While my reading as of late has been largely academic papers–thank you, grad school–I rank books with food and shelter when it comes to basic necessities. Books I’ve read have shaped and reshaped my perspectives on the world and today I want to share some of the books that really made me think and reconsider the way I live my life–the “books that made a difference,” to steal a term from Oprah magazine (which will come up a lot in this post)…
- Jenni Schaefer – Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover From Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Your Life
This book taught me that there’s more to life than an eating disorder and there’s so much life beyond recovery. Rather than being terrified at the prospect of life without my eating disorder to help you cope, this book helped me get excited about the kind of life I’d get to create after recovery. Jenni Schaefer writes in a personal way that makes me feel almost like a close friend or a sister is giving me advice—she’s gentle, authentic, and honest in her writing.
Whether or not the advice in the book is bang on to what diet you identify yourself with (if you’re still on that train), the message of this book is about fueling yourself for your performance goals, whatever they might be. With the perspective of food as a good thing—calories as something to be utilized and nutrition as a focus—I read this book when I really needed to. Nancy Clark touches on the silly ways people try to lose weight (burning the pounds off on the treadmill and starving themselves), exercise obsession, the female athlete triad, and eating disorders and she includes some pretty tasty (and simple) recipes at the end of the book. She made me want to be a dietitian to promote this same sane approach to eating, especially in athletes, and remains an inspiration for standing for health–not just aesthetics–when it comes to training and nutrition.
It might be cliché to list this as one of your favourite books, but I can remember reading about it in an issue of Oprah magazine and I went out and bought it in hardcover. It was the first memoir I can remember reading and since then, I hardly read anything but. I connected to the story and the writing and realized that writing about personal experience is pretty powerful stuff—a lesson that’s stuck with me and had a big influence on how much I write and share and what I want to do with my life.
This is a pretty random book that I read when I was in high school. It was one of the first non-fiction books I read and I really liked how the author took science information that would otherwise be inaccessible to me (in journals that I didn’t know existed written in language I wouldn’t be able to decipher) and made it comprehensible—and interesting—for me. Now I eat this stuff up and realize that it takes a certain kind of writer to be able to make a story out of science.
This book was, dare I say it, life changing. It was the first food book I read that wasn’t a diet book and I still come back to the suggestions that Michael Pollan makes in it. I was most impressed with his meshing of science and personal experience and the book challenged me, as a dieting and calorie-obsessed teenager, to entertain the notion that there were other things that could make food “good” or “bad” and to drive my food choices.
- Brene Brown – Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Brene Brown’s TEDtalks are amazing—the stuff she talks about is powerful and it’s exactly what she covers in her books. Daring Greatly made me think about the way I’m living and the beliefs I have and is one of those books I never seem to see because I’m always recommending it and lending it to friends.
Geneen Roth’s books are all amazing, but the first one that I read was Women, Food, and God (another recommendation I found in an issue of Oprah, interestingly enough) and while I wouldn’t have believed food and my relationship with my body was remotely profound or spiritual before I read the book, I remember dog earing so many pages talking about eating and our beliefs about ourselves and the world. I’d list Roth as one of my favourite authors—I get sucked into her books because they read almost like poetry and because her experience resonates so much with me.
That would make up a top notch shelf, on my bookcase! Which will look like this…
What are the books that made a difference to you?
Have you read any of these books? Did they have any impact on you?