Suggested Readings

Living Life Fully Home

We're listing books that have affected us positively, mostly because they offer a unique, positive perspective on life. Some of them may be classified as self-help, some as counseling, some as literature--but classifications mean nothing. Content is everything. We don't think for a second that everyone will like every book here, but we're putting in books that have positively affected us. They're in no particular order, and we're not going to categorize them for now, but we think you may find something here that can speak to you, wherever you are in life.

Please note that you can purchase all of these books by clicking on the image, which will send you to a page for that book at  If you do purchase by clicking here, we will receive a small commission on the purchase.  We tell you this simply because we want to be completely straightforward on this--we don't want to present this without letting you know what's going on.


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Susan Taylor has done it again! Similar to her monthly column, "In the Spirit," which motivates and stimulates the Essence subscriber, this compilation of writings is another honest expression of her life's journey and the "lessons" that she has learned. Taylor offers intimate expressions on self-worth, empowerment, faith, and commitment for the benefit of others. Her ability to describe "loving ourselves" in a moving and thought-provoking way is the style that has endeared her to Essence subscribers over the years. Readers never feel as if she is lecturing on or dictating the only way to deal with life's challenges but rather are inspired to face life's challenges by listening to their own inner voices.  This is one of my favorite books of all, one that I revisit on a very regular basis for feelings of peace and hope and balance.


Do One Thing Different.  Bill O'Hanlon
A lot of practical, common-sense suggestions for dealing with many aspects of your own life, such as your own perspective, co-dependencies, etc.  Quite a few step-by-step ideas for dealing with things that may be bringing you down.  His website is at if you'd like to learn more about him or see his other books.
Prescriptions for Living. Bernie S. Siegel
A nice look at life from a formerly anal-retentive doctor who shaved his head, changed his name from "Dr. Siegel" to Bernie, and actually started caring for his patients. He learned more from the change than they did.


A Touch of Wonder. Arthur Gordon
A series of essays examining life and perspectives on life. I bought it because I loved the subtitle: "Staying in Love with Life."  The essays here are very personal, and very insightful--Gordon is a strong and insightful observer.  My favorite is the essay in which he takes an aging rabbi out fishing.
A Strategy for Daily Living. Ari Kiev
A nice look at sort of "putting your life in order," without being compulsive about doing so. A small, short, easy read that helps us to see the importance of our day-to-day existence.


Simple Abundance. Sarah Ban Breathnach
With reservations--not for most males, and there's quite a bit of self-indulgence here. All in all, though, a positive experience. But please, Sarah--find a synonym or two for "authentic."
The Art of Loving. Erich Fromm
Fromm was a follower of Freud's who seemed to take many of Freud's ideas and humanize them, presenting them in a very accessible way. If you want to know about love from a very human psychological perspective, Fromm hits a lot of nails right on the head, especially in Chapter Three, "Love's Disintegration in Western Society."


Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. . .and it's all small stuff. Richard Carlson
A nice little series of lessons on perspective--we all sweat a lot of stuff that really doesn't deserve so much attention. Many practical suggestions here.  Be careful, though, as this promises to get as annoying as the Chicken Soup books--now there's Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work, and more.  When will these people stop milking markets?
The Sermon on the Mount. Emmet Fox
Emmet's great--a strong Christian who's able to reach people on their own level, no matter what or where that level is. Practical, caring, and insightful, this book should prove to be a real eye-opener for anyone who thinks about how to live life fully, and a great reinforcement for anyone who has doubts. Rather than take more space, we'd recommend anything by Emmet, but especially this one.


Lead the Field. Earl Nightingale
A six-tape audio program available from Nightingale-Conant, this set offers a very practical and human approach to life and success. Nighingale loved life, and it shows through clearly here. The version I have has the text printed, also.
The Celestine Prophecy. James Redfield
Though Redfield's lost a great deal of credibility with his efforts to milk the success of this book for all it's worth, the book remains a nice synthesis of many different teachings and philosophies. There's nothing new here, but it's brought together in a very readable fashion.


Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Richard Bach
A wonderfully timeless exploration of what it means to go against the grain and follow the need inside to accomplish what others just don't understand. Illusions is another by Bach that challenges your perspective on life.
Favorite Poems. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Another Dover Thrift Edition--no one who's in love with life should be without Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life," "The Village Blacksmith," "The Rainy Day," and many more here by a poet whose meaning is actually accessible, not buried in poetic form.


Handbook for the Soul. Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors
An uplifting collection of essays by many people who try to focus on the positive aspects of life and of ourselves as human beings. Strong focuses on finding peace with ourselves, finding holiness in the world, etc.
"Self-Reliance" and Other Essays. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Dover Thrift Edition--Emerson is always wonderful, though a bit too pithy at times for some people. But his wonderful celebrations of the beauty of being human and the potential we all have is extremely uplifting, and for a dollar, it's more than worth its price. If you haven't seen the Dover Thrift Editions, look for them--you'll find great books at a wonderful price. Thank you, Dover.


Care of the Soul. Thomas Moore
We try to take care of our minds and our bodies, but if we believe we have a soul, shouldn't we nurture it and help it grow? Why do we harm it? A bit heavy at times, but well worth the effort, especially if we're willing to admit that we do have a soul, and that it does deserve to be cared for.
The Power of Positive Thinking. Norman Vincent Peale
The concept of "positive thought" has come under attack from many conservative Christians lately, but the bottom line is that this book can help us to change our perspective on who we are and how we fit in this world.  Peale was a caring, loving person who shared a great deal of himself with the world, and his "positive thinking" school of thought can help us all to see the great things in our lives rather than focus on the limitations and problems.


In His Steps. Charles M. Sheldon
A wonderful examination of what it means to lead a truly Christian life, and the consequences thereof. The major influence of the WWJD movement, this work examines the lives of a few individuals who decide to make all decisions in their lives dependent on the answer to the question:  "What would Jesus do if He were in my situation?"  Sometimes acting on that answer isn't at all easy.
Every Day Light. Selwyn Hughes
Selwyn's a bit more stodgy with his prose than Emmet (who isn't at all stodgy), but these examinations of Biblical principals and passages in daybook form is a nice read, and the paintings by Thomas Kinkade add nicely to the message.


Chicken Soup for the Soul. Canfield and Hansen editors
The crass commercialism that's resulted from the success of this series has turned a lot of people off, but there are still some very positive, uplifting stories to be read, especially in the first few that weren't for specific audiences.
Manifest Your Destiny. Wayne Dyer
This book provides a fascinating perspective of the world and our place in it. Just how much of our lives is under our own control? More than we think, Dyer says.


Creating True Prosperity.   Shakti Gawain
An interesting look at the concept of prosperity in our lives, and what the term truly means to each of us.  Shakti's perspective is that prosperity is available to all of us, as long as we're willing to shift our perspectives and change our ideas about what prosperity means.  Money, power, inner strength--she examines the different aspects of our inner and outer wealth.
Subtitled "The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth," this book is a guide to working towards being the best person you can be.  Spirit is everywhere, in everyone, and if we can allow ourselves to see it and live it, we can reach our full potential in our lives.  The author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The life You Were Meant to Live, Millman is a former world-champion athlete and college professor whose focus is on the practical rather than the abstract.


A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson
Williamson reveals how we each can become a miracle worker by accepting God and by the expression of love in our daily lives. Whether psychic pain is in the area of relationships, career, or health, she shows us how love is a potent force, the key to inner peace, and how by practicing love we can make our own lives more fulfilling while creating a more peaceful and loving world for our children.

The Aladdin Factor, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
"Ask and you shall receive."  You've heard it more times than you can count, right?  Well, a truer line was never written.  Asking is the key to getting what you want, no matter what it is.  But asking is an art.  And because we're all programmed from an early age not to ask, and not to feel worthy or deserving, arriving at the place where you are prepared to ask, and can do it with power and conviction, is a process.  The Aladdin Factor will take you through this process, and empower you to start asking the questions that will change your life.


In Creating Love, John Bradshaw provides a new way to understand our most crucial relationships: with parents and children, with friends and co-workers, with ourselves, and with God.  He shows us how we have been literally "entranced" by past experiences of counterfeit love, how we can break these destructive patterns, and how we can open ourselves to the soul-building work of real love.

John Bradshaw has touched and changed millions of lives through his nationally televised PBS series and his best-selling books. His previous book, Homecoming, introduced the concept of the inner child to a vast new audience. Now he defines the "next great stage of growth"--how we can work to create healthy, loving relationships in every part of our lives.

Written for everyone who has struggled with painful relationships and is seeking hope and a new direction, Creating Love is a life-changing book.

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace Is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Buddhist Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is (kitchen, office, driving a car, walking in a park) and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh shows how to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us, its beauty and also its pollution and injustices. Through deceptively simple practices, Peace Is Every Step encourages the reader to work for peace in the world as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the "mindless" into the mindful. Peace Is Every Step is a useful, and necessary, addition to any Buddhist studies or self-help reference shelf.



Further Along the Road Less Traveled takes the lectures of Dr. Peck and presents his profound insights into the issues that confront and challenge all of us today: spirituality, forgiveness, relationships, and growing up. In this aid for living less simplistically, you will learn not to look for the easy answers but to think multidimensionally. You will learn to reach for the "ultimate step," which brings you face to face with your personal spirituality. It will be this that helps you appreciate the complexity that is life.
Simple Truths.  Kent Nerburn
A very nice, simple collection of thoughts and reflections on many of the aspects of our daily lives that most of us take for granted--possessions, giving, love, money, travel, and many others.  Very readable and thought-provoking, and well worth a read.


A note on the false self:  This concept isn't new, and it isn't proprietary, though many people have written about it over thousands of years.  For one of the most interesting and thorough examinations of how to "defeat" the false self, we'd recommend Guy Finley's The Secret of Letting Go, a very nice book on the power of not trying to control every aspect of our lives.


A Life Complete explains how the choices we make in life can become distilled and irreversible by the time we reach our last years.  Having worked intimately and rewardingly with countless people in the last years of their lives, psychological counselor and ordained minister Sallirae Henderson offers a practical plan for healing in middle age so we can avoid elderly regret, unexpressed grief, and unresolved spiritual issues before it's too late.


In this collection of heartwarming, introspective stories, you'll find Welch's examinations of the things in life that are truly important:  the people you cherish, the dreams you share, and the talents God has given exclusively to you.  You'll be reminded of the things that make life so special:  love, friendships, and building relationships that last a lifetime.