Best books to read to get more nervous system health
People are always asking me what they should read when it comes to nervous system health.
Here are my must-reads put into categories that may call you more than others.
Developmental trauma/ s.e books:
Trauma through a child’s eyes by Peter Levine - This book is great if you are a parent going through a divorce situation and want to help your child. It’s also great if you are a child of divorce or a child who lived major event trauma to understand how you experienced the events of your life, and how these events may still be impacting you now. It is a dense book however, and it can be pretty triggering - so I wouldn’t recommend reading it in one setting necessarily. Take breaks. Go slow. It is THE best though when it comes to divorce trauma.
Nurturing Resilience by Kathy Kain and Steve Terrell - This book will help you understand developmental trauma in a new way. I have recommended this book to a few clients already, and they have said, they felt they finally understood D.T after reading it and why it feels so complicated to find safety in our bodies and in our worlds after trauma because of the way Kain and Terrell explain things like attachment and the polyvagal theory. It’s also a great book for practitioners/ life coaches like me who are s.e specialized, or certified therapists or body workers in the scope of trauma resolution and recovery. It’s a book that touches on what we can do to feel better in our bodies in post-traumatic growth, and how as practitioners or as people, we can facilitate this. Kathy Kain was one of my teachers in S.E, so I really love this book.
When the body says no by Gabor Mate - This Gabor book is one of my favourite because it describes how the body creates what I call “creative boundaries” through being ill when our needs aren’t being met over time. I also like Gabor’s honest style of writing.
Attachment styles/ attraction science/ sexual health books:
Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller - This is the best book on attachment theory I think exists so far in the world. I’ve read a lot of them. The only thing I do tell my clients about via this book is that it does seem to “shit” on avoidant attached people a little, because it is geared toward helping anxious attached people make better choices in mates and stop chasing unavailable people and own the fact that they are NORMAL for wanting connection. However, like I teach in my program, attachment styles aren’t personal accomplishments. They are the result of our relationships with our main care givers. If anything, people who are avoidant attached can be suffering more. So just keep in mind if you identify as avoidant and feel hated on by the book - it’s not a personal failure. And all they are suggesting is that you have to somehow admit you also need closeness and want it by doing the work of facing your pain.
Deeper dating by Ken Page - Page is a gay man who wrote this brilliant book bringing us into what working with him as psychologist would be like. This book teaches you how to identify and know your core gifts to celebrate them deeply to change the way you relate to your attractions - so you can grow your tolerance and your interest in safe and good people for you and stop playing games of seductions after trauma. What I really like about this book is that it’s NOT heteronormative. I find so many self-help-ish books on dating are heteronormative which bugs me as a queer woman.
Come as you are by Emily Nagoski - Emily Nagoski is a feminist who like… GETS IT. Again, this book isn’t heteronormative which is awesome because it features different gendered relationships when it comes to sex. This book will explain to you what your “breaks” are and what your “accelerators” are when it comes to your sexuality, so you’ll understand why you shut down and get turned on better - so you can communicate better in bed and feel empowered by your sex life. Also Emily Nagoski is a PH.D and an educator when it comes to the nervous system too- so she explains the stress response in relation to our sexuality in the best way I’ve ever seen.
Feminism and healing from the patriarchy books:
Burn out by Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski - I think this book is a must read for women who want to understand the expectations we place on ourselves and each other because of the patriarchy. Both Nagoski sisters describe that as young girls we are taught to be human givers and not human beings and they suggest many actually practical ways to recover from burn out.
If women rose rooted by Sharon Blackie - I really like this book because it helps us discover what colonialism has caused us to lose as women… and reclaim these things.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - I think this book is especially important to read for better nervous system health because it dares us to be creative as women and to take up space. It also gives personality to creativity so the process feels co-creative. I like how Gilbert explains that creativity comes knocking at different doors for different projects, and if someone doesn’t answer, it goes to the next. I like the bits around how we decide to partner up with creativity or not too.
Feeling and moving writing:
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton - I read this book a few years ago and what it helped me with was celebrating my sensitivity. I also just majorly resonate with Glennon as a person, both for things like her sober journey as well as her introverted ways, but mostly because I also felt broken in my sexuality and now she has married lesbian soccer star Abby Wambach and I AM SO HAPPY FOR THEM!
On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff - This is a book I read this summer by a woman who I’ve known for a few years. She’s blown up recently on Instagram. She talks about the inner ass hole and how our voices of internalized abuse show up for us and what to do about it and how to just be more okay with being human. Which I’m all about.