Shelf Improvement is a monthly column that features three books guaranteed to improve both your library and your life. From literary fiction, young adult, and humor, to spirituality, autobiography, and more, no genre is off limits. The only requirement of the selections featured here is they must be transformative and page-turning. If you’re hoping to build a better bookshelf, Shelf Improvement can help you on your odyssey.
Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain—for Life, by David Perlmutter, M.D., with Kristin Loburg
David Perlmutter, M.D., the renowned author of Grain Brain, is back with a page-turning book about how our minds work and suffer, heal and thrive. In Brain Maker, Perlmutter explains how closely our brains and guts are related and how the delicate microbiome of our intestines directly affects the health of our minds. He believes that the sharp increase in brain-and-mood-related diseases and disorders is due primarily to the fact that our internal flora has been completely compromised by what we eat (especially gluten and fructose), the medicines we take (like antibiotics and hormones), and the chemicals we are exposed to (such as GMOs and BPAs). A dysfunctional microbiome, he posits, is largely responsible for rising cases of ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, migraines, and Alzheimer’s. The good news is that we can transform our guts, brains, and overall well-being by nurturing the garden within through prebiotics, probiotics, and healthy fats and proteins. Though the book is chock full of research anecdotes and scientific graphs and evidence, it’s both extremely accessible to lay people and extremely difficult to put down; Perlmutter’s stories of patient healing and transformation are enthralling evidence that this renegade Linus Pawling Award-winner is on to something big. A must-read for anyone with half a brain, Brain Maker presents cutting-edge science alongside everyday solutions for optimal health.
E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality, by Pam Grout
There have been countless books written about the power of upbeat thinking, the potential of creative visualization, and the scientific law of attraction. But usually these publications do little more than posit a theory and tell you to “think rich” or “believe in yourself.” Well skeptics, hold onto your magic hats, because Pam Grout’s E-Squared will change everything you thought you knew about making your dreams come true. Inside this delight—that’s somehow both screamingly funny and spiritually spot-on—Grout puts forth nine energy experiments that you can do at home, experiments that prove that not only do your thoughts create your reality, but that you can also manifest what it is you most desire. Of course, Grout starts off slowly here (no winning lottery tickets or knights in shining armor to begin with), but her quirky lists of things for you to manifest—from purple butterflies and surprise gifts to red bouncy balls and orange cars—will soon leave you dumbfounded at how the universe wants desperately to deliver the things you envision. To my astonishment, all nine of these experiments worked for me. And so bewildered was I by my success, that I went out and purchased her equally wonderful sequel E-Cubed. All I can say is that if you’d like to have your mind blown and your reality turned upside down in a brilliant way, you must explore the world of Pam Grout and the malleable reality she wants us all to play with and benefit from.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer
Pay no attention to the somewhat unremarkable title or corny cover art of this book, because within lies one of the most transformative discussions on mindfulness ever put into print. Michael A. Singer, a former economist who underwent a profound spiritual awakening while pursuing his doctorate, goes right to the core of all deep human questions in this unparalleled selection. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? What does it all mean? For anyone pondering these existential concerns, Singer offers not just answers, but a practical pathway to inner peace, self discovery, and transcendence of negative thoughts and fear. Written in a highly readable and hypnotic style, that feels like a riveting conversation with a wise, old friend, The Untethered Soul is never patronizing or annoyingly new age; instead, it’s a primer on how to live your best life by realizing you are not your thoughts, emotions, or beliefs, but that you are instead whole and holy at your core. Enlightenment, Singer believes, is everyone’s birthright, and through this selection he aims to take you there.