Recommended Books

The works listed below are contemporary examples of real and fictional individuals acknowledging feelings they have about what’s happened in their lives, examining beliefs they hold about themselves, and examining beliefs held about them by others.

In these works, the narrators first internalize the beliefs, then challenge and reject them, opening up perceptions of identity and possibility, and of novel choices and actions. Works are listed in each section in suggested reading order.


Untamed, Glennon Doyle

Loving Bravely: Twenty Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want, Alexandra Solomon, Ph.D.

Know My Name: A Memoir, Chanel Miller

Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover

Becoming: A Memoir, Michelle Obama

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, Jenny Lawson

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America, Morgan Jerkins

Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age, Mary Pipher, Ph.D.

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, Anne Lamott*


The Book of Essie: A Novel, Meghan MacLean Weir

Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Where the Crawdads Sing: A Novel, Delia Owens

My Ex-Life, Stephen McCauley

Less, Andrew Sean Greer

*An important caveat about Lamott’s book: Requiring people to “hit bottom” before receiving treatment for the medical illness of addiction is *not* an evidence-based treatment for addiction. Letting symptoms of any illness continue without treatment puts people at risk of dangerous complications, even premature death. Jail time, with its traumatizing and punishing deprivations, is *not* a treatment for addiction. For further reading on the false belief in “hitting bottom” – a very dangerous, misbegotten belief held by many – please consider reading this, this, and this.

[Dr. Sarah Wakeman] asks them to imagine telling a diabetic she has to “hit bottom” before she can have her insulin. Or telling a cancer patient he has to drive to a clinic 150 miles away to get his daily dose of chemotherapy. Or telling a patient with heart disease to use her will to heal her heart. Or handing someone who’s had a heart attack a list of cardiologists and wishing them good luck. “They often say, ‘I’ve never thought of that before—that would be malpractice!’” she says. “And yet that’s how we routinely treat people who come into the hospital with some sort of complication related to addiction.”
– from Sarah Baldwin, “Vocal Advocate,” Medicine@Brown, 2/8/19

On addressing deeply held beliefs

At the national level:

At the human level:

Last revised 10/19/20