“If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness.”-Robin Sharma.
As I went about trying to Improve my overall health these past eighteen months, I focused on reading books about habits and how to think better. That’s because I knew if I could control my thoughts and manage my daily habits, then I’d see the quality of my life improve tremendously—which it has.
Only the most helpful books made it onto this list. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you about all 128 books I’ve read since the start of the pandemic. 😉 There are a lot of strategies I employed to be able to read so many books. First, I rarely watch TV and I read before bed.
The biggest reason I was able to ‘read’ so much was that I finally acclimated to audiobooks. I use the Overdrive or Libby apps with audio loans from our local library. On Amazon Prime Day, I also bought audio books on sale that our local library didn’t have.
(Before we proceed, please be aware this post contains amazon affiliate links, that although will be no additional cost to you, could bring in a small commission to help support this blog.)
If I’m exercising, walking from one building to another at work, or doing housework, I am usually listening to an audiobook. (Use bone conduction headsets though so you don’t trash your hearing).
Most audiobooks can be listened to at 1.5 speed. Some you can crank up to 2 speed. (If it involves accents though, you have to settle for 1.25) If I want to cement an audiobook in my head, I get the print version from the library and look through it.
And lastly, before we moved, I worked with a reading specialist to increase the speed of my reading from 250 words a minute to 1000. Best $100 I ever spent. 😉
Although this list is non-fiction, I did throw in a ‘top ten’ fiction books at the end, because relaxing is part of improving your overall health.
If there was only one book I could recommend, it would be:
Even though I’ve been doing a writer’s version of the Miracle Morning for over a year now (and hey, it helped me get the first draft of my women’s medical fiction book written!), reading the actual book this movement is based on helped me tremendously to improve my overall life.
DH is totally on board with the Miracle Morning, too. He’s probably the happiest and most fulfilled I’ve ever seen him.
If you don’t have time to read and want the ‘speed’ version of this book, just watch the hour and a half documentary..
Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean. Excellent. Lots of actionable science highlighted to help you become healthier overall. Oddly enough, it also taught me about how to increase creativity.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Actually a reread. Loved it. So helpful, especially the appendix at the end.
Eat That Frog! By Brian Tracy. Excellent.
Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins. All about how to use pain and pleasure to change and replace habits. Really good. I want to relisten to it.
Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus. Really good though, as a physician, I didn’t agree with all of it (nicotine and marijuana?!).
Today Matters by John Maxwell. Excellent.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Brian Covey. Wish I’d ‘read’ it years ago. Really good, but also really long. I listened to it but think it’s probably better as a print read.
How to Think Better:
How Successful People think by John C. Maxwell. Excellent.
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. Really good.
The Secret. Simply amazing. Came out of it with incredibly improved thinking.
Winning the War in your mind by Craig Groeschel. Rewire your thoughts. Loved it. Life changing kind of book.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Interesting. Long. Totally comes off as being almost 100 years old. Maybe there’s an updated version out there I missed?
You are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Fascinating! I love reading anything the involves the study of epigenetics.
The Psychology of Success by Brian Tracy. Really good. Only ninety mins.
Burnout by the sisters Nagoski. Excellent! As a physician, I don’t agree with the section about obesity and health (but the chapter still made excellent points).
The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff, MD. GREAT! Wished I’d heard of this book year’s ago! Empaths gravitate to the healthcare field, so I suspect a lot of medical personnel would benefit from reading it.
Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD. Interesting book about how we can be exhausted in different types of ways. There’s a quiz in it to tell which way you’re exhausted and depending on how you’re tired, ideas on how to replenish yourself.
How to Stop Limiting Beliefs:
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Excellent. How successful people limit themselves and how to overcome it.
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker. Great! I want the kids to listen to this when they’re teens! It’s amazing how many limiting beliefs we carry forward with us from our families of origins.
The New Psycho-cybernetics by Mulch, MD. This plastic surgeon’s work from last century is often cited as the backbone of the self-help movement. It was difficult to listen to as an audiobook. I think the print version would be better. That being said, DH and I both listened to it twice—it was that good.
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (yes, The Chicken Soup for the Soul Guy). Excellent. Wish I’d read it years ago. Now I know why so many successful authors mention this book as transformative for not only their writing careers, but their lives in general. I want to listen to this one again. I even bought a print version for reference at home after listening to it.
Become a Better You by Joel Osteen. Really good.
Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins. Great but long (6 hours at 1.5 speed!). This is one I plan to listen to again.
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Excellent. I wish I’d bought this used instead so I could mark up the pages (I got it from the library). I loved how he wrote about pushing through doing the hard stuff because he knew hitting the wall was something his competitors also struggled with. For him to overcome his competition, he had to keep going. This really struck a cord with me regarding when I struggle with writing. So thankful I read this book.
How to Max out Your Life by Ed Mylett. Excellent, Short. So good that I want to listen to it again.
Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam. Good but a little too long.
I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam. Fast read. Helpful but if you’ve read all her other books, it was a little repetitive. (Yes, I’ve read every.single.one of her books. She’s that good.)
Bullet Journal by Ryder Carroll. Fantastic! I wish I’d read about #BuJo years ago. Though I eventually left Bullet Journaling behind in favor of exploring Clever Fox and the Passion Planner, I still use a lot of what I learned from Bullet Journaling.
Women in the Workforce:
Lean In: Women, Work and the will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Beyond excellent.
How to Get Better at Something:
Peak by Erricson. Excellent. All about Deliberate practice.
Mastery by Robert Greene. Excellent. All about how people become masters at their craft. I marked it down in my long term planning to remind myself to reread it in a few years. I wished I’d been taking notes while reading it. Next time!
The Body Keeps It’s Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD. Excellent, but took me months to read and listen to as it’s a thick book full of studies. Very helpful with patient care.
Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff, MD. Another one I’d like to listen to again at some point in the future.
Adult children of Emotionally Immature Parents. If you want to be the best possible parent you possibly can be, read.this.book.—even if you’re kids are grown and out of the house! Really good and insightful about family dynamics, etc. Also applies to dealing with emotionally immature people in general and is helpful with patient care.
Positive Energy Practices: How to attract uplifting people and combat energy vampires by Judith Orloff, MD. So helpful for interacting with your fellow humans. Highly, highly recommend this book. Disc two was where the gold was at. I wrote down the mantras for dealing with the vampires I tend to attract into my daily affirmations memo on my phone.
Run Less Run Faster by Pierce. Excellent. In lieu of a running coach currently, I use this book instead. (I read about it in one of Laura Vanderkam’s books.)
Although Body Love by Kelly LeVeque is my all time favorite nutrition book, I really enjoyed Ketotarian by Dr. Will Cole. After I listened to it, I bought a print version so I could use the cookbook half of it.
How To Spot Possible Danger:
Left of Bang by P. Horne and J. Riley. How the Marine Corps’ combat hunter program can save your life. Excellent, but I give you permission to go ahead and skim the first thirty pages. Quick read.
Balancing Work with Family:
What The Most Successful People Do for the Weekend by Laura Vanderkam. Fast read.
How to Relate to other Humans:
25 Ways to win with people by John C. Maxwell. Excellent. Quick read.
Improv(e) your Conversations by Patrick King. How to use skills from Improv comedy to talk to others. Insightful. This is one I plan to listen to again.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama. Long book. Reading it gave me the insight for what I think is the main reason he was able to become president: he read a lot and widely for years. By doing so, he was creating a mental model of what it was like to be president and how to become a president. Awesome book. Can’t wait for the next installment.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Not an earth shattering read, but still good. The best part was about how he set up his system of self-improvement. He seemed like a decent guy who worked hard on improving his personal character. It’s evident that doing this gave him the ability to be one of our founding fathers.
Top Ten Fiction Books (Listed in the order I read them, not ranked as to how good they are related to the others):
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Beyond Excellent. Just stick with it, the book gets better after a few chapters. Literary Fiction. I think.
An Event in Autumn by Henning Markell. Short and well written. This man knows how to write excellent dialogue. Murder mystery.
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen. Hysterical, especially if you live in Florida. It was a fast read. Lots of great writing techniques re humor, micro tension, and most characters having arcs, with poetic justice at the end. Very nicely done. Humor/Thriller?
Troubled Blood by JK Rowling, aka Robert Galbraith. Gory, per usual, but from a craft perspective, mostly excellent (theme was a bit heavy-handed in this book). Detective.
The Lost Apothecary by local St. Petersburg, Florida Sarah Penner. Great! Fast paced, lots of twists and turns. Timeless exploration of universal woman desires: Do I want children? What is happiness and fulfillment? Great job! Women’s Fiction crossed with Historical Fiction and some Thriller.
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne. Normally not a book I’d read. I was assigned it for a book club discussion by this writing program I’m in. The book was a quick read, excellent but also disturbing. I can see why it became a best seller though. At it’s heart, it’s a story about a woman’s complicated relationship with an abusive male relative—which, sadly enough, seems to be too universal of a story. Thriller.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. So, so good. I wrote it down on my long-term planning to have our boys read it when they’re older. Graphic Novel.
Zero G by Dan Wells. Such a fun book. Think ‘Home Alone’ with Space Pirates. The whole family loved it, but they forced me to play it at 1 speed. Listened to it in the truck during a road trip. This was DH’s first exposure to how truly amazing audiobooks can be—he’s hooked on audiobooks now too. We plan to listen to the book again. Family listen.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Great, once I finally got into it. At first, I was turned off by the promiscuous guy interest at the start of the book. When I raised this objection with my accountability buddy, her response helped me plow ahead. Glad I did, because, wow, this author does villains great! YA Fantasy made into Netflix series (read the books first, otherwise you’re a bit lost trying to watch it).
The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Another required reading for a book club class. Excellent, though there were a few things missed in the editing process. After discussion in book club, I think you’d like it better as an audio version (with all the different accents/actors) than to read the print book. Murder Mystery.
Bonus, 11th book: The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng. Twisty, turny Sci-Fi meets Thriller type of book about the life a protagonist wanted to lead, versus the life that wanted her. Great debut novel. (Full disclosure: I’m in the acknowledgments section.)
I hope this list helps you have a healthier, happier 2022. If you’re looking for more book recommendations, follow me on Instagram @BCKrygowski where I often post the best books I’ve recently read. And I wrote a book for Professionals Who Want to FIRE incase you’re interested in spending less come the new year.