Updated. Some of the “self help” titles can stay, but most of these are about understanding the problems with contemporary western society and how we go about developing a more sustainable, egalitarian future.
These are some of the books I’ve read and recommend for those trying to understand life and find ways to make the changes they need. As with all of this, don’t take my word for it, make up your own mind. Take what you need and leave what you don’t.
The Shock Doctrine. Naomi Klein’s history and analysis of the implementation of free market economics. If you read no other book on this list, read this one.
The Corporation. Joel Bakan is a Canadian law professor, this is the book that accompanies the documentary of the same name.
The unconscious civilisation. John Ralston Saul. Considers the ways in which citizens are coerced into conformity and submission to a corporatist state.
Manufacturing consent. Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky. The media’s part in the mass manipulation of society.
In the realm of hungry ghosts. Gabor Mate. Although this is primarily about addiction, the discussion of human development and inter-personal neuro-biology are fascinating and really important for understanding how human beings depend on each other in society.
No Contest. The case against competition. Alfie Kohn. How society’s focus on competition poisons human development and relationships.
Treating PTSD. Edited by David W. Foy.
Clinicians’ manual of the nature and treatment of trauma. Can be a great help to understand what’s going on for survivors.
Boundaries. Henry Cloud, John Townshend.
If you’ve come from a religious background this may be the most helpful book you ever read. It’s a good basic introduction to the idea of personal boundaries and seeing how to make constructive changes in your life. It does, however, come from a religious point of view, so if you’re free of that you’re probably better off sticking with Harriet Lerner’s stuff.
Love is a choice Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth, Paul Meier
This one’s also from a religious perspective. It deals with healing poor boundaries, abusive relationships and again, learning to make constructive changes. It has some brilliant information about grieving and the grief process. Again, if you’re free of religion, take what you need and leave what you don’t.
You can heal your life. Louise Hay.
This is the classic self-help book. Louise Hay provides a detailed, step by step guide to making the changes you need.
The quantum doctor. Amit Goswami.
Goswami is the son of an Indian guru, a doctor of theoretical physics and married to a psychologist. He combines eastern and western approaches to visualising self-healing. Has some interesting info on Vedic beliefs.
Dream alchemy. Jane Teresa Anderson.
A great book on interpreting your dreams and using them for personal growth.
Re-Visioning the earth. Paul Devereaux.
Analysing the disconnection between Western Anglo culture and the earthy origins of humanity. Includes some Shamanic exercises for adjusting your own experience of life on earth.
Why we’re equal. Val Webb.
An interesting look at the history of religious and political subordination of women and the laughable and horrifying ideas used to rationalise it. Quite an eye opener, written by a woman with doctorates in Theology and Microbiology who is also an artist.
Ungodly fear. Stephen Parsons.
The experiences of an English minister helping victims of abusive pentecostal cults. Some of these stories are very similar to my own. May be quite triggering for some readers.
How to meditate. Kathleen McDonald.
Detailed instruction on the use of those fabulous ancient Buddhist tools to know and heal your inner self. As with all the Buddhist stuff, you can use it without necessarily subscribing to the belief system. Meditation, visualisation, prayer and affirmations, it’s really useful.
The dance of anger. Harriet Lerner.
The one, the only, Dr Harriet Lerner. Forget Phil McGraw, this woman is the real deal. Written mainly from the perspective of women making constructive changes in their lives, it is also very useful for any person who feels like “this can’t go on!”
The dance of deception. Harriet Lerner.
The dance of intimacy. Harriet Lerner.
The dance of connection. Harriet Lerner.
Affluenza. Clive Hamilton, Richard Dennis.
A look at the influences of corporate greed on personal living. Consume, consume, consume… Is there anything else in life? Includes some astonishing info on the deceptive, manipulative nature of advertising in Anglo countries.
Growth fetish. Clive Hamilton.
A good, readable look at the economics of growth and why we need to change our approach.