Book Corner: Books to Inspire Gentle Self-Care

There are countless books, podcasts, Instagrams, and the like available to anyone wanting to seize life by the horns and conquer mountains, both metaphorically and literally. Want to drop 10 sizes? Be the perfect parent? Climb the corporate ladder? Retire at 42? Get 18 hours’ worth of work done in 8? You can do it with a little willpower and motivation!

Then there’s reality. Between the pandemic, war, politics, climate change, and inflation, all of which are causing a constant hum of anxiety in the background (or foreground), we should all give ourselves a break and acknowledge we’re doing the best we can. If you’re exhausted by the idea of one more self-help book with challenges, checklists, and routines, then give yourself permission to ignore them. Instead, try one of these books that gently nudges you toward self-care without making you want to crawl back under the covers.

Good Enough - A Cookbook: Embracing the Joys of Imperfection and Practicing Self-Care in the Kitchen, opens a new window by Leanne Brown
Brown, author of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, opens a new window, explores the emotional and healing aspects of cooking. She shares her own experiences with depression and anxiety, and how cooking helped her to overcome these challenges. The book is divided into two sections: "getting through your day" and "getting through your life." Each section includes essays about the feelings that come up around cooking, as well as gentle advice and simple recipes.

How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing, opens a new window by KC Davis
For many, everyday care tasks are a struggle, leading to feelings of shame and overwhelm. Davis, who has experienced this first hand, presents an approach to home care that doesn’t seem unsurmountable. She bases this approach on self-compassion and a couple of key realizations: First, you don’t work for your home; your home works for you. Second, housekeeping is morally neutral. Messiness doesn’t make you a failure. Davis helps you simplify your to-do list and find easy ways to tidy up while kicking that all-or-nothing mentality to the curb.

The Seven Circles: Indigenous Teachings for Living Well, opens a new window by Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins
Luger and Collins, founders of the health website Well for Culture, offer a Native American-inspired approach to wellness based on the Seven Circles of Wellness: ceremony, community, food, land, movement, sacred space, and sleep. They explain how to incorporate each principle into daily life, such as by walking during work calls for movement or reading about local flora and fauna for land connection. The authors also share intimate stories about how they weave these principles into their own lives, and they discuss how readers who are not Native American can adopt these principles without appropriation.

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age, opens a new window by Katherine May
May invites us to rediscover the wonder and awe of the world around us. In a time of constant change and stress, May offers a way to find rest and ease by paying attention to the natural world and the simple things in life. She shares her own stories and struggles, and offers practical advice and exercises to help us reconnect with our innate sense of wonder.

Art for Self-Care: Create Powerful, Healing Art by Listening to Your Inner Voice, opens a new window by Jessica Swift
This book is for artists and nonartists alike, and it requires no prior skill level. Swift divides the book into three sections: looking inward, looking outward, and honoring your feelings. She provides thought-provoking prompts and questions, as well as suggestions for surfaces and tools. This book is an excellent companion for those who want to express themselves and heal through art.

Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Family Relationships, opens a new window by Nedra Glover Tawaab
Every family has a story, and for some of us, our family of origin can be a source of pain and conflict. In her empowering guide, licensed therapist Tawwab offers clear advice for identifying and breaking dysfunctional family patterns. She covers topics such as emotional neglect, absent parents, and mental health struggles, and provides compassionate guidance for moving forward and taking control of your own life.

Need some me-time? Grab your lunch and tune in to Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Lunch & Learn, opens a new window series at, opens a new window every Friday at 12:00. On Friday, November 10, learn to make healthy charcuterie from April Payne of the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Tracy McPeck is the adult services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.