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18 Self-Help Style Books LGBTQ Readers Will Love

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The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 is author Jonathan Rauch’s rather revolutionary, science-based book about the downward trajectory that happiness takes between our 20s and 40s, and why it rises at again in our 50s. Using cutting-edge research and interviews with ordinary individuals over 50, Rauch blows away a lot of the old clichés about the midlife crisis (red convertibles, second spouses, etc.) and replaces with an understanding of why the low slump in middle-age serves a vital (and natural) social and psychological purpose. Even better, it’s the rise in ones 50s, where people of all genders usually shift away from competition and towards compassion and contentment, that Rauch writes, yields the most wonderful and unexpected results. As someone who once called people over 40 “sellouts,” who has just hit the big 5-0 herself, the book — now in paperback —  was both thought-provoking and reassuring. That it included LGBTQ interviewees and the author (a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and contributor to The Atlantic and The New York Times) mentions his husband in his bio made the book feel especially aimed at me. If you’re struggling through your 30s or 40s, consider reading this. Anyone older than that may find it greatly rewarding to do so as well. (St. Martin's) — Diane Anderson-Minshall

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg is the ultimate guide on becoming nearly waste-free one step at a time. While many people think it’s impossible to significantly reduce your waste footprint without an equal reduction in quality of life, the truth is that it’s a lot easier than one might think. Kellogg herself can fill her entire output of garbage for the last two years inside a 16-ounce mason jar. By buying less, shopping sustainably, and recycling responsibly it’s possible to live a more responsible and aware lifestyle without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Kellogg shares her secrets through a series of personal stories, tips, and suggestions. She provides DIY recipes for household products, ideas for a less-wasteful beauty regimen, and more like switching to compostable dish scrubbers instead of throw-away ones. Kellogg is a recognized advocate in the zero-waste movement. She blogs at GoingZeroWaste.com and has appeared in various outlets sharing her message. (The Countryman Press) — Donald Padgett

The Little Book of Meditations by Gilly Pickup is one of those tiny little books you’re meant to read one page a day. It’s simple yet profound and it may just help you feel good in 2020 with its affirming thoughts and useful meditation tips. (Summersdale) — DAM

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The Little Book of Forest Bathing: Discovering The Japanese Art of Self-Care is a quick intro to mindfulness practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, in which you benefit from being out in the natural world. Studies actually show being in the wilderness (or even your local park) can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, lower your stress hormones, combat depression and anxiety, and even diminish rage and hostility (something so very necessary right now). In fact, just looking at a photo of the wilderness or natural greenery can have this effect if managed properly. This little book combines notes on forest bathing, studies, bon mots, mantras, and advice. (Andrews McMeel Publishing) — DAM

Run Like a Girl 365 Days a Year: A Practical, Personal, Inspirational Guide for Women Athletes by Mina Samuels is an essential read whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a fitness novice. A fresh reinvention of the standard daily-thought book, Run Like A Girl is meant to inspire you to get up get out and get moving every day and a reminder that staying active is an integral part of woman’s overall health, confidence, and wellbeing. Mary Brophy Marcus of USA Today said, “There are lots of good sports books, but rarely beautifully written ones. Run Like A Girl is both.” (Skyhorse Publishing) — Desiree Guerrero

The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Lighter Living by Irene Smit and Astrid Van Der Hulst is a gorgeous and fun interactive “book” filled with dozens of goodies. It combines two journals, four art posters, a foldout tiny house, a dot journal poster (for all you bullet lovers) and more. What’s best is the book starts out with a 52-week decluttering supplement from Smit (the creative director of Flow magazine) and instead of being fluff is actually filled with thought provoking essays and tutorials on taking social media breaks, living with less, saying no to intrusive thoughts, and how letting go might actually give you more time for the things that matter to you most. (Workman) — DAM

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Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Nourish and Strengthen Your Recovery by Tom Shanahan — a personal trainer, nutritionist, health coach, and recovering addict — is designed to be a nutrition- and fitness-based companion to a 12-step program. After completing his own 12-step recovery program, Shanahan realized that although he had overcome his addictions to cocaine and alcohol, he had replaced them with caffeine, sugar, and nicotine. He was physically and emotionally drained and knew something needed to change. Though it was no easy feat, Shanahan eventually broke free from this cycle and discovered the benefits, physically and spiritually, of a healthier lifestyle. Both motivating and educational, the book emphasis the importance of sobriety and health and wellness in the recovery process. (Central Recovery Press) — DG

A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better by Nikki Fuhrer is a wonderful resource for the modern woman who wants to integrate the many medicinal and pleasurable uses of cannabis into their lives. Leading marijuana cultivator Fuhrer seeks to dismantle the archaic notions around this holistic herb (it’s only for hippies, stoners, or radicals) in a world that constantly shames women for the same behaviors men are often applauded for. Aside from demystifying the topic with straightforward, intellectual information about cannabis, Fuhrer gives women tangible tips on everything from how to navigate a dispensary to how to make THC-infused edibles at home. (Workman Publishing) — DG

Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg feels even more urgent now then ever before. Not just because more people are trying meditation and scientific studies are validating with Buddhist monks have likely known for thousands of years, but also because with modern life that’s chaotic, overwhelming, and filled with hate trolls, most of us need more accessible ways of finding well-being. The book, which has been translated into multiple languages and is free of woo-woo as you can get, starts with the key basics (like mindfulness and concentration) and how they can help you bring greater resiliency and balance to your life. Moreover, Salzberg goes further with new exercises for reclaiming your space and changing the narrative in your own life. The book also offers up embedded QR codes, which you can scan on your phone for free, relatively easy guided meditations by the author that’ll get you started. (Workman) — DAM

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Forget “Having It All”: How America Messed Up Motherhood — and How to Fix It by Amy Westervelt is a much-needed reexamination of what it means to be a working mother in the United States today. Author Westervelt, an award-winning journalist, admits she was at first very proud of the fact that she worked through her entire pregnancy and had only taken one afternoon off of work to deliver her child. One afternoon. But, after further contemplation, the enormous fallacy of this way of thinking came crashing down on her. How did our society’s standard of treatment of working mothers get to this point? Though Westervelt primarily focuses on the experience she knows personally, that of a working mom, she also discusses the difficulties working fathers struggle with in a system that can be even less sympathetic to their desire to spend time with their children. Her point is: all families are suffering in a society that values competition and personal success over caregiving and community. Westervelt also goes into the intersection of race and class when it comes to working mothers, arguing that the discussion has always been focused on white women. She notes that many women of color have been working moms long before it was considered “empowering,” and points to the fact that Black, Native, and Latinx cultures are more likely to take a communal, it-takes-a-village perspective on parenting. Forget “Having It All” is a necessary wake-up call for all the parents working away their (and their children’s) lives. (Seal Press) — DG

Good Mornings: Morning Rituals for Wellness, Peace and Purpose by Linnea Dunne. This inspiration guide shows how building an affirmation ritual into your morning routine can have benefits that are both mental and physical (and can help you be more productive at work as well). While Dunne recommends easy ways to take up the usual faves (yoga, meditation, journaling) even showering and breakfast get the ritual treatment in this book. (Octopus Books)

9 Months In and 9 Months Out: A Scientist’s Tale of Pregnancy and Parenthood by Dr. Vanessa LoBue takes a refreshingly human perspective while delivering a plethora of medical information to expectant parents. Throughout the book, LoBue balances scientific facts with her own real-life emotional experiences of pregnancy and parenthood — from the pain of labor and childbirth, to what morning sickness is really like, to witnessing baby’s first smile, to the darkness of post-partum depression. Alternately, the book gives you tons of useful scientific info in a clear and straightforward manner, like a month-by-month explanation of the baby’s development (including gender development) as well as tons of research-based information on things like breastfeeding, the sleep training debate, vaccinations, and autism. (Oxford University Press) — DG

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Mom Hacks: 100+ Science-Backed Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Body, Raise Awesome Kids, and Be Unstoppable by Dr. Darria Long Gillespie is what every overwhelmed, run-down mom needs. As a working mom with a highly stressful and demanding job, author Gillespie knows all too well that daily moment as a parent when you think, There’s no way I’m going to get everything done that I need to today, let alone have any time for self-care. She notes real-life statistics that ultimately prove this is true, like how a woman’s risk of obesity increases by 7 percent for every child she has, and that moms in general are less likely to have poor nutrition, get less exercise, and don’t get nearly enough sleep. Filled with over one hundred practical and largely do-able tips — such as starting your day with a favorite song as your wake-up alarm, rather than an adrenaline-inducing buzzer — Mom Hacks is truly a book every working mom should read to help restore some peace and order in their hectic lives. (Da Capo Press) — DG

Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You by Sarah Ivens takes the concept of forest bathing and nature therapy and finds seasonal ways to apply them to everyday life (along with reminders that even in big cities like New York City you can find greenery to connect with). It has a great chapter on finding ways to bring the outdoors in for those of us who don’t want to venture out when the temperature goes below 50 (or -5!) degrees (think log fires and nature scenes in glass bowls), but it also it has simple ideas for connecting with nature year round and scientific studies that prove why that matter. It’s particularly relevant for women (as there are sections on rushing women’s syndrome and why trading date night dinning for couples massages makes sense) but written for anyone with interest in reducing stress in your life. (DaCapo Press) — DAM

Zen in the Age of Anxiety: Wisdom for Navigating Our Modern Lives by Tim Bukett offers simple ways to identify the causes of stress and anxiety in our lives and how to make changes. “Walking down a different street is not about changing what we do or how we do it. It is about changing what and how we think. It requires a new approach to life — and that is what this book offers,” the introduction goes. And indeed, it’s a good precursor to what you’ll get. A very thoughtful book, Zen in the Age of Anxiety is particularly practical in addressing modern problems in a way that uses Zen Buddhism specifically rather than generic mindfulness. Bukett is one of the most prominent Zen teachers in the Midwest, so we’d expect nothing less. (Shambala Publications) — DAM

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The Sophrology Method: Simple Techniques for a Calmer, Happier, Healthier You by Florence Parot may be your first introduction to sophrology but anyone who follows Eastern meditation and Western mindfulness techniques may find Sophrology appealing. Combining meditation, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, body awareness, visualizations, and movement practices, Sophorology is the new mindfulness. With this guidebook, it’s surprisingly easy to understand and the sections on building emotional resilience, quieting the mind, and working more thoughtfully by ditching the belief in multitasking are particularly relevant to anyone in a stressful job. (Gaia/Octopus Books) — DG

Loving Like You Mean It: Use the Power of Emotional Mindfulness to Transform Your Relationships by Ronald J. Frederick, PhD, is a guide to help reader reset and update their relationship programming. Frederick, clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience, say that we can often unintentionally sabotage our love relationships with unhealthy behaviors picked up in childhood and through negative outside messaging. Frederick argues that with awareness and the right tools, you can let go of fear, be more emotionally present, and transform your approach to love in relationships. Based on the latest research in neuroscience and attachment theory, Loving Like You Mean It certainly is a helpful resource for rebooting your love life for the better. (Central Recovery Press) — DG

 

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