Bibliotherapy, the use of books to enhance therapy, is ideal for those who absorb information best by reading, or want more information on a topic. Reading a book can provide in-depth knowledge as well as comfort, insight, and the reminder that you are not alone. Below are some books that I recommend on a variety of the topics that I address in my therapeutic work.

focus-headers-anxiety.png

ANXIETY

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them by Karl A. Pillemer


In Fault Lines, Cornell professor and family sociologist, Karl A. Pillemer addresses the common, but not commonly discussed, issue of familial estrangements. One study found that around 27% of American adults have experienced estrangement from at least one family member. The book outlines the collateral damage and intergenerational trauma that can stem from these estrangements, addresses the issue of reconciliation, several paths towards reconciliation, and examines boundaries that may need to be in place in order for a reconciliation to happen. The real impact of the book comes from the wisdom that Pillemer collected in long-form interviews with people who are experiencing, or have experienced, estrangements. Through their words, the reader may experience the universality of their own experience and, possibly, find a path forward. Pillemer presents categories of causes of estrangements including: The Long Arm of the Past, The Legacy of Divorce, The Problematic In-Law, Money and Inheritance, Unmet Expectations, and Value and Lifestyle Differences. TRIGGER WARNING: The book is largely written with a focus on reconciliation. If you are experiencing a family estrangement and you are not wanting to reconcile, or just don't feel that this is where you are in your journey at this time, this book could be triggering. The majority of the people interviewed in the book are endorsing reconciliation as a path toward peace, but, for many estrangements, a certain amount of healing and work on developing healthy boundaries may be necessary before taking those next steps. MEMORABLE QUOTES: "Of all the regrets older people have, a family estrangement is often the most painful." "The groundwork for an estrangement can be established early in a person's life, through disruptions and difficulties that occur while growing up in the family. A history of harsh parenting, emotional or physical abuse and neglect, parental favoritism, or sibling conflict can shape relationships decades into the future." "People describe estrangement in precisely these terms: a form of chronic stress that never goes away. It may be punctuated at times by a burst of contact from the estranged relative, followed by silence. It is characterized by attempts to reach out that become highly stressful sources of disappointment." "You can and should, perhaps with the help of a counselor, piece together the incidents that led to a rift, understanding your role and that of others involved. However, when it is time to reconcile, the relationship must be lived forward. For many people, the attempt to create a shared 'backward understanding' will fail, because our narratives are our own and form part of our identity. If you are considering an attempt at reconciliation, you must ultimately move forward together, whether or not the two pasts can be aligned."





book-when-panic-attacks.jpg
focus-headers-growth.png

PERSONAL GROWTH & LIFE TRANSITIONS

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them by Karl A. Pillemer


In Fault Lines, Cornell professor and family sociologist, Karl A. Pillemer addresses the common, but not commonly discussed, issue of familial estrangements. One study found that around 27% of American adults have experienced estrangement from at least one family member. The book outlines the collateral damage and intergenerational trauma that can stem from these estrangements, addresses the issue of reconciliation, several paths towards reconciliation, and examines boundaries that may need to be in place in order for a reconciliation to happen. The real impact of the book comes from the wisdom that Pillemer collected in long-form interviews with people who are experiencing, or have experienced, estrangements. Through their words, the reader may experience the universality of their own experience and, possibly, find a path forward. Pillemer presents categories of causes of estrangements including: The Long Arm of the Past, The Legacy of Divorce, The Problematic In-Law, Money and Inheritance, Unmet Expectations, and Value and Lifestyle Differences. TRIGGER WARNING: The book is largely written with a focus on reconciliation. If you are experiencing a family estrangement and you are not wanting to reconcile, or just don't feel that this is where you are in your journey at this time, this book could be triggering. The majority of the people interviewed in the book are endorsing reconciliation as a path toward peace, but, for many estrangements, a certain amount of healing and work on developing healthy boundaries may be necessary before taking those next steps. MEMORABLE QUOTES: "Of all the regrets older people have, a family estrangement is often the most painful." "The groundwork for an estrangement can be established early in a person's life, through disruptions and difficulties that occur while growing up in the family. A history of harsh parenting, emotional or physical abuse and neglect, parental favoritism, or sibling conflict can shape relationships decades into the future." "People describe estrangement in precisely these terms: a form of chronic stress that never goes away. It may be punctuated at times by a burst of contact from the estranged relative, followed by silence. It is characterized by attempts to reach out that become highly stressful sources of disappointment." "You can and should, perhaps with the help of a counselor, piece together the incidents that led to a rift, understanding your role and that of others involved. However, when it is time to reconcile, the relationship must be lived forward. For many people, the attempt to create a shared 'backward understanding' will fail, because our narratives are our own and form part of our identity. If you are considering an attempt at reconciliation, you must ultimately move forward together, whether or not the two pasts can be aligned."





book-fault-lines.jpg

The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor


The Body Is Not an Apology moves beyond a focus on self-esteem and acceptance to combating self-hate and body terrorism through the concept of radical self-love. Radical self-love is our inherent state of being worthy and enough. The concepts in this book are a practice – a muscle that we must exercise to deprogram a lifetime of messages from society, media, culture, as well as family, friends, and enemies, that there is something inherently wrong with us as we are. Why is the beauty industry valued at over 500 billion dollars a year? – because we have been taught that we need to pluck, paint, diet, dye, and shape ourselves into an acceptable version of a body. Who decided what an acceptable body is? Don't look at the man behind the curtain!

Sonya Renee Taylor's book reads like a friend chatting you up, but shares concepts that can serve to launch an exploration of how self-hatred has impacted your life while providing steps to begin forging a new path – a path that starts with loving yourself. It's also a quick read that offers reflections throughout that can also function as journal prompts.
MEMORABLE QUOTES: "Whenever my critical eye focused laser-like on some perceived imperfection of my own or some other human's being, the words would arrive like a well-trained butler to remind me, 'Hey, the body is not an apology.'"

"No matter how 'enlightened' our ideas, none of us is immune to the social, political, and cultural indoctrination of body shame."

"Racism, sexism, ableism, homo-and transphobia, agesim, fatphobia are algorithms created by humans' struggle to make peace with the body. A radical self-love world is a world free from the systems of oppression that make it difficult and sometimes deadly to live in our bodies. A radical self-love world is a world that works for evey body. Creating such a world is an inside-out job. How we value and honor our own bodies impacts how we value and honor the bodies of others."

"Children do not arrive here ashamed of their race, gender, age, or differing abilities. Babies love their bodies! Each discovery they encounter is freaking awesome. Have you ever seen an infant realise they have feet? Talk about wonder! That is what an unobstructed relationship with our bodies looks like … just knowing that there was a point in history when you once loved your body can be a reminder that body shame is a fantastically crappy inheritance. We didn't give it to ourselves and we are not obligated to keep it."

"Health is not a state we owe the world. We are not less valuable, worthy, or lovable because we are not healthy. Lastly, there is no standard of health that is achievable for all bodies. Our belief that there should be anchors the systemic oppression of ableism and reinforces the notion that people with illnesses and disabilities have defective bodies rather than different bodies. Each of us will have varying degrees of health and wellness throughout our lives, and our arbitrary demands and expectations as they relate to health and size of people's bodies fuel inequality and injustice."

"We may be trying to convey how we don't judge people based on racial identity, but 'color blindness' is an act of erasure. Not only does it make invisible all the experiences a person has had that were shaped by their racial identity or color, it implies that to truly respect another human being we must obscure their areas of difference."

"When our personal value is dependent on the lesser value of other bodies, radical self-love is unachievable."

"Remember, we are not our beliefs. We can examine them without judgment and shame."





book-the-body.jpg

How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh


This small book of meditations is filled with wisdom and opportunities for reflection on the way that we invite love into our lives. A few of the topics covered include love in intimate relationships, self-love, empty sex, crushes, and listening and communiation. The focus of the book is in applying mindfulness to the way that we experience love. For couples, this book could be used to share a reading with one another as a conversation starter or as a meditation. For individuals, this book can be used as an opportunity for personal reflection, healing, and growth. Check out the "Hugging Meditation" on page 28 and 29!


MEMORABLE QUOTES:

"Love is a living breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing."

"If you can accept your body, then you have a chance to see your body as home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, and feel joy and ease. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful."

"Loving someone doesn't mean saying 'yes' to whatever the other person wants. The basis of loving someone else is to know what you need. It's important that loving another person doesn't take priority over listening to yourself and knowing what you need."





book-mans-search.jpg
focus-headers-trauma.png

TRAUMA

book-the-body-keeps-score.jpg

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist by Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D.


When you are in the midst of a relationship with a narcissist, it can be difficult to get an objective view of what is happening – that's part of the abuse. Gaslighting is a term derived from the 1944 film, Gaslight, that depicts a husband who manipulates small elements of his rich wife's environment, including their gas lights (it's an old movie!), to trick her into thinking she is crazy so he can have her committed and steal her money. Gaslighting, as the term is now used, refers to using misdirection and deception to create cognitive dissonance in another person with the purpose, consciously or unconsciously, of destabilizing them, leaving them with no one to trust but the very person who is hurting them. Gaslighting is a hallmark of narcissistic abuse and can leave a romantic partner disoriented, dependent on their abuser, and struggling with low self-esteem.

If you are suspicious that you might be in a relationship with a narcissist, or someone with highly narcissistic tendencies, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? can offer that objective view that can help combat the gaslighting and guide you to explore the best path to take care of yourself. Dr. Durvasula also writes about next steps, if this situation rings true for you, highlighting important things to keep in mind if your separation also involves a divorce and/or a custody situation with children involved.

If you have escaped a relationship with a narcissist, this book can provide validation for your painful experience and help reverse the damage of the gaslighting – "yes that really happened to me; and, no, it was NOT ok." One of my favorite aspects of this survival guide are the highlighted sections called "Red Flags." In these sections, important qualities are highlighted to be on the lookout for in any future relationships.

Relationally, we often gravitate toward the most familiar, rather than necessarily the safest and healthiest choice. This is why it is so easy to find ourselves stuck in patterns that don't feel good. Exploring those patterns is the first step to breaking free and making choices that are more in line with your personal goals for health and happiness. Seeking out therapeutic assistance with a practitioner familiar with this area of abuse is also very helpful. The important message of this book is that you CAN survive a relationship with a narcissist, and, even thrive, if you are able to reflect on the experience and grow from it.
TRIGGER WARNING: If you are early on in your recovery process, it could be triggering to read some of the stories included of others suffering through narcissistic relationships. Though I think the book can be very helpful, I invite you to notice where you are in your healing before diving in. MEMORABLE QUOTES: "Narcissists are not going to change. That simple premise, I hope, will be a lifechanger, because for many readers, it may pull their attention off of blaming themselves, frustrating themselves by working on communication and reading piles of relationship advice (that presumes that the other person is actually listening), or waiting for a bus that is never going to appear."

"Narcissists fall in love (and quite often), however it is often a rather superficial experience, focused on variables such as excitement, validation, appearance, and success … It is often a rather grandiose experience, with numerous references to 'falling in love at first sight,' and a 'once-ina-lifetime' love story."

"…narcissists never quite learn how to regulate their moods, so they are inconsistent, can have strong sudden shifts and rages, tend to project their emotions onto other people, behave badly, and find external ways to numb their emotions (drugs, alcohol, and sex are among the most classic ways.)

"Rage gives pathological narcissists two payoffs: the opportunity to rapidly vent extreme and disproportionate anger and a means of controlling the world, since most people are often very 'careful' with them. It is not unusual to hear people talk about narcissists as people who need to be 'handled' a certain way."

"Narcissistic parents are not above using their children as pawns, manipulating them with money or information, or sharing highly inappropriate details with them. Your role is to protect your children, and working with a skilled therapist in managing divorce transitions with children … can help with this process."

On ending the relationship: "Sadly, this can also be a frightening time. Not just in situations that are violent and require restraining orders and the justice system. The threatening e-mails, text messages, and calls, the threats of legal action, the sense of being followed and of having your name besmirched to family members, friends, and anyone else who will listen are extremely upsetting. Many people who endure a narcissistic breakup will say they had to start anew – and learned who their real friends were."





book-the-gift-of-fear.jpg

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them by Karl A. Pillemer


In Fault Lines, Cornell professor and family sociologist, Karl A. Pillemer addresses the common, but not commonly discussed, issue of familial estrangements. One study found that around 27% of American adults have experienced estrangement from at least one family member. The book outlines the collateral damage and intergenerational trauma that can stem from these estrangements, addresses the issue of reconciliation, several paths towards reconciliation, and examines boundaries that may need to be in place in order for a reconciliation to happen. The real impact of the book comes from the wisdom that Pillemer collected in long-form interviews with people who are experiencing, or have experienced, estrangements. Through their words, the reader may experience the universality of their own experience and, possibly, find a path forward. Pillemer presents categories of causes of estrangements including: The Long Arm of the Past, The Legacy of Divorce, The Problematic In-Law, Money and Inheritance, Unmet Expectations, and Value and Lifestyle Differences. TRIGGER WARNING: The book is largely written with a focus on reconciliation. If you are experiencing a family estrangement and you are not wanting to reconcile, or just don't feel that this is where you are in your journey at this time, this book could be triggering. The majority of the people interviewed in the book are endorsing reconciliation as a path toward peace, but, for many estrangements, a certain amount of healing and work on developing healthy boundaries may be necessary before taking those next steps. MEMORABLE QUOTES: "Of all the regrets older people have, a family estrangement is often the most painful." "The groundwork for an estrangement can be established early in a person's life, through disruptions and difficulties that occur while growing up in the family. A history of harsh parenting, emotional or physical abuse and neglect, parental favoritism, or sibling conflict can shape relationships decades into the future." "People describe estrangement in precisely these terms: a form of chronic stress that never goes away. It may be punctuated at times by a burst of contact from the estranged relative, followed by silence. It is characterized by attempts to reach out that become highly stressful sources of disappointment." "You can and should, perhaps with the help of a counselor, piece together the incidents that led to a rift, understanding your role and that of others involved. However, when it is time to reconcile, the relationship must be lived forward. For many people, the attempt to create a shared 'backward understanding' will fail, because our narratives are our own and form part of our identity. If you are considering an attempt at reconciliation, you must ultimately move forward together, whether or not the two pasts can be aligned."





focus-headers-intimacy.png

RELATIONSHIPS AND INTIMACY

book-how-to-love.jpg

Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family by Dr. Karyl McBride Ph.D.


Will I Ever Be Free of You? does a wonderful job of walking the reader through the impact of recovering from a narcissistic romantic relationship, with a heavy focus on divorces and partnership separations. Special attention is paid to navigating caring for children through this process, though the book would be equally useful for those without children. Because being romantically involved with a narcissist involves a heavy amount of gaslighting, it can be gratifying to learn that the abusive tactics that you may be experiencing/have experienced are universal in these types of relationships. Recognizing that commonality can be soothing, and serve as a reminder that . . . it’s not you . . . it’s them. The additional emphasis on how to deal with the divorce/separation process and how to protect children to the best of your ability in that process, elevates this book from a source of comfort to an easy to follow guide to your high-conflict divorce/separation. TRIGGER WARNING: If you are early on in your recovery process, it could be triggering to read some of the stories included of others suffering through narcissistic relationships. Though I think the book can be very helpful, I invite you to notice where you are in your healing before diving in. MEMORABLE QUOTES: How narcissism impacts the family system: “The narcissist does not feel secure enough to allow each individual in the family to have his or her own sense of self, beliefs, decisions, and separate interests. They expect all family members’ lives to revolve around them, and they ignore other people’s needs or desires. There is no sense of community or individuality. Their needs rule.” Keeping children healthy during divorce: “As children adjust to divorce, they tend to mirror their parents’ emotions. So the better you deal with the changes, the better the children will do. If a parent is stuck in anger, a child is likely to be stuck there too. The same goes for the other emotional stages of divorce.” Narcissists and the family court system: “The narcissist does not play well with others. He or she does not necessarily follow rules, laws, and court orders. Unfortunately, you may find little support or understanding about what you are dealing with. Especially in the beginning, the professionals – attorneys, judges, parenting-time evaluators, and others – may assume that both of you are unbalanced and creating unnecessary and time-consuming problems.”





focus-headers-separation.png

HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE, SEPARATION, AND CO-PARENTING

book-parenting-from-the-inside-out.jpg

How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh


This small book of meditations is filled with wisdom and opportunities for reflection on the way that we invite love into our lives. A few of the topics covered include love in intimate relationships, self-love, empty sex, crushes, and listening and communiation. The focus of the book is in applying mindfulness to the way that we experience love. For couples, this book could be used to share a reading with one another as a conversation starter or as a meditation. For individuals, this book can be used as an opportunity for personal reflection, healing, and growth. Check out the "Hugging Meditation" on page 28 and 29!


MEMORABLE QUOTES:

"Love is a living breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing."

"If you can accept your body, then you have a chance to see your body as home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, and feel joy and ease. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful."

"Loving someone doesn't mean saying 'yes' to whatever the other person wants. The basis of loving someone else is to know what you need. It's important that loving another person doesn't take priority over listening to yourself and knowing what you need."





focus-headers-narcissistic.png

NARCISSISTIC ABUSE RECOVERY

book-will-i-ever-be-free.jpg

Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family by Dr. Karyl McBride Ph.D.


Will I Ever Be Free of You? does a wonderful job of walking the reader through the impact of recovering from a narcissistic romantic relationship, with a heavy focus on divorces and partnership separations. Special attention is paid to navigating caring for children through this process, though the book would be equally useful for those without children. Because being romantically involved with a narcissist involves a heavy amount of gaslighting, it can be gratifying to learn that the abusive tactics that you may be experiencing/have experienced are universal in these types of relationships. Recognizing that commonality can be soothing, and serve as a reminder that . . . it’s not you . . . it’s them. The additional emphasis on how to deal with the divorce/separation process and how to protect children to the best of your ability in that process, elevates this book from a source of comfort to an easy to follow guide to your high-conflict divorce/separation. TRIGGER WARNING: If you are early on in your recovery process, it could be triggering to read some of the stories included of others suffering through narcissistic relationships. Though I think the book can be very helpful, I invite you to notice where you are in your healing before diving in. MEMORABLE QUOTES: How narcissism impacts the family system: “The narcissist does not feel secure enough to allow each individual in the family to have his or her own sense of self, beliefs, decisions, and separate interests. They expect all family members’ lives to revolve around them, and they ignore other people’s needs or desires. There is no sense of community or individuality. Their needs rule.” Keeping children healthy during divorce: “As children adjust to divorce, they tend to mirror their parents’ emotions. So the better you deal with the changes, the better the children will do. If a parent is stuck in anger, a child is likely to be stuck there too. The same goes for the other emotional stages of divorce.” Narcissists and the family court system: “The narcissist does not play well with others. He or she does not necessarily follow rules, laws, and court orders. Unfortunately, you may find little support or understanding about what you are dealing with. Especially in the beginning, the professionals – attorneys, judges, parenting-time evaluators, and others – may assume that both of you are unbalanced and creating unnecessary and time-consuming problems.”





book-should-i-stay.jpg

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist by Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D.


When you are in the midst of a relationship with a narcissist, it can be difficult to get an objective view of what is happening – that's part of the abuse. Gaslighting is a term derived from the 1944 film, Gaslight, that depicts a husband who manipulates small elements of his rich wife's environment, including their gas lights (it's an old movie!), to trick her into thinking she is crazy so he can have her committed and steal her money. Gaslighting, as the term is now used, refers to using misdirection and deception to create cognitive dissonance in another person with the purpose, consciously or unconsciously, of destabilizing them, leaving them with no one to trust but the very person who is hurting them. Gaslighting is a hallmark of narcissistic abuse and can leave a romantic partner disoriented, dependent on their abuser, and struggling with low self-esteem.

If you are suspicious that you might be in a relationship with a narcissist, or someone with highly narcissistic tendencies, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? can offer that objective view that can help combat the gaslighting and guide you to explore the best path to take care of yourself. Dr. Durvasula also writes about next steps, if this situation rings true for you, highlighting important things to keep in mind if your separation also involves a divorce and/or a custody situation with children involved.

If you have escaped a relationship with a narcissist, this book can provide validation for your painful experience and help reverse the damage of the gaslighting – "yes that really happened to me; and, no, it was NOT ok." One of my favorite aspects of this survival guide are the highlighted sections called "Red Flags." In these sections, important qualities are highlighted to be on the lookout for in any future relationships.

Relationally, we often gravitate toward the most familiar, rather than necessarily the safest and healthiest choice. This is why it is so easy to find ourselves stuck in patterns that don't feel good. Exploring those patterns is the first step to breaking free and making choices that are more in line with your personal goals for health and happiness. Seeking out therapeutic assistance with a practitioner familiar with this area of abuse is also very helpful. The important message of this book is that you CAN survive a relationship with a narcissist, and, even thrive, if you are able to reflect on the experience and grow from it.
TRIGGER WARNING: If you are early on in your recovery process, it could be triggering to read some of the stories included of others suffering through narcissistic relationships. Though I think the book can be very helpful, I invite you to notice where you are in your healing before diving in. MEMORABLE QUOTES: "Narcissists are not going to change. That simple premise, I hope, will be a lifechanger, because for many readers, it may pull their attention off of blaming themselves, frustrating themselves by working on communication and reading piles of relationship advice (that presumes that the other person is actually listening), or waiting for a bus that is never going to appear."

"Narcissists fall in love (and quite often), however it is often a rather superficial experience, focused on variables such as excitement, validation, appearance, and success … It is often a rather grandiose experience, with numerous references to 'falling in love at first sight,' and a 'once-ina-lifetime' love story."

"…narcissists never quite learn how to regulate their moods, so they are inconsistent, can have strong sudden shifts and rages, tend to project their emotions onto other people, behave badly, and find external ways to numb their emotions (drugs, alcohol, and sex are among the most classic ways.)

"Rage gives pathological narcissists two payoffs: the opportunity to rapidly vent extreme and disproportionate anger and a means of controlling the world, since most people are often very 'careful' with them. It is not unusual to hear people talk about narcissists as people who need to be 'handled' a certain way."

"Narcissistic parents are not above using their children as pawns, manipulating them with money or information, or sharing highly inappropriate details with them. Your role is to protect your children, and working with a skilled therapist in managing divorce transitions with children … can help with this process."

On ending the relationship: "Sadly, this can also be a frightening time. Not just in situations that are violent and require restraining orders and the justice system. The threatening e-mails, text messages, and calls, the threats of legal action, the sense of being followed and of having your name besmirched to family members, friends, and anyone else who will listen are extremely upsetting. Many people who endure a narcissistic breakup will say they had to start anew – and learned who their real friends were."