When you read this, I’ll be boarding a plane back to LA from sunny Hawaii, tanned, full of fresh fish and mai tais, and ready to enjoy the long, lazy Summer days ahead. Summer has always been my favorite season because it’s a growing season.
It’s not the bright, hurried, active planting of the Spring, or the quiet harvest of the Fall. Those seasons are about doing while Summer is all about being. There’s plenty of action happening in the Summer, but it’s a quieter, behind-the-scenes action...a slow flow to fruition that takes time, which makes it the perfect time for your soul to curl up on a lawn chair with a margarita and a book about the awesome person you’re slowly flowing into being. It’s the perfect personal development time!
Self development doesn’t have to be a struggle or a quest to fix what’s wrong with you. if you let it, personal growth can be a slow, juicy unfolding. and If you like a little growth with your beach cocktails this Summer, I have a treat for you in the form of a kickass list of book recommendations to do your unfolding with.
Plus, I can’t exorcise my former Middle School English Teacher self completely, so I’m itching to hand out an assigned reading list. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I plan to enjoy the ripe tomatoes from the farmer’s market.
The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer
In addition to being a near perfect human, Amanda Palmer is a musician/performance artist who didn’t love how record contracts worked, so she made up her own rules around money, funding, and how she was and wasn’t allowed to ask for help. As happens with most innovators and women who break the rules, people had some...reactions to her actions. After being lambasted in the media while dealing with personal tragedy, she found herself confronting not only what it means to be an artist, but what it means to be a human being, and all the vulnerability and magic therein.
Notable and Quotable:
“There’s no ‘correct path’ to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.”
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, by Vishen Lakhiani
Have you ever read a book that made you do the praise hands on every page? Cause this book did it for me. When I first read the back cover, I worried it might be a little bit basic for me-I’m already pretty entrenched in the consciousness/meditative/coachy/self development world, but it’s actually the simplicity of the concepts in The Code of the Extraordinary Mind that make it so powerful. This book is one I come back to over and over again when I need a boost of positivity and confidence.
Who It’s For: Anyone new to personal development or anyone craving a refresher course/quick hit of motivation
Why You’ll Love It: Vishen Lakhiani is just so dang cute! He tells personal stories from his own career, marriage, and family life that are relatable and make the woo-woo stuff of self development much easier to engage with. Plus, the chapter on “bending reality” is just plain fun.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd
This book will make every single list I write, ever. I first met The Dance of the Dissident Daughter when I was 17 years old, homeless from Hurricane Katrina, and struggling to decide whether or not I wanted to leave the church. It was a place I no longer belonged, but it served as the only home I had left. I went through a long bout of divorcing myself from anything related to spirituality, but I felt hollow, and then this book helped me create a version of spirituality that works for me, one that honors the feminine and allows me to throw off the shackles of the patriarchy and be the most authentic, fully expressed me possible. I read it at least once a year and take something new from it every time.
Notable and Quotable:
“The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual dying moment. Patriarchy may try to negate body and flee earth with its constant heartbeat of death, but Goddess forces us back to embrace them...if such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson
If you know me, you know I am a fan of the F word. I mean...how many words in the English language can function as every part of speech? So naturally, I had to investigate this book. Having read it, I can personally attest that Mark Manson is a foul-mouthed, too loud, swear word enthusiast with a tendency to mansplain...and he also has some really good stuff to say. If you can get past his Death Star-sized ego, you’ll enjoy this highly entertaining kick in the pants.
Who It’s For: People who give too many fucks about pointless things, and people who are motivated by a tell-it-like-it-is, drill sergeant-y approach to getting off the couch and doing what you want with your life
Why You’ll Love It: It’s hilarious. Some of it is dumb, but all of it is funny. Also, the concept of the Shit Sandwich alone is magical and makes it worth the read.
Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton
When I’m reading for work, I keep a highlighter handy so I can remember what I want to share with you guys. By page 7 of Love Warrior, my highlighter was out of ink. In her 2nd memoir, we hear the story of Glennon’s recovery from bulimia and alcoholism to only to realize it’s a dress rehearsal for an even larger falling apart: her marriage. When Glennon finds out her husband of over a decade has been unfaithful, she is faced with a choice. Will she stay and confront the fear around her sexuality, her hunger, her body, and her truth? Or will she go back into the darkness again? This book is a must read for any woman who’s ever struggled to discover who she is outside of who she's "supposed to" be, and most of the chapters feel like a love poem to girls who've been told they are “too much.” All the stars.
Notable and Quotable:
“We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be. Every girl must decide whether to be true to herself or true to the world. Every girl must decide whether to settle for adoration or fight for love.”
The Anatomy of a Calling, by Lissa Rankin
Lisa Rankin followed the rules. She made good grades, got into med school, became a top OB-GYN at a busy hospital, married the man of her dreams, and had an adorable baby...and she was completely miserable. In The Anatomy of a Calling, Lissa recounts her journey from following the rules to breaking the rules, and then finally embracing her true calling of changing the Western medical system to honor patients, not parent them.
Who It’s For: Anyone who secretly suspects they have a deeper calling than their current job allows for, and anyone open to exploring what that calling might be
Why You’ll Love It: The Anatomy of a Calling contains both personal stories from Lissa's journey as well as broader archetypes and exercises that apply to anyone with a calling, so as you resonate with certain pieces of Lissa’s story, you can do the guided journaling or exercises that accompany the stories.
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
If you’ve ever wanted to consider yourself a creative, but you can’t quite shake that last bit of self doubt or fear, this is the book for you. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert first shatters what it means to be a creative, and then crafts a better definition of what it means to actually live a creative life. Through her own personal stories, she not only entertains us, but also gives us a playbook for mining and defining our own creativity in a much more empowering way. If Imposter Syndrome keeps you from playing full out with your creativity, this book is the antidote.
Notable and quotable:
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”
The Crossroads of Should & Must, by Elle Luna
Part personal narrative, part art journal, and part how-to guide, The Crossroads of Should and Must is a beautifully illustrated exploration of what it means to follow your dreams, even when they look crazy on paper. Elle Luna had the “should’s” down pat, but when she received a strange message from the Universe in the form of dream, she decided to forgo what she “should” be doing to follow her “must.” Through a series of paintings, challenges, and journaling prompts, she invites you to do the same.
Notable and quotable:
“If you want to know Must, get to know Should. This is hard work. Really hard work. We unconsciously imprison ourselves to avoid our most primal fears. We choose Should because choosing Must is terrifying, incomprehensible. Our prison is constructed from a lifetime of Shoulds, the world of choices we’ve unwittingly agreed to, the walls that alienate us from our truest, most authentic selves. Should is the doorkeeper to Must. And just as you created your prison, you can set yourself free.”
Each book in this list-from the ones about the Divine Feminine to the ones about a completely different F word-is a unique gift and a really cool opportunity. Each book waits, inviting you to slow down, explore, and join the Summer sun in curling up on your beach blanket and enjoying the season.
So, which book are you most excited about? Leave a comment below to let us know which book you’re picking up! Bonus points for taking a picture of you reading it in the sunshine and tagging it #summerreadinglist. Happy reading and happy growing!
Want even more personal growth resources and inspiration? Don't forget to grab access to Trust Your Truth, the free email course designed to help you trust yourself and kick the "should's" and "supposed to's" to the curb!
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