reveals how we can apply the three core tenets of quantum physics―inseparability, uncertainty, and potentiality―to live the life we choose, free from the wounds of our past and the constraints of our old beliefs.”

Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities by Nick Walker

“This book is essential for anyone seeking to understand the foundations, terminology, implications, and leading edges of the emerging neurodiversity paradigm.”

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

“NeuroTribes considers the idea that neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD are not errors of nature or products of the toxic modern world, but the result of natural variations in the human genome. This groundbreaking book will reshape our understanding of the history, meaning, function, and implications of neurodiversity in our world.”

Trans Allyship Workbook: Building Skills to Support Trans People In Our Lives by Davey Schlasko

“A workbook to help you build your understanding of trans communities and develop concrete skills for supporting trans people in your life, with over 100 pages of explanation, activities, illustrations and reflections.”

The Art of Self-Awareness: How to Dig Deep, Introspect, Discover Your Blind Spots, and Truly Know Thyself by Patrick King

“Most people look externally for answers to their problems, but that’s like putting a band-aid on top of a pothole. Everything that makes your life good or bad comes from within and it’s time to finally learn what lies beneath.”

Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself: 40 Ways to Transform Your Inner Critic and Your Life by Lori Deschene

“A collection of vulnerable reflections and epiphanies from people who are learning to love themselves, just like you.”

Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) by Boon, Steele and van der Hart

“This training manual for patients who have a trauma-related dissociative disorder includes short educational pieces, homework sheets, and exercises that address ways in which dissociation interferes with essential emotional and life skills and support inner communication and collaboration with dissociative parts of the personality.”

Redefine Self-Help

This list from my own bookshelf may not necessarily resonate with you, however I do encourage you to notice the difference between “self-help” books that perpetuate the idea that you are a problem to be fixed rather than a human existing amid systems (social, cultural, and institutional) that benefit from you believing you are a problem. The book list above is meant to provide a starting place for a new definition of “self-help” which empowers you and brings helpful clarity to the world you are navigating so that you have agency in your life. This process is where you will find the center of you.

If you’re ready to start your journey toward liberation from complex trauma, contact me for a free consultation. I, Laura Bruco, MSW, am an experienced trauma therapist who has helped clients discover a congruent balance between their sense of self and their experience in the world.

I look forward to hearing from you!