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The Book Nook

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

I will add short reviews to the books I am reading as I go - I hope you enjoy my take on the books.

How reading books helps me regulate my nervous system

It is no secret that screen time before bed is not the best idea, as it stimulates your brain and makes it difficult for your system to wind down.

Reading a book instead of watching TV sounded like a terrible idea to me a few months ago, especially because watching TV to wind down is what I was used to. But if I really pay attention to how my body responds to both activities, it is the wiser choice to opt for the books. I can actually feel how much calmer and more grounded I am in my body when I am reading instead of watching a TV show or a movie.

In saying that - some people fall asleep in front of the TV during the most thrilling scenes. So, knowing yourself and how you respond is important when choosing what to include in your bed time routine.

The Body Keeps The Score

This is an absolute classic in the trauma informed psychology world. Bessel van der Kolk describes his work with veterans and other traumatised people and how different research and therapies have developed over time. He explains how the brain works and how brain functioning is impacted when trauma has happened to people. But also how neuroplasticity works and that people can create new neural pathways when healing.

My concern with this work is, that some of the stories are quite shocking and might vicariously traumatise the reader, similar to "In the realm of the hungry ghosts" (Gabor Mate). Nevertheless this book gives a great overview of the therapies that are out there and how effective they are. There is great insight and knowledge about trauma and a lot of therapies that are currently out there to treat PTSD.

Bessel van der Kolk describes Neurofeedback and EMDR therapies in this book and this was resonating with me. When learning about these therapies in this book I was inspired to try them for my own traumas.

You Can Heal Your Life

Louise Hay was certainly a remarkable personality who has positively influenced and inspired a lot of people. She went through abuse in her own childhood and has overcome negative self-beliefs and limiting thoughts with a strong belief and trust in the good in the world and her own strength and resources. She offers affirmations and a list of diseases and their probable cause, as she links the mind and it's state to most physical symptoms. Yes, it is a very spiritual take on things - so the reader will need an open mind to see if any of her wisdom resonates with them.

No Bad Parts

Richard Schwartz invented the IFS therapy model, which I absolutely love. This book of his explains how it works and offers lots of practical exercises to get started with IFS by yourself. Internal Family Systems is about connecting to yourself, your inner clear, confident, compassionate energy and how this will help to embrace and get to know all your inner parts. Critical parts, anxious parts, young parts and angry parts. They are all working to protect you, sometimes in a very "stupid way" as Dick Schwartz says. The key to healing and becoming more whole and self-lead is to getting to know these parts and loving and healing them in a particular way that is described in his book.

How to do the Work

Dr. Nicole LePera is a psychologist who has gone through her own crisis and worked hard to create her own healing. She shares important insights on her Instagram account and her podcast, certainly something to check out, if you are interested in understanding your own behaviour more. In her book she describes what she went through, tells stories about her clients and offers exercises to get to know yourself better. It is easy to read and to follow. She has written another book, called "How to meet yourself" which I will read soon, I will let you know how it is.

The Myth of Normal & In the Realm of The Hungry Ghosts

Gabor Mate has worked as a GP in an area in Canada where a lot of people live on the streets and are addicted to opioids. "In the Realm the hungry Ghosts" is his book about his work there and how he draws a strong link between addiction and childhood trauma. This book is not for the faint hearted as he describes some of the abuse his clients went through. His newest book "The Myth of Normal" does not go into detail and stays at a more comfortable distance to the traumatic events people went through. However, at times I found it hard to keep going as he lays out in detail how dysfunctional the world is, we have created. I agree with most of what he is saying but it does get a little depressing and sometimes I felt hopeless about the state of the world while reading this book.

At the same time, though I must say that it has offered me an explanation of why I have found motherhood so difficult sometimes and that the isolation I have experienced is not "normal" but challenging and unhelpful. He says we should not put so much pressure onto new mums and as a society we should be way more supportive, which was reassuring for me to read. I can recommend his work, I really like his brave standpoints.

How to win friends and influence people

Another classic. Wouldn't read it again. The only thing I really took away from this was "if you want people to like you, ask them lots of questions about themselves and listen to what they say". I guess I only read it because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

The 5 Love Languages

It has become one of these "trendy" phrases to talk about "love languages" but this one is the original. This is where it comes from and this is the concept that actually makes sense - not like the silly stuff you might have seen on social media.

Personally, it has actually been very helpful in my relationship. We were able to identify our own love languages and found out that we have different ones. Trying to express our love in our own language to our partner didn't work. Our love was simply not received by the other person, as their language is different. Once we knew, that we were working hard to make each other feel loved, but didn't succeed in making the other person feel loved, we could change our approach. This has made it much easier to relate to each other and with targeted actions make the other one feel loved. I can definitely recommend this one.

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