These are books that had a positive impact on me during my recovery and in the years since (with a ★) or that I've heard great things about. You can read more about each one on its Amazon page (by clicking the book image) to see if any resonate with you.
A comprehensive list of books on eating disorders and related topics can also be found at The Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue.
For books as well as other online resources for family members and loved ones of someone struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, I have gathered recommendations into a blog post here.
Eating Disorder Recovery & Related Topics:
★ 8 Keys To Recovery From An Eating Disorder
By Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb
This book introduced me to the concept of the eating disorder self and the healthy self, and put into words what I had always intuitively felt. Having this concept explained so well by Carolyn and Gwen made such a difference though. I also love how spirituality is woven throughout the whole book, and the exercises throughout it are so helpful.
8 Keys To Recovery From An Eating Disorder Workbook
By Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb
Written after the 8 Keys book, this workbook includes many more exercises related to the 8 Keys, and there isn't a single one that I don't think would have helped me significantly during my own recovery had I had it back then.
Befriending Your Body
By Ann Saffi Biasetti
"A step-by-step holistic approach to eating disorder recovery, using self-compassion and embodiment practices to reduce symptoms, increase body awareness and acceptance, reconnect to others, and step back into an integrated life. Dr. Biasetti offers yoga-based movement, body-awareness practices, meditations, and journaling exercises to help release long-held habits of self-criticism and perfectionism. Her step-by-step program will rebuild self-compassion, self-care, body awareness, acceptance, and connection to the self and to others."
★ Life Without Ed
By Jenni Schaefer
This was one of the few eating disorder memoir books that I didn't find triggering during my recovery. Reading about Jenni's struggles and courage brought me so much comfort and hope, and helped me feel more able to keep going.
★ Goodbye Ed, Hello Me
By Jenni Schaefer
Like her first book Life Without Ed, this book brought me a sense of hope and of feeling less alone as Jenni shared more about her recovery journey and of becoming fully recovered. When she wrote about not being able to look in a mirror as she gained weight but still pressing on - this stuck with me and helped me get through my own tough times. If she could do it, and it got easier for her, maybe just maybe I could too. It was worth trying to find out.
★ Eating In The Light Of The Moon
By Anita Johnston, PhD
The analogies and meanings given to eating disorders in this book are beautiful, moving and insightful. They helped me to see my struggles in a new light, one with a lot less shame and frustration.
★ Intuitive Eating
By Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, CEDRD
This book was my first introduction to the concept of intuitive eating, and I read it when I was still on a meal plan and not yet able to implement it. However, the way the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating were described, and the inspiring stories of women who had healed their relationships with food, was so inspiring for me. Reading this book was a turning point for me in my motivation to fully recover.
The Intuitive Eating Workbook
By Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN
"The Intuitive Eating Workbook offers a new way of looking at food and mealtime by showing you how to recognize your body’s natural hunger signals. Structured around the ten principles of intuitive eating, the mindful approach in this workbook encourages you to abandon unhealthy weight control behaviors, develop positive body image, and—most importantly—stop feeling distressed around food! You were born with all the wisdom you need for eating intuitively. This book will help you reconnect with that wisdom and ultimately change your life—one meal at a time."
By Caroline Knapp
"In Appetites, Caroline Knapp confronts Freud’s famous question, “What do women want?” and boldly reframes it, asking instead: How does a woman know, and then honor, what it is she wants in a culture bent on shaping, defining, and controlling her desires? Knapp, bestselling author of Drinking: A Love Story and Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs, has turned her brilliant eye towards how a woman’s appetite—for food, love, work, and pleasure—has become a battlefield. She uses her own experiences with anorexia as a powerful exploration of what can happen when we are divorced from our most basic hungers—and offers her own success as testament to the joy of saying “I want.”"
Yoga and Eating Disorders
Edited by Carolyn Costin and Joe Kelly
"Yoga and Eating Disorders bridges the knowledge and practice gaps between mental health providers and yoga practitioners who work with clients suffering from disordered eating. Combining the wisdom of 20 experts in eating disorders treatment and yoga practice, editors Carolyn Costin and Joe Kelly show how and why yoga's mind-body connection facilitates treatment and recovery. This invaluable resource for mental health and yoga professionals, as well as individuals and family members struggling with eating disorders, explores the use yoga in therapy, ways yoga teachers can recognize and respond to disordered eating, recovery stories, research into yoga’s impact on symptoms, and much more."
★ Health At Every Size
By Linda Bacon, PhD
This book was my introduction to the Health At Every Size movement and had such a positive impact on my recovery. How refreshing to read about scientific studies and beautiful anecdotes supporting the reality that it's okay to not focus on our weight, that this does not mean we're not caring for our health, and that maybe we really are all meant to be different shapes, sizes and weights despite what the media and the culture in general would have us believe.
By Linda Bacon, PhD and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD
"Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramor’s Body Respect debunks common myths about weight, including the misconceptions that BMI can accurately measure health, that fatness necessarily leads to disease, and that dieting will improve health. They also help make sense of how poverty and oppression—such as racism, homophobia, and classism—affect life opportunity, self-worth, and even influence metabolism. Body insecurity is rampant, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s time to overcome our culture’s shame and distress about weight, to get real about inequalities and health, and to show every body respect."
Body of Truth
By Harriet Brown
"Over the past twenty-five years, our quest for thinness has morphed into a relentless obsession with weight and body image. In our culture, "fat" has become a four-letter word. Or, as Lance Armstrong said to the wife of a former teammate, "I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. But I never called you fat." How did we get to this place where the worst insult you can hurl at someone is "fat"? Where women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) will diet, purge, overeat, undereat, and berate themselves and others, all in the name of being thin? As a science journalist, Harriet Brown has explored this collective longing and fixation from an objective perspective; as a mother, wife, and woman with "weight issues," she has struggled to understand it on a personal level. Now, in Body of Truth, Brown systematically unpacks what's been offered as "truth" about weight and health."
By Connie Sobczak
"This book’s message is rooted in the belief that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to make healthy choices and live in balance. It emphasizes that self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care are fundamental to achieving good physical and emotional health."
By Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN
"This practical, inspirational, and visually lively book shows you how to create a healthier and happier life by treating yourself with compassion rather than shame. It shows the way to a sense of well-being attained by understanding how to love, connect, and care for yourself—and that includes your mind as well as your body."
"The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world - for us all."
The Beauty Myth
By Naomi Wolf
"The bestselling classic that redefined our view of the relationship between beauty and female identity. In today's world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women's movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It's the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society's impossible definition of 'the flawless beauty.'"
Spirituality & Self-Help:
★ Radical Acceptance
By Tara Brach, PhD
This book helped me so much in beginning to practice self-compassion and beginning to examine and then work on the way I treated myself and talked to myself in my head. Tara covers concepts such as self-criticism, feelings of unworthiness, our inner nature, and being present in our bodies in such a beautiful way using case histories, personal stories, Buddhist tales and guided meditations. It helped me to get through so many difficult times in the recovery process and many days where I felt so uncomfortable and in resistance to my changing body.
★ True Refuge
By Tara Brach, PhD
This is another beautiful book by Tara Brach based on Buddhist principles for how to accept our lives no matter how hard they might be. From this book I learned to say to myself in my head, "Yes", when I was feeling upset or in resistance to something, and I remember how my stress and upset feelings would feel like they were beginning to melt away. I still practice this as much as I can remember to.
By Kristin Neff, PhD
This book feels like a classic that everyone has read or heard of, but I think that's because its message is such a staple for anyone overcoming an eating disorder, disordered eating, or really almost any ailment in our society today. I love how Neff distinguishes between self-esteem and self-compassion because self-esteem was always something I struggled with in terms of being able to see how it could help my recovery since often it just felt like it was being fuelled by unhealthy perfectionism and competitiveness. Self-compassion gave me a much more effective and meaningful approach to healing my relationship with myself and finding true self-worth.
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
By Kristin Neff, PhD and Christopher Germer, PhD
"Are you kinder to others than you are to yourself? More than a thousand research studies show the benefits of being a supportive friend to yourself, especially in times of need. This science-based workbook offers a step-by-step approach to breaking free of harsh self-judgments and impossible standards in order to cultivate emotional well-being. In a convenient large-size format, the book is based on the authors' groundbreaking eight-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, which has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide. It is packed with guided meditations (with audio downloads); informal practices to do anytime, anywhere; exercises; and vivid stories of people using the techniques to address relationship stress, weight and body image issues, health concerns, anxiety, and other common problems. The seeds of self-compassion already lie within you--learn how you can uncover this powerful inner resource and transform your life."
★ Dying To Be Me
By Anita Moorjani
This book might be a bit out-there for some as the author talks about her near death experience, her experience of the afterlife and her miraculous recovery from end-stage cancer. However, her reflections on her life before her NDE and how her NDE experience changed her, and her message about the importance of living from love and not fear and the importance of authenticity and self-love are beautiful. I love the overall tone of this book, and sometimes I watch Anita's YouTube videos when I need some more positivity in my life.
★ What If This Is Heaven?
By Anita Moorjani
Like her first book above, this book's message about making life into Heaven on Earth and learning to love and accept ourselves and to not let fear and self-doubt run our lives is beautiful and really resonated with me.
★ Man's Search For Meaning
By Victor Frankl
This book still stands out as one of the most influential in my life, as I read it at a young age upon the suggestion of one of my first eating disorder therapists. I remember being so moved by the potential for selflessness and love in human beings even in the most horrible of circumstances, and it made me feel more hopeful and moved by my own humanness as part of this species. I also found it tremendously comforting to think that I could find meaning and purpose in my own suffering. I recommend this book to as many as I can.
★ Rumi - The Book Of Love
Translated by Coleman Barks
I can't remember when I first fell in love with Rumi's writings, but they soon became the thing I would read when I needed something to touch me deeply and immediately help me to feel connected to a deeper purpose in my life and to not care so much about whatever superficial thing it was that was bothering me. His writings continue to be something that ground me and make me feel that life is magical. While I love reading the full poems in this book, often just quotes on Pinterest feel perfect as they are more succinct and easier to absorb during a busy day.
★ The Surrender Experiment
By Michael Singer
Although this book is less well known than his first book The Untethered Soul, it is one of my favourite books and includes many of the concepts introduced in The Untethered Soul. It's a beautiful book about how amazing life can be when you stop trying to control it so much and stop letting fear and your own personal preferences run the show. I listened to it as an audiobook twice and I love the way the author reads his own work.
The Untethered Soul
By Michael Singer
"What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul offers simple yet profound answers to these questions. Whether this is your first exploration of inner space, or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you. You’ll discover what you can do to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit your consciousness. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization."
★ The Complete Conversations With God
By Neale Donald Walsch
This book might be too out-there for many as it is the author's internal but very literal dialogues with God. However, the messages he receives are so beautiful and his questions back to God feel like they could be from any of us, and it's so neat to hear God's responses back to him. I truly loved these books.
★ Everyday Grace
By Marianne Williamson
A beautiful book about bringing more grace and love into our daily lives.
By Robert Holden, PhD
This book is beautiful and simple, about learning how to bring more love into our lives for ourselves and others and the world at large. I remember having insight after insight as I read this book years ago.
★ The Four Agreements
By Don Miguel Ruiz
This is such a well-known book but I think for a reason. This book helped me to feel more clear on what was truly important in my life and how I wanted to live it.
★ The Heart's Code
By Paul Pearsall, PhD
While this book is not necessarily spiritual in nature, it was one of the first books I read that truly made me aware of my own deeper nature and connection to something larger inside of me. The anecdotes are amazing, and it beautifully shows how there is so much more to us than the thoughts, knowledge and personalities we associate with our brains alone.
★ Loving What Is
By Byron Katie
Byron Katie's work, The Work, is different than anything I had come across before. It helped me to not take so literally my negative and scary thoughts and stories and helped me to open my mind to the possibility of other, often much truer, realities.
By Susan Cain
This book truly changed my life, helping me to appreciate and accept the introverted nature that I had worked so hard to overcome during my teenage years and early twenties. I recommend it to every introvert I know.
★ In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts
By Gabor Mate, MD
After reading this book, I wanted to work with Gabor Mate, in any way that I could. Which of course never happened. But what an amazing doctor and how amazing is the compassion and humanity that he brings to the field of addictions and, surprisingly I found, to all of us. There was so much about my eating disorder that I found reflected in his stories and insights on addiction, and he does it with such love and compassion that it's hard for some of it not to rub off on you.
★ The Confidence Gap
By Russ Harris
Based on the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, this book has wonderfully practical ways of distancing yourself from your thoughts, connecting with your deeper values, and then living from these instead.
★ The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck
By Mark Manson
I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and how true and insightful the concepts were for me. Many concepts were ones I had read about in other spiritual and Buddhist books, and the author says this is true. However, he is able to put them into such simple language that I found I took away a lot from this book and have recommended it to many, especially since it is not as 'out-there' as some of my other favourite self-help and spiritual books.
★ Nonviolent Communication
By Marshall Rosenberg, PhD
While this book sounds like it is just about improving communication skills, it is about so much more than that. The main thing I took away from it was an ability to have more compassion for myself and others. With NVC, I began seeing everyone's, including my own, 'bad behaviour' as ways of trying to meet universal needs. And like with Kristen Neff's work, this book increased my ability to have compassion for myself and others as well as to communicate in a more connecting, less judgmental manner.
★ Doc Childre's Heartmath Method
By Howard Martin
I can't remember how I was first introduced to Heartmath, but this audiobook and the Heartmath webinars helped my recovery so much. The practical ways of connecting with the heart and using this to help reduce stress and anxiety were so beneficial for me. And like with The Heart's Code book, Heartmath helped me to feel like so much more than just the thoughts in my head.
The Power of Now
By Eckhart Tolle
"Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light. In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, "the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.""
Care of the Soul
By Thomas Moore
In this special 25th anniversary edition of Thomas Moore’s bestselling book Care of the Soul readers are presented with a revolutionary approach to thinking about daily life - everyday activities, events, problems and creative opportunities - and a therapeutic lifestyle is proposed that focuses on looking more deeply into emotional problems and learning how to sense sacredness in even ordinary things.... Promising to deepen and broaden the reader's perspective on his or her own life experiences, Moore draws on his own life as a therapist practicing "care of the soul," as well as his studies of the world's religions and his work in music and art, to create this inspirational guide that examines the connections between spirituality and the problems of individuals and society."
By Sam Harris
"From Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, Waking Up is for the twenty percent of Americans who follow no religion but who suspect that important truths can be found in the experiences of such figures as Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the other saints and sages of history. Throughout this book, Harris argues that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow, and that how we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the quality of our lives. Waking Up is part memoir and part exploration of the scientific underpinnings of spirituality. No other book marries contemplative wisdom and modern science in this way, and no author other than Sam Harris—a scientist, philosopher, and famous skeptic—could write it."
By Daniel J. Siegel, MD
"From a pioneer in the field of mental health comes a groundbreaking book on the healing power of "mindsight," the potent skill that allows you to make positive changes in your brain–and in your life. Is there a memory that torments you, or an irrational fear you can't shake? Do you sometimes become unreasonably angry or upset and find it hard to calm down? Do you ever wonder why you can't stop behaving the way you do, no matter how hard you try? Are you and your child (or parent, partner, or boss) locked in a seemingly inevitable pattern of conflict? What if you could escape traps like these and live a fuller, richer, happier life? This isn't mere speculation but the result of twenty-five years of careful hands-on clinical work by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. A Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Siegel is one of the revolutionary global innovators in the integration of brain science into the practice of psychotherapy. Using case histories from his practice, he shows how, by following the proper steps, nearly everyone can learn how to focus their attention on the internal world of the mind in a way that will literally change the wiring and architecture of their brain."
When Things Fall Apart
By Pema Chodron
"Pema Chödrön's perennially best-selling classic on overcoming life's difficulties cuts to the heart of spirituality and personal growth.... How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy."
A Path with Heart
By Jack Kornfield
"Perhaps the most important book yet written on meditation, the process of inner transformation, and the integration of spiritual practice into our American way of life, A Path with Heart brings alive one by one the challenges of spiritual living in the modern world. Written by a teacher, psychologist, and meditation master of international renown, this warm, inspiring, and expert book touches on a wide range of essential issues including many rarely addressed in spiritual books. From compassion, addiction, and psychological and emotional healing, to dealing with problems involving relationships and sexuality, to the creation of a Zen-like simplicity and balance in all facets of life, it speaks to the concerns of many modern spiritual seekers, both those beginning on the path and those with years of experience."
The Seat of the Soul
By Gary Zukav
"The Seat of the Soul encourages you become the authority in your own life. It will change the way you see the world, interact with other people, and understand your own actions and motivations. Beginning with evolution, Gary Zukav takes you on a penetrating exploration of the new phase humanity has entered: we are evolving from a species that understands power as the ability to manipulate and control—external power—into a species that understands power as the alignment of the personality with the soul--authentic power. Our evolution requires each of us to make the values of the soul our own: harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. Using his scientist’s eye and philosopher’s heart, Zukav shows us how to participate fully in this evolution, enlivening our everyday activities and all of our relationships with meaning and purpose."