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10 Books To Read On Developing and Understanding Empathy

Learn to finally put yourself in another person’s shoes…

Empathy is the capacity living beings have to feel for others that surround them. Its present around all creatures in the animal kingdom, humans included. With us being social beings that at the end of the day depend on one another to ensure the survival of the species, one would think that empathy is a skill present in all of us, but this isn’t the case. In fact, many people actually struggle with it and some just plain don’t care for other’s feelings.

That said, the lack of a skill increases the value of those who have it. Develop your empathy, learn to feel for other’s human being so they like you and support you on your mission, make yourself the kind of person whose name others will defend for you are so damn likeable and sympathetic to them.

Don’t know where to start? Here are the best books on the subject.

#1 Code Words by Jessica Lucci

My poetry book “Code Words” provides a point of view look into a variety of mental illnesses. This is empowering for people surviving with these illnesses and for their friends and family who struggle to understand them.

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Contributor: Jessica Lucci from JessicaLucci

#2 Freedom for Me by Jessica Lucci

My poetry collection “Freedom For Me” is a first person account of living with and surviving through domestic abuse and violence. This book is invaluable for loved ones who want to understand the trauma of going through this way of life, and helping.

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Contributor: Jessica Lucci from JessicaLucci

#4 Victoria Falls by James Hornor

Parts of this story are autobiographical. Like the protagonist, James Monroe, I had gone through a painful divorce and I was in somewhat of an identity crisis. Most men define their lives through their family and the accomplishments of their career. So in my early forties I began to look for my true identity as a man and as a human being as opposed to being defined by my trophies of accomplishment, power and position. The novel takes an honest look at what it means to be an authentic human being once all of the trappings of societal norms have been stripped away. In prison James Monroe discovers a side of himself that had been suppressed or hidden. He discovers his capacity to be vulnerable and selfless. He essentially redefines manhood by allowing those previously dormant qualities of unconditional love and ongoing care for others to emerge as the new markers of manhood.

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Contributor: Dede Cummings from Green Writers Press

#5 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book by Rebecca Skloot is a must-read for a variety of reasons, but if you look closely you can find in it some deep and important lessons on empathy. Henrietta Lacks was a black woman stricken with cancer, and doctors took her cells without her permission in order to conduct their own experiments and research on everything from cancer to vaccines to space travel. Reading the story of how companies made billions off of Lacks’ cells while her family remained too poor to afford health insurance will make you take a step back to consider the feelings and needs of others both in this story and in situations in your own life.

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#6 The Magpie Art by Paul Weinfield

This is not a book on meditation or Buddhism, though it has certainly been influenced by both. It is a book of encouragements for all those who are interested in using the unit of a single day to develop good qualities in their minds and hearts. It is a book about teaching yourself from the middle — the middle of frustration or joy or boredom or wherever else you find yourself. It is a book with a single thesis: that there is always something you can do, moment by moment, to rediscover the brightness of your own life.

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Contributor: Dede Cummings from Green Writers Press

#7 Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson

Book teaches readers about empathy and the social skills necessary for interacting with people unlike the reader. The book is designed for school-age children but suitable for all ages. The publisher provides lesson plans to enhance the learning experience for gaining insights into and appreciation for different ways of facing life. The materials guide readers into understanding someone else's feelings, especially if their appearance or point of view is significantly different from that of the reader. That's an import building block for better interpersonal relationships, including the increased happiness of beleaguered people. 

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Contributor: Yocheved Golani from E-Counseling

#8 Conscious Parenting by Ms Nataša Nuit Pantovic

Conscious Parenting isn't just for *learning *about empathy, it also is a must-read for parents who want to *teach *empathy. Nataša Pantović Nuit draws on her experience as an Author, Trainer, Consultant, and Spiritual Researcher to illustrate how empathy isn't formed in a vacuum, rather it is developed from a comprehensive approach to mindfulness. Moreover, she explains how nurturing children to love themselves and others naturally fosters a sense of empathy in young children.

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Contributor: Samantha Morrison from Glacier Wellness

#9 Wonder by R. J. Palacio

This book by R. J. Palacio is the perfect book to read in order to recognize the importance of having empathy for others. It tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a sweet boy born with a facial deformity so severe that it’s impossible not to take notice instantly upon seeing him. As Auggie transitions to mainstream school life in fifth grade he is treated differently because of his appearance, but ultimately he comes to be accepted and loved by his peers. It’s the perfect read for people of any age to gain a little humility and perspective on life. 

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#10 The Age of Empathy by Frans de Waal

First, everyone needs to learn empathy and be a little more kind towards others in an age of cut-throat competition age second, it’s the best book out there on understanding what the hullabaloo over empathy these days and why the greatest leaders of the world quote empathy as one of the prerequisites for effective leadership. As the corporate culture is understood to be a world (subject to interpretations) that one has to outdo each other in terms of reaching to the top as a part of our primitive instinct, the book reveal on testaments from the fields of neuroscience, animal behavior, psychology, and anthropology how humans are actually social animals and works on cooperation, peace, and sensitivity to injustice- all the more reasons to stop thinking you have to tread on someone to be ahead in life.

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Contributor: Ketan Kapoor from Mettl

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Written by Taegan Lion