14 Books and Podcasts to Embrace the New Year

Stay cozy, whip up your favorite warm drink, and enjoy the latest in books and podcasts about mindfulness.

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11 Books to Read This Winter

1) Managing Uncertainty in Mental Health Care

This is an extraordinarily honest book about one of the hardest challenges we face: assessing and treating mental health problems and addictions. We’d like them reduced to a checklist of symptoms, diseases, and treatments. Hard enough with bones, organs, and blood vessels, but the mind is so intangible and perplexingly varied, determining what needs to be treated and how is a challenge of the highest order of complexity. Silveira and Rockman evince compassion from the first page, writing of patients “drowning in their distress…who sometimes draw others down with them.” They stress that clinicians treat not diagnoses but individuals, each of whom “experiences a unique journey that shapes their brain and mind into one of a kind” that “deviates from the script written from population studies.”

In other words, a clinician facing an individual may have to admit what they do not know—not what the world expects of “experts.” The authors liken the work to meteorology, where professionals’ conclusions emerge from wrestling with nature’s chaos. Like meteorologists, mental health clinicians try to impose order on disorder, and often create “narratives that are incomplete or wrong.”

A clinician facing an individual may have to admit what they do not know—not what the world expects of “experts.”

Given this sober assessment, what do the authors suggest? For one thing, they counsel the field to start with a little more humbleness, being honest about the fact that human beings have an overconfidence bias that causes us to overlook errors. If we admit to ourselves that we are going to make mistakes, the very admission will make us more mindful in our assessments. With this groundwork of realism laid, Silveira and Rockman go on to present a variety of ways errors and risks can be mitigated, leading ultimately to the greatest benefit and least harm for patients. –BB

2) Prizeworthy

How to Meaningfully Connect, Build Character, and Unlock the Potential of Every Child

This practical guide offers relatable insight and mindfulness practices to move toward a “mutually beneficial way of relating to children and teens” and to honor emotional pain and potential in children. Each section is aptly titled: On Your Mark, Get Set, and Go! as if readers are track athletes “running toward the prize in our kids.” Between actionable journal prompts to build “your mindfulness muscle,” and help kids develop compassion and courage, we’re treated to real stories from Abblett’s practice as a clinical psychologist and from his experience as a father. Each glimpse into moments of joy or struggle serves as a reminder that parenting is difficult—and the odd F-bomb might just slip when it comes time to put a toddler in a winter coat. –KR

3) Self-Compassion for Educators

Mindful Practices to Awaken Your Well-Being and Grow Resilience

Compassion is not built into the education system—a point Baylis highlights repeatedly when explaining the necessity of self-kindness in teachers’ daily routines. She’s a high school counselor, longtime educator, and Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, and all three professional facets shine in these pages. Baylis understands the juggling act of managing an overfull classroom and keeping kids engaged in the curriculum, all while navigating a pandemic and maintaining a life outside of work. Part personal story, part research, and part workbook, this is an engaging and heartfelt guide to embodying self-compassion, helping teachers reconnect to a sense of purpose and authenticity that serves both themselves and their students. –AWC

4) Burnout

The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Emily and Amelia Nagoski examine the many ways burnout can show up—specifically for women—by following the lives of Julie, a teacher whose body retaliates under stress, and Sophie, an engineer who decides she is “not here for the patriarchy.” Their joyful “self-help”-type book explore