The Top 10 Mindful Books from 2016

The Mindful Editors sifted through mindfulness reads to offer up the best mindful reads of the year.

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How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Your Inner Critic
Mark Coleman (New World Library)
This book is about waging peace with the voice in our head that constantly battles with us—to our detriment and to the detriment of those around us. “Inner critic” here is not just a tool for marketing a generic meditation book. Coleman takes apart the critic and assesses its origins, its pros, and its cons with curiosity and insight. He unravels it and makes it possible to see it not as a big, bad monster, but simply as human intelligence run amok. With a bit of love and care, it can fall away of its own accord.


The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World
Nancy Colier (Sounds True)
Having a universal communicator, satellite- driven locator, and encyclopedia of all knowledge everpresent at our fingertips is making us a bit crazy, and, according to Colier, a bit unkind. As a therapist she’s seen how a “techedout mind” can make you unhappy. Her stories—warm, sad, and funny—make you examine what “convenience” really means. Dipping in here now and then will offer a reminder to take a well-earned tech break.

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The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
Charles Duhigg (Random House)
What separates “the merely busy from the genuinely productive”? They don’t work harder, Duhigg says; they make the right choices. Using big-name examples like Disney, he reveals which choices lead to true success.


A Groundbreaking Science-Based Program for Emotional Fitness
Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp (North Star Way) 
Self-care is the health care of the future. And here’s an early entrant in the field: a secular, research-based regimen for body-mind fitness that would be the envy of any trainer.


A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body
Jo Marchant (Crown)
In Cure, Jo Marchant explores research into the placebo effect, meditation, prayer, conditioning, and more as she aims to reintroduce “mind” into conventional science and medicine, since “body”—a more measurable unit of study—has “sidelined the more intangible effects of the mind.”


A Journey to the Heart of Being Human
Daniel Siegel (WW Norton)
The mind, Siegel explains, goes beyond brain function; it’s a wondrous process that regulates the flow of energy and information residing in our whole body and yet remakes itself anew every moment.


Lynn Rossy (New Harbinger)
A chance to examine eating habits and views and get practical tips for stopping the autopiloting at the core of so many of our challenges with food.


How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle
Mark Wolynn (Viking)
New meditators often discover how vulnerable they are as old neglected wounds re-emerge. Wolynn offers methods to examine where this pain resides and find healing and resilience.


On Homecoming and Belonging
Sebastian Junger (Harper Collins)
Every once in a while a book comes along that takes a topic on everyone’s mind and asks you take a really fresh look. Junger does that for the issue of returning veterans and PTSD. In Tribe, he celebrates something that soldiers learn to appreciate: the value of loyalty and belonging.


How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success
Emma Seppälä (Harper Collins)
Taking a deep dive into cognitive psychology and neuroscience, Seppälä shows how we can flourish in the face of life’s overwhelming demands by tapping into reserves of calm and compassion instead of stress and anxiety.

Bonus Reading


How the US Economy Works, Why It Matters, and How it Could Be Different
Joel Magnuson (Seven Stories)
Like so many elections, the 2016 national election in the United States was heavily influenced by citizens’ perceptions of their own prosperity and their prospects for the future. To measure how well we’re doing and what we can expect in the future, we’re asked to turn to economics, but economics is known as the dismal science for good reason. Most of us avoid it like the plague. Part of the problem is that economics has come to be defined as purely about money and mathematics. Yet, in the original sense of the word, in Greek, it referred to ordering of the household. And the household was understood to be the very earth itself. The ultimate economic question when the word was coined, and still to the present day, is: How do we manage, share, and exchange our resources for the good of all over the long term?

Joel Magnuson’s ambitious work, Mindful Economics, tries to answer that question in the US context and to tackle the vexing question of rising income inequality. His mindful economics is not the simplistic variety where all we need is a few deep breaths before we make a big purchase. That might be a good idea, but Magnuson means mindful in the largest sense: being aware of how interconnected we are and how solutions may spring from paying close attention to that fact. It also tries to be an economics for real human beings with feelings, recognizing that money and emotion are deeply intertwined. The book is a bit of a door stopper, but a few of the chapters really make you think. It’s an admirable effort that hopefully will begin a trend toward books that examine mindfulness in a societal context. We need it.


The New Science of Living Younger
Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD; Elissa Epel, PhD (Grand Central)
What does a scientist in the esoteric field of telomere research have to say to us about improving the quality of our day-to-day lives? Turns out, a lot. Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize for determining that chromosomes are capped off by tightly wound telomeres, which play a critical role in the aging process. The shorter they become, the less capable they are of maintaining the integrity of our cells. Short telomeres are precursors of a host of ills, including dementia, heart disease, asthma, and lung disease. The good news is it’s possible to slow or even reverse that attrition. How? By reducing harmful stress, exercising, eating healthfully, meditating—in short, living mindfully.


Life Skills to Handle Stress… & Everything Else
Holly B. Rogers, MD (New Harbinger)
Don’t be misled by the book’s title. True, those of us under 30 would no doubt benefit from the suggestions here. But this is a book for all of us who would like practical, clear, doable advice on starting or deepening a mindfulness practice. Perhaps its main value for younger people on the go is how pithy it is. Much of what Rogers writes about will sound comfortingly familiar to many readers. Anyone can live mindfully, she writes, “but it takes practice, and meditation is the way you practice mindfulness.” Her book serves as an effective reminder of the value of mindfulness practices—and as a guide to keeping at them.

This article is a sneak peek from the February 2017 issue of Mindful magazine. Subscribe now and start your subscription with the February issue.