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I’m a firm believer that books find you at the right time in your life. I put The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk on hold at my library months before it became available to me. And, somehow, I was notified it was ready for download just days before I needed it most in my life.
Considering what everyone has gone through over the last two years, I think we all could benefit from reading about trauma and recovery. Coping mechanisms and how to get back in touch with our bodies and ourselves. This book’s popularity is testament to just how much the world agrees with me. The Body Keeps the Score has been on has been on the best seller list for nonfiction for 140+ weeks, over 20 of them at number 1. You’ll notice that 140+ weeks number extends further back than the pandemic, even. It wasn’t only recently that the people in our communities started seeking help in the form of books.
Now, I do want to point out while the genre is expanding and authors of color are finally having books published in this realm, it is still predominantly white men and women writing about trauma and self-help.
We, as a group of people, are showing just how much we need help healing. If you’re one of those people, there are so many books like The Body Keeps the Score, are out there waiting for you!
Books Like The Body Keeps The Score
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz
Did you find yourself connecting with the patient stories van der Kolk tells while teaching you about trauma and healing? Try The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook! Perry explores what trauma does to children’s minds and how to help them recover through stories of his time as a child psychiatrist. It’s both heartbreaking and uplifting and sure to leave you thinking about it long after you’ve finished.
When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection by Gabor Maté M.D.
If you were intrigued by van der Kolk’s exploration of how trauma impacts your health, check out When the Body Says No. Through stories of people, some of whom you’ll recognize, Maté explains how, sometimes, physical ailments are ways your body is communicating to you in ways your mind can’t. And, it’s written beautifully! A must read for anyone wanting to learn more about stress and the body.
What Happened to You? by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry
Okay, if the name Oprah wasn’t enough to make you run to the nearest bookstore to snatch this up, the contents sure will. Through conversations about her past, Winfrey and Perry delve into what it is that makes us act the way we do. With a conscious effort to take the self-blame game out of the picture, What Happened to You? helps you shift your mentality so you can look forward instead of back. And, as a little tip, the audiobook is narrated by the Winfrey and Perry themselves! I highly recommend.
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts by Resmaa Menakem
This one is a must-read for anyone interested in reading about both racism and the body. Body-centered therapist Menakem presents a view of white supremacy that brings the physical self into it just as much as the mental self. It’s a clear, well-organized, necessity for everyone. Yes, everyone. Yes, even you.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine
The culture around loss and grief, particularly in America, is avoidant and full of myths. Devine breaks those down, advocating for a shift in mind set from getting “back to normal” after loss to learning to live alongside the grief. With realistic ways of stress and sleep management and suggestions for helping your loved ones process their own losses, It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a book you’ll return to time and time again.
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
Honestly, it’s unlikely you haven’t heard of this one by now. But, if you haven’t, pick it up! Exploring how our parents leave us with emotional wounds that extend well into our adulthood, Gibson teaches us how to heal. Even the small actions of our parents can leave us dealing with the consequences in our relationships, our work lives, and our inner selves.
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine with Anne Frederick
Through analyzing how the animals we live alongside are able to cope with trauma, Levine teaches us how to heal from our own trauma. We are animals like the rest of them, after all. While it’s definitely more focused on theory than tools, it’s an excellent glimpse into our bodies and their reactions. You’ll be fascinated through it all and sure to come away with a different understanding of your animal self.
It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn
This just in: trauma can be passed down through generations! Okay, well, maybe not just in, but Wolynn explains and explores the recent research into the way trauma is passed down. An expert in the field of family trauma, Wolynn gives readers self-inventories and other tools to learn more about themselves, their inheritance, and where to go from here.
If you’re looking for more books like The Body Keeps the Score, but don’t have any friends left to bug for some, try Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations Service! When you sign up, you get paired with a qualified book nerd who finds book recommendations for even your most specific requests! No matter your taste, TBR will find the next book for you. Maybe you’ll find a new book about finding yourself or learn the art of meditation.
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