Three Books That Changed My Life


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, they are the wisest of counsellors and the most patient of teachers. “ Charles Eliot

Allow me to let you in on something. Choosing only three life-changing books? Incredibly difficult! (Especially for a bookworm. What was I thinking?)

I contemplated which – of all the books I’ve read – continued to make a lasting impact after I’d read them. The books I kept reviewing over and over in my mind. The books that made me reflect, question, start discussions with friends. The books that touched a deeper part of me. The ones that lit a spark and encouraged me to make changes in myself and my life.

As I write this, there are several more books knocking at the door of my mind. I’ll share more of these soon. For now, here are a few of the most significant books in my life.

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Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss

After graduating from university, I found myself in a career that stifled me. Feeling trapped, I was looking for answers when this book caught my eye.

I read it travelling to work. I couldn’t put it down. And for those moments when I had to (like driving!) I even bought the audio-book so I could listen to it.

The connection between mind and body had always fascinated me. Finding a book that brought in the spiritual dimension too was incredible to me.

In Anatomy of the Spirit, Myss illustrates this connection through examples of people’s lives, their challenges and ways of being. This book was what I needed to help me explore my inner and outer worlds.

Chapter by chapter, Myss guides the reader through the energy anatomy of the body, the chakra system. She discusses the physical ailments, disease patterns, mental and emotional patterns linked to each energy centre in the chakra system, giving an insight into how our thoughts and attitudes affect our wellbeing. (Or as Caroline puts it, how our biography affects our biology.)

This book opened my eyes. It taught me to pay attention to my way of thinking and being, how I was holding myself back in life. It woke me up to taking care of my energy anatomy. It triggered a whole new thirst for knowledge in me that ultimately led to leaving behind the corporate world and eventually coming back to myself, with more compassion and understanding than I’d ever known.

I recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the mind-body-spirit connection, how illness can manifest, how we can help ourselves by becoming aware of our thought patterns and limiting beliefs.


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How Yoga Works by Christie McNally

How Yoga Works is a work of fiction based on Patanjali’s yoga sutras. It tells the story of a young girl, who ended up in prison in India. The girl begins teaching fellow prisoners and prison staff about yoga and the teachings of Patanjali. A simple yet complex philosophy to apply to daily life, woven so beautifully through the story.

This book put into words what I had begun to glimpse on the yoga mat, but was unable to articulate. It brought the yoga sutras to life.

If you’re curious about the philosophy of yoga, what yoga is really all about, whether you have only ever thought about going to a yoga class, are an occasional or regular yoga student or a yoga teacher, this book will help you to recognise the magic of yoga in your everyday life.

I’ve included it here as it renewed my passion for yoga and yoga’s ability to nurture, heal and support our lives.

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Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

This book brought me back to life during a time of grief. It shows how you can emerge from your suffering.

In Broken Open, Lesser talks about using difficult times in our life, the times that bring us to our knees, and allowing them to burn down our lives in order for us to rebuild ourselves whole again. She calls this ‘the Phoenix Process’. A large section of the book talks about loss and grief, gently guiding yourself back to life and coming to terms with a life you never planned.

I believe that – in life – there are no mistakes. In every and any event, there are lessons to be gleaned.

The simple shift in mindset from broken to broken open was a powerful one.

Trusting that everything in life changes, every emotion good or bad evolves, allowed me to believe that everything would be ok. It helped me transition back to hope from a place of despair.

If you are facing loss – a job, a marriage, a loved one – through sickness, redundancy, divorce, bereavement, or any other life experience that has bought you to your knees, made your world stand still, then I recommend this book to you. It is honest, gentle and wise. It’s the friend you need by your side as you wade through those difficult times and the painful emotions that come with them.

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I’d love to connect with book lovers out there, and I’m forever grateful for a good book recommendation. So, let me know the books that have had a profound impact on you in the comments below.

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16 thoughts on “Three Books That Changed My Life

  1. Thanks for these suggestions, Nicola! I’ve read Anatomy of the Spirit and loved it. I’m definitely going to check out Elizabeth Lesser – I’ve her talk online (Oprah!) and thought Broken Open must be a really good read. How best to come through tough times is a topic very close to my heart.

    On the same topic, you might also like a book called “Dark Nights of the Soul – A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals” by Thomas Moore.

    1. Thank you Niamh, consider it bought! Hope you enjoy Broken Open. I believe there is a book for every life event, a book that makes you feel you’re not alone, that someone else has walked your path and offers you a helping hand in a way that loved ones may not be able to :). xx

  2. Some future reading material for me thanks…. I have read a lot of books but not a lot that I would re-read. Of the latter category, three influential books for me that I can still recall 30 years after reading are, Thomas Szasz The Myth of Mental Illness that challenged the medical model of mental illness. Then comes Karl Poppers Conjectures and Refutations which challenges the human tendency to always seek confirming evidence rather than seek falsification in theorising and intellectual activity. And various papers books and articles by Jasper Brener on Biofeedback introduced me to the concept of controlling involuntary bodily activity using voluntary control. Of interest to me in sports psychology but also to others for clinical purposes. Jasper did a lot of study on potential control of heartbeat and I experimented with imagery control and breath control as intermediary variables, which was informative.

    1. Those books sound very interesting. The Myth of Mental Illness intrigues me, I’ll look into that one. Some more to add to my growing list! Thank you.

  3. I love a book recommendation and these were so thoughtful. How Yoga Works is definitely going on the Wishlist. As for me, I tend to return to books because of an admiration of the craft it reveals. I often revisit the fiction of Jean Rhys ~ the precision of her prose mesmerises me.

  4. Thanks Claire. May Sarton – Journal of a solitude comes to mind, you may enjoy her work.
    Love all these recommendations! I don’t read much fiction, but reading for sheer pleasure is something I plan to make time for so I will invest in Jean Rhys to get me going :).

    1. Oh yes, I love Journal of Solitude! Will have to have warn you that Jean Rhys is an elegant but not cheery read, if it’s fiction pleasure you’re after…

  5. One of the books that made a big impact on me is Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Many people credit it with starting the environmental movement. It is 40 years old, we have known the impact of what we are doing for over 40 years but yet choose to continue doing it despite knowing the impact. It is mind boggling.

  6. What a great collection of books. I love reading and always looking for good suggestions. Your list sounds really inspiring. I will definitely check these out! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Some great book recommendations here Nicola, thank you. Glad I discovered this post. Have just ordered Broken Open, a must read after an epic year! xo

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