Summer Reading List For Your Brain

A list of a few of my favorite books to benefit your brain, body, heart and soul.
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If you want your slink-in-bathtub, beach-reductionist summer read, go directly for Danielle Steele and Tom Patterson. This list below is brain-food. You'll be thinking energizing, inventive new thoughts and getting a preview of what you'll want to put in play come fall.

A few of my favorites to benefit your brain, body, heart and soul are:

1) 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice by Les Parrott. Three seconds, psychologist Parrott says, is the time to pause before you make a decision, or say something you'll regret, and make a decision that will benefit you, and others. Parrott says we're programmed so that our first impulse is often one of six automatic negative reactions. But we can unleash our full potential and excellence when we learn how to give our first impulses a second thought. In other words, we can think "Whatever it takes!" instead of "Whatever..." in that three second pause. The book is chock-a-bloc with real-life stories that illustrate the benefit of taking those three seconds.

2) Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health by Samantha Heller. While the title might be improved, the way Heller turns science and the biology of our bodies into easy-to-understand, well organized and usable information, could not. For instance, after years of hearing about oxidants and anti-oxidants, I finally understand what they are, what they do and what I should eat to help them help me. The book's mostly food, then vitamins, minerals and healthy lifestyle recommendations are aimed toward boosting brain-health, maximizing our brain's plasticity and minimizing oxidative damage in the body. Heller, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Nurse, has an appealing sense of humor and warmth.

3) The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler. Probably the most impactful book I've read this year. You won't be able to look at what you eat anymore without seeing it as the planned manipulation of sugar, salt and fat to keep you craving more of the same. Kessler also reveals the fascinating back-story of how our diet got the way it is and how food manufacturer's get away with it. My full review here.

4) Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen. I was told about this book by a retired physician who, only 40 years old, had grown so disillusioned with our traditional health care system, that she left. Author Rachel Naomi Remen is a physician who stayed in the system and has tried changing it. This book shares small stories that include Remen's experiences as a physician and a patient with Crohn's disease since a teenager, and the courage, dignity and grace her patients, many of them dying, taught her. Her stories and conversations with fellow physicians illustrate how most medical training teaches doctors not to show emotion or share authentic aspects of themselves.

5) The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley. A surprising look at human behavior in the face of disaster; how people really react in a crisis told through narrative and interviews. It will make you realize no matter how many times you hear what to do if the airplane is going down, you won't do it anyway. Ripley takes us through the rescue operation of 9/11 and why it took so long to get people out of the towers. Amazing, astounding stuff from this prize-winning, former Time journalist.

6) The Five Gifts of Illness: A Reconsideration by Jill Sklar. I found a kindred spirit in Sklar who knows what it's like to live with a chronic illness and consider the positive in it. Sklar lives with Crohn's disease and gives us an eye-opening view of this little talked about condition while offering wisdom and empathy from her personal experience and her interviews with more than 100 survivors of major illness. A source of hope and guidance for anyone struggling with a chronic illness.

I'd be remiss not to tell you to read my own two books if you live with diabetes. 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It is a compelling and engaging read to learn how to best manage diabetes told through myths and truths. 21 leading diabetes experts share their expertise and provide cutting-edge recommendations and tips along with "lessons learned" from myself and fellow patients.

The ABC's Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes is my illustrated "how-to" guide to live more confidently, courageously and happily with diabetes. The book coaches you to overcome fears, frustrations, guilt and loss and develop greater strength and emotional resilience through joy, patience, forgiveness, appreciating what you have and doing what you love. Each year I donate proceeds from the sale of this book to a diabetes organization including Diabetes Research Institute and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The book that's always on my list is Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. I've been reading it, or should say, re-reading it for years, and will likely continue to do so my entire life. It calms me by reminding me that I am enough and energizes me by reminding me to get my ego out of my way. Oprah did a whole series of web classes devoted to Tolle and the book if you were the one person who missed it.

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