Reads + Recommendations

The Books That Made Me: 2020 Edition

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that: the more you think you know, the less you actually do. The number of societal constructs that have been demolished this year is astonishing. But – what has remained untouched? Our ability to learn new things and practice seeing the world through new lenses whenever possible.

My constant hunger to learn new things about myself and the world keeps me busy. And this year, with all that extra down time, I got reallllll busy in the sheets….(of paper)

Before I begin this extensive list of books and musings, I want to just say that it’s honestly such a joy for me to share this with you. I’m grateful that you’re here, taking the time to read this. School might be a thing of the past, but YOUniversity is never over. There is always more to learn, and I’m happy to inspire you with something you might pick up next.

I’ve listed these books in chronological order of when they were read, beginning in January. It was quite the ride to go back and remember where I was when I was immersed in each one of these. I could smell the morning cacao, tea, or coffee that accompanied me in the morning. I can feel the books I read on warm summer days, the sticky, salty air and the sand still stuck between the pages. I could recall the excerpts and pages that made a transformative impact in my life and the way I view the world.

Books have a way of doing that…

So, without further ado – here you are: my 2020 book list! Eat your heart out, bookworms!

The Books that Made Me: 2020 Edition.

The Abandonment Recovery Workbook by Susan Anderson

Going through a breakup is like grieving the death of someone who is still very much alive. To top it all off, you’re also enduring the death of an outdated version of yourself– the ‘you’ that you were with ‘them’. This book actually landed at my feet on New Years day at Barnes and Noble. As I perused the shelves for some enticing title to begin my year with, this big ol’ book fell to the ground. I picked it up and chuckled…surely I wasn’t going to start my year with this dense book…but then, I flipped open a page:

“Understanding the biological level of heartbreak is an empowering tool for negotiating its treacherous waters.”

Susan Anderson, The Abandonment Recovery Workbook

You did it again, Universe. My soul needed to dive head first into these pages.

This book was instrumental in helping me to see how normal it is to feel completely rejected, alone, and in fear after a breakup. It’s more than just a book…it’s literally an entire workshop from beginning to end. I learned SO much about myself, my patterns, where they originated, and the science behind my abandonment/attachment wounds. Susan Anderson does an incredible job at laying out the steps for healing in an easy to follow, easy to comprehend, interactive way. If you or someone you know is struggling through loss and is feeling rejected, ashamed, or depressed – this book is a great place to begin to take your power back and write a brand new narrative.

Who it’s for: Anyone healing from heartbreak, loss, and loneliness

Don’t Keep Your Day Job by Cathy Heller

“Legacy is not the money you make or the brand you build. It is how you show up in the world each day, facing yourself and your fears, becoming willing to make mistakes and learn.”

Cathy Heller, Don’t Keep Your Day Job

I was sitting inside Lofty Coffee one chilly, January morning with the other 5 women in my MasterMind group when one woman, Scout, walked in with a stack of books in her hands. She placed them down on the table and the book title was written in large, swirly letters that took up the entire width and height of the book. As if to scream: SERIOUSLY, DON’T KEEP YOUR DAY JOB! Do your thing! Make your Magic!

I let this book sit in my book nook for a couple of months before finally diving in. And *surprise, surprise*, I picked it up right when millions of people were losing their day jobs. The effects of the pandemic had just begun. People all over the US were unemployed, confused, and utterly lost. The inspiration infused into the pages of this book is palpable. The author delightfully encourages us to get out of our own way and DO THE THING we have always wanted to do. But, beyond just motivational speaking, she actually lays out some practical ways to make a business out of something you love.

It’s an easy read that will, undoubtedly, inspire you to create what you’ve always wanted to create- whether its a new recipe or a million-dollar biz idea. Keep dreaming, sister!

Who it’s for: the one who desires motivation and a practical guide to starting a heart-centered, online business.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

“When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

This book could not have been released at a better time. Quarantine orders had just been put into place when I started reading this book and, at a time where everything in the world felt deflating, defeating, and depressing… the words and stories that Glennon so artfully weaves together on the pages of this self-help bible kept me hopeful, inspired, and empowered. To live untamed is to live fully expressed, fully feeling, fully being. And, isn’t that something we all aspire to have?

Untamed is, arguably, the the most quotable book of 2020. With the most used phrase (and also most relevant) being: “We can do hard things.” During a year where we were more caged in than ever, this simple phrase rang loud in clear for me day after day. Shit can hit the fan, but, guess what? We can do hard things. Yes we can G, yes we can.

Who it’s for: anyone and everyone with a heart and soul.

A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi

“I am wealth, I am abundance, I am joy.”

Cameron Gikandi, A Happy Pocket Full Of Money

I didn’t count how many times this mantra was written in large bold letters between nearly every paragraph in this book – but believe me when I say: repetition matters. This book got me into a magnetic state during a time when it seemed damn near impossible to generate abundance. And that’s what I learned: we have to release the need to generate anything. It’s in the being where abundance flows fruitfully.

A Happy Pocket Full of Money screamed “cheeseball!” to me from the second I learned about it. But I needed the inspiration. I have to be honest: had we not been in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis, I probably would have brushed this book off as if I was too good for something of this standard. But that exact way of being: close-minded and skeptical, was what had kept me from reaching my own happy pocket full of money for years. And I am so glad I decided to give it a try anyways.

This book taught me that wealth is not just an ethereal frequency. It is a way of being, it is gratitude, it is seeing abundance in the present moment while being open for what’s yet to come. Even though I read this book cover-to-cover in one week – I actually find this to be a wonderful daily reader. The messages are often short, sweet, and very, very potent. They get you thinking and feeling high-vibe so that you can enter the state of wealth, abundance, and joy before you begin each day.

If you struggle with your relationship with money (I know I surely have) this book is the well of lighthearted, inspiring, mindful messages you need.

Who it’s for: Anyone with pockets. And money.

It’s Not Your Money by Tosha Silver

“When you give everything to the Divine with detachment, things start to happen in a way that’s the opposite of what we’re taught. It’s no longer a business transaction or a wish, it’s about Love.”

Tosha Silver, It’s not Your Money

Though this book is also on the topic money, this one is radically different from the book above. The title alone caught my eye over a year ago when it was recommended to me by a friend. Okay…’caught my eye’ may not be the proper way to describe it… because, truly, what it evoked in me was a visceral punch-to-the-gut feeling that made me want to run the other direction. Fast.

What do you mean it’s not my money? Most books on manifestation and money offer up the idea of, well, manifesting. Putting our little human selves in the drivers seat, thinking we’re in control of every dollar, penny, and credit card swipe that passes through us. We treat money as purely transactional. But – what if we changed the narrative? Tosha Silver beautifully illustrates that money is the divine. Money is Love. Our task? To stay open, to surrender, and to allow the power of Source to work through us so that we can play in the energy of money the way we are intended to: freely and with joy.

Below you’ll find the ‘Change Me’ prayer. It’s suggested to read and recite this prayer every single day. If you need a break from all of the manifestation, mindset, and typical “rah rah, you got this!” money books, I encourage you to lean into the Spiritual side of wealth and give this one a read.

“Divine Beloved, Change Me into someone
who can give with complete ease and abundance,
knowing You are the unlimited Source of All.

Let me be an easy open conduit for Your prosperity.
Let me trust that all of my own needs are
always met in amazing ways
and it is safe to give freely as my heart guides me.

And equally, please Change Me into someone
who can feel wildly open to receiving.
Let me know my own value, beauty and
worthiness without question.
Let me allow others the supreme pleasure of giving to me.
Let me feel worthy to receive in every possible way.

And let me extend kindness to all who need,
feeling compassion and understanding
in even the hardest situations.

Change me into One who can fully love, forgive
and accept myself… so I may carry your Light
without restriction.

Let everything that needs to go, go.
Let everything that needs to come, come.
I am utterly Your own.

You are Me.
I am You.
We are One.

All is well.”

Tosha Silver, The Change Me Prayer

Woman Code by Alisa Vitti

Well, this isn’t a particularly “quotable” book (laughing at the irony that I just put the word ‘quote’ in quotation marks…), but it does have some damn good, practical information that I believe every woman can benefit from.

This summer, I decided to embark on a journey through my menstrual cycle and develop an intimate relationship with my sacred, monthly bleed. It was the most transformative, potent, and powerful lesson of 2020 for me. Reclaiming the power of my period and letting go of any shame or disdain I had regarding this miraculous monthly event has undeniably allowed me to step into my truth as an embodied woman.

You won’t just learn about your cycle- you’ll learn how to optimize it. This book is written as an informative, practical guide, filled with dietary recommendations, body practices, and mental tips based on each phase of your cycle. I am forever grateful for the doors of healing that this piece of literature opened for me. I had absolutely no idea how much healing I would receive by simply cultivating a new relationship with my period and period blood (which I now love examining in my menstrual cup!).

For the woman who is curious and wants an introduction into cycle care, this book is definitely the place to start.

PS. If you’re more of a podcast kind of gal (or guy) tune into this episode of the EXPANDED podcast where Lacey Phillips interviews Alisa on all things Women’s health and period chats.

Who it’s for: Anyone with ovaries or anyone interested in learning what it’s like to have them.

It’s Not Always Depression by Hilary Jacobs Hendel

“Emotion and bodily sensations often reveal us to ourselves. They contain biological wisdom and communicate what’s important to us and to those around us.”

This book changed my life. Seriously. The moment I finished reading it, I wanted to buy a copy for every human on planet earth. (Okay, maybe that’s taking it too far) I believe emotional health and emotional intelligence are at the core of what it means to live wholeheartedly – yet, it’s not taught in school and rarely did we receive any information about it at all. Hilary makes emotional literacy simple, straightforward, and easily applicable.

2020 was surely a year in which mental and emotional health were talked about more often than ever before. With quarantine and social distancing causing loneliness and depression, uncertainty of safety piling up into mounds of anxiety, and confusion and instability being widespread – it became apparent that mental and emotional education need to be addressed.

Hilary explains her method for emotional health called The Change Triangle – a process to identify our core emotions and move through them to return to, what she calls, the “Openhearted State of the Authentic Self.”. She proposes that, oftentimes, what we call “depression” or “anxiety” are actually a defense to keep us from feeling the big-ness of our core emotions such as: fear, anger, or disgust. When we learn how to process these emotions, things like depression and anxiety diminish and we are able to come back to our true self.

This book beautifully illustrates the importance of including the body as a part of the conversation when it comes to emotions and healing things such as depression and anxiety.

Whether you’re a therapist, coach, parent, or curious, lifelong student — I recommend this book to everyone. Emotional literacy helps us become better humans – and we could all use a dose of that.

Who it’s for: anyone with emotions.

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron

“Exchanging yourself for others begins to occur when you can see where someone is because you’ve been there. It doesn’t happen because you’re better than they are but because human beings share the same stuff. The more you know your own, the more you’re going to understand others.”

Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are

Okay, I know I keep saying this but…wow this book landed in my sphere of awareness at the perfect time. It was late May/Early June, George Floyd had been murdered and the BLM movement had just begun. At the time, hate seemed to be so rampant and it was clear as day that something needed to change in this country.

And, it starts with our own Selves.

In this book, Pema, a well known, aptly-loved Buddhist teacher shares the “slogans” that will help us become more understanding, more compassionate, more connected, more loving humans. Each chapter is full of wisdom passed on through generations of Buddhist teachers that evoke self-exploration and curiosity into the realm of change and being.

I read this book more leisurely than any other book I had in my hands this year. It took me months to finish. But I actually believe that this is the way Pema’s work is intended to be read. Each one of the slogans (or lessons) have to be integrated into the heart of being before moving on to the next chapter.

This was my first (and surely not last) taste of the written works of the beloved Pema Chodron. It helped me see through a clearer lens when compassion seemed so hard to find. Although no one can be forced into learning about compassion, this year taught me so much about leading by example. If even one person, like me, picks up a book such as this one — a book that changes one’s own perspective on humanity itself — it has the power to transform the future of our planet.

Who it’s for: Anyone who desires a roadmap into the depths of their heart.

Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph. D and Helen Hunt, Ph. D

“We are drawn to our partners for two basic reasons: (1) they have both the positive and negative qualities of the people who raised us, and (2) they compensate for positive parts of our being that were cut off in childhood. We enter the relationship with the unconscious assumption that our partners will become a surrogate parent and make up for all the deprivation of our childhood. All we have to do to feel connected and fully alive once again is to fall in love.”

When I first heard the title of this book, my mind instantly thought “well, this is going to be a book that teaches people how to manipulate situations and mind-fuck others into loving you the way YOU deem best.” Not exactly appealing.

However, this book is actually one that throws the reader into the depths of responsibility. Responsibility for their own wounding, childhood, and relationship dynamics. It teaches us how to clean up our own side of the street. I read this book at the peak of healing my own patterns in relationships this year. Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot of time blaming past partners for the ways in which I was treated, but I hadn’t spent a ton of time evaluating the part I might have played.

It’s not the most exciting – but addressing these patterns internally can help us be better partners in the future and, above all, choose mates that are truly aligned with our values, desires, and needs. It’s less about telling someone about the kind of love you want, and more about cultivating that love for yourself so that your partner doesn’t have to fill a void that only you can actually fill.

This book is loaded with juicy stories and real life scenarios from their therapy days– the authors have been married for over 20 years and still teach the concepts laid out in this book to this day. The IMAGO technique is widely practiced by relationship therapists and coaches and is found to be an effective way to build and strengthen relationships rooted in truth.

Who it’s for: Anyone who is in a relationship…or intends to be.

The Pocket Guide to The Polyvagal Theory by Stephen W. Porges

“It is important to understand that feeling safe is a prerequisite for our ability to be creative and to solve and implement solutions for difficult problems. As professionals and academics, we think that we can use our cognitive skills to define safety. Yet being safe is really the body’s response to the environment”

Dr. Stephen Porges

If you’re anything like me, you have an immense fascination in the human nervous system, trauma, relationships, and attachment theory. (Just me? Okay…) I understand that this read may not be for everyone, and I wouldn’t toss it at just any old folk on the street. I would, however, suggest it to anyone who is curious about the science of human connection. This book is an excellent place to begin as it is a recount of the revolutionary research of Dr. Stephen Porges: who founded polyvagal theory.

Polyvagal theory suggest that the way to heal attachment patterns, build better relationships, and integrate and understand self-regulation/co-regulation is through the nervous system and the body’s somatic responses.

“The polyvagal theory provides the neurobiological link-age between body and brain and between body and psychological processes. We are moving toward an understanding of trauma as an adaptive reaction.”

If you’re curious about this science of trauma, attachment, or healthy relating, I suggest giving this book a read. It’s easy to maneuver and has some fascinating research to get you thinking (and feeling) in new ways.

Who it’s for: anyone with a nervous system.

Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anonda Judith

“So many of life’s problems stem from too much or too little of something. We spend our lives searching for balance.”

Anonda Judith, Eastern Body Western Mind

Eastern Body, Western Mind is an in-depth journey through the chakra system from both the western and eastern perspectives of medicine. Anonda Judith effortlessly weaves together concepts of subtle energy and psychology to explain when/how/where our patterns emerge and how they might still be affecting us today.

I picked up this book shortly after completing my Reiki attuenment in early August. Although I had, what I believed to be, a relatively comprehensive understanding of the chakra system and its workings, something in me still wanted more. (I believe we all should aspire to be lifelong learners)

This is a dense book (rounding nearly 500 pages). But, somehow, I read it over the span of 4 weeks– it was that interesting. Being a Reiki practitioner, I’m always curious about the intersection of eastern and western medicine so I can bring energy work into the world of thinking and reason.

For anyone who has ever been curious about the chakras and how to connect with your own, I highly recommend starting with this book. It covers it all – mind, body, and spirit.

Who it’s for: anyone with a body or mind. (Hopefully both)

Bonus books for the extra curious:

Wisdom of the Body Moving by Linda Hartley – this is for you if want to dive deeper into BodyMind centering, somatics, and embodiment.

Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection – this is for you if you’re interested in exploring ways to heal trauma and attachment and cultivate self-regulation and co-regulation. In your personal or professional life.

The Power of your Subconscious Mind – this is for you if you want to learn the basics of your subconscious mind and learn how to re-wire your brain.

Daily Devotional Reader: The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

2020 was a year of immense inner-growth, exploration, and moving beyond my perceived edges. These books inspired, invoked, and encouraged me to lean into the unknown. This year has been a rollercoaster for everyone. And itss so important not to let ourselves get wrapped up in the mainstream narrative. Stay curious – always.

If you found a book from this list that piqued your interest, I’d love to hear about it. Comment below and let me know what you’ll be brining with you into 2021!

With love,


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Cacao OBSESSED, Enneagram 3, Lifelong Learner, moon lover. 

Hi, I'm Chelsea. Your Feminine Embodiment Mentor

Being a woman certainly isn't one-dimensional. The beauty of the Feminine is her ability to dance in her expression, to become who she needs to be in any given moment. On this blog, you'll find stories and expressions from myself and women everywhere who are on the journey of re-discovering their innate magic through the wise portal of their feminine bodies. 

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chelsea adair

Welcome, dear one. This site serves as a Vessel for the sacred messages that pour through me in words, images, courses, and more.