One of the first books that I had success reading was The Feel Good Handbook By David D. Burns, M.D. It was suggested by a previous counselor as an assignment. I am a life long learner and went into therapy requesting homework. At first glance this book is intimidating based on its size. The book is a handbook so it isn't as long as it looks because it contains assignments and resources.
I went through it one to two chapters per week depending on how intensive the work was in the chapter both emotionally and or time consuming. For this book to be effective it is important to do the exercises. The book uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), giving you the tools to overcome negative thoughts. My only disagreement with this book is its stance on medication. I do not believe that counseling alone is always effective. I think sometimes in order to get a person out of that dark hole you need medication first and then counseling. Two tools are better than one.
I now use the book as a resource if I'm struggling in a certain area or if I know someone who is struggling with something specific. I have frequently turned to the communication section when I feel I could use a refresher. It is also nice to go back and read my answers and see my progress.
Another book I have found to be greatly inspirational is The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. This book is based on the concept that happiness leads to success. This book looks at the theory that so many of us think if we become successful we will achieve happiness. The authors details studies he preformed at Harvard proving this theory to be untrue. His examples make a valid point. The majority of the book than goes through seven principles to achieving happiness so you can achieve success.
The last book I'm going to be completely honest I have not finished but feel it is important to mention, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I have the seventh habit to finish. This book is a tough read but well worth the time. I made a deal with myself that after each chapter I could read a fun book. Even if you only read the first section on being proactive it would be well worth your time. It was a nice follow up to the other two books reiterating the concept of having control over our responses.
I know these books are not always top of people's 'to do lists' but I think it is important to take advantage of other's education and experiences. And if you need to treat yourself to a fun book afterwards here are a few suggestions.
- Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
- White Oleander - Janet Fitch
- The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern
- Jemima J. - Jane Green
- Persuasion - Jane Austen