The Art of Loving
by Erich Fromm
This short book is packed full of brilliant observations about how we choose our love objects and how to love in a healthy, constructive way. Written in 1956, its understanding of homosexuality is unfortunately tainted by the preconceptions of its time, but setting that aside, the rest is worth some deep consideration.
The Drama of the Gifted Child
by Alice Miller
If you’ve ever considered yourself a people-pleaser, this book will help explain some of the underlying motivations (and consequences) of trying to please others so much that you’re apt to lose sight of your own best interests. Miller’s book reveals how parents’ unsolved issues can find their way into their children’s psyches.
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life
by James Hollis
James Hollis is one of those therapist-writers whose every book is deeply meaningful and powerful, and I have no hesitation in recommending any of his books. This one, however, is aimed at the general reader and gives a good and thoughtful review of what it is to go through “midlife crisis,” or, as he puts it, “how to finally, really grow up.”
King, Magician, Warrior, Lover
by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
Moore and Gillette are Jungian analysts who have examined the deep-seated archetypes of masculinity and distilled them into these four basic energies. The authors also reveal how these archetypes manifest in boyhood and grow and mature (or don’t!) into manhood.
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
Whenever one of those “50 Greatest Books Ever Written” lists comes out, this one always appears somewhere on it. There is no better read for reminding ourselves about the meaning of life, especially when we get ground down and filled with despair.
The Road Less Traveled
by M. Scott Peck
This “self-help” book of the late 1970s was bestseller. Rereading it years later revealed it to be even better than I remembered it to be. Peck’s discussion of personal growth and relationships and how they impact each other is one of the best introductions to couples’ counseling that I know of.
The Velvet Rage
by Alan Downs
This book should be required reading for gay men entering therapy. Downs looks at what it means to a boy’s psyche when he grows up gay in a straight world, including subliminal messages of shame and secrecy as well as the long-term consequences of a delayed adolescence and lack of role models.
Wherever You Go, There You Are
by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Kabat-Zinn is one of the godfathers of the modern mindfulness movement, and this is the book that first brought the practice to a mass audience. Mindfulness cannot be recommended highly enough for stress and anxiety management and is a powerful complement to psychotherapy.
(Photo credit: Jan Mellstrom UNSPLASH)