Books About Emotions & Emotional Intelligence, including Mental Health and Dying

Emotions and Emotional Intelligence

Atlas of the Heart (5*) by Brené Brown (this book should be a reference book on every leader and manager’s desk to guide work with their own, and their people’s, emotions. While the research is primarily based in the United States and somewhat dependent on American culture, particularly in how emotions are shown, I do believe it would be applicable across most cultures)

No Hard Feelings (4*) by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy (while at times a bit millenial, overall this book has practical information and advice on working with our emotions at work. The cartoons and online resources are definitely worth the purchase)

Love Is Letting Go of Fear (4*) by Gerald G. Jampolsky (this book was given to our research team by a Stanford professor to open our minds. I re-read it now and enjoyed the insights again. There are some good exercises in it and it is another perspective on books like The 7 Habits, The Art of Possibility, etc.)

Grit and Resilience

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (5*) by Angela Duckworth (from Penn’s Positive Psychology research, this book discusses the value of and how to strengthen our grit. An excellent work with actionable and motivational stories.)

Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities (unrated) by Paul Stoltz (we did some research and consulting around this during the time that I was at Stanford, but I haven’t worked with it or heard much of it since. I prefer the work coming out of Penn’s Positive Psychology work)


The Highly Sensitive Person (3*) by Elaine N. Aron (I was recommended to read this book by a colleague who saw me likely as a highly sensitive person. I think that I identified with the book at times so much that it disturbed me, but despite all my interest in assessments and tools, struggled with the definition of “highly sensitive”. There were several helpful recommendations and analyses in the book. May be particularly helpful for a parent or partner of someone who is highly sensitive to understand and empathize.)

Death and Dying

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (5*) by Fredrik Backman (an old man’s struggle to keep a grasp on his memories while he is fading away. I love quite a few of Backman’s books and this is one of the better ones!)

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying (4*) by Nina Riggs (a book that deals with a tragic, early death of a mother with breast cancer. It also has thought and inspiration around how to make the most of one’s life and contribution with limited time)

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (this is a classic book about a beloved professor dying of cancer.  Very inspirational and thought-provoking)

The Five People You Meet in Heaven (5*) by Mitch Albom (this was an interesting book, whether one believes in heaven or not, to have a chance to see the impact of our lives, so that we can think about that impact and live more deliberately)

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven (4*) by Mitch Albom (this builds on The Five People You Meet in Heaven, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the original)

The First Phone Call from Heaven (4*) by Mitch Albom (this was more of entertainment than as thought provoking as Albom’s earlier books)

For One More Day (4*) by Mitch Albom (this book has the character meeting his mother again for one day (after she has long since passed). It leads to the interesting thought of what we would say to a loved one if we had one more day, which perhaps could lead it to say it to them while everyone is still alive)

Mental Health

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family (5*) by Robert Kolker (an interesting documentary on a large family that suffered from mental illness, the impacts and challenges)

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward (3*) by Mark Lukach (an insight to the impact on a spouse and family when a key member struggles with mental health. Could be good for empathy to understand a colleague or employee who has a family member with mental health struggles)