by | Jan 10, 2023 | 0 comments

Best Personal Development Books, Health Books, and Novels for 2023

It’s no secret that I love reading.  I’ve been talking about it for years (see the bottom of this post for books I read in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021!), and I’m fairly certain people don’t (or shouldn’t, at least!) voluntarily enroll in a Doctorate program if they don’t love reading.

To me, reading is the best way to learn.  Social media is great, and there are so many amazing content creators out there.  But when someone writes a book, they dedicate months or years of their life to putting their best and most important work in one place. Taking the best work from various experts, rather than 20-second fragments here and there, definitely helps me personal absorb knowledge and be better able to share it with my clients.

I’m lucky in that I also truly enjoy reading.  It’s my personal favorite part of my WAKEUP+GO morning routine, and the only thing that helps unravel my mind at night to be able to fall asleep.

Just like everyone, I find it difficult to make time to read.  But there was a time about 5 years ago when I felt deeply dissatisfied with my “lack of time” to read, given that it was one of my favorite things to do, and I just “couldn’t” find any non-work hours to dedicate to reading.  Hopefully, you can see where this is going … that was just a construct in my own mind.  I COULD make time to read, and I venture to guess you can, too.  I started with dedicating 10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes at night to reading, and it added up to dozens of books per year.  I add in more time whenever I possibly can and spend a lot of time reading on vacation.

Best Personal Development Books, Health Books, and Novels for 2023

Do these 50 books that I read in 2022 mean that I watched less TV than the average person?  That’s a resounding yes.  Do they mean that I spent less time scrolling social media?  I sure hope so.  Do they mean that I missed out on an email or a social event or something else?  Probably.  But reading is important to me.  So, if reading isn’t important to you, I hope you’ll take this as motivation to make time for whatever is.  And if you love reading as much as I do, I hope you’ll take this as motivation to find a few minutes per day or week to fit in this healthy passion, AND I hope you’ll enjoy my recaps of the books I read in 2022!

Each section is listed from my favorite at the top of the section, to my least favorite at the bottom.

Best Personal Development Books

  1. Discipline is Destiny. No one has ever accused me of being undisciplined, so frankly, I was a bit worried that reading this book would be a bit of an echo chamber.  And honestly, it was, but in the BEST way.  This book fired me up in the last quarter of the year when I was quite overwhelmed and struggling with my normal motivation.  It inspired me to sacrifice whatever impulses I might have in a given moment, for what I wanted most, which is often a more long-term payoff.  It made me think, and it gave me activation energy to keep going with the habits I’ve so carefully cultivated for my life.  I couldn’t more highly recommend this book if you’re looking for motivation to “do the hard thing!”
  2. No Cure for Being Human (and Other Truths I Needed to Hear). This book is strikingly dissimilar to the above #1 book, which is something I love doing: reading opposing viewpoints and coming up with my own.  After hearing the author, Kate Bowler, on Glennon Doyle’s podcast, I knew I needed to buy the book.  She’s a professor at Duke Divinity School who was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and writes about how this completely upended her life, beliefs, and attitudes.  Her writing is funny, poignant, incredibly deep, and says the things that live in the deepest, darkest corners of many of our minds that we never let see the light of day.  If you want to laugh, cry, and feel, you need this book!
  3. The Alchemist. I’ve read this book every few years for decades, so it should probably be #1 on my list, but I’m trying to spread the love. The story of a shepherd boy who travels in search of treasure is so brilliantly told by author Paulo Coelho that you don’t even realize you’re reading a profound personal development book.  I read this during my first of three solo mini-vacations this past year, and I loved every moment, even for the 10th (ish) time.
  4. Present Over Perfect. When life seems like a lot and it’s hard to focus on what’s most important, this book will be a guide.  Any book with a forward by Brene Brown is a sure-buy for me, and this one didn’t disappoint.  Quotes like the following helped me hit the “pause” button and slow myself down when I needed to most this year: “Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for resting your body and your soul. And part of being an adult is learning to meet your own needs, because when it comes down to it, with a few exceptions, no one else is going to do it for you.”
  5. Courage is Calling. Anything by Ryan Holiday is a favorite of mine (see #1 on this list), and this one focused on the Stoic interpretation of courage, and how that applies in our everyday lives. If you feel the need to step up, increase bravery and conviction, and fight for something on your heart, you’ll love this book (but if you don’t love historical references, you might want to skip it).
  6. Like She Owns the Place: Give Yourself the Gift of Confidence and Ignite Your Inner Magic. This is a phenomenal book about developing confidence in yourself, which isn’t just about “believing in yourself,” but rather about taking action day after day to accept yourself and build yourself into the person you want to be. This quote from the Amazon listing sums it up well: “The truth is that confidence isn’t about living up to anyone’s expectations—it’s about affirming, every day, that you’re an effing boss.”  She also wrote Girl Code, which is on my 2020 reading list (below).
  7. The Beautiful No. Written by Sheri Salata, who was a top exec at The Oprah Winfrey Show for 20 years, this book explores what it’s like to have your nose to the grindstone for your entire career and then “wake up” to realize you haven’t actually lived.  It’s equal parts enlightening and funny (her stories of dating and finding hobbies made me laugh!), and a good read if you want a reality check to make sure your life isn’t just work.
  8. Good Vibes, Good Life. This book delivered tons of “quotables” (which made for great Instagram snaps on my vacation in Mexico!), but I didn’t find any truly new ideas overall in the book.  If you want something lighthearted and motivating that doesn’t require too much of your mental energy, this is a good choice!
  9. How to Live. The entire book is less than 150 pages, so it’s a very quick read, and an interesting concept: the author goes through 27 principles that are vastly contradictory to each other. For example, the first principle is “Be Independent,” with thoughts like, “Crowds are hysterical, and inbreed opinions.  Don’t be a part of any group.”  This is directly followed by the principle of “Commit,” with thoughts like, “Find a community of like-minded people … trust and show you can be trusted.”  The idea is to highlight extreme “life lessons” and prove to the reader that balance, in almost anything, is optimal.  In my opinion, it was just a bit hyperbolic and not as useful as some of the above.
  10. The Greatest Secret. A follow-up to The Secret, I expected a lot out of this book, and I just didn’t adore it. It may be that I wasn’t in the right mindset to absorb it, but it felt like an amalgamation of various quotes that didn’t really fit together and didn’t inspire me as much as I had hoped.
  11. From Strength to Strength. I highly recommend this book to my clients who are starting their retirement or feeling somewhat lost in the “later years” of life. Personally, I think I was a bit young to read this at the current moment, but I did so in order to help my clients, who tend to be a decade or several ahead of me. The author, who is a Harvard professor, shares insight on how to make the “second half of life” just as fulfilling (and more) as the first, even when those things in which we’ve traditionally found identity (like our careers) are waning.
  12. You’ve Got to Be Hungry. I love author Les Brown and am enraptured every time I hear him speak. But this book, which was almost surely voice dictated and transcribed, fell very flat for me. It was like hearing him speak without the benefit of his tone and voice.  If you can get past the writing style, he has incredible stories from his own personal journey about enduring hardship, pressing forward, and accomplishing phenomenal things.  It’s an inspiring and much-needed message, just not quite the right delivery for me personally.Best Personal Development Books, Health Books, and Novels for 2023

 

Best Health Books

  1. This is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More. I’ve been working with clients on improving their mental health via nutrition for many years (and have been using food and lifestyle to manage my own clinically diagnosed mental health challenges for about a decade), but I’ve never had a single book to give them the simplest strategies all in one place. This book has “just enough” science to be credible, without being too confusing or complex.  If you (like many) struggle with mental health in any way, I highly recommend this book!
  2. The Upside of Stress. This book made it into quite a few of my corporate wellness presentations this year, for good reason.  Author Kelly McGonigal shows that stress is part of human thriving, and if we interpret it the “right” way (meaning, connect it to a deeper purpose and realize it’s getting us closer to our goals) it actually has almost none of the negative health repercussions that most scientific literature correlates with stress as a whole. If you’re stressed about being stressed, read this one to turn that around.
  3. A Silent Fire. A “for the public” book about inflammation is so desperately needed, and this one almost fits the bill. Author Shilpa Ravella is an MD who dives deep into the history of the study of inflammation, and artfully weaves both storytelling and scientific information together.  It’s a bit more of a “here’s what the scientist in the 1800s thought, and then the next scientist thought this, and the next scientist advanced to this” meandering journey than I would prefer (as opposed to getting down to the brass tacks of what to do about it), but it’s still near the top of my list for sharing its critical information.
  4. Women, Food & Hormones. Author Dr. Sara Gottfried is one of my favorite public-facing health practitioners, and all of her books are great reads. This one is all about fasting and how to do it the right way for women’s hormones.  It is slightly more keto-leaning than my personal stance, but shares valuable information for anyone fairly new to the health world who wants to balance her hormones using fasting.
  5. Glucose Revolution. Author Jessie Inchauspe has deservedly made herself a pseudo-celebrity by experimenting with blood sugar and sharing her results. If you’re an audiobook person, skip it and get a visual copy of this one – the graphs and charts are worth just as much or more as the words in this book.  For me personally, there was nothing new here, but if you’re starting off in the world of blood sugar, this is a phenomenal read.  Also, view my FREE “SOS” Masterclass on blood sugar here!
  6. You, Happier. I adore Dr. Amen and all that he’s done for brain research. This book uncovers the 7 “brain types” he’s created based on his research and shares insights about each one.  I am most definitely Type 3, the “Persistent Brain,” and I’ve had the brain scans to prove it, but it was really fun to read about my tendencies and what I can do to alleviate some of the challenges associated with them.
  7. The Inflammation Spectrum. Again, on the hunt for a colloquial but science-based inflammation book, I loved many things about this one, including the background information on specific foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and why they cause inflammation in the body. What I didn’t love was the intense focus on elimination diet protocols, which were more severe than what I think is necessary for most people.  I’m admittedly biased towards the protocols I use with my own clients, and don’t think these protocols are harmful, just unrealistic for most.
  8. Supersized Lies: How Myths about Weight Loss Are Keeping Us Fat – and the Truth About What Really Works. I interviewed author Dr. Robert Davis for my podcast (here’s the episode) and read his book to prepare. I agree with the vast majority of what he said on common challenges we encounter based on our food supply and the state of the world today.  He’s a bit more blunt (like using that “f” word in the title!) than I prefer, but is science-based and shares useful information for the average person looking to get healthier.
  9. Exhausted. I really love Pedram Shojai, one of the authors of this book, and it might be higher up on the list if I had read it later in the year, but I honestly can’t remember all of the details. Basically, the book discusses why we’re all feeling exhausted all of the time (technology addiction, constant pings on our cortisol, lack of energy-giving foods and lifestyle practices) and shares useful tips for what to do about it.
  10. The Fasting Lane: How to Make Intermittent Fasting a Lifestyle―and Reap the Benefits of Weight Loss and Better Health. I don’t think everyone needs to practice extreme fasting (for more, see this post), but these authors would disagree. They share compelling science and stories about fasting and teach us how to implement it.  If you want to try fasting but it feels intimidating, I’d recommend starting with this book.
  11. Redefining Anxiety: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and How to Get Your Life Back. Great title, and quick read (only 80 pages), but I didn’t find any new-to-me information, so it ranks lower. If you’re new to learning about anxiety, though, or if you think anxiety means you’re “broken,” or if you think anxiety must be treated with medication and there’s nothing else you can do about it, this is a great place to start.
  12. Health is Made at Home; Hospitals are for Repairs: Building a healthy and health-creating society. This is a book about the British healthcare system, which was interesting for me but is not something I’d recommend to the average American. Written by a former executive of the National Health Services, it’s partly an expose of how the healthcare system is making us less healthy, and partly a call to action of what we can do better.

Best Personal Development Books, Health Books, and Novels for 2023

Best Business / Other Books

  1. The Know It All. This is certainly the most unique book I read this year, but I loved every minute of it.  Author A. J. Jacobs set out to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and catalogues his journey through it.  The chapters are written according to the letters of the encyclopedia, and you’ll learn the most random facts (that, if you’re like me, you’ll promptly forget), but it’s a funny and fascinating read.  If you want to realize how little you know, read this book!
  2. 4,000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. A new kind of “time management book,” this one shares the startling fact that most people live just 4,000 weeks. Rather than trying to optimize each second to fit in more ultimately meaningless “stuff,” the book encourages us to think deeply about how we want to fill those weeks, and shares things we can do to more fully embrace and enjoy life.
  3. You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience. With an editor cast of Tarana Burke and Brene Brown, this book couldn’t not be amazing. It compiles firsthand stories of Black Americans, their experiences with white supremacy, and what it’s like to live in their shoes.  Some stories are funny, some are frightening, but they’re all powerful.
  4. Million Dollar Habits. For someone new to business, this is a great book to help you organize your finances, build financial independence, and be smart about entrepreneurship.  Frankly, I found very few new-to-me ideas, but I still liked the review.
  5. Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth. I’ve been coaching for over 9 years and have completed over 10,000 hours of 1-to-1 coaching (wow!!), so I’d like to think I’m more advanced than the average newbie in this area. That said, a lot of this felt like review to me, BUT I would still highly recommend it for those just starting out in the coaching industry.  Helping people connect to a positive vision of themselves (and not just “fixing” what is “wrong”) is an incredibly powerful strategy to help people become their best selves, and this book elaborates on that idea in a compelling way.
  6. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business. This book was just … fine.  It felt a bit oversimplified and one-size-fits-all to me, but it does outline many business practices that may be helpful if you’re starting a business now.

Best Personal Development Books, Health Books, and Novels for 2023

Novels I Read in 2022

Note: these are listed in chronological order of how I read them. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert in novels or any fiction reading.  I love reading “mindless” fiction on vacation and spend about 20 minutes before I fall asleep each night reading fiction as well.  You’ll notice my style of novels is somewhere between a “beach read” and “real literature” – they’re lighthearted, happy ending stories of relatable characters that pull at your heart strings.  Most common authors this year were Catherine Ryan Hyde and Catherine Bybee, thanks to Kindle Unlimited, which just kept serving me up more of what I like!  I’m not reviewing any of these, but if you like this style, I encourage them all! 

  1. Allie & Bea
  2. Electric God
  3. While You Walked By
  4. I Adopted My Mom at the Bus Station
  5. Mazie
  6. Have You Seen Luis Velez?
  7. Just After Midnight
  8. Ask Him Why
  9. Boy Underground
  10. I Know an Old Lady
  11. Dreaming of Flight
  12. The Rescue
  13. The Brighter the Light
  14. Beyond the Moonlit Sea
  15. When It Falls Apart
  16. My Way to You
  17. Home to Me
  18. Doing It Over
  19. Staying for Good
  20. Making It Right

Want even more?  Here are a few more reading lists for you to check out:

10 Best Books on Self-Talk, Self-Care, and Self-Love

Now it’s your turn!  What was the best book YOU read in 2022?  Which of the above are you excited to dive into?

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Megan Lyons Headshot

Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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