Helpful Books

A note: As you read about mental health issues, think about what you’re reading and be attuned to whether it makes sense to you both rationally and intuitively. Jot down feelings, thoughts, and responses as you read. Talk over questions about your reading with someone you trust.


  • Boorstein, Sylvia. IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK: THE BUDDHIST WAY TO HAPPINESS. HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. An introduction to Buddist thought written clearly and lovingly by a Jewish Buddhist grandmother.
  • Bugental, James. INTIMATE JOURNEYS. Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1990. A collection of stories about psychotherapy, written by an experienced psychoanalyst. Very readable; a lot like reading short stories, except that they are based on actual therapy sessions.
  • DeMello, Anthony. THE WAY TO LOVE. Doubleday, 1991. This was a life-changing book for me. It is deceptively simple as it reminds us over and over that we become attached to the external measures of success/motivation, much to our detriment.
  • Didion, Joan. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. A beautiful, painful account of the year following the sudden death of Didion’s husband and the life-threatening illness of her daughter.
  • Goleman, Daniel. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Bantam, 1995. There is now a 10th anniversary edition of the book, with a new foreword by the author. An exceptionally helpful book that looks at the critical role of emotions in our lives.
  • Hendrix, Harville. GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT: A GUIDE FOR COUPLES. Holt, 1988. Hendrix talks about his Imago theory, which suggests that we choose people with whom to be in intimate relationships who complement/complete us in a variety of ways, some helpful and some not so helpful. Takes the blaming out of relationship difficulties and helps people see the patterns in their choices and in their interactions.
  • Kornfield, Jack. A PATH WITH HEART: A GUIDE THROUGH THE PERILS AND PROMISES OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. Bantam, 1993. A very helpful Western view of Buddhist philosophy, with many life examples to make the material readable and accessible.
  • Richo, David. THE FIVE THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE. . .AND THE HAPPINESS WE FIND BY EMBRACING THEM. Shambhala, 2006. Not simplistic, but clear, in its description of life issues we would prefer to avoid but cannot because they are an inevitable part of existence.
  • Scarf, Maggie. INTIMATE WORLDS: HOW FAMILIES THRIVE AND WHY THEY FAIL. Ballantine, 1995. Maggie Scarf is a journalist who brings her considerable writing skills to bear on analyzing a group of families to determine what works and what doesn’t work in family life. It’s readable and very helpful.
  • Watzlawick, Paul; John Weakland; Richard Fisch. CHANGE: PRINCIPLES OF PROBLEM FORMATION AND PROBLEM RESOLUTION. W.W. Norton & Company, 1974. An amazing little (in size) book that uses a variety of examples, plus some theory, to talk about the process of change. Don’t let the title or the year of publication throw you off–it’s worthwhile reading for anyone who deals with change. And that’s all of us.
  • Yalom, Irving. EXISTENTIAL PSYCHOTHERAPY. Basic Books, 1980. Much more readable than the title might suggest, though it is by no means a short or simple read. If we could understand the issues of freedom, isolation, meaning and death that he presents, we would understand ourselves and everyone around us much more fully. One of the books I would want if I were marooned on a desert island.

INTERNET SITES The website for the American Psychological Association, with detailed information on most mental health issues. A site which focuses on providing emotional support and preventing suicide. The Columbia University student health service website, with a helpful section on mental health. Sometimes a bit outrageous in its presentation, since it is geared toward college students, but always interesting and well worth visiting. The National Institute of Mental Health site, with a broad range of substantive information. Good sections on mental health issues; use the alphabetical index to find anxiety, depression, suicide, and other topics.