“What has helped you on your healing journey?” is a question I’m often asked. The answer to that question is immense, but something I can focus on in this post is BOOKS! Throughout the last few years, alongside therapy and other healing practices, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Today I’m writing about the books that have had a huge positive impact on my life and recovery from trauma. Some are more educational in nature, while some are more spiritually enriching or soul soothing, but all have a place on my bookshelf and in my heart.
I know how overwhelming it is to know you want to start healing from the pain you’ve experienced, and not know where to start. As someone who’s been walking this path for years, I can look back and point to these books as being eye opening and deeply healing. I hope these books can be resources for you, too. I included links for the books on Amazon, as I find it’s typically the easiest and cheapest place for people to purchase books online. These are affiliate links where if you purchase one of the books after using my link, I’ll get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Blooming Forward.
#1 for learning about trauma. I consider this book to be the quintessential masterpiece of trauma books that I’ve read so far. This book taught me so much of what I know about trauma, specifically how it affects the brain. It felt like with every page I read I was learning and understanding something new about how trauma has affected my brain and body. This made it both tough to read at times but also EXTREMELY validating in a world where trauma isn’t largely understood, talked about, or accommodated. When reading this, suddenly so much of my symptoms made sense. This book made me see I am not broken, my brain has just been deeply affected by what I’d been through, and my body is my biggest ally in the healing journey.
#1 for learning how to heal from trauma. A gem gifted to me by my first therapist, this book is exactly what it claims to be: a very robust toolkit for how to heal trauma at every level of your being. Susan Pease Banitt dives into healing practices and modalities that work at the level of the physical body, the mind, and even the energetic and wisdom levels of ourselves. By tapping into all the layers of who we are and addressing trauma’s impact at each one, this book is an incredible resource for healing. It helped me see there is a place that Banitt describes as “The Core Within the Core”, a place deep within me that has not been touched by my trauma, where I can rest in and draw power from. This book is both spiritually enriching and incredibly practical as it describes different forms of healing and self care practices survivors can explore depending on their current symptoms.
The Courage to Heal Workbook (Amazon).
#1 for unpacking the ways trauma has impacted you. This was given to me by my first therapist at the very start of my healing journey. She would give me a certain goal of pages to work through between our sessions, and we would discuss them during therapy. Targeted specifically for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, this is a really all-encompassing workbook for getting started on the path to healing. It’s especially suitable for anyone who is struggling to understand or remember what happened to them, and really helped me figure out what my symptoms were and how they were connected to what I went through. Although I did this with a therapist’s guidance, I can see it being really helpful for someone who is unable to see a therapist too because it really walks you through the process of unpacking your trauma.
Neon Soul (Amazon).
#1 for soul soothing encouragement. Neon Soul is a collection of poetry and prose by one of my biggest inspirations as a writer, Alexandra Elle. After seeing her posts on Instagram of her gorgeous affirmations back in 2017, I quickly became a huge fan. Her words are ones of survival and deep, hard-earned self love. I pick up this book when I need a reminder that I’m not alone, and inspiration to keep creating beauty from my circumstances.
#1 for learning why vulnerability is your superpower. WHEW. This is probably one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. Brene Brown is a widely known shame and vulnerability researcher, and in this book she dives into the research on vulnerability specifically. While this book isn’t framed as a book for trauma survivors, I found it helped me heal my shame and see how finding my voice and sharing my story with the world is healing and powerful. It also helped me name the times in my life when I felt like it wasn’t safe to be vulnerable, and gave me motivation and practical ways to create open, inclusive environments that promote healing from here on out.
#1 example of how to transform trauma into positivity. In this memoir, Jonathan Van Ness of the hit show Queer Eye shares the story of his life in only the way he could, with his signature playful and enthusiastic voice. What I didn’t realize is how much trauma he has endured, from bullying to drug use to sexual assault. While writing about such heavy topics he is still uses humor and a lot of reallness, and writes about how everything he has been through has contributed to who he is as a (very successful, inspiring) person. This book showed me a great example of how we can use the horrible experiences we’ve survived to make a positive impact in other’s lives, and to never give up on yourself. It was truly a pleasure to read and made me cry several times.
#1 for learning how to embrace who you are. This book induced a dramatic shift in me by teaching me the concept of Radical Acceptance, or embracing our current reality with mindfulness and compassion. The author, Tara Branch, is a Buddhist teacher and seasoned psychologist, and it shows. This book taught me practical tools for how to be present with my current circumstances in order to heal my trauma with grace and compassion. I walked away from this book with the realization that I have the power to create a safe inner landscape for myself to feel my feelings, and it is radical for me to do so. As a survivor, it is radical to embrace yourself as you are, because when you’re being abused you are constantly told or shown that who you are is not okay. This book healed the belief that I had to escape or overcome my struggles in order to accept myself and showed me that healing is possible through self acceptance. Tara is also my favorite virtual meditation teacher!
#1 for diving into mindfulness and spirituality. I read this book when I was pretty lost. I was about a year into therapy and understood why I was experiencing many of my symptoms, but was really struggling with how to cope with them and be okay in my reality. This book really gets you to understand that the present moment is the only true reality we have. It helped me to lean into the “Now” to see that what happened to me in the past really isn’t happening Now. This book opened my eyes to the concept of being present, and helped me awaken from the trance trauma put me in of living in the past. It helped me see that the current moment is safe and I can choose to live in it. I think this combined with Radical Acceptance would be ideal, as this book is more straightforward on how to access the Now and Radical Acceptance has more guidance on how to accept and heal what is found there.
#1 for inspiration to love and believe in yourself. In Heart Talk, Cleo Wade uplifts the spirit and gives practical advice to help you live your best life. It’s kind of like a self-help book meets a poem. I keep this book on my nightstand for when I need a reminder that I’m strong for surviving, brave for doing the healing work, and that everything is going to be okay. This book is overall very sweet and easy to read.
That’s it for now! I’m always looking to read and learn more about trauma and healing in all sorts of different ways. I’ll definitely keep this list updated. In the meantime, have any recommendations? Want more information on the books I love? Have you read and loved any of the same books as me? Feel free to comment below or on Instagram. Read on!