The Books that Changed My Life

books that changed my life

wpid-img_20150327_0839552.jpg.jpegRegular readers will know that I grew up in a dysfunctional household. There was abuse, there was violence, there was racism, but most of all there was ignorance. An air of ‘my way is the only way’, and rather than gathering facts, assumptions were made on a daily basis. You know what happens when we assume don’t you? We make an ASS of U and ME!

When I left home at 15 without finishing school, and with nothing more than a few clothes and £50 in my pocket, I knew I wanted to be different from my family. I worked out pretty quickly that the best ways to learn were to (a) watch what others were doing, and truly listen to their words of wisdom, and (b) consume knowledge from books as fast as my brain could absorb the information.

It’s not always music to my ears, but if it has served the very good purpose of empowering me with knowledge, I never view it negatively. Come what may, I would always rather know and make my own decisions. In the midst of my learning frenzy I became a bit of a self-help junkie, so I thought I’d share with you my all-time favourite life changing books.

The books that changed my life, and why (in alphabetical order)

10 Days to a Less Defiant Child by Jeffrey Bernstein, PhD
Our eldest is a challenging child and by Christmas last year her behaviour was at an all time low. After a truly hideous Xmas Eve, and feeling totally and utterly desperate, I went on an Amazon rampage looking for books that might help us and came across this one. I promptly downloaded it and hubby and I set to work right away reading the intro and first chapter before we went to bed. Bernstein gives clear cut advice on how to overcome defiance in challenging children, which is exactly what we needed because boy were we in an awful rut! I wrote about our experience in detail here: Less Defiance Part One and Less Defiance Part Two.

Affluenza by Oliver James
Incredibly eye opening read about how our modern consumerism obsessed society is changing us for the worst. In the book James speaks about ‘keeping up with the Jones’s as if it were a disease, hence the title. I read this shortly after I folded my Books that Changed My Lifeshort-lived food business and declared myself bankrupt, and it confirmed what I was already well on my way to knowing. Materialistic possessions alone will not make a person happy, you have to find your happiness first. I posted an open letter to big retailers at the weekend, which feels relevant to mention here.

Anti-Cancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber
My beloved Grandma died of breast cancer before her 60th birthday. My eldest aunt didn’t live to see 45. The C word terrifies me, and I need all the help I can get to protect myself from it. This book talks about everything you can do to help yourself when you’re in my boat – from diet, to exercise to stress levels. Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination but well worth it.

Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama
This kind of leads on from Affluenza. In a nutshell: happiness is not a given, it’s not a right. You have to work hard at it and it is up to you and you alone to secure your happiness. Incredibly life affirming read.

Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg
I devoured this while I was in India on my honeymoon, and five months pregnant. Afterwards l genuinely felt like I was in on all kinds of secrets that would put me ahead of the game as a new mum. Hogg explains the theory behind her ‘EASY Rule’ of a newborn baby. In essence they eat, then have a little activity, then they sleep and while they’re sleeping you should do something for yourself.

The idea is that when they first arrive they will be on a two hour(ish) cycle, and as they get older you space out their feeds so they are lasting longer between one feed and the next. I followed this non-routine routine with all three of mine, and it worked really well for the first six months.

Become the Best You by Reneé Davis
This one is a bit of a cheat because it’s my own book. It details how I broke free from the dysfunctional past I mention at the start of this post, and all the things I had to do to create a brighter future. My book writing journey has been well documented here on the blog. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the website Become the Best You.

Books that Changed My LifeHow to Be A Writer by Stewart Ferris
This book was given to me by my fabulous hubby as part of my Christmas present in 2013. By the beginning of January I had not only read it, but felt so inspired by it that I began writing my own book. Nuff said!

How to Calm A Challenging Child by Miriam Chachamu
I read this at the end of my second maternity leave in 2012, and it started my journey of mindful parenting. In an easy to take onboard way that doesn’t patronise (no mean feat) Chachamu makes you take stock and realise that you are the adult, and it’s up to you to put an end to whatever rut you are in. She has lots of advice about how, because she’s a mum of four and is speaking from personal experience. She talks a lot about positive reinforcement, but is also super realistic.

Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
My Hubby and I have a dear friend to thank for putting the Paleo way on our radar (thanks Mongrel!) This book cemented our thoughts and affirmed that were doing the right thing by eliminating grains from our life (I was already dairy and refined sugar free at this point). We began our Paleo adventure almost three years ago and have not looked back! I am now following the GAPS diet which will hopefully cure my food intolerance and general gut issues for good. Without already eating Paleo, GAPS would have probably scared the living day lights out of me!

They F*** You Up by Oliver James 
As you might have guessed I’m a rather large fan of Mr. James. This book sung to me in so many ways, as did his follow up How Not to F*** Them Up which I spoke about in my recent post Nanny vs Nursery.

This is all about understanding family dynamics. It explains how certain people become the way they are, and end up reverting to type every time they see their relatives. I think absolutely everyone should read this book!

What to do When the Doctor Says it’s PCOS by Milton Hammerley MD Cheryl Kimball
When I was diagnosed with Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in 2007, and told by two doctors that I would not naturally conceive I was devastated. This book showed me another way of life that led to me not needing medical intervention for any of my three pregnancies. I would urge anyone with the condition to read this book.

So there you go, the books that changed my Life. Which ones would you recommend I read next? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section…

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53 thoughts on “The Books that Changed My Life

  1. There’s a lot of self-help stuff there. I always seem to take advice the wrong way, like it’s more like an accusation than help. That being said, I want to get my teeth into your book and it’s on my TBR x

  2. I’ve devoured a whole load of baby/parenting books since having Arthur, though actually not any of the ones you’ve mentioned! I wasn’t strictly looking for someone to tell me how to do things, but particularly with some of my ‘attachment parenting’ instincts I was looking for validation and a deeper understanding because what I wanted to do was so different to what everyone I knew was doing. Does that make any sense?? My favourite parenting writer is I think Deborah Jackson. I love how she pulls together historical and anthropological research to give a global perspective which helps to balance the sometimes narrow view of parenting we get in the West, especially though the media. I’m finding less and less time to read these kinds of things now Arthur’s bigger though – my unread pile is growing rapidly! xx

  3. Looks like a very inspiring list of books! I have to admit the only self help books I’ve read are yours (of course) and the very fabulous ‘Baby Bliss’ by Dr Harvey Karp which saved my bacon when struggling with my firstborn (it made me feel good and competent – the antithesis of Gina Ford). I will definitely check out the writing book though and it sounds like the Dalai Lama one has a wonderful message. Thanks for linking to #WhatImwriting xx

  4. I like Oliver James as I think he talks a lot of sense, although I honestly haven’t read any self-help books other than yours! I used to work in a bookshop and got slightly put off by the whole genre (long story and the details of which I couldn’t possibly write here!) but I do see their value and relevance.

  5. You are an inspiration lovely at how far you have come to be nothing like your family, its amazing that the strength it must have taken to shun your family to find something better and you did it on your own!

    Thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments xxxx

  6. You have come a long way and more lady! So proud of you. I was just saying I am in need of some good books and wanted to hit waterstones soon. Great list. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Have a great weekend. #sharewithme

  7. Thanks so much for sharing these books, I love the Oliver James one so am off to check out the others. My step dad has recently been diagnosed with Cancer and like you I’m terrified of the ‘big c’ although I know it will be a really tough read.
    Becky xx

  8. Oh my word I’d have a run a mile too!! Thanks for your kind words Fiona, it all feels like a very long time ago now… Well 20 years is a long time but you know what I mean!

  9. Yes The Secret is also a good one, gotta love the power of positive thinking! I can’t recommend Oliver James enough, he’s my self-help idol 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Tor! I’m definitely going to check out your recommendation, it sounds absolutely fascinating and right up my street xx

  11. The different types of baby was really useful, it’s amazing how every single newborn fits into one of her categories. I’m going to look up the book you mention, it sounds great. Thanks so much for the recommendation 🙂

  12. The Mother says – Well, obviously I’ve read your book and I thought it was brilliant. I haven’t read the others but I would take any recommendation from you as a goodie. 🙂 #sharewithme

  13. I loved your book. 😉 I pretty much followed EASY as well although the most useful part of the book was where Tracy broke down the different types of babies, opened my eyes. I remember reading “Seven Love Languages” or similar a few years ago and that helped me and my husband to communicate better, in fact I keep meaning to read it again.

  14. Fabulous post honey and after writing about the books that inspired me earlier this year I’m delighted to have some more to add to my collection now! Have just ordered the Art of Happiness and can’t wait to get reading. Thanks so much for linking this up at #sharethejoy this week x

  15. Hi Renee,
    I’m becoming a big self-help book reader. I have got to order your book soon! The book that has changed my life is called The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters. It’s about mind management and how you can re-train parts of your brain. It’s really helped me get a handle on my more emotional side that I struggle to control at times (my chimp). My boyfriend read it first and it’s helped to save our relationship when we were nearly calling it a day after endless emotional arguments (as we both have very strong chimps). I also love Oliver James, if it’s the same chap who wrote about ‘Love Bombing’ I think it’s such a great tool for our children and other relationships too. Love Tor xx
    PS I watched one of your youtube vids the other day and it was lovely to ‘see’ you! Great home made mouth wash too, fab idea.

  16. Wow, this is truly inspirational! I also have the Anti Cancer book and we do make an effort to eat as healthy as possible. Thank you for linking up with #AllAboutYou!


  17. I am inspired to read some of these and also inspired to do a similar blogpost! Books have always been an escape, a way to learn and a way to understand others for me also. As a black sheep bookworm in a family of non reader siblings this was my relaxation, peace and I think a way to define myself as different to them all! You sound like a brave and fastidious woman…well done! you now inspire. x

  18. Wow Renee, some very intriguing books there! I would have to add ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. Such a simple concept yet one missed by so many. You know me, positivity rules (at least, I try very hard to make it!). I’ve read one on your list, the fabulous ‘Become the Best You’ 😉 The 2 Oliver James ones sound quite heavy but I think I’ll be adding them to my reading stack 🙂

  19. Fascinating post hon and sounds like there are some great reads there. We tried the baby whisperer route with Monkey and hugely struggled to make it work which I was gutted about as I loved the idea of it! So glad it worked for you and your three 🙂 xx

  20. I read very few factual books, I’m all fiction really, but I have to put How to be a Writer on my must-read list 🙂 I swear by The Baby Whisperer. It was the only baby book that I used (read it when my eldest was 5mo and it saved our sanity!) and I recommend it to everyone 🙂

  21. Great list. I have to say The Baby Whisperer also changed my life. It was the only book that I used when Monkey was a baby. Of course, your book was very inspiring for me too. I mean I read it in a day xxx

  22. Oh my, leaving home at 15, you must have had so much character and so much about you. I was proposed to at 15 on holiday in Greece, but ran a mile! What a brave girl you are and a wonderful list of inspiring books that clearly mouded who you are today. #MagicMoments

  23. That sounds like a great list of books. I’ve only read your one from this list and found it very encouraging and inspirational but I think I’ll be adding some of the others to my reading list! 🙂

  24. Always interested to read about other people’s book choices. Your list made me realise that it’s not the factual books that stand out for me, but the fiction.

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