This page is focused on my book reviews of some of the most practical and helpful books and websites that I’ve come across. The topics range from self-improvement to conflict resolution, as well as issues like mentoring, working through trauma, forgiveness and trust.
I want to say that I am very selective about recommending books and sites. If I recommend something (to a client or if I put it on this page), I have done so only after a great deal of reflection.
I hope this page is of benefit to you, and that you will utilize one or more of the selections on this page to empower you on your journey to create and sustain health and wellness in your life. I also welcome feedback about the book and/or suggestions you may have for additional helpful books, online materials, or other useful literature.
1. The Book of Forgiveness. 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu teams with his daughter Mpho to produce a book that is hands-down the best book on forgiveness that I have ever read. He uses his experience in living under Apartheid rule, as well as his work as the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa during the mid-1990’s. This involved bringing oppressors and the oppressed together in a constructive and meaningful dialogue and serves as a model for how nations can undergo reconciliation after years of oppression and strife. Tutu and his daughter use down-to-earth, everyday principles, as well as examples of forgiveness that are nothing short of amazing considering the circumstances in which the forgiveness took place. Tutu outlines four practical steps that anyone can take in order to experience profound forgiveness in their own life, and challenges the reader to look inward to consider their thoughts and feelings about forgiveness. Tutu spends considerable time talking about myths of forgiveness, and what it is not, in order to help the reader fully grasp what it truly is.
2. The Speed of Trust: Stephen Covey Jr. (son of the man who wrote ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’) outlines the critical role of trust in both the world of work and in our families. Better yet, this New York Times bestseller takes you, step by step, through some very effective ways to increase the trust you have in yourself as well as the trust others have in you. Covey points out that, by doing this, your ability to accomplish goals and make an impact in the world increase exponentially. He does a great job of connecting integrity, trust, and competence to one’s overall sense of happiness and fulfillment. In explaining this critical concept, he moves from self-trust to familial/relational trust, to organizational trust, and finally to societal-level trust. More of my thoughts about the importance of trust can be found here.
3. Be Quiet, Be Heard: This book is hands-down the best book I’ve ever read when it comes to working through conflict in a constructive way. Susan and Peter Glaser guide the reader through a myriad of interpersonal and professional scenarios, and provide useful, practical tools for how to address and resolve conflict and disagreement in constructive ways….showing how they work, in a wide variety of situations! Furthermore, the tools and exercises that the Glasers use can be applied to one’s personal relationships as well. One final note about the Glasers: I had the opportunity to attend one of their day-long workshops in 2006. In my experience, they are down-to-earth people and excellent communicators who walk their talk!
4. Wooden--A Lifetime of Reflections On and Off the Court: an outstanding read when you are looking for snippets of guidance or inspiration. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden shares many of his basic ideas on life, competition, teamwork, leadership, family, and happiness. Truly a treasure, Wooden explores some of the most meaningful themes in a minimum amount of words. He cuts to the core of what makes life meaningful, and invites the reader to ponder these themes with him. NOTE: People who knew Coach Wooden well consistently stated that he was one of the happiest and most successful people they ever knew. Plus, almost all of his players graduated and became very successful, most of them in professions other than basketball.
5. A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring: In this fantastic book, Coach Wooden discusses seven individuals who have mentored him in a meaningful way, and has contributions from seven others who consider Wooden to be a mentor of theirs. If you are interested in the notion of mentoring, what it is, and how effective mentoring makes a difference in the lives of people, this is the book for you. After reading (and re-reading) this book, I’ve come to realize that mentoring is one of the most meaningful and important things in life--whether we are the mentor or the one being mentored!
6. Integrity Selling for the 21st Century: Author and very successful businessman Ron Willingham does an amazing job of approaching sales from an ‘integrity-first’ standpoint. This book does a solid job of breaking down the major personality groups and how to approach each in a sales environment. More importantly, Willingham uses examples from his own career and that of other successful persons in business to underscore the importance of being true to oneself and to others. He makes the case that selling with integrity not only reduces the pressure of ‘having to make that sale’ but also is a more successful sales strategy in the long term. It’s important to note that Willingham’s book is applicable in many areas of life, because it addresses human relations, not just selling. In fact, this book taught me as much about relationships as it did about promoting businesses or selling.
7. What Color is Your Parachute (annually). Richard Bolles has been putting this ‘must-read for anyone looking at a job search or career change’ book out yearly since the early 1970’s. This is the resource to start and finish with for anyone looking for work, or trying to define their career goals in virtually any way. It’s a book that you will get out what you put into, so if you pick it up, be prepared to do some introspection and some exercises. Bolles takes the reader on a journey of introspection as well as their field(s) of interest, to hone in on what occupational fulfillment is all about--for you. An outstanding read, I made this required reading for my students at Lane Community College, and most of them never sold it back.
8. The Rhythm of Life. Written by Matthew Kelly, this is an inspirational book, one that focuses on being the best version of yourself that you can be. Kelly, who authors many other religious and spiritually-oriented books, is an Australian Catholic, but the emphasis on Catholicism/Christianity in this particular book is very minor. Kelly encourages the reader to look at their life, and reflect on some important questions about their goals and what they see as most important to themselves in life. He then offers some practical, simple tools for helping the reader make the things that are most important to him/her much clearer and more prominent in their daily lives. There are numerous books that try to do this, but Kelly’s message (using his own life as an example) and methods are simple, heartfelt, and very effective.
9. The Book of Joy. Authored by the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams, this amazing book tackles the challenge of being joyous in a very troubled world. They discuss the profound power of the "Eight Pillars of Joy": humility, humor, gratitude, perspective, compassion, generosity, acceptance, and forgiveness. Better yet, they do it with grace and in a manner that gives the reader a road map for how to embrace these pillars and find joy. They discuss the irony of attaining joy by being other-centered rather than focused primarily on our own well-being. Additionally, the relationship between Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama is examined closely. This is very educational and illustrative of friendship at its best!
10. The Body Keeps the Score. Written in a no-nonsense fashion, the author (Bessel Van Der Kolk, who is the co-director of the Complex Trauma Treatment Network) shares experiences from his own career, spanning five decades. He then details more recent work, and the evolution of his ever-changing perspective on the best way to empower trauma survivors to be able to re-engage in a full and meaningful life. His sharing of personal experiences, combined with his humility, and his willingness to learn from--and be inspired by--his patients, is refreshing.
Furthermore, his overview of various treatment strategies that have worked for survivors of some of the worst trauma imaginable gives realistic hope to many people. This wonderful work goes over the vital connection between brain, body, and mind, as well as the plight facing many adults who carry trauma from childhood.
In addition to the book reviews themselves, it seems prudent to provide you, the visitor, with some information about the authors as well.
John Wooden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wooden
Mathew Kelly: https://www.matthewkelly.com
Richard Bolles: http://www.jobhuntersbible.com
Susan & Peter Glaser: http://www.theglasers.com/
Desmond Tutu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu
Ron Willingham: https://www.everipedia.com/ron-willingham/
Dalai Lama: https://www.dalailama.com
Bessel van der Kolk: https://besselvanderkolk.net/index.html
Stephen Covey Jr: http://www.speedoftrust.com/stephen-m-r-covey-bio
* https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/. This page focuses on basic thinking errors, and has a direct link to some steps you can take once you’ve identified some. This is a core component of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or "CBT".
* http://www.dailygood.org/story/1366/10-tips-for-effective-communication-liz-kingsnorth/. A basic overview of some of the most important communication components! This page is brief and to the point.
* http://211info.org/search-resources/. A very good site for finding many different resources (social services) in Oregon and southwest Washington.
* http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/. The official website for Motivational Interviewing, a time-tested, evidence-based counseling/change model that is very person-centered and strength-based. M.I. is one of the models I use most in my counseling and consultation with others.
* https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm. This article goes over the basics of Active Listening, a fundamentally important communication tool.