Wellness & Reading: The books that shape us

In a world where everyone's an editor and an awful amount of dross gets 'published' on a daily basis online, we're getting rather nostalgic about the books that shaped us into the adults we've become.

Though we all enjoy a good listicle online, it's unlikely that you'll find yourself on your death bed quoting BuzzFeed. We're falling back in love with a good oul paperback as not only a chance to detox from digital overload but because there's nothing quite like that feeling of turning a page on something that's getting deep down under your skin. No amount of memes will ever top that.

Over the coming weeks, we'll be profiling a series of brilliant Irish women, asking them about the books that had a lasting impact on them and hugely influenced the person they are today. But first, as wellness editor (a wellness editor who owns probably every self-help book that's ever been written), I'll regale you with mine.

  • The book that began my journey with books...

Well, that was probably something about clouds and rainbows with scratch 'n sniff pages, but one of the first books I vividly remember reading was Goosebumps Piano Lessons Can be Murder, which called for at least a two-week hiatus on my piano lessons, for fear of inevitable murder, you see.

Beyond that, the book I'll never forget turning the pages of was an Usborne book about 'growing up'. Until that point, I was blissfully ignorant about the male and female reproductive system and the existence of pubic hair. It definitely shaped me, or scarred me, I should say. Only in recent years has a theme emerged from my reading habits...

Blank bookcover with clipping path

  • The last book I read was...

Thinking Fast And Slow by Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman. These days I'm a sucker for a book that will help me improve upon myself and so sinking into a hot bath with a good novel rarely does it for me.

I prefer to challenge myself with a book that makes me think about my behaviours and thought patterns and this gem from Kahneman is one of the most eye-opening I've read. I won't ruin it for you; give it a go, or as one of the critics on the back cover suggests, 'Buy it fast and read it slow'.


  • The book I tell everyone to read is...

There are so many, but the most recent would be Rising Strong by Brené Brown. She perfectly captures the very essence of most of our suffering or inability to be happy, and that's our difficulty with accepting our own vulnerability.

Realising how much strength there is in our respective vulnerabilities is one of the greatest life lessons we can learn. Please read it and share it and when you're done with that, you can stalk her on the internet like I do.



  • The book I will happily read again and again is...

The Rules of Life by Richard Templar. Yes, you are now acutely aware of the self-help theme that's unfolding. This is my bible and one that I dip in and out of at regular intervals in my life. It's so simple, so straight talking and entirely bullshit free; it's gotten me through some major rough patches and if I could buy a copy for everyone reading this I would. My favourite 'rule' is this, number 10:

Only dead fish swim with the stream
Life is difficult. And the Rule is to thank God it is so. If it was all fluffy and easy we wouldn’t be tested, tried, forged in the fire of life. We wouldn’t grow or learn or change, or have a chance to rise above ourselves. If life were a series of lovely days, we’d soon get bored. If there was no rain, then there wouldn’t be any feeling of great joy when it finally stopped and we could go to the beach. If it was all easy we couldn’t get stronger.

He goes on but again, I won't ruin it for you.


  • The toughest book for me to read was...

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Why? Because it's a guide to 'spiritual enlightenment' and I'm more the kind of person you'll find sitting there waiting to get smacked in the face with this so-called 'enlightenment' when in reality, the secret lies in not trying and living in the now.

As someone whose mind races a mile a minute, living in the now is my greatest challenge. A brilliant, but head-wrecking book that so quickly highlights the difficulty we have with switching off and waking up to what's around us.


  • The book I can quote from on cue is...

Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. This is another book I'd happily revisit once a year. Don't let the movie put you off; this is a must read for anyone with a pulse. You'll want to read it with a pen and paper, making notes of the wisdom embedded within each and every page. My favourite quote?

Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.


Stay tuned for the next in the series. And share the books that shaped you below!

Related Articles

More from Life