Reading good books can benefit your health and wellbeing. And, a healthy lifestyle delivers the same benefits. So, why not combine the two? Over the years, and especially in the last decade, a number of authors have released a wide range of wellness-focused books that have wowed both critics and audiences. These books have garnered critical acclaim, topped bestseller lists, and become cultural icons.
Each of them focuses on a different wellness trend or aspect of healthy living that you can embrace. We’ve gathered them in a single list of the top 10 wellness-focused books ever written. This list has a little something for almost everyone. So, dive in: borrow or buy the books, and start walking the path towards happiness and wellbeing.
Disclaimer: the list below isn’t ranked in any way. The quest to find the best “wellness-focused book” on earth is an impossibility. Instead, each of the books featured below stands in its own right and deserves consideration.
1) Lifespan: Why We Age, and Why We Don't Have To (2019)
by David A. Sinclair
Aging and wellness are almost indisputably connected. Much of what we learn about living a healthy lifestyle is designed to help us live longer. In this book, however, one of Time magazine’s most influential people takes a different approach.
In his book, Sinclair — a Harvard-based researcher by trade — doesn’t just focus on living longer. He focuses on the elements that help us stay healthy for longer, and he highlights surprising truths about the connection between stress and the ability to keep our minds fresh.
Like so many other relatively recent wellness-focused books, this tome also explores the topics of intermittent fasting and its potentially healthy benefits. Sinclair is careful, of course, to avoid making outrageous claims that can easily be refuted by medical professionals. In fact, the science-based research and the candor with which he discusses his topics are one of the main reasons why the Scientific Inquirer had many positive things to say about the book:
After 400 pages of Sinclair’s solid research and blunt social commentaries, most readers may feel that Lifespan is promising us the equivalent of Ponce de Leon’s “Fountain of Youth.” Sinclair’s message, however, is startling simple: “There is no biological law that says we must age… it takes radical thinking to even begin to approach what this will mean for our species.”
2) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2014)
by Marie Kondo
This is the book that inspired the Netflix series, itself on our list of top streaming shows related to wellness. So, you may be familiar with the book’s basic concept: that decluttering your home (and your life) can change both for the better.
The book that made Marie Kondo a mainstream influencer became a #1 bestseller on the New York Times list upon its release. More comprehensively than a TV show ever could, it takes its readers through each step of her KonMari method of de-cluttering and de-stressing. If the show was about entertainment, this is the self-help guide to your own wellness.
Does it work? Ultimately, that depends on your personality. No wellness advice is a magic bullet that solves all the problems in the world. However, some of the tips are so profound, straightforward, and eloquent, that it’s well worth a read. As the Today Show puts it when trying out the KonMari method:
The best part about Kondo’s book is her advice on how to deal with the hardest items to get rid of: those things that make you feel guilty. That dress I bought five years ago and wore just once, because it makes me feel dumpy? It’s survived many a purge because I can still remember how much it cost, and it’s in perfect condition — even though I know I’ll never wear it.
3) Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1970)
by Shunryu Suzuki
Not all wellness-focused books are from within the last decade. Perhaps, no book exhibits that more than Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, a transcription of teachings by the late Shunryu Suzuki, the monk who popularized Buddhism in America.
Few words describe this book better than the word “wisdom.” In particular, the teaching on mindfulness will stick with you, focusing on simplicity not as a starting point but a worthy goal. Truly achieving that calm, clear simplicity is the guide behind much of what Suzuki teaches in this book.
The underlying message: trust in yourself. Let go of the things that could harm you. Discover who you truly are, and leverage that knowledge to live a more satisfying life. This isn’t one of those books you read once and put away, either. As a Patch.com reviewer puts it:
It’s interesting to note, as time goes by, which parts of the book speak to me. As a middle-aged parent almost twenty years removed from that reciting newlywed, I am struck by Suzuki’s, or perhaps Zen’s, insistence that if we remain steady within ourselves, everything outsides of ourselves will be steady as well. He offers what may well be the best parenting advice I have ever encountered.
4) 10% Happier (2014)
by Dan Harris
Zen Mind takes on meditation at its most profound level. On the other hand, 10% Happier makes it more of an everyday activity. This is the personal story of Dan Harris, the former ABC News correspondent whose on-air panic attack caused him to rethink and change his life.
This book is helpful but also funny. In fact, the lightheartedness with which Harris details the journey to mindfulness makes you fly through the pages without realizing that all his points are substantiated by real science.
In a nutshell, this is a “learning-by-doing” book. As Psychology Today points out, the title deliberately highlights the experience of someone who doesn’t fanatically practice meditation but has found more joy in life as a result:
Harris is a skeptic who has found something that works. It may seem grand and overly ambitious to imagine a world in which everyone meditates. But, as Harris points out, before World War II, most people didn’t brush their teeth. If we could have a revolution in dental hygiene, then why not a revolution in mental hygiene? Why not a world in which everyone is 10% happier?
5) The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time (2017)
by Arianna Huffington
This celebrity-authored tome is one of the most influential wellness-focused books on the market. Written by the founder of the Huffington Post, it focuses on sleep (or the lack of it). Forget about the advice you read about successful people waking up at 4 a.m. every morning. Here, Huffington outlines how her daily eight hours of sleep and regular power naps have helped her productivity take off.
It’s all backed up by science, of course. The book offers many actionable tips, including stretches to do before going to bed. The simple takeaway: if you don’t get the sleep part right, you may negatively affect your health and every other portion of your life.
Overall, it provides a good read at 300 + pages, even if some of the advice may sound similar to what you’ve heard before. Or, as Publisher’s Weekly described the book in its 2017 review:
Much advice is familiar—put aside the electronic devices, exercise more, and meditate—but some is less so, including suggestions on how to use the latest sleep-tracking devices and sleep-optimizing hotels. Huffington proves herself a powerful advocate for those suffering from what she identifies as the current “sleep crisis.”
6) The Telomere Effect (2017)
by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel
Get ready to learn about biology and chemical compounds. We’re fans of research that digs deep — have you heard about terpenes? —so, naturally, The Telomere Effect had to make the list.
Co-written by a Nobel Prize winner, the book highlights the source of Blackburn and Epel’s winning research: a biological enzyme called telomerase that scientists say is a core component for living longer. Here’s why: telomerase promotes healthy cell regeneration. As it turns out, this enzyme is activated through diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.
All of this sounds complex, but Blackburn and Epel manage to explain it in an approachable, casual way. We’ll let Psychology Today explain it for us:
Blackburn and Epel end their wonderfully informative and readable book with what they call “The Telomere Manifesto”. They urge us to “Mind…Maintain…and Connect Your Telomeres” as well as to “Create Telomere Health in Your Community and the World (which focuses on the social determinants of our health and mental health)”… The result, as has been said, will be priceless.
7) Medical Nemesis (1974)
by Ivan Illich
Prepare yourself for some controversial prose. Medical Nemesis (also known as Limits to Medicine) has been criticized for not taking the modern medical establishment at face-value, preferring instead to question its inflexibility. Still, this isn’t an anti-establishment manifesto. Instead, it’s an embrace of the uniqueness of every human being and the need for personalized treatment as a result.
Crucially, Illich isn’t a medical practitioner but a philosopher. As such, his book should be read not as medical advice but as an inspiration for listening to our bodies. That said, it’s important to know that some of his more controversial views, like the warnings against the over-prescription of drugs, have found prominent support from members of the medical community.
Illich’s treatise is one of the most important wellness-focused books of the 20th century. He invites us to examine the human condition. Or, as the New York Times puts it in 1976:
He uses medicine to ask us what we want from life, and he questions our dreams of reason. He cares deeply about the human condition, and he has maintained the essential ingredient of that oaring, a capacity for outrage. If we can confront his outraged—and outrageous —questions, we will, inevitably, begin to change.
8) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (2016)
by Mark Manson
Certainly, the title is attention-grabbing. So, you reach for it on the library (or digital) shelf. However, the wisdom in this book goes way beyond the tongue-in-cheek title. According to Manson, wellness is about letting go of the things that don’t really matter and focusing only on the things most important to us.
Granted, it’s a bit ironic that an online influencer with a six-figure social media following advocates against distractions like Facebook and Twitter. But, it’s just as refreshing to hear Manson’s recommendations against being positive for its own sake. Instead, he advises taking a more realistic approach to things that are “f**ked up” and learning how to live with them.
Essentially, Manson’s theme is: Life is imperfect. So, make the best of it. If that’s not a wellness lesson, we don’t know what is. And, as Huffington Post maintains in its book review, the crude language is just a cover for the profound life lessons in this book:
There are no soft puffy cloud prancing unicorns offering hugs on colorful rainbows, only F-bomb explosions and brutal smack-you-in-the-face reality slaps. But by the time you finish reading it, you’ll find yourself tingling with promise. The world suddenly seems brighter and lighter. You’ll feel free, and oddly, good, despite the shit sandwiches served throughout the book.
9) The Rhythm of Life (2016)
by Matthew Kelly
What does it mean to thrive? How can I feel empowered in a world that engulfs me in seemingly endless busywork? Those are exactly the types of questions you’ll find in one of our favorite wellness-focused books.
Kelly maintains that wellness is about slowing down. It’s about looking around and reflecting on what our eyes see and what we experience. Most importantly, it’s about finding that rhythm that lets us live a more successful, reflective, and fulfilling life.
Kelly calls it “the habit of thriving.” He prescribes a diet of the mind, from the books we read to the thoughts we focus on. Solitude becomes an asset, not a thing to avoid. From a 2016 Entrepreneur.com review:
I came across this book during a very dark time in my life. I just reached an injury settlement with the Chicago Bears, and I was very uncertain about what was in store for me at the time. After reading the book, I was very eager to put into practice all that I had learned and started to really pay attention to my needs and give them the attention that they needed in order for me to truly thrive.
10) Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (2012)
by Greg McKeown
Out of all the books on this list, Essentialism comes the closest to examining the true meaning of life. It focuses on the parts of everyday life that make it worth living and offers actionable tips to help you cut out those things that don’t.
This isn’t a book about how to get more accomplished. It’s about how to get the right things accomplished, the things that truly add value to your life. McKeown masterfully explains that success can actually be a detractor because it also leads to more distractions away from what is truly essential.
How did McKeown get to these insights? After leaving his wife and newborn in the hospital room for what turned out to be an unproductive business meeting, he had an epiphany. It changed his life considerably. Instead of taking on everything asked of him, he began to commit only to those projects that held meaning for him and that he had time for. The result was greater peace and more satisfaction with his life. This book is an easy read full of actionable tips, as Publisher’s Weekly points out:
By making better choices, and not taking on the weight of other people’s problems, readers can realize the non-essential nature of virtually everything in life, and learn to be present and spend more meaningful time with family and friends. This is a smart, concise guide for the overcommitted and under-satisfied
Enjoying Wellness-Focused Books and Practicing Mindfulness for a Healthier Life
Reading wellness-focused books like the above is immensely satisfying. They teach fundamental lessons and tend to inspire life changes that are just as fundamental. In a nutshell, they correlate with our concept of achieving optimal wellness.
How we get there, of course, differs from person to person. You may want to orient your attention toward the world’s most innovative wellness companies. That alone will introduce you to products that can help you live a happier and healthier life.
Speaking of products: as you look for ways to increase your wellbeing, consider using Hemp Oil for relaxation. We believe our sustainable farming methods and LipidTrans™ Infusion Process produces the highest-quality Hemp Oil on the planet. In addition, its effects on the body tend to line up well with many of the concepts highlighted in the books above, helping you transition to a healthier life.
Either way, we’ll be glad to be at your side as you embark on a journey of lasting health. Tell us: what are your favorite wellness-focused books? Share your thoughts with us, and let’s have a conversation about mindfulness and relaxed living.