Happiness Project: Books I Read During Month One

posted in: Wholehearted Living | 0

If you and I know each other, you already are familiar with the fact I am a bookworm. I devour books in my spare time, a behavior I started in my pre-teen years. Becoming a wife and subsequently, a mother has toned down my book consumption. However, thanks to the invention of the Kindle and audiobooks, I have been able to read more than I used too a few years ago a fact which fills me with delight.

I never travel without a book as this would be tantamount to sacrilegious. I currently have a pile of manuscripts about two feet tall (and this is NOT an exaggeration) still to be read. I also have a very long list of books I want to read in wishlists on Amazon, Audible, and at my local library. I take books along at appointments, football and baseball games, and just about everywhere.

I am not sharing my reading list because I think you – or anyone else – should read what I read nor that you – like myself – should become a book hog. Reading is my thing; it may not be yours.

I share my list, just to, well, share!

While you may not be a book aficionado, others are, and anyone who loves books also loves to hear about books so that they can buy more books of course!

I will spare you my fiction list and will only share my non-fiction reading list. You are welcome to share your list in the comment section below.

Happy reading!




Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain – for Life

by Dr. David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg

I read this book for two reasons: 1) I had already downloaded it before reading the Happiness Project and subsequently embarking on my own and 2) it was on sale for less than $5, AND I am a patsy for books.

It IS an interesting book, full of pertinent information and scientific research.The author is also the narrator, and while he has perfect diction, he is quite monotone. Since the subject matter is no “fun” (albeit informative), this book could make for a boring “read.”

Moreover, I was already familiar with the subject matter, so there was no “wow” factor for me.

Diet Books

I have an issue with diet books (well, I have issues with a slew of other things as well, but that’s fodder for another time). Diet books are – in my opinion – often narrow in their scope and one-sided.

This book, for example, focuses on brain health and therefore recommends a diet for, you guessed it, brain health. There are equally well-researched books which focus on let’s say cancer, and the authors of such books often recommend a diet entirely different than the one in Brain Marker.

The Second Brain 

While the author asserts his point with vigor, when it comes to “the wisdom of the gut” (also called the “second brain), he never advises to “follow your gut” when it comes to making dietary decisions.

There is plenty of evidence which demonstrates our emotions, as well as our environment, play an essential role in our health. While I believe nutrition is of great importance and a factor of health which should not be overlooked, I don’t know that being religious and fanatical about what goes in our mouth is all that healthy either.

I do believe this is a well-researched book with current scientific information. The problem is there is also scientific information which states the opposite.

If you can’t read this book without wanting to overhaul your whole diet and feeling guilty every time a slice of bread passes your lips, this may not be the book for you.

[Amazon]  [Audible]


The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

This is a book I had started reading in September. It covers a heavy subject matter, and I put it down on occasion to focus on something lighter. I am reading it because I have adopted a trauma survivor.

DISCLAIMER: If you suffer from PTSD, are a survivor of abuse (any kind), know this book may be triggering. There were some passages I just fast forwarded through because I could not stomach them (I do have a weak stomach).

Amazing Research

It is a well-researched manuscript. However, it is by no means mean a fun read. Part five covers therapies for trauma and some may want to skip to this part.

Doctor van der Kolk is an amazing man, I don’t have it in me to do what he has done for decades.

[Amazon]  [Audible]


Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being

This audiobook is narrated by Doctor Weil himself. He has a very pleasant voice, and I found the book very enjoyable. This non-fiction work has a very strong focus on depression.

I gathered much good information presented in an easy manner. I took copious notes.

[Amazon]  [Audible]


Women Who Run With The Wolves – Myths And Stories Of The Wild Woman Archetype

I listened to this book for two reasons: 1) It was on a “recommended supplemental reading” list for a course I am interested in and 2) I found the audiobook at my local library which means it was free.

Within a few paragraphs, I was not sure I wanted to pursue reading it. I don’t think this is a book I would have chosen on my own. However, since I have been debating joining a book club for a while, I determined this would be good practice for me to read a book which may not be a self-made choice.

What I liked about the book:

The author is an amazing storyteller, and this comes through very vividly in the audio version.  Her voice is warm and very animated. I truly enjoyed this aspect of the book.

Ms. Estes also makes some very good points about what she calls the “wild woman.” I certainly was – and am – a wild woman who did not always fit in. This book is about being authentic which I find a poignant and compelling message. I resonate with this because this has been my heart’s cry since childhood.

It is a short poetic book which can be read in under three hours.

What I did not like about the book:

The author emphasizes that women should be able to be whom they were created to be. Great, I can wholeheartedly agree with that. However, another point comes to mind, authenticity is something all human beings crave, not just women. We all crave the ability to be our own self as well as to be accepted on these terms.


Yet, at one point in the book, Ms. Estes states that all women should be wild. My problem this statement is that some women truly do not want to be wild. I have met women who are quiet, ultra feminine, and naturally meek as well as content to be so.

I have also met quiet and meek men.

If true authenticity is what we are advocating then we should make room at the table for women who are not wild nor who aspire to be so. We must be okay with wildness and tameness alike.

Good vs. Bad

The author also makes the point that there is no good nor bad, yet within a few minutes, she mentions an action which she calls “disgusting.” I believe disgusting is “bad.”  I also believe she portrays taming women or “capturing” them as bad. This is a double standard at best or hypocrisy at worst.

I personally cannot align myself with the “there is no good or bad theorem.” I believe there are acts which are intrinsically “bad:” torture, rape, murder, genocide, and many others. For me, these are not neutral acts, and I do not understand people who would refrain from “labeling” them as “bad.”

My Opinion

While the inference is never directly or indirectly made, the following opinion is just my personal conclusion. When Ms. Ester referred to women’s tormentors or prison guards, it was safe to assume that most of the time, this meant men. While throughout the ages women have often been dominated by males (and many of them still are), I don’t care to see the world as men are “bad” and women “good”.

There are bad apples in every barrel. 


Women are different than men this cannot be denied. I rejoice in these difference. In my opinion, the beauty of humanity is in these distinctions. I don’t care to emasculate men any more than I believe women should be submissive or are subpar members of society.

I don’t want my sons or daughters to feel they are at odds with each other because of their gender. I want them to embrace and rejoice in their differences. Men and women, together, complete each other when they are allowed to bring their best to the table.

At times, the author is long-winded and repetitive.

In conclusion, while this is not a book I plan to buy for my personal library, it was an enjoyable – and short – read with many beautiful nuggets. I could see that – for women who have been (or are currently) oppressed – this would be a very liberating read.

[Amazon]  [Audible]


Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change

by Shawn Achor

I borrowed this audiobook from our local Public Library.

It is a practical read full of useful strategies and research. It is focused on the work environment although I believe the strategies can be applied to all walks of lives.

I enjoyed it.

[Amazon]  [Audible]




Books I Read During Month One




A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up

by Linda Leaming

This was an enjoyable and easy read about an American woman who moves to Bhutan. She shares the lessons she has learned from a different culture. The book is written in story form.

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill 

I must first preface I did not finish reading this book. It was a copy from the public library which could not be renewed because someone else had a hold on it. Despite the fact it was in my possession for three weeks, I did not complete it, and I don’t know that I will try to borrow it in the future.

This book is by no means a “bad” read, it just isn’t my favorite non-fiction.

A Frenchy

The author is a countryman (French), a brilliant and kind man who moved East and became a Buddhist monk. While Buddhism has gifted the world with many wonderful precepts, I am not a Buddhist, nor do I adhere to all its tenets.

Ricard is very deep. I could not read this book at night for I had to remain fully alert to understand – and enjoy – its content. During the day, my reading is usually limited to audiobooks.

If you have an affinity with Buddhism, you may find this book an excellent read.

[Amazon] [Audible]

Trying Differently Rather Than Harder

by Diane Malbin, M.S.W.

This a very small book (75 pages) packed with wonderful information about FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). I had an interest in reading this booklet as I have I have a child suffering from this condition.


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