I’m often asked about recommended books, so I’m going to share a very short list of my favorites when it comes to relationships.
I actually have a much longer list of about 30 books that are not restricted to relationships alone, and maybe one day I’ll briefly review them all, but for now, here are 7 of my favorites.
Some of my favorite books are more text book like and so I’m only sharing the ones that I think would be beneficial for everyone (e.g. not my especially nerdy “healing trauma” type books or various other texts, although many of the following books are based on them).
I know there are plenty of other incredible ones, but here are a few to get us started.
So…without further ado, let’s dive in.
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson.
I’ll never forget cracking this puppy open just after she published it nearly a decade ago, as I sat waiting to meet up with my then boyfriend (now husband) at a bar on the east side of NYC.
Then I brought it to the hospital where I worked and shared it with everyone. Then my friend and colleague, Dr. Kristin Kolozian, and I ran a weekend workshop based on it that one person said was more effective than 6 months of 3X weekly intensive couples therapy.
This is a must read for every person because it basically describes relationships and how they work, how they so often go wrong, and how to get them right.
Seriously, if you want help for your relationship, skip everything else on this list and just get this book now. It will do you and your relationship wonders now + for years to come.
Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships by Dr. Sue Johnson.
I’m a big Sue Johnson fan if you haven’t figured that one out by now. Her work changed my practice as a psychologist and my life, as well as tens if not hundreds of thousands of others.
In Love Sense, Sue breaks down the new scientific understandings of love and romantic relationships that she and other leading researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists have discovered and applies them to you and your life.
She’s a brilliant story teller and is able to take academia and make it exciting to learn about as she applies it to the every day drama that all of us experience in and out of love.
The coolest thing? Sue reads it herself on audible. Grab it on audible today!
This one came out New Year’s Eve in 2013. Here’s a review I wrote for it a few years ago. This book is excellent.
If you are a relationship coach or psychotherapist of any kind, both Hold Me Tight and Love Sense are MUST READS!!! ***You are doing your clients a disservice if you are talking about romantic relationships and are not familiar with this material.***
The Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman
Although it’s an older book, this one is golden. John Gottman has been studying couples and what makes marriage work for over 4 decades, and has a lot of great advice.
While some of his advice is pretty straightforward, it is still helpful to read it (and re-read it, and implement it). Throughout the book, he shares some fascinating research he has done over the years on the differences between happy couples and divorcing ones so that you can find yourself in the former category. It’s a quick read and definitely worth it!
The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples by Dr. John Gottman
After decades of research, John Gottman found that one of the most important factors in a solid relationship is emotional attunement. (This is specifically what Sue Johnson’s revolutionary approach, Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples, is all about, and perhaps why it is the gold standard in couples therapy that has been demonstrated to help 9 out of 10 couples make improvements in their relationships).
This one requires more of a commitment than The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, but it’s an excellent (and important) read for anyone interested in really learning more about trust and emotional connection.
The Neurobiology of We by Dr. Dan Siegel
OK, so this one isn’t about romantic relationships per se, but it can definitely apply to romantic relationships as well as any other important relationship in your life.
Here’s the deal: we only exist in relationship to each other.
Dan Siegel is a child psychiatrist who sort of developed this whole new field known as interpersonal neurobiology that demonstrates how we are wired for connection and how we learn and develop based on our experiences with others and in relationships (this is why our romantic relationships, which are often the most long lasting and intense, can be so powerful and healing).
This is an awesome audio book that you have got to listen to if you’re into this stuff. (I remember listening to the CDs in my car way back when after a training in Emotionally Focused Therapy while driving up to Poughkeepsie, NY from somewhere in New Jersey once…!)
If you just want quick tips or help for your relationship, stick with Hold Me Tight and The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. But if you’re fascinated by the human brain, development and how we can all really be our best…check out The Neurobiology of We.
Parenting – Yourself + Your Kids
Dan Siegel is definitely the man when it comes not only to interpersonal neurobiology, but to parenting as well.
Let’s start with YOU, and how a deeper self-understanding is necessary for you to be the best parent you can be.
Parenting From The Inside Out by Dr. Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell
This is a fantastic book whether you have kids or not to understand more about yourself and how you came to be the person you are, based on your interpersonal relationships growing up. This is a must read if you are a survivor of trauma, especially if you are a parent.
With this enriched self-awareness as well as an understanding of how our relationships shape our worlds, learning and development, and what we all need to thrive, you’ll be better able to raise happy and healthy kids.
We hear all about how iPads are like crack for kids’ brains; this book offers the antidote. Check it out.
The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Dan Siegel
I’m a big Dan Siegel fan too, clearly, and these are just a few of his books that I love.
This one is packed with techniques, tips and stories on how to help your kids regulate their emotions and operate with their whole brains. That’s the name of the game. If we all operated with more integrated brains, I imagine the world would be a much more enlightened place. So let’s all do our parts and raise kids who can do this.
Fortunately this one came out just before my first child was born so I got armed with it, but even if I didn’t have kids, it would be a good one to read.
I benefit from it myself too!
Thanks for checking out my book list and let me know in the comments some of your experiences with any of these books OR your favorites.
Other categories of books that are my favorites to recommend include spiritual books on the universe, more psychology books, general business books and mindset books. Let me know if you want to hear more of my favorites!
**I’m an amazon affiliate and if you choose to purchase any of these books through my links, I may receive a small commission at no extra fee for you. I promise I would not recommend these books if I didn’t love them.**