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Holiday Gift Guide: 11 More Powerful Psychology Books to Give

Holiday Gift Guide: 11 More Powerful Psychology Books to Give Some psychology books are filled with valuable insights we can apply to our own lives. Others are uplifting. And still others make engrossing explorations into the human mind. Really, I’m not sure you can get a more meaningful or fascinating gift under $20.

Books are windows into new worlds and new wisdom. So whether you’re looking for an interesting read for a psychology buff or grad student or an inspiring book for someone going through a tough time, this gift guide may help.

This is Part 2 of a two-part holiday gift guide of books we recommend. Read Part 1 here.

Of course, giving self-help books can be tricky. According to psychotherapist Ashley Eder, LPC, “Self-help books are appropriate gifts only when the recipient has a close relationship with you and has expressed a desire to learn more about the subject. It’s a good idea to say ‘I remembered that you wanted to learn more about this topic,’ so that your gift isn’t accidentally hurtful.”

Below, you’ll find reads on a range of topics, including ADHD, depression, self-acceptance, mindfulness and the link between mental illness and leadership.

How to Ruin Your Life
by Ben Stein

“This is a smart, tongue-in-cheek self-help book that is great for kids and teens, as well as adults,” according to clinical psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD. “Stein lists all the ways you can ruin your life, and does so with such wit and enthusiasm, that you can’t help but laugh along with his lessons.”

Peace Is Every Step
by Thich Nhat Hahn

In addition to Peace Is Every Step, psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, NCC, recommended several books by Thich Nhat Hahn: No Death, No Fear and Be Free Where You Are. “His books focus on the practice of mindfulness and the concept of impermanence. Focusing on the here and now can help reduce stress and help us enjoy life more.”

The Courage to Heal
by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

“For the last 20 years, [this] has been the indispensable handbook to women who were sexually abused as children,” Eder said. It features insights from therapists, researchers and survivors. “The first-person accounts cover most topics that arise for women recovering from sexual abuse, and the book is conveniently organized into small, specific topics so that readers may use the book as issues arise instead of reading it straight through.”

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness
by Nassir Ghaemi

Ghaemi’s thesis is that “mentally ill people make outstanding leaders, and normal people make mediocre ones. He compares everyone from Churchill to Gen. Sherman,” Czernicki said. It’s a lengthy read, but she couldn’t put it down.

The Mindful Way Through Depression
by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn

“[This step-by-step guide] combines the results of decades of research on depression, meditation, and therapy into a single manual designed to prevent relapse into depression,” Eder said. It’s helpful for people who are mildly depressed, currently in remission from depression or anyone experiencing overwhelming thoughts and feelings, she said.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
by Jim Henson

Henson’s book “focuses on staying in the here and now, and also emphasizes the importance of experiencing fun and joy in life, even — and especially — when things get tough,” said Sarkis, also author of several books on ADHD.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
by Allie Brosh

Brosh has been writing a blog on depression for years, said Serani, also author of two books on depression. In her bestselling book she “writes about her depression and draws artwork that is hilarious and yet stunningly emotional.”

The Anti-Coloring Book series
by Susan Striker

This book helps readers tap into their creativity and be a kid again. As Sarkis said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life
by Carol Adrienne

Sarkis also suggested this workbook, which helps readers discover their path in life by identifying their values, passions and priorities.

An Unquiet Mind
by Kay Redfield Jamison

This powerful memoir, written by a clinical psychologist who has bipolar disorder, is a classic. “This book looks at bipolar disorder both from the perspective of the clinician working to help others with it and from the patient,” Czernicki said.

Beautiful You
by Rosie Molinary

“In creating Beautiful You, Rosie Molinary cultivated a gorgeous 365-day blueprint for infusing your life with more self-love and self-confidence,” Glatzel said. It’s a great book for individuals just starting on their self-love journey or anyone who’d benefit from learning to be kinder to themselves, she said.

Miss the first part in this series? Check it out here.

What are your favorite books to give for the holidays?

Holiday Gift Guide: 11 More Powerful Psychology Books to Give

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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Holiday Gift Guide: 11 More Powerful Psychology Books to Give. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 8 Dec 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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