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Books that Have Been Good for My Mental Health Lately


I love to read. And – an odd little secret about me – I love to read out loud. I started reading my textbooks and literature out loud in middle and high school, when my baby sister (10 years younger) would happily sit and listen. I soon realized I remembered everything so much better when I read out loud and that it was way more fun than just zipping through it in my head.

In college, I kept up this approach for doing my reading, often driving my college roommate a bit nuts. As a parent, I LOVE reading chapter books out loud to my kids. In the summers and when we were homeschooling, I read to them several hours each day. It’s one of our favorite things to do together. At times, I even worried that they were late readers because they just preferred to be read to instead of reading themselves. Now, though, they are happy, insatiable readers on their own (though they still gather around every evening for me to read to them).

These days, I don’t do all my personal reading aloud, although my husband acquiesces to me reading books aloud to him sometimes. Still, I read a lot of books – usually alternating between several at a time. All that to say, here are my recommendations for the best books I’ve read lately…

  • A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Broganscreen-shot-2016-10-07-at-9-46-07-am

I am very interested in holistic mental health: relieving clients of depression and anxiety symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes that do not require prescription medications. This book expressed my thoughts and understanding of this issue perfectly. Not to mention, it filled in some gaps for me and left me with a very thorough way to approach this issue with my clients. It’s not a book just for practitioners, though. It’s a book for anyone who wants to get to the bottom of the health symptoms and feel like themselves again through a natural approach.

  • screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-9-45-17-amThis is My Body by Ragan Sutterfield

This book was actually written by a friend of ours. In the book, he shares his personal journey of learning to love and appreciate his own body. He discusses the way that the church often teaches us to view our body as evil or as unimportant and to focus on spirituality instead. Through his own relationships, work, and training for an Iron Man, he reconnects with his own body.

I resonated deeply with his journey, as I experienced something similar moving from a very spiritual church experience in young adulthood to a very physical experience of connecting with God through pregnancy, birth, and young children. I loved that this book left me feeling encouraged in my faith and inspired me to add more full-body faith practices into my daily life and into my ways of teaching our children about prayer and faith.

  • A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle


This book was balm for my spirit at a time when I really needed it. The kids and I have been reading L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series and some friends recommended her books for adults. The book is more like a personal journal of a certain time in L’Engle’s life, but it held so much encouragement for me in thinking about my own hopes for my life. L’Engle was like a kind mother to me in these pages, reminding me of my own strength and gifts at a time when I felt unsure and alone.

  • The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-9-46-26-amThis book is about preventing depression in children. I thought that I was reading this book for my oldest child, but in the end I was reading it for our whole family. The book gives practical instructions for changing our wording and perspective to help us be more optimistic people. Truth be told, my parents commented on my pessimistic style from the time I was a child, and I really don’t want to pass that on to my kids.

I also found this book really interesting as a person who cares about addressing mental health without medication. The approach in the book is really about changing our thinking. This, combined with behavior (a cognitive-behavioral approach) remains one of the most effective counseling approaches for depression and anxiety. I recommend the book to anyone with children, as it will open up your awareness and help you to encourage optimism in your family.

I’ve also been reading “An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor with the Moms Group I’m in. I’m really loving it so far, so I suspect that one will be on my next list of recommendations!

I’d love to hear from you! What have you been reading lately? What books have really lifted your spirits, inspired you to pray and to trust, given you new hope for the life you find yourself in? Give us your recommendations in the comments below.


My name is Candace McCallister. I am the founder of Sweet Water Offering, a holistic health enterprise to support women and families to heal naturally. My background is in biology, counseling, bodywork, and nutrition. My husband and I are helping to start an intentional Christian community in Little Rock, AR. We have three lively and beautiful children.

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