Five Books that Save Lives

If the post war years of the early 20th century pulled back the stigma laden curtain surrounding mental health, the beginning of the 21st century has started the process of dismantling people’s preconceptions and presumptions, and the beginning of a journey towards understanding the labyrinth of the human condition.

The following collection of books takes us on a journey through the worlds of fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and depression. A toolkit filled with awareness, understanding, experience, and empathy.

The Examined Life, by Stephen Grosz

A book about learning to live.

Echoing Socrates’ statement that the unexamined life not worth living, psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz draws on his twenty-five years of work and more than 50,000 hours of conversations to form a collection of beautifully rendered tales that illuminate the human experience.

These are stories about everyday lives: from a woman who finds herself daydreaming as she returns home from a business trip to a young man loses his wallet, to the more extreme examples: the patient who points an unloaded gun at a police officer and the compulsive liar who convinces his wife he’s dying of cancer. The resulting journey will spark new ideas about who we are and why we do what we do.

The Art of Living, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, the world’s most renowned Zen master, turns his mindful attention to the most important subject of all — the art of living.

The bestselling author of The Miracle of Mindfulness presents, for the first time, seven transformative meditations that open up new perspectives on our lives, our relationships and our interconnectedness with the world around us. He reveals an art of living in mindfulness that helps us answer life’s deepest questions, experience the happiness and freedom we desire and face ageing and dying with curiosity and joy instead of fear.

Stimulating and inspiring, this book teaches us the importance of looking inside ourselves and developing compassion, before we can turn to our relationships at home and in the wider world. Full of remarkable stories from Thich Nhat Hanh’s own experiences and mindful practices for engaging with life, this will be a book that will help us generate happiness, understanding and love so we can live deeply in each moment of our life, right where we are.

Remember This When You’re Sad, by Maggy Van Eijk

Maggy Van Eijk knows where the best place to cry in public is: the top deck of a bus, right at the front. She also knows that eating super salty liquorice or swimming in an icy cold pond are things that make you feel alive but aren’t bad for you.

Turning 27, Maggy had the worst mental health experience of her life so far. She ended a three-year relationship, was almost fired (twice), went to A&E over twelve times, saw three different therapists and had three different diagnoses.

But she didn’t let that year stop her. Taking pen to paper, Maggy started writing lists. Lists to remind her when she’s anxious or when the world won’t stop spinning, that everything will be okay, whether it’s starfishing her heart out in bed first thing in the morning, or just simply phoning a friend.

In her brave and important book, with a brand new chapter, Maggy lays bare the true reality of mental illness in the hope it can help others come out the other side too.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb

Ever wonder what your therapist is really thinking? Now you can find out.

Meet Lori Gottlieb, an insightful and compassionate therapist whose clients present with all kinds of problems. There’s the struggling new parents; the older woman who feels she has nothing to live for; the self-destructive young alcoholic; and the terminally ill 35-year-old newlywed. And there’s John, a narcissistic television producer, who frankly just seems to be a bit of a jerk. Over the course of a year, they all make progress.

But Gottlieb is not just a therapist — she’s also a patient who’s on a journey of her own. Interspersed with the stories of her clients are her own therapy sessions, as Gottlieb goes in search of the hidden roots of a devastating and life-changing event.

Personal, revealing, funny, and wise, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone opens a rare window onto a world that is most often bound by secrecy, offering an illuminating tour of a profoundly private process.

The Comfort Book, by Matt Haig

Reflections on hope, survival and the messy miracle of being alive

It is a strange paradox, that many of the clearest, most comforting life lessons are learned while we are at our lowest. But then we never think about food more than when we are hungry and we never think about life rafts more than when we are thrown overboard.

The Comfort Book is a collection of consolations learned in hard times and suggestions for making the bad days better. Drawing on maxims, memoir and the inspirational lives of others, these meditations celebrate the ever-changing wonder of living. This is for when we need the wisdom of a friend or a reminder we can always nurture inner strength and hope, even in our busy world.

A book of timeless comfort for modern minds.

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Jonathan Beckett

Jonathan Beckett

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Software and web developer, husband, father, cat wrangler, writer, runner, coffee drinker, retro video games player. Pizza solves most things.