Mental Shift List: Brain Food

The first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move.” – Gil Scott-Heron (The 90s, PBS)

I’ve always been an avid reader since the third grade which fed into my passion for writing and creative expression. So I compiled a list of four special books that elevated my perception of life in recent years:

  1. All About Love by bell hooks

I found myself comparing this book to the bible. It is so thick and layered with information, not in the physical sense. But the depths she presents in her inspection and ideologies made me constantly put it down and pick it up because Hooks unraveled my unconscious mind too well. There are countless themes but the greatest idea, broken down by scenario, examined how we live life out of fear rather than freedom. She dives further into that notion by detailing the dynamic and opposing responses between life and death. Blew my mind.

2. Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz

Before reading this book, I lived by the first agreement since it was instilled in me as a child: Be impeccable with your word. But I struggled with the other three. Ruiz broke down these concepts in practical moments of daily life. Then brings validity and to the various centers of human sufferation. I won’t spoil the reading for you (although a quick Google search can do that). But overall, Ruiz uses Toltec history to detail steps on how to set yourself free from the world and your preconceived mind. He consistently notes the difficulty to attain this type of freedom, which is where the fourth agreement comes in.

3. More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

Welteroth, who can now be seen on daytime TV on The Talk, is also an author. This book resonated with me because her career path falls so closely with my career goals. She reveals her come-up into the world of media and entertainment from beginning to end without holding back! She shares her childhood moments, teenage years, college experiences, internships, and the whole nine yards. I love this heavily-detailed autobiography because steps to success are rarely explained in full. Usually, moments are omitted or details twice-removed. Not in this book. As a young Black woman that began in advertising (MAIP alum!) then shifted to magazine journalism, then shifted to hosting, and now literature, is a magnificent journey. Especially, as another Black woman aspiring to contribute to those fields, it’s comforting to watch someone do it. Then explain to the world exactly how it she did it. Self-esteem is the theme found between every page.


Elaine and her mom have great soothing voices, I listened to the audible. Get them on the Calm app!

4. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Ah, Tiffany. I honestly didn’t expect to relate as much as I did with some of her life experiences in this book. But a couple of them hit close to home. You’ll have to read it to get the specifics, but a great theme she gets across is the power of crazy courageousness (and a whole lot of crazy is in that book). She doesn’t try to cover up turmoil and failures with flowers, or make hard times sound like a constant opportunity. She kept it real, and real funny. The text of the book is more conversational than formal, which I love. It sounds like you’re talking to a friend.

These are only a few literary works that have shifted my mind set. Leave a comment with any books or pieces that freed you.

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