I’ve read many wonderful books, but too many of them are forgotten shortly after I finish them. I don’t think I’m alone. Saying that a book has actually changed the way I engage with the world is a huge compliment. These 7 books are special because they have fundamentally altered the way I live, love, and parent—on a daily basis.
For better or worse, this list is nonfiction-only. I wish it included fiction—and I can rattle a few off the top of my head that might be worthy of a spot—but somehow those titles are harder to come up with and a lot more personal. I’ll continue to think it through. Maybe someday soon I’ll have a list of novels that changed my life.
Series: 7 Books That Changed the Way I Live, Love, and Parent
This slim, conversational memoir articulated a lot of my swirling ideas about art and creativity. L'engle combines insights from her own journey with masterful storytelling to make her case for art as something necessary and vital, for Christians, for everyone. This book makes me want to do the work, and that's saying something. Read (and re-read) it slowly. More info →
This was my lifeline when we first heard the words "sensory processing disorder," and while it was crucial to shaping my understanding of SPD, it shifted my paradigm in more fundamental ways. Filled with practical wisdom that helped me understand that different kids have different needs, and my kid isn't trying to be difficult. Eye-opening and empowering. More info →
This book was huge in framing my expectations about relationships. Surprising-but-true insights: most marital conflicts aren't solvable. Strong couples are good friends. Happiness is about how we respond to the little things. Gottman's insights will heighten your self-awareness, and are applicable to other kinds of relationships. I like to revisit this practical, readable handbook every few years. More info →
This book is twice as long as it needs to be and the writing isn't stellar, but dig a little and you'll find fabulously practical advice buried in the cheesy examples and bad prose. Gottman teaches you how to coach your kids (or anyone's kids) to understand their own emotions and deal with them in constructive ways. To do this, you have to confront the unhealthy ways you were (probably) taught to deal with your emotions as a kid. Painful, but WORTH IT. This book deserves its own post. More info →
Dallas Willard's books are so meaty that I read them at about a quarter of my normal speed. This one about carefully cultivating our inner selves is no exception, packed with rich insights that I'm still struggling to fully understand, even though I'm on my fourth re-reading. More info →
This book is all about how to get better at getting better—at anything, whether it's sports, music, math, or business. Coyle delves into the science of how the brain acquires skill, then shows dozens of ways top performers are putting those theories into practice every day. This book has changed how I work, and how I talk to my kids about their work and play. More info →