My Favourite 10 Books of 2018 - The Must-Reads for a Brighter Mindset

Ever since I can remember, I was a huge bookworm. My favourite series of books growing up was Nancy Drew, and I distinctly remember on several occasions reading with a little flashlight under the covers, when I was supposed to be sleeping (sorry Mom).

Books were my way of exploring other worlds and widening my imagination, and I was completely addicted to good storytelling. I continued my love of fiction all throughout high school and university, but somewhere in the throes of my naturopathic education, my love of reading took a back seat. Actually, books weren’t even in the back seat, they were somewhere on the side of the road, because my car was too full with medical textbooks, papers and journals to allow them space.

It was a couple of years after graduating as a naturopathic doctor that I began to let my love of reading back into the “car”, and last year it gained so much momentum that I read almost 25 books! If you’re a patient of mine, you know this indirectly, because I’m known to recommend a book (or several) if one comes to mind that I think might help you on your journey.

In no particular order, I’ve listed below my favourite 10 books of 2018! Note that I did not title this article my favourite “health” books of 2018, and none of the listed books have anything directly to do with your physical health. The list is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, as I simply read the books that intrigued me at that particular time in my life. Some were read on the beach, some were listened to during a long car ride, and some were picked up during a leisurely stroll through a used bookstore. All of them impacted me in a meaningful way. I hope they make a mark on your life like they did mine. Enjoy!

1. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
I have an incredible amount of admiration for former first lady, Michelle Obama, so this truly was my #1 book in 2018 (all others are tied for 2nd place). I found her story captivating and inspiring, and was so glad that I listened to the audiobook version (she narrates it herself) to hear her intonation as she speaks on the moments that made her who she is today. A must read especially for you strong women out there, and even more so if you’re raising our leaders of tomorrow.

2. The Artist's Way, by Julie Cameron
I’ve had this book on my “to-read” list for quite some time - it’s been around for 27 years - and I’m so glad I finally read it (on the recommendation of a patient). The book was written for creatives who feel stuck in their work and creativity, however I anticipate that anyone and everyone can benefit from the strategies laid out. I have since “prescribed” several patients the author’s strategy of “Morning Pages”, a stream of consciousness style of writing, that helps declutter your brain and improves focus, concentration and emotional well-being.

3. The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin
For anyone who loves learning more about their personalities, this book is for you. The four tendencies describe unique ways that you respond to expectations. Are you a Rebel? An Obliger? An Upholder? Perhaps a Questioner? Only one way to find out!

4. Dare to lead, by Brene Brown
The requisite book of the year for leaders, hands down. I gobble up anything and everything that Brene Brown does, and this book did not disappoint. Whether you lead a family, a company or a small team, this book helps develop your internal awareness to become a more thoughtful and connected leader. I listened to this as an audiobook, then promptly bought the hardcover to peruse every now and then.

5. Rising Strong, by Brene Brown
Didn’t I mention I gobble up everything this author puts together? This is an older book that I somehow skipped over 3 years ago when it initially came out. The theme of the book is the concept that when we deny our stories, they define us. But when we own our stories, we get to write the ending. It will help anyone who’s willing to do the work to understand yourself better and regain control of the future you’re seeking to achieve (healthwise and otherwise). I loved it.

6. The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer
Another oldie but a goodie for anyone who is looking to master their internal self. I especially find this book useful for helping to understand your inner narrative and begin to change your inner critic into an inner coach. To put it plainly, if you find that you’re your own worst critic, that you cannot help but put yourself down, this is the book to help change that. I firmly believe that when your thoughts are helpful instead of harmful, anything you set your mind to can be achieved.

7. 10% Happier, by Dan Harris
Written by a host on Good Morning America, this was another recommendation by a patient (thank you!). The author talks about his journey to practicing mindfulness after having an on-air, nationally televised, panic attack. This is the book to read if you’re nervous or wary about starting a meditation practice. It’s non-judgmental and an easy read, written by a person who was a skeptic of the practice and who has since benefited from quieting the voice in his head, reducing stress, and making him (10%) happier.

8. Open, by Andre Agassi
I’ve always been intrigued by professional tennis players, as the sport seems to really test the mindset of players more so than many other sports. This book was a fascinating read if you’re at all a tennis fan, and especially if you’re looking for insight into an athlete’s mind who has a self-proclaimed hatred for his own sport, yet excels at it.

9. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
I went into this read without many expectations, and came out of it being thoroughly entertained by Trevor Noah’s humor and wit as he describes a life growing up in a racially divided South Africa, born “a crime” to a black mother and white father, neither of whom could legally be seen with their son. My only regret is not having listened to this book, since the author narrates the audiobook (and I bet it’s fantastic).

10. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
In retrospect I guess I’m a non-fiction lover now, since this is the only fiction book to make my top 10 list! I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult’s style of writing - it brings back memories of my Nancy Drew days (gratitude to author Carole Keene for keeping me entertained in my youth). Jodi Picoult always seems to wrap me in her moral and ethical dilemma stories, and this book is no different, as it explores the issue of race with her trademark twists and turns. I could not put it down - it is truly riveting.

And there you have it, my top 10 books of 2018! There were so many to choose from and I couldn’t leave you with just 10, so... Honourable Mentions:
  • Girl, Wash your face, by Rachel Hollis
  • A Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
  • Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
  • Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss

Do you have any favourites that I missed? Leave a comment below - I would love your suggestions for my 2019 reading list!Wishing you health and happiness this year,
Dr. Lewis