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  • Writer's pictureYvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS

Book Recommendations COVID-19: What to read to help thrive during 2020

No matter how we look at it, it's been a challenging year for all. I think we can all agree 2020 is hard. I saw a meme the other day from one of my favorite cartoonists The Awkward Yeti depicting the character throwing earth into a box and then locking the box up. Another one by the same artist depicts a couple of scenes with the character looking in disgust and 2020 with the last frame being him running from the year 2020 begging for 2021 to start. As funny as the two comic strips are there is truth behind them as the general consensus of this year is that of wanting to be done with 2020.

Take heart because though a difficult year it doesn't have to pass us by or rob us from experiencing growth. We can choose to just survive this year or thrive, adapt and overcome. With that in mind I have several book recommendations for this season of adversity to read in order to level up and/or thrive.

Best book to start off with as the importance of limiting self-criticism and offset its negative effects. This is not a self esteem book rather it's a book about self-compassion the art of being kind to yourself.

All of Brene's Brown books are great but this one as captivated me and was one of my first reads from the author. I love the call to courage and how she breaks down this idea of getting into the ring and being our most daring self. In addition her truths about vulnerability and how it connects to living a brave life is eye opening and life changing. Many have walked away from this book feeling empowered and more courageous.

Must read for all my Highly Sensitive People (HSP). Dr. Aron a pioneer in the field breaks down the trait of HSP helping you to understand it as a superpower. With this new information you are able to filter your experiences from the past in addition to making the most of the future in order to thrive as a HSP in a non HSP world. Interested in seeing if your an HSP? Take the quiz.

Two books with a wealth of information regarding the art of parenting a Highly Sensitive Child. I typically work with both parents and children alike that have this trait and my parents have had the most success in our parent coaching sessions when they fully understand the trait and how it shows up in their daily life. Once acquiring the knowledge they are able to reset their expectations of parenting that empowers both the child and parent.

My first experience with the 5 Love Languages was that of a parent child relationship. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why my mom would come to my house and clean all the time. I thought she was being passive aggressive and her cleaning was her way of telling me I wasn't doing a good job managing my household (which naturally I took offense to). Upon reading the The 5 Love Languages I learned and had a honest conversation with mom. It turns out her primary love language is acts of service. After the relational breakthrough I was sold on the idea and read the remaining books in order that I can relate it to my role as a parent. Interested in learning your Love Language, complete the quiz.

This is a really fun book. Embarrassed to admit that it's taken my husband and I over a year to read. In our defense we had a lot going on in this last year but it's a book that you can pick up and put down easily not to mention reread it. It breaks down some important concepts in the beginning and then comes the dates. Each date introduces a topic and then gives you the tools to dive into a deep conversation with your partner in order to learn and grow relationally.

by Jennie Allen

The battlefield is truly in the mind. Our thoughts are more powerful than we give it credit. This book walks you through the idea of controlling your thoughts through a faith filter. She will inspire and equip you to transform your emotions by taking control of your thoughts. Looking for a book that's not filtered through faith and okay with some swearing check out this book.


Raise your hand if you have difficult people in your life. I know for sure I have had, do currently and will continue to have difficult people in my life and I love how these books give perspective and insight into how to do life with such people. It's crazy how when we are so close to a person we can lose insight and get flooded with emotion making it difficult to have perspective and clarity. These books will help you with just that. Don't forget your pen and paper as they are thought provoking.

By: Brené Brown PhD

Narrated by: Brené Brown

This has been a repeat in my family as listening to it has brought perspective and knowledge on the concept of vulnerability and how it shows up in all aspects of our lives. Dr. Brene Brown teaches that "we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity and love." Accept the invitation if you dare to live a more vulnerable, courageous and whole-hearted life.

by Robert A. Glover

The men I work with love this one and highly recommend it. The only thing they want me to pass along is that it's okay if all traits described in the book don't apply to you. Take the concepts and learn and grow. Interested in more check out his YouTube video on the concept.

Do you know where you end and someone else begins in order to define ownership? These are the books to start with, in particular the first when title Boundaries. The authors take a biblical view of boundaries explaining what they are, what they protect, how they are developed, how they are injured, how to repair them, and how to use them. When I first started my journey of growth and healing following and unexpected divorce I came across Boundaries and I have to say it was a game changer in helping live a more healthy life moving forward. Once I read the first book I was sold on the concept and read the others to apply in all areas of my life. The author even has a podcast Looking for a boundary book not filtered through faith check out this link.

This book was a cool find. I was listening to a her Ted Talk wanted to embody the concepts she spoke of regrind bring your bolest self to your biggest challenges. Though this has been a long read it has been an enjoyable read that I have taken my time to digest slowly and grow and learn with the concepts she presents.

Self explanatory book. Interested in happy living? This is the book! Pretty cool to hear simple and effective ways behind the science of happy living from the the happiest people in the world that live in the least happiest place.

Get ready for a journey in the unpacking of a little word. In unpacking grit you will learn valuable insights that you'll be able to apply in every facet of your life. You'll also get to the root of what holds you back from success.

This one I'm still reading but wanted to share despite not being done. This also is specific to my business owners out there that want to level up their finances within their business.

This has been a great read thus far as I dive into this concept of mental toughness and mental toughness plays our in various individuals lives. This has been a different kind of read as it collection of articles that highlight how to build your emotional strength and resilience and achieve high performance. This is another great read for my business owners and top performers.

You abouslutley can not go wrong with this read. This is for all my couples out there no matter what stage of the relationship you are at. I have assigned this to those just going into the dating scene, dating couples, newlyweds, and veteran couples. The book breaks down core principles for creating a relationship that goes the distance. The book also not only has valuable information but also has tools, questionnaires and exercises to learn and grown together in your relational skills.

This book offers a deep dive into the concept of emotional connection. You'll get introduced to the concept of emotional bid which is fundamental in connection emotionally within relationships. This relationship book is packed with information, exercises and questionnaires in order to transform the way you do relationships in your life.

Some of spoke of this being an extension to Gottman's work with couples and allows one to dive in deeper to the connections in their relationships through the lens of attachment theory. Here you'll dive into close connection, deep trust, responding to needs and much more.

A book frequently read by my engaged couples as they prepare for a lifelong love through in depth conversations.

Dr. Daniel Siegel offers a wealth of information regarding child reading as he unpacks twelve key strategies that fosters healthy brain development. He'll also explain the concept of emotional flooding many of my clients have found to be a game changer with both their children and them personally.

Reading Tip:

Reading can be an enjoyable and transformative experience for some, as reading allows one to discover new ideas, concepts, insights, and ways of being. Challenge yourself today to make a habit out of reading no matter if it's eye reading or ear reading.


Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals, couples and families helping them achieve a new normal within all the chaos that threatens their sanity. If you're in the Saint Lucie or Martin County Area and life isn't quite what you expected it to be at this point in your journey and you are ready to make some changes or perhaps level up some areas in your life, please give me a call at 772-361-8448 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.


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