I’ve come to the conclusion that helpful books, ones which have the potential to genuinely change lives, are my absolute favourite kind. Gone are the days where I can leisurely sit around devouring stories for hours on end. When I manage to read a book in its entirety now, it’s because I genuinely connect with the words. Here are some brilliant recommendations, covering everything from mental health and body confidence, to allergies, autism, understanding our past and natural living. I’d like to think there is something here for everyone, no matter how cynical they might be.
**Disclaimer: I was sent some of these books free of charge, and I also know some of the authors personally. However, I have written this piece entirely of my own volition and I am not being compensated for it. I have included affiliated links to Amazon, which means I would receive a small commission if you purchase anything using my link. Click here for my full disclosure policy.
A Little Pick Me Up by Katie Portman
Katie’s award winning blog, Pouting in Heels, was one of the first I started reading when I ventured into the blogging world. Katie has always been honest, witty, wise and compassionate. It was no shock when she announced her book deal, and this eagerly awaited debut does not disappoint. A Little Pick Me Up dissects the BS us ladies are fed, through toxic media and ingrained negativity, and explains how it simply doesn’t need to be this way. The book is split into seven sections, each one digestible and insightful. Katie tells her own moving story in a relatable way, while helping the reader dig deep to understand their emotions and overcome their dark fears. I read the book in a weekend, and the resounding message by the time I got to the end was: I am enough. This would make the perfect gift for a friend going through a hard time, and should be on every woman’s bookshelf.
Cultured Food for Health by Donna Schwenk
Combining first hand healing stories and the latest research, Schwenk has created what I consider to be a bible for making probiotic rich, fermented food and drink. She also has a 21 day healing programme, which has helped countless people flood their digestive systems with good gut bacteria, and get their health on track. I know only too well how many benefits there are to be had from consuming cultured foods, as I do it every single day. The book is packed full of fabulous recipes – from basic fermented veggies to complex three course meals and probiotic condiments. I have come back to this book time and again since buying it in 2015.
Gut and Psychological Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride
To say this book changed my life would be the understatement of the century. The premise behind Gut and Psychology Syndrome is that all disease starts in the gut and all mental health problems are linked to our poor gut health. It goes into scientific depth about digestive health, and the correlation between the gut and brain. Reading this book in 2014 kick started a year on the GAPS Diet and repaired my health, which was in a pretty dire state. If you’re a sufferer of autoimmune disease in any way, shape or form, I can’t urge you enough to read this book. You might also find the vlog below useful.
Happiness Habits Transformation by Michelle Reeves
Michelle is a life coach who is dedicated to championing women and helping them hone in on their talents to reach their full potential. Here she shares her own story and describes everything she did to get from post-natally depressed mum to thriving, successful business woman. Again, an easy to digest book, written in the style of having a cuppa with a friend. There’s plenty of room for notes, and prompts for you to write down your goals too. If you follow Michelle’s eight happiness habits, they absolutely could change your life.
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden
My husband bought me this book just after I’d declared bankruptcy. Life had take some unexpected turns, for sure, but I was not going to allow myself to be beaten into submission. Written by a world renowned advertising guru, this book breaks down the golden rules for success, in a way that’s impossible not to feel fired up by. If you have two hours spare you could read it from cover to cover.
Living with Allergies by Emma Amoscato
Emma’s site Free From Farmhouse has helped countless parents get to grips with their kids allergies. This book walks you through dealing with professionals, keeping your children safe in public spaces and at school, food anxieties and a multitude of other subjects. Allergies are an absolute minefield, as I know only too well. When Polly was diagnosed with an allergy list longer than my arm at almost three, it felt like learning a new language. Polly’s allergies weren’t as severe as Emma’s children’s, but I look back at that time as one of the most stressful since becoming a mother. Living with Allergies is an incredible resource and will save many families lots of tears.
Natural Painkillers by Dr. Yann Rougier and Marie Borrel
Once you start tuning into your health the way I have, you realise pretty quickly that everything is connected. It would be a complete contradiction to be boosting my gut health with probiotic rich food and drink, while at the same time necking over-the-counter drugs for aches and pains. Nature provides everything we need for minor ailments, and this brilliant book explains it all in detail. From breathing techniques to herbal poultices and balms. What anti-inflammatory foods to eat and teas to drink. The way I see it, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain when it comes to living naturally (and this includes relieving pain).
Six Essential Oils You Can’t Do Without by Daniele Festy
Natural cleaning products, toiletries and herbal remedies always start with essential oils. I’m new to them, and no expert whatsoever, which is why this book appealed to me so much. From the healing potential of tea tree to the calming effects of damask rose, it walks you through the six essential oils we should all have in our lives. Containing no less than three hundred easy to follow recipes, it’s a brilliant book for an essential oils newbie, such as myself.
Talking Autism by Victoria Hatton
When Polly was diagnosed autistic in June 2015, our family embarked on our biggest journey yet. We set about getting to grips with Polly’s meltdown triggers, creating routines that worked, disciplining in a way that was helpful rather than harmful. So much ‘conventional parenting wisdom’ had to be unlearnt and new strategies put in place that would help us all. There were not many resources around when we were in dire straights, and I’m so pleased Talking Autism exists now, for parents who are as desperate as we were. The book walks you through navigating the diagnosis and EHCP process, and offers extremely useful and insightful strategies. Victoria has a daughter on the spectrum, as well as over twenty years experience working with autistic kids. Her positive approach shines through on every page.
They F*** You Up by Oliver James
Almost twenty years ago I had my first mental breakdown, which led me to counselling. I didn’t know it at first, but I would end up dissecting my largely f***ed up childhood, and start getting to grips with why I was behaving in such a self-destructive way. Prior to seeing my counsellor, I genuinely had no idea it was correlated. Which seems utterly absurd right now, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and I was only 23. They F*** You Up was the first self-help book I ever read on this subject.
James’ resounding message throughout the book is this: how we are parented largely dictates our personality types. Unless, of course, we actively decide to break away from our pre-determined role in the “family drama”. He suggests that the way we’re cared for up until the age of six will have a vital effect on who we become later in life. James very cleverly weaves the book together between scientific studies, interviews with celebrities and personal stories from his own childhood. Absolute must read for anyone who wants to unpick why they do the things they do. As the blurb on the back cover says: “understanding your past is the first step to controlling your present.” If you know you need to change, this is a brilliant place to start.