Home All Books for the Holiday Season and into the New Year

Books for the Holiday Season and into the New Year

written by Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton 15 December 2010

Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton are the senior editors of PositivePsychologyNews.com. Together they have edited two books in the Positive Psychology News series: Resilience: How to Navigate Life's Curves and Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life's Gifts. Kathryn co-edited the third book in the series, Character Strengths Matter, with Shannon Polly. Their co-authored articles are here.

Senia Maymin, MAPP '06, is the coauthor of Profit from the Positive. Maymin is an executive coach to entrepreneurs and CEOs. Her PhD is in organizational behavior from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Full Bio. Her solo articles are here and her articles with Margaret Greenberg are here.

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06 also co-authored Smarts and Stamina on using positive psychology principles to build strong health habits. Blog. Full bio. Her solo articles are here.


A Colorful Library

A Colorful Library

Editor’s Note: Today the authors, editors, and friends of PPND share some books we are giving to our friends in case they give you ideas for holiday gifts. These books include our favorite books about positive psychology and some novels that carry positive messages.

For more recommendations from PositivePsychologyNews.com , see the 2009 holiday book list. The 2008 Holiday Ideas article also includes some book ideas.

Coming up in December: Collected suggestions for movies, tips for thriving in the holidays, and ideas for a strong start of the new year.

Positive Psychology News Daily has published two books that would be great holiday gifts:

Martin Seligman


Senia Maymin

    My father who previously wrote an action-adventure novel just wrote a book that I think is the best gift for the holidays for kids and grandkids. It’s an interactive children’s book, and it has beautiful drawings. Great to read with them. Ages 4-11. It is available with color illustrations: Truth: Ethics for Your Child (Color Edition) (Volume 1) and a less expensive version with black-and-white illustrations: Truth: Ethics for Your Child (Black & White Edition) (Volume 1)


    Kathryn Britton

    I love Laurens van der Post’s two books, A Story Like the Wind and A Far-Off Place. They are powerful stories that stick to the imagination. I included small excerpts in the article I wrote about the two books in my blog, including this quotation:

    Bamuthi: “Then a man-child also had to learn how to sing and above all to dance; for dancing and singing were the best ways he had of showing gratitude for the good things of life. Song and, above all, dancing were the surest ways of helping a man to endure the great trials of his existence; they were needed at birth, marriage and before war to strengthen his heart.”

    I also like anything by Tamora Pierce. She writes great stories for young adults that I have reread over and over because they are stories of grit and courage. Here’s a description of the Protector of the Small series, in case you have a young adult on your shopping list. My son enjoyed them too when he was a bit younger.

    It’s the time of year to pull out Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories by L. M. Montgomery, a great storyteller.

    I also frequently look at Atul Gawande’s book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. I have his new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, on my Christmas list.

    Timothy So

Margarita Tarragona

I continue to love Caroline Miller´s Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide, especially for this time of the year. Here’s a link to Emiliya’s review of it.

I really liked Tom Rath & Jim Harter´s Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

I also liked Dan Buettner´s Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way.

Another good book is The Strengths Book: Be Confident, Be Successful, and Enjoy Better Relationships by Realising the Best of You by Alex Linley, Janet Willars and Robert Biswas-Diener

Also, I liked Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.

In Spanish, Alejandro Castro Solano from the Univeridad de Palermo en Buenos Aires, edited a wonderful Introducción a la Psicología Positiva (Ed. Paidós, 2010)

And of course I am really looking forward to reading Marty´s new book on Flourishing.

Circle of books 


Sulynn Choong

I recommend

Denise Clegg

Sean Doyle

Sherri Fisher

Margaret Greenberg

Bridget Grenville-Cleave

Nicholas Hall
I recommend Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen!!

Jeremy McCarthy

Elaine O’Brien

Cassie Robinson
I find the book, Hand Made edited by Tessa Britton really inspiring. This book is a result of two years research into new types of community projects. The twenty-eight authors have contributed perspectives and stories about how participating and initiating within communities are changing. These innovative views come from experiences with creating fresh opportunities for people to come together positively in their communities to learn, share, and make. Hand Made is part of the Social Spaces project. I wrote the last chapter of the book about the capacity of people and human nature to be collaborative.

I also recommend The World Book of Happiness, which includes a chapter I wrote on the relationship between eudaimonic well-being and intimacy and sexuality.

The site, Nesta: Making Innovations Flourish is a crucial resource for positive psychologists to put their practice into the heart and context of social innovation and systemic, radical, social change ideas!

Finally, I recommend The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen. The book is less about a concept of justice than it is about a framework in which to think about justice. It suggests that one should reject any form of transcendental institutionalism (“We just need to figure out what the perfect institutions are.”) and instead ask oneself, “How do we change society for the better?”

Lisa Sansom

Definitely Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. Here’s a link to Amanda Levy’s review of the book.

Also, for parents,

Marie-Josee Shaar

I recommend The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes, and Catherine McCarthy.

Angus Skinner

I recommend Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine Saint Exupery. This is a great book for children and for adults looking for resilience and insight. “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”) The book was written while the author was in New York. For more information, see the Wikipedia article about it.

Yee-Ming Tan

  • I recommend a subscription to Monocle magazine

Yukun Zhao

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya

We invite you to post your ideas of life-enriching books.


Colorful bookshelves courtesy of See-Ming Lee
Circle of people and books courtesy of Alexandre Duret-Lutz

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Steve Safigan 15 December 2010 - 11:12 am

Here’s my suggestion: “The Gifts of Imperfection: Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life” by Brene Brown. And before reading the book, you MUST check out her TED talks online:


aaron jarden 15 December 2010 - 5:32 pm

Some fantastic suggestions. Can’t believe no one recommend “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives” by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis which was my favourite over the last year…


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