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8 Mental Health Books We Love (And Think You Will, Too)    

8 Mental Health Books We Love (And Think You Will, Too)

One of the questions we get asked frequently on The Local Optimist Hotline is, “What are your mental health book recommendations?” It’s a great question because while there is no shortage of mental health books out there, it can be tough to know the ones that actually provide genuine strategies and advice for finding a better headspace.

The very act of reading a book can have positive benefits for your mental health. Readers can develop greater empathy, validate personal experiences, and find solace in the pages of a book. And when an authentic connection to the material takes place, the results can lead to breakthroughs.

Hopefully, you can find that kind of connection in these titles. We asked our team to share their favorites and the results are as diverse as the individuals that suggested them. The result is a little something for everyone. If you’re still having trouble deciding, many of the authors have been featured on podcasts, so you can try listening to one of their interviews before buying the book. 

And when it comes to the actual purchase, we’ve linked to an assortment of local, independent, and BIPOC-owned booksellers below, who can benefit from your support during these times.

Make sure to let us know what books you end up reading, and share ones we may have missed, in the comments below.

Art by FISK

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle 

Originally published in 1997, The Power of Now is still one of the classics, which is why it remains one of the most recommended books today. Oprah called it “one of the most valuable books [she’s] ever read,” and says she keeps it by her bedside. Use this book as an everyday check-in to help you better understand what can happen when you live in the present moment. 

The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer 

This is the book that inspired our story about your Internal Roommate and does a great job of explaining how our thoughts and emotions do not define us. It’s an especially useful read if you’re the kind of person whose thoughts tend to race or are someone who reacts quickly to situations before thinking them all the way through. 

The Body Keeps The Score, by Bessel van der Kolk 

If you’ve been through stressful trauma, The Body Keeps The Score can help transform your understanding. It goes deep into the ways that trauma literally rewires our brains and how we can reactivate those areas through mindfulness, play, yoga, and other therapies. Van Der Kolk is a world-renowned expert on traumatic stress who went so far as to conduct his own research on the effectiveness of his own book and found that it can serve as an alternative to drugs and talk therapy as a way to reclaim our lives. 

Think Like A Monk, by Jay Shetty 

Jay Shetty is a former monk who now is a purpose coach, podcaster, and now best-selling author with this new book! You may have seen him on Instagram this past year, he’s blowing up. This book is a practical, actionable guide to train your mind for peace and purpose. If you’re in need of more self awareness and love actionable, tangible steps to get there (so do we!) then this one is for you. 

Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown 

Brene Brown is a psychologist, researcher, and professor who blew up the internet with her TED Talk on vulnerability a decade ago. Brown is now a leading figure in the field of psychology and has many books under her belt, but Daring Greatly is one of the best. It focuses on vulnerability, courageousness, and how to be authentic and offers helpful tools for how to lead, how to love, and how to understand the patterns in our character. If you want guidance and motivation, and are interested in psychology, this one's for you. 

Atomic Habits, by James Clear 

Atomic Habits is great for folks who are searching for practical, tangible tools that can help them improve their outlook. As the title implies, it’s specifically geared towards building stronger and healthier habits. It can take up to 66 days to form a new habit, and this book provides research-backed guidance and skills for proper habit formation. If you are shifting from New Year’s resolutions to intentional habit setting, Atomic Habits can help get you motivated and excited for your next chapter. 

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt 

In this book, social psychologist Haidt explores social, cultural, and political divisions and encourages us toward greater mutual understanding. After reading this, it may be a good exercise to pass it along to a friend or family member with different views than your own. Then you can explore ways that you can come together to find new understanding.

The Audacity To Be You, by Brad Reedy 

With a tagline like “learning to love your horrible, rotten self” you can tell Reedy’s playful humor feeds into his work. As well as an author, Reedy is the co-founder of Evoke Therapy Programs, which provide outdoor-based therapy for youth and families. This book offers a thoughtful exploration into what makes us human and why connection can be so elusive yet so necessary.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.