“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison
Part of flourishing is creating the story of your life. While we do that, we’re lucky enough to read the stories written by others. I’ve always been a big reader. Growing up, I’d get in trouble (sometimes!) for reading in class or reading while I was supposed to be asleep! Here is a list of some of my favorites that will always be on my shelf.
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
When I was in the 4th grade, our school library only had one copy of this book and it was always with me. I borrowed it from the library so often that I was eventually banned so other students would get a chance! I can’t tell you what I loved about this book, but it will always be on my bookshelf.
Half of a Yellow Sun
“You can't write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
My mother and her family lived through Nigeria’s Biafran War (1967-1970). It was so cool for me to read this fictional tale of real-world events that personally affected me, decades before I was born. It’s not a history book, but a story about development, which is what flourishing is all about.
Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love
“Our ability to face reality is directly related to our ability to have a healthy relationship with ourselves, which means loving the self, protecting the self, identifying the self, caring for the self, and moderating the self.” ― Pia Mellody, Facing Love Addiction
The sad reality is that many of us don’t know what healthy love looks like—love from a friend, parent, partner, etc. This book gives good insight into understanding why we react the way we do in any type of relationship and helps bring consciousness to our responses to others. We all deserve to learn love in a healthy and functional way and understanding this allows all of our relationships to flourish.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
“We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score
This book goes into the science behind trauma, and how it affects our physical bodies even long after a traumatic event. As the title reflects, our bodies truly do keep score of everything. It’s important that we heal from trauma, even if we think we’re “over it”. You’d be surprised at how things still affect us, even subconsciously.
The Coldest Winter Ever
“If you do something positive, something positive will come back to you. If you consciously do negative things, then negativity will rule your life.” ― Sister Souljah, The Coldest Winter Ever
I think a lot of us read this book as teenagers. Winter’s story gives a glimpse of what it’s like to grow up the daughter of a drug lord. Her life resembles that of so many young women who get caught up in a vicious cycle of trying to keep up with a lifestyle that’s designed to break you. Even if you can’t relate to all of what she went through, you can relate to trying to fit in, figuring out who you are, and making lots of mistakes along the way. Afterall, isn’t that what flourishing is all about? I challenge you to re-read this book as an adult and see if your feelings toward Winter have changed.
The Kite Runner
"There is a way to be good again...." ― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Set in Afghanistan, this book tells the story of two boys growing up: one from a wealthy family, and the other, a servant to that family. You’ll read about their relationship and the trauma that changed them forever. This book forces you to consider your own life, and second-guess what you think you know. These are symbols of growth, and of course, what it means to flourish. It’s not a pretty story and some parts are difficult to read, but it’s definitely worthwhile.
The Woman I Wanted to Be
“Never, ever, blame others for what befalls you, no matter how horrible it might be. Trust you, and only you, to be responsible for your own life.” ― Diane Von Furstenberg, The Woman I Wanted to Be
The world knows Diane Von Furstenberg for her iconic wrap dresses. Reading her memoir made me to admire her and how she literally became the woman she wanted to be. She reveals a lot about herself, her journey both professionally and personally and makes no apologies for who she is and what she’s done. I like that. This book should inspire everyone to build the life they want.
Believe Bigger: Discover the Path to Your Life Purpose
“Chaos is often God’s way of inviting us to step into our calling”— Marshawn Evans Daniels
Sometimes chaos happens to us…a lot of times we create it for ourselves. Either way, you’ve got to do the hard work to put your life back together. Marshawn’s book is about resilience and how God uses even the most difficult experiences for our greater good, by encouraging us to step into all that we were created to be. Next time you are tempted to be bitter towards a horrible situation, ask yourself “why is this my lesson to learn?”
The Diary of a Young Girl
“Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” — Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
This was required reading for me in high school and in 2019 I visited Anne Frank’s house during a trip to Amsterdam. While we know the value of Anne Frank’s diaries, it’s amazing to think that this young girl was only pouring her heart out, while trying to survive the Holocaust. I’m sure she never dreamed that long after her writings, her words would impact generations to come. What are you doing in your life right now that seems ordinary? Don’t underestimate how you can impact others—someone is always watching.
It Ends with Us
“And as hard as this choice is, we break the pattern before the pattern breaks us.” ― Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us
Why do we sometimes repeat toxic behaviors that we saw in previous generations… even when we know they’re toxic? Because a lot more than hair and eye color gets passed down and it takes a lot of effort to unlearn what we’ve always known, even if it’s toxic. This book made me cry…a young girl grows up in an abusive household and goes on to marry an abuser. The lesson here is that we don’t have to settle for “how it’s always been”. You can decide that it ends with you.
I’m always refreshing the bookshelf so be sure to follow @FlourishWithBijul on Instagram to see what we’re reading next.