You likely already know that I love reading. In fact, I often say that if I could create a dream job (aside from the one I already have!), I’d have it revolve around reading. That said, entrepreneurship is busy, and it’s easy to not make time to get in the things you love but don’t have to do.
So, several years ago, I added 10 minutes of reading to my morning routine (see my full morning routine here). Knowledge is also a key part of the Pepper Planner, which hundreds of people are now using to optimize their morning routines!
In bed at night, I read fiction to wind down (my favorites from last year were The Nightingale, Wish Me Home, and The Boston Girl, but in the mornings and any other time I get, I’m generally reading nutrition or health, business, or personal development books.
I read 31 books last year (my goal was 30! Hear all of my Goal Setting tips here!), and I have selected my top 10 books to summarize for you here. Want even more summaries? I have them all in the “Highlights” of my Instagram.
Here are my top 10 books from 2018:
Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, Mark Hyman
What it’s about: giving straight-forward, clear guidance on what is healthy and what is not in every food group
Who it’s for: anyone who wants to preserve their long-term health and isn’t overwhelmed by a lot of guidelines (my one worry is that it’s too overwhelming for the “average” person)
- If you eat real food, you don’t need guidelines or “diets”
- Meat: quality meat is healthy and will not cause heart disease
- Poultry and eggs: quality matters, but YES.
- Milk and dairy: super inflammatory, filled with hormones and chemicals. Use extreme moderation.
- Seafood: you need it three times per week. Choose wild/low-toxin types
- Vegetables: TONS. Choose local and organic.
- Fruit: you don’t need it; some low-glycemic whole fruit is OK
- Fats and oils: YES to high-quality varieties. They won’t make you fat and will make you full and healthy.
- Beans and grains: blood sugar spikers. Small portions only.
- Nuts and seeds: YES to raw, organic, no additive varieties.
- Sugar: NO, NO, NO.
- Beverages: lots of water, some alcohol, some coffee.
Buy it at: bit.ly/whatshouldieatbook
The Urban Monk, Pedram Shojoi
What it’s about: combining centuries-old Eastern healing principles with modern hacks to create your healthiest, most productive, best self.
Who it’s for: anyone who wants to be a healthier person… and is willing to explore things like meditation, qi gong, and breathing (but all in an approachable and relatable way).
- SLOW DOWN and disconnect. Less email, less stress, more nature.
- Our bodies were not designed to run on sugar, caffeine, processed foods, and sitting in a desk all day.
- Practice gratitude and being PRESENT. Realize that your greatest challenges can be your greatest gifts.
Buy it at: bit.ly/theurbanmonk
The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor
What it’s about: Cultivating happiness to fuel performance and achievement.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to be happier or perform better!
- Happiness is the precursor to success.
- Waiting to be happy limits your potential for success. Cultivating positivity makes us more resilient, motivated, efficient, and productive.
- “Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it’s the realization that we can.”
- Regular meditation, altruistic acts, being outside, gratitude, and intentionally focusing on the positive can raise happiness and lower stress.
- When faced with a challenge, focus on the reasons you will succeed, not the reasons you will fail.
- Don’t just rely on will power to make yourself do what you want to do- lower the activation energy of your desired habit so it is easy to achieve.
Buy it at: bit.ly/happinessadv
Willpower Doesn’t Work, Benjamin Hardy
What it’s about: Changing your mindset and environment to set yourself up for success, rather than “hoping” you’ll have willpower when needed.
Who it’s for: Anyone who struggles with addiction, overeating, lack of productivity, or other frustrating and repetitive patterns.
- Willpower is required when you don’t know what you want. Do you want a cookie, or do you want to be healthy?
- White knuckling your way to change doesn’t work. Know your why, then change your environment to support it.
- Regular recovery sessions help us maximize ourselves. Get away for 30 minutes and journal about what you’re grateful for and what needs to change.
- A morning routine is a powerful way to center yourself, recommit to your goals, and put yourself in a peak state.
- Set up forcing functions to remove your options and make you do what you want to do (ex. Leave your phone in the car if you don’t want to check it).
- A growth mindset, 100% commitment to your goal, and true belief that you can achieve it are required for change.
Buy it at: bit.ly/xwillpower
10% Happier, Dan Harris
What it’s about: How a formerly drug-addicted news anchor found meditation, reduced stress, and gained peace.
Who it’s for: Anyone curious about meditation… this may convince you to start if you haven’t already!
- Being mindful won’t change the problems in your life, but it will help you respond rather than react to them.
- The ego is constantly comparing itself to others. It thrives on drama and resentment. It lives in the past and future. Being in the present diminishes its power.
- Meditation is “a temporary escape route from the clammy embrace of self-obsession.”
- Meditation has proven benefits for depression, addiction, binge eating, smoking cessation, ADHD, asthma, psoriasis, IBS, and more.
- It is possible to sculpt your brain through meditation just as you tone your body through exercise.
- Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel.
Buy it at: bit.ly/happiermeditation
Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown
What it’s about: Being so true to ourselves and confident in our beliefs that we can stand alone… and in doing so, be more civil, compassionate, and connected to humanity.
Who it’s for: Anyone who feels discouraged by the polarizing nature of today’s world, or who struggles with people-pleasing, feelings of isolation, or inability to express their truth.
- Our feelings of loneliness make us turn to rage and blame rather than connection.
- True belonging is believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world.
- People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
- Speak truth to BS, but be generous and civil as you do.
- Social interaction makes us live longer, healthier lives.
- The key to joy is practicing gratitude.
- Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong; you’ll find it.
Buy it at: bit.ly/bravingbook
The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin
What it’s about: Identifying a personality profile based on what motivates you to act… and using that to make your life better, and to work with others better.
Who it’s for: Anyone who loves personality tests and is constantly striving to improve themselves.
- There are four main profiles:
- Upholder: “Discipline is my freedom.”
- Obliger: “You can count on me, and I’m counting on you to count on me.”
- Questioner: “I’ll comply- if you convince me why.”
- Rebel: “You can’t make me, and neither can I.”
- When you read through, I guarantee you’ll say “Ohhhh… that’s why I (or my boss or my partner or my friend) do that! Makes sense!”
- Lots of strategies to manage yourself better and deal with work/family/personal relationships based on tendencies.
Buy it at: bit.ly/fourtendenciesbook
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Coleman
What it’s about: Why being emotionally intelligent (self-aware, self-disciplined, empathetic) matters more to success, health, and happiness that IQ or other factors.
Who it’s for: Anyone who loves psychology, works with kids, uses empathy in their job, or wants to relate to people better.
- Emotional intelligence, including self-control, zeal, persistence, and ability to motivate oneself, often makes the difference in achievement when IQ can’t explain it.
- Self-awareness means being aware, non-judgmentally, of our mood and our thoughts about that mood.
- The goal is balanced emotions, not emotion suppression. Ratio of + to – emotions determines well-being.
- Hope is believing you have both the will and the way to accomplish your goals. Hope is a more powerful predictor of success than IQ or SAT score.
- Well-delivered feedback is a gift. You must give the recipient belief that she can change so she feels empowered, not defeated.
- Temperament is not destiny; we can change!
Buy it at: bit.ly/emoint
The Mind-Gut Connection, Emeran Mayer
What it’s about: How what’s going on in our guts impacts not only our digestion, but also our feelings, moods, memory, and long-term health.
Who it’s for: Anyone up for a slightly science-y read who wants to optimize current and long-term health.
- Microbiome and brain function are closely linked.
- The optimal diet is high in complex carbohydrates from plants, plant fats, greens, fish, and fermented foods. It is low in red meat, animal fat, refined sugar, and processed food. It uses olive oil, red wine, turmeric, and ginger as well.
- Our gut contains the largest part of our bodies’ immune system, as well as 95% of our bodies’ serotonin.
- Eating fatty foods actually does dampen our perceived and actual stress response, so cravings for comfort food have physiological reasoning, but also come with weight gain and long-term health impact.
- To take care of your microbiome, take probiotics, eat fermented foods and a variety of vegetables, reduce animal fats, and minimize stress.
Buy it at: bit.ly/mindgutcxn
Super Genes, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi
What it’s about: Teaching you to take advantage of your genetics, because LIFESTYLE is often more important than genetics.
Who it’s for:
- Part 1: only those interested in heavy science
- Part 2: everyone!!!
- Part 3: only those into or open to metaphysics
- YOU are in control of your health. You can improve mood, immunity, sleep, energy, stress, pain, aging, metabolism, and risk of chronic disease with optimal lifestyle! Genes are just the “loaded gun”… YOU can pull the trigger (or not!) of scary diseases.
- So much of health stems from the microbiome, so take care of it! (Probiotic foods and supplements, low/no chemical and processed foods, etc)
Buy it at: bit.ly/supergenesbook
Want even more summaries? I have them all in the “Highlights” of my Instagram.
Now it’s your turn … What’s the best book you read in 2018? I’d love to add to my list of reads for 2019!
This is a wonderful list – thank you! Very helpful.
So glad you enjoyed it, Meredith! It was so hard to pick just 10!