Diane’s Best Reads of 2010

This is the week the Riskies traditionally talk about our favorites of the year, books, movies, maybe even TV shows. I’m the world’s worst read Riskie, but this year I do have a few favorites to discuss. Self-Help books!

I’m fond of self-help books, any kind of self-help books from diet to motivational to inspirational. This past year I’ve been on a happiness kick and the book world has been kind enough to indulge me.

I’m a great believer in happiness. I think we can choose to be happy by choosing the way we think and the way we act. These three books just reinforced my belief and offered me some new surprises as well.

Happy For No Reason by Marci Shimoff presents a series of interviews of happy people. Each illustrates an important aspect of achieving happiness. The lessons are practical, but it was the stories themselves that I found inspirational and sometimes downright moving. For example, she tells of a young, blue eyed, blonde-haired woman stranded by a flash flood while on a bus traveling through Bangladesh. All of a sudden she was in the midst of nearby villagers dying of starvation and dysentery. Inspired by a “Smiling man” for hours she wound up moving through the crowd, singing to the dying people, comforting them, and stroking their foreheads, offering some comfort and peace as they died. Afterwards she never forgot the power of a smile.

59 Seconds: Think a Little Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman is not confined to discussing happiness, but achievement of happiness is a part of the book. What I love about this book is that it is research based. The research behind every “technique” Wiseman discusses is explained before he goes into its practical application. Again, for me the research is the fascinating part, not the “how-to.” For example, in a debunking of positive thinking Wiseman described research in which one group was asked to write down and focus on a description of an ideal future and the other group was asked to write down and focus on the happiest experience of their lives. The happiest experience group wound up significantly happier with their lives three months later.

What Happy People Know by Dan Baker, Ph.D. Baker is a psychologist who has used the science of happiness in his clinical practice. He avoids the “disease model” of psychiatric problems and shows through a series of examples how having patients discuss and dwell on their unhappiness actually impedes their improvement. Instead he builds on their successes and their strengths. He tells of working on a anorexia unit and realizing that he could not change his patient’s self-hatred. Instead he focused on what she loved most-her dog. By focusing on her love and her strengths, she lost her self-hatred and worked on eating normally again. I loved this approach to psychotherapy (possibly due to my past life as a psychotherapist) and I loved reading his “case histories.”

Do you read self-help or motivational books? Do you have any favorites? Any recommendations? I received $150 in Amazon cards for Christmas and they are burning a hole in my pocket. If I could buy only one book, self-help or not, what would you recommend I buy?

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11 years ago

I’m reading The Red Suit Diaries by Ed Butchart, who is a real-life Santa. It isn’t so much a self-help book as a “this is what I do and I love it” type of book.

My own counselor suggested I write a self-help book. It’s the book I wish I’d had. Maybe I’ll recommend it, next year. 🙂

11 years ago

Anything by Wayne Dyer. The man is amazing.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

I will explore The Red Suit Diaries, Judy, and I’d definitely read a self-help book written by you!

I love real life examples. Always have. Give me someone’s “story” and I can figure out the lesson in it by myself.

11 years ago

I’m quite surprised you didn’t choose a book on doorknobs. This puzzles me.

If I had $150 in Amazon money burning a hole in my pocket, I would buy bucket loads of music, DVD’s of fav TV shows (Highlander, probably because I love Adrian Paul).

I don’t know that I’d buy any self-help books, although for Christmas I got “How to Survive A Garden Gnome Attack” and actually, you might want to pick that one up. Scary stuff

11 years ago

Have you read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand? Loved it,myself.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Oh, I love getting recommendations.

Carolyn, I’ll get right on that gnome book…after I find one on doorknobs.

Margay, I like Wayne Dyer, too.

Kat, I’ll look into Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

11 years ago

Adrian Paul as The Highlander… sigh… slowly collecting those, but have the first three seasons… shoot, now I’m distracted, and I haven’t finished my work…

11 years ago

I read The New Earth by Eckert Tolle – one of those books you can keep reading over and over. Basically forget about what happened in the past and what may happen in the future, but make every moment and day count – be there now in the moment and get rid of ego. Of course he says it so much better lol.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Carolyn and Judy, much as you are tempting me with The Highlander, I can’t use my Amazon $ for DVDs!!! Not when my Kindle is crying for more books.

catslady, I haven’t yet read Eckert Tolle, but I know I should. Maybe The New Earth is in a Kindle version!

Blythe Gifford
11 years ago

Diane-I’m a big self-help reader, too. (And I count Julia Cameron’s books in that category, which I’m sure you’ve already explored.) I’m reading Jack Canfield’s Success Principles. So chock full of ideas that it might be the only book you need!

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Hmm. I haven’t read many self-help books. I think I might try some of the ones you mentioned, O Divine One. The only books in that sort of genre I’ve read this year are :

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande


Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoffrey Colvin

Both books were really enlightening!

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Oh, Blythe and Louisa! Now I want those books, too!

Success Principles and Talent is Overrated. Both sound right up my alley!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

I’m not a big self-help reader–mostly because there are so many out there it seems impossible to see what’s really going to be helpful! Though that Garden Gnome Attack one sounds very useful–those weird gnomes are insidious 🙂

11 years ago


I recommend Tolle’s The Power of Now. And have you read/heard of The Happiness Project? Very neat. And The 29 Gifts was a great little book I picked up this year.

As for Major Pettigrew’s Last stand, it’s a charming book I’ve recommended to a lot of people, too.


Happy New Year! ;o)

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Amanda, with the list of favorites you came up with, it is no surprise you don’t have time for self-help books!

bobbi, I’ll look up The Happiness Project and The 29 Gifts.

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