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  • Writer's pictureEmily Cooper

My Favorite Mental Health Related Books

Hi! Below you'll find my recommended reading! Before you dive in, a few notes.

* Every book listed below is great for some reasons and not great for other reasons. Think of them like a frozen yogurt bar: take what you like, leave what you don't.

* Some books may be triggering. I'd suggest googling the book title and "trigger warning" if you are apprehensive.

Without further ado... here are some of my favorite books!

General Self-Help/Psychology:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

This is one of the best books I have ever read! I will say first off that it is written in a more mystical (if that's the right word) language. For example, "black magic" is used instead of gossip. So, if you aren't into that language, just reword it in your head because there are really greats things in here! It's a quick read too! My favorite "agreement" is "don't take anything personally". I have found it to be one of my most useful tools to this day! Not taking anything personally combined with curiosity for other people is really helpful to not being offended. For example, if someone says they think I am a horrible therapist, I can be curious about why they said that and what is going on with them before taking it personally. And I think this is one of the most useful tools we can have! Anyway, I could go off but I'll end here! A must read for sure!

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

This was a great book if you are constantly feeling like an outsider. Brené Brown talks about her quest to find her "people" and there are so many good things she says! One of my favorites was when she says, "Stop walking through the world looking for evidence that you don't belong. You will always find it because you've made that your mission." 😮🙌 She also talks about fitting in vs belonging. Belonging is where we are our authentic selves and fitting in is when we change ourselves to match others. And one last thing I'll say that I loved was when she talks about how we can handle being the odd one out. Say everyone else thinks you should do something with a client that you don't think you should do. You can say, "It's ok if I am alone in this. I don't think that would be best." Anyway, a really great read, for sure!

I Thought It Was Just Me, But It Isn't by Brené Brown

Me before I started reading this book: "I don't really feel shame!" Me after reading this book: "EVERYTHING I FEEL IS SHAME!" I think this book is such a must read. Brené talks about how to identify shame (it might be something you're currently labelling as "guilt"), how to avoid the shame spiral, and how to build shame resilience.

Feminism/Women's Issues:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

I love this book for feminism and balancing career and home life! She has some really great things to say about communication, power, and being a woman in the workplace. I really loved what she had to say about gender differences in a workplace. For example, she talks about how men are promoted based on potential and how women are promoted based on past accomplishments. And about how "old boys network" flourishes and makes it hard for women to break into senior roles. She also has LOTS of good things to say about gender roles in the home and has some really interesting statistics! She talks about how women have made more progress with equality in the workplace over the past 30 years than we have in our own homes. Anyway, overall a really great book! I'd recommend this to women whether you are working outside the home or not, and I think it is a really valuable read for men to understand what women face.

Eating Disorders/Body Image:

Goodbye Ed, Hello Me by Jenni Schaefer

I read this a while ago so my notes will be short. I loved this book because of how Jenni detailed her struggle with an eating disorder. I liked how she talked about viewing her eating disorder like an abusive relationship and how she "broke up" with ED and restored joy and peace in her life. I loved the short chapters and the application/homework ideas they each have as well.


Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller

This is one of the best books I have read in a while! It's about attachment theory and how our attachment styles affect our relationships. 

Attachment theory is this idea that based on our evolutionary history, we have different attachment styles. For example, someone with an anxious attachment style seeks intimacy and closeness and feels anxious when these things are out of reach. This is something that helped us survive as a species during hunter/gatherer times, so it was passed down. Likewise, someone with avoidant attachment feels uncomfortable with intimacy and experiences lots of "come here, go away" type feelings. This was also something that helped us survive as a species, because during hunter/gatherer times it was important to be able to move on when members of your group were wounded and/or needed to be left behind. And then of course there is secure attachment, which is surprisingly only 40% of the population! 

Anyway, the book goes more in depth on what attachment theory is, how to identify yours, how to identify others, and the various pros and cons of different attachment styles being in relationships together. It gives suggestions of what you can do to help move your attachment style toward a secure one and other helpful tips! 

This is a must read if you are looking to enter in a relationship (avoid the traps!) or if you are already in a relationship and you want to improve it. 


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is young adult fiction! It's about a young black girl who sees her black friend shot at the hands of a white police officer. The author wrote it in response to the police shooting of Oscar Grant. One of my favorite parts was where it talks about "THUG LIFE" being an acronym for "The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everybody", which means "what you feed us as seeds, grows and blows up in your face". Our society keeps minorities from gaining power/equality, which perpetuates crime, violence and poverty.

Overall, this is a really great book and a really important read ESPECIALLY if you are a white person. White people get the luxury (white privilege) of checking out of conversations about race, but that is actually so harmful to these cycles. It is up to us to use the resources put out there by people of color and actually educate ourselves so we can minimize our contribution to harmful systems.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

This is another young adult fiction. While the main storyline is great, I love it for the element of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that the main character experiences. The author experiences OCD and does a great job and showing what it is like and the impact it can have on a person.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Another young adult fiction! It's a fun body positive read about a fat girl who enrolls in a beauty pageant. I also always love a romance side story.


Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks:

I thought this was a great read! Joanna talks about her upbringing in a traditional, religious family and how she integrates what she loves and what she doesn't love as an adult. It was refreshing to read about someone addressing the aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in an unapologetic fashion and standing alone in their belief system, which can be incredibly isolating and guilt inducing. 

She also talks about the aspects of the church that she loves and wants to keep in her life and well as the aspects that she doesn't. Joanna is a great example of someone walking the middle path, acknowledging the pros and cons of both sides, and honoring her authenticity even when it isn't popular. 

That's all I have for now! My book list is milesssssss long so if you have any recommendations let me know below and I'd love to add them!

And if you're in Seattle and would like me to be your therapist, I am accepting new clients! Click here for more information.

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