"Just Tell Me What to Say" by Betsy Brown Braun is a nice quick read on very common parenting concerns about discipline, friendship issues, sexuality, and conflict resolution. It gives readers a script for ways to navigate these difficult issues. It is geared towards those who have kids in the preschool through high school ages. This book would also be helpful for anyone in a profession that works with kids this age. One of the easier reads that tackles difficult parenting conversations.
"Change your Brain, Change your Body" by Daniel Amen, MD This is not the first book I have read of this authors, nor will it be the last. What I love about his books is he is a advocate for people who choose treatments of all different modalities. He talks about Western medications, but also eastern integrative medicine, such as homeopathic treatments and supplements. He also emphasizes the importance of good old self care: sleep, diet, exercise. He also includes nifty brain scans that show the science behind his research, and how it literally can change the structure of your brain. He includes wonderful mental health information as well as other physical ailments.
"The Secret of the Shadow: The Power of Owning your Whole Story" by Debbie Ford This is not a new book, but one I finally just got around to reading this past year. I fell in love with one of Ford's previous books, and had to read this one as well. I like this one better. It takes the information from some of her other books and makes it more about using it to improve your current and future life. This book will help people who struggle with low self-worth and self-esteem. Through guided exercises, you will learn to like yourself better, and except that even if bad things have happened to you, you are still a great person.
"The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown This is another wonderful read about self-esteem. In a culture that values perfection, we need to learn how to handle the reality that we are not perfect. But how do we embrace that? This book walks you through Brown's ideas of how to do that in a simple straightforward way. If you would like to get a flavor of brown before buying, she also has a video on TED about shame and imperfection.
"Dad is Fat" by Jim Gaffigan Not only is Jim Gaffigan hilarious, but he is also the father of five very young children. This memoir is filled with short essays about his experience as a dad and son are laugh out loud funny. This would make a wonderful gift, not only for dads in your life, but for anybody who appreciates parenting humor.
"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua A controversial read, I really liked that the tone of this book was not about "this is how you should parent" but about how she did follow the cultural mores of her family's parenting style, and how it went wrong in some ways. She also shares the challenges of having a blended cultural marriage, and how they made that work. It is a good breed that makes you think about your own parenting style and about how the American culture can be a challenge for people living here from other cultures.
"How Starbucks Saved My Life" by Michael Gates Gill Okay, I'll admit it: the reason I picked up this book was all about being addicted to Starbucks coffee. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this memoir written by a man who basically loses everything. He was raised in a wealthy family, and had a very wealthy lifestyle until the market crashed. I won't give anything away, however I will say that what I loved about this memoir is that it shows that people can be happy without all of the material things that are culture tells us we "need". He makes a very difficult new start and is inspirational. PS. It's also not a very long book, so good for even those who do not like to read.
Motherhood Comes Naturally, and Other Vicious Lies" Jill Smokler As someone who works with postpartum moms, I am always looking for books that talk about motherhood in a realistic way. Smokler, founder of the blog Scary Mommy published this book a very funny essays about the realities of motherhood. If you are looking for a gift for a new mom, or you are a new mom yourself, pick it up on a bad day and just read one essay. It's a great reminder that motherhood does not come naturally.