It’s been a rough start to the year for us residing in Türkiye and having to navigate life back to normal after the colossal twin earthquakes wiped away much of the regions affected in 11 provinces. Countless have lost loved ones and their homes, never mind all of their possessions. Nonetheless, those affected, which is many, if not most of us, need to persevere and preserve our mental well-being. Let’s face it, this has been quite a traumatic incident and a way to help with coping right now is to gain more knowledge on the topic of trauma to help ourselves and others.
The following is a reading list of some of the most highly recognized books on how to heal from trauma and regain a healthy mindset.
“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel Van der Kolk is one of the leading books on trauma and certainly the most definitive book on how trauma affects the human body and brain. Explaining how trauma can manifest in physical and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain as well as emotional regulation, memory and behavior, Van der Kolk advocates for a holistic approach to treating trauma, which includes practices such as yoga, mindfulness and somatic experiencing, which can include breathwork, meditation and movement. Released in 2014, this book remains one of the most influential guides on understanding and navigating trauma. There is also a workbook for the guidelines available, and Van der Kolk is a captivating guest speaker on the topic, which I can vouch for after his recent appearance on Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s “Feel Better, Live More” podcast.
“What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing” is a book by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce D. Perry that examines the impact of trauma on the human brain and offers practical guidance on how to heal from it. By sharing her own personal experiences and others along with the research of an experienced psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Oprah and Dr. Perry emphasize shifting the way we think about and respond to trauma with compassion by not asking “What’s wrong with you?” but “What happened to you?” Released in 2021, this New York Times Bestseller also provides practical guidelines for healing such as building supportive relationships and practicing mindfulness and self-care.
“The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture” is a book by Dr. Gabor Mate, a Canadian physician and renowned public speaker in the genres of trauma, stress and addiction. Joined by his son Daniel Mate for this one, “The Myth of Normal,” which was released last September, is the fourth bestselling book by Mate, who has also covered topics of a similar vein in his books entitled “When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress” and “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction” and “Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.” In this latest, Dr. Mate argues that many of the behavioral norms in modern society are actually detrimental to both our physical and mental health.
“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller about building resilience and moving forward after life’s adversities. Sheryl Sandberg is a chief operating officer at Facebook and also the author of "Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” and “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” with Adam Grant. In “Option B,” Sandberg shares her story of the loss of her husband and how she had to move on and start loving her “Option B,” ie. the B-Plan. The authors shed light on how to help others in crisis and have compassion for ourselves and how to raise resilient children and have resilience in our community and workplace.
“Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead” is a book by American researcher and emotions expert Brene Brown. Her TED Talk entitled "The Power of Vulnerability" is one of the all-time most watched, and she has six bestsellers under her belt. Her most recent book “Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience” was also filmed into a five-part HBO docuseries. In “Rising Strong” Brown talks about how vulnerability, courage and honesty can help people overcome difficult situations to rise up stronger. Brown provides a framework to understand our emotions to work through challenging situations and to positively transform our lives.
"When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" is a book by renowned Buddhist author Pema Chödrön that draws on Buddhist teachings to offer advice on how to find inner peace and strength in times of difficulty and uncertainty. Each chapter explores a different aspect of how to cope with challenging situations. Mindfulness, self-awareness, compassion, being present with the pain as a catalyst for growth and comprehending the concept of impermanence are just some of those methods.