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Favorite Books of 2019

Originally posted February 5, 2020.

If President Barack Obama can release his 2019 book list, so can I!

Of course, my book list consists of my narrower world of interests, both professional and personal. I read books in the mental health field, more specifically, in somatic psychology, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum disorders. I also read books in the mindbody therapies field, such as expressive art, movement therapies (yoga, tai chi) and in touch therapies (shiatsu, acupressure, massage). I also read books that interest me as hobbies: gardening: herbalism, aromatherapy, flower essences, social justice and sewing!

And then there are the books I read when I am sick in bed (just once his year) or on a plane trip!! Mostly fast moving murder-mystery novels!

Hobbies – Herbalism, Gardening, Aromatherapy, Sewing

Stitched Textiles: Nature by Stephanie Redfern

Beautiful, soothing, colorful ideas for mixed media wall hangings inspired by the natural world! So little time, so much fabric, so much colorful thread, paints and beads! When to find time!

Fragrance and Well Being by Jennifer Peace Rhind

If you love reading about plants, botany, perfuming, aromatherapy and how people have used plants and scent to affect their mmd and in ritual, this well researched, very detailed book is for you! A detailed history of the scents developed by the large perfume houses of the world and the scents reflect current events and social mood is fascinating.

Ms. Bennett shares research about cultures that function with the matrilinear worldview and different ways of thinking about power and relationship and move beyond outmoded forms of domination of the earth we share. Ms. Bennett share rituals and exercises to help cultivate awareness of the interconnected spirituality of all sentient beings. A philosophy to help save Mother Earth.

A fabulously illustrated book, with a discussion of plants from, as the author says, “…a double helix… the modern and ancient twined together …”. The energy vibration from her left and right brain understanding of the plants’ chemical properties and individual emotional associations just jump off the pages! Beautiful card set as well.

MindBody Therapies

Yoga is now well researched as an effective mindbody therapy for improving mood, easing depression and anxiety and alleviating post-traumatic stress disorder as well. I had attended a one day continuing education training for therapist about incorporating easy yogic moves and breathing into the treatment plan for trauma. I was intrigued and research this further with this book. Chock full of clinical vignettes, accessible exercises and breath work, this is an intriguing look into how to integrate of yoga as part of self-care for mental health.

Nurturing Resilience by Kathy Kain and Stephen J. Terrell

This is a masterpiece of integration of multiple fields regarding healing trauma: attachment theory, Porges’ polyvagal theory, brain development, child development and touch therapy. Ms. Kain and Mr. Terrell are experts on the impact of PTSD on physiology. Connected, safe touch figures prominently in the healthy infant development and the authors leverage this healing power in trauma work. Well researched, scientific, compassionate and hopeful work.

Mental Health Topics

This is another book I recommend often in my practice. And a book for our political times, as there is a malignant narcissist in the US Presidency right now. Written by a survivor of narcissistic abuse, this book focuses on the real trauma body that forms in a narcissistic relationship. She identifies the very real tactics of idealization, devaluation and discard that the narcissist uses over and over to trap his or her victim as their emotional supply. A very real psycho-emotional experience and a very accurate description of the narcissist dance. Ultimately, a narcissist cannot change. And it’s better to get away from this toxicity. Recognizing the toxicity and getting away isn’t easy,, but it can be done.

Love in 90 Days by Diana Kirschner, Ph.D.

I recommend this book, like, once a week to clients and friends who are using online dating for romance. Common sense guidelines to help you curb impulsive emotional behaviors that can get you attached to someone who is not well-intentioned.

Codependency for Dummies by Darlene Lancer, MFT

Another book I recommend, like, once a week. Explains in day to understand example the difference between caring and codependency.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

If I had to name one book that guides my psychotherapeutic philosophy, this is it. Written by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., the grand poopah of trauma and trauma research, the man. An overview of the current treatments for PTSD. And his assessment of the clinical effectiveness of each treatment. Dr, van der Kolk has a lifetime of clinical work and research to draw upon. He runs the Trauma Conference in Boston every year in June, at which the trauma researchers and clinicians at the top of their field present their work. Great stuff.

Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine, Ph.D.

This book is the basis for Dr. Levine’s breakthrough work developing Somatic Experiencing®. He studied the effects of stress on humans for NASA and integrated how stress affected wild animals during near death scrapes into his work. He observed how a gazelle, when felled by a tiger who was chased away by hyenas…would faint / freeze (biological phenomena called tonic immobility) but then rise up when the threat was gone…,shaking all over, then run away. He studied the nervous system’s fight or flight response and developed SE® from his clinical work. I’m an SE™ practitioner. It is, by far, the best treatment for trauma that I have studied. Really interesting book.

The Twenty Four Hour Mind by Rosalind Cartwright

Written by a researcher-professor, fascinating book based on research about how the brain learns and how we can influence our mental health by creating and writing down positive outcomes before we sleep and dream. One of my self-care suggestions for my client.

Final Gifts by Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelley

Two experienced hospice nurses with a collection of vignettes that help us understand what people need as they walk their final path. Arranged into chapters written around themes commonly encountered by people and their families when facing death.

Moods in Motion by Karen Kleiman (author) & Lisa Powell Braun (Illustrator)

Another book by Karen Kleiman, grand moo ma of postpartum mental health! She has many books on this subject matter. This book is for moms, meant o be a mindbody experience, combining soothing coloring pages with journaling pages with prompts about themes commonly encountered by postpartum moms. A great baby shower gift.

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D.

Currently, my clients are all in to know more about narcissists and sociopaths in today’s climate. I recommend this book, although it was written in 2006. Did you know 1 in 25 people are sociopaths? Imagine having no conscience or remorse. You’ve probably had a lover or a boss whom you tried to understand to no avail. This book helps you realize it’s a truth about humans and you should avoid the trap. Which leads me into my next book…all about sociopaths…

Social Justice

Blowout by Rachel Maddow

Holy crap! This book is really hard to read and depressing. Well, time to take off the rose colored glasses and learn how the world really works. Pretty awful. Rachel Maddow’s research is stellar, steeped in facts and unbiased. A study in American and global corruption and failure as the US protects the oil kings. The heads of oil companies are sociopaths (take a look at The Sociopath Next Door). Sociopaths gravitate to money and power and honestly do not give a crap that they are destroying the planet. They really do not care at all. We must hold onto democracy and just force legislation to rein in the fake capitalism. It IS fake capitalism, as the fossil fuel industry is subsidized by the US taxpayers. Read this and you will know that democracy is in danger and so is the fucking planet.

The Mueller Report by the staff of the Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky

You didn’t read The Mueller Report? You damn well should. Dudes, dry, but dudes, Putin bought our election. And WaPo is the only version to get.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

What a wonderful, lyrical, inspiring book! This is a look into Michelle and Barack Obama’s private lives. Mrs. Obama details her early life in Chicago, her struggle to get a decent early education and her life in college, law school and as a lawyer, before meeting the to-be-President Obama. Their struggles are a true rags to riches, deep work ethic American story. She has had an amazing life. This is an uplifting book by an extraordinary woman.

What I read when I am sick in bed!

Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger (ANY book by William Kent Krueger!)

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde (ANY book by Catherine Ryan Hyde!)

Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard

Say You’re Sorry (Morgan Dane Book 1) by Melinda Leigh

Heart of a Seal by Dixie Lee Brown


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