If you haven’t heard by now, we’re starting the first-ever* Self Love Book Club! And in celebration of this new reading endeavor, I’m sharing 5 books that forever changed my relationship with my body.
(*Disclaimer: I don’t know for sure if our club is really the ‘first-ever’ but I’ve personally never heard of a self love book club and it just sounds way cooler)
Without further ado, here are the top 5 books that revolutionized how I connect and think about my body. These books are in the order I read them in starting in 2019 (or scroll to the bottom for the TL; DR)
This book introduced me to the concept of cyclical living and how powerful it can be! In the book, Northrup explains ways to organize and plan your life to be in-flow with the natural rhythm of your menstrual cycle. Most of us are pretty familiar with the effect of PMS but in fact our cycle is comprised of 4 different phases: Follicular, Ovulation, Luteal and Menstruation. Each of these phases is characterized by a different hormone cocktail coursing through our body and in turn, can impact things like creativity, motivation, sexual attractiveness, appetite, sleep and overall mood.
Reading this book inspired me to start tracking my own cycle, which I still do to this day, and start paying closer attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle queues my body gives me on a daily basis about what it needs. Although some of Northrup’s advice felt a bit impractical for women working a conventional job – like scheduling project launches to coincide with your ovulation phase to make the most of egg wisdom and energy – I found it immensely helpful to understand why I felt the way I did at different times throughout my cycle. I began to understand why some days I would be flooded with new ideas for my business or take on a new project or spend an amazing night out with friends while other days had me snuggled on the couch with a book or feeling completely drained and unmotivated. Understanding that each phase brings with it new and different opportunities for creation, reflection and rest and that time is not linear but cyclical, helped me release shame around patriarchal ideas of consistency and productivity.
Although the concepts of cyclical living are becoming more and more commonplace, it was pretty revolutionary back in 2019 when the book was published. Researching for this blog post I was sad to see several unfavorable reviews of this book and personally I think Northrup may just have been ahead of the curve when it comes to introducing a matriarchal way of living and working.
Feminine Genius defines what it means to be a truly empowered woman. Reading this book felt like stumbling upon ancient, forbidden wisdom of the power and magic of the sacred feminine. But a fair warning, this book requires a very open minded reader and reaches unprecedented levels of ‘woo-woo’
Sharing stories of trauma and abuse, both her own and those of women she has coached, Silver demonstrates how our patriarchal society has disavowed women of our innate power and wisdom. Through practical exercises she teaches you how to start tapping back into your intuition, sensuality and strength and how to discover your very own oracle.
This book helped me to further develop a trust in the wisdom of my body to help guide me. I have always been a firm believer of intuition but always considered it as something that just came to me, unbidden. Through this book, Silver taught me how to actively seek out my intuition whenever I need to. I’m sure I tried meditation before reading this book but the practices outlined by Silver brought me a whole new meaning, and magic, to meditation.
The book is both saucy and spiritual and not surprisingly, the reviews are polarizing. Feminine Genius requires a certain leap of faith that a lot of people just won’t be ready for, but if you go there I think you’ll be amazed how it can transform your relationship with your body and yourself.
I would love to know if you read this book and what you thought of it!
Find out more about Feminine Genius and its author, LiYana Silver, here.
More than transforming my relationship with my own body, this book helped me understand my body, and the bodies of others, in the larger context of our society, economy, culture and political landscape. The concepts and principles Taylor presents in her book completely changed my approach as a portrait photographer and is largely what led me to empowerment photography.
This book is dense with wisdom and insight poured out through Taylor’s vast experience as a scholar, poet and social justice advocate. She introduces the concept of radical self love as something far beyond self-confidence, self-esteem or self-acceptance. It is the whole, perfect and innate love we have for our bodies as small children, untainted by the conditional ideas of worth that we unconsciously adopt as we grow up. Radical self love is interdependent. It is self love only as much as the self is part of a whole because our relationships with our own bodies informs our relationship with others.
This book taught me that our bodies are the first and truly only thing we can own in this world and yet for generations we’ve been told that our bodies are for others’ consumption. This book taught me that my body is essential and sacred to my human experience but it is also the least interesting part about me as a person.
Taylor’s points are backed by documented research and studies and, her voice is fresh, engaging and oftentimes injected with humor. I would consider this essential reading for anyone who wants to truly understand what self love is and the amazing power it has to heal the world.
For an excellent primer of this book I recommend listening to Brene Brown interview Sonya Renee Taylor on the Unlocking Us podcast here.
You’d have to be living in a cave someplace if you haven’t heard the term intuitive eating by now, but you might be as shocked as I was to learn that the first edition was published back in 1995! Although I couldn’t have fully appreciated the wisdom of this book at 7 years old, it is certainly regrettable that the concepts of this text didn’t become mainstream until 15 years after its original publication.
(However, not surprising when you consider that other diet or weight loss programs rely on the idea of restricting or prioritizing a particular food group or product. While with intuitive eating there’s no one driving the profit bus, so to speak.)
If there were a textbook on dismantling diet culture, this book would be it. Saying it completely changed my relationship with food is a drastic understatement. For someone who has been on countless diets, meal plans and weight loss programs since the age of 14, the teachings of Tribole and Resch slowly undid everything I understood about traditional ‘nutrition’. I was so floored by what I read in this book it was hard to hold myself back from preaching its teachings anytime the topic of food, diet or weight loss came up.
The basis for intuitive eating rests on the principle that your body intuitively knows what to eat, when and how much and anything counter to this principle can be considered ‘disordered’ eating. And if you’re able to suspend the belief, for just a few pages, that if you allowed yourself to eat anything and everything your body craved you’d succumb to obesity, you’d learn that dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain backed by multiple long term studies that the authors cite.
The freedom I discovered from this book still astounds me! I wish every person I knew who’s ever uttered the word diet in their lifetime would read this book. It’s that life-altering.
If you’d like Cole’s notes on this book, check out this link.
I don’t know what sort of sex education you got when you were 12 or 13 years old, but in my experience it left me grossly unprepared for what to expect from sexual experience as a woman. I’ve been in a healthy and happy relationship with the same man for over 20 years and still found this book to be hugely insightful into how I experience pleasure as a woman (and how to experience more of it!)
The book purports that ‘stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it.’ Drawing on her vast experience as a certified sex therapist and backed by cited research studies, Nagoski’s writing is still light and playful using memorable and quirky metaphors to illustrate how the pleasure and stress areas of the brain work.
For a taste of what this book has to offer check out Emily Nagoski’s interview with Glennon Doyle here.
Phew! That was a much longer post than I expected so thanks for sticking it out with me. I shared these books in the order I read them and it’s interesting to see how the ideas and concepts in one book led me to the next.
I would love to know your thoughts! Was your experience with any of these books different? What book have you read that transformed your relationship with your body or yourself?
If you also love diving into books that introduce revolutionary ideas of how to ‘do life’ or challenge conventional concepts of the female experience, you’ll love our self love book club! Membership is open, check out the details here.
TL; DR 5 books that changed by relationship with my body:
Join our Self Love Book Club here!