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17 Great Books About Gratitude & Oliver Sacks Gratitude Book

Gratitude BooksGratitude is good for us physically and mentally.

While being grateful is linked to feelings of joy and contentment, it also improves sleep, creativity, relationships, and decision-making – even lowering our blood pressure (Portocarrero et al., 2020; Brown, 2021).

Unlike some other positive emotions that wear off quickly, gratitude lasts, helping us participate more in life, magnifying the pleasures, and celebrating the goodness we find (Brown, 2021).

In this article, we share many great books on the gift of gratitude that can help us and our clients appreciate ourselves, others, and what we have.

We thought you might like to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients connect to more positive emotions and enjoy the benefits of gratitude.

Oliver Sacks’s Gratitude Book & Other Publications

Gratitude

No list of gratitude books would be complete without including Oliver Sacks.

Oliver Sacks was an extraordinary man for many reasons. Not only was he a prolific author and respected neurologist, but he was also a thoughtful and generous person who exuded a bright-eyed wonder and gratitude for life (Sacks, 2015a).

He made his mark with books like Awakenings (1999), The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (2005), and Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007), but it may be his final essays, crafted with both a scientific pragmatism and an enthusiastic zest for life, that many of his fans and well-wishers will remember for years to come.

Sacks announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in January 2015 with a stirring and emotional essay in The New York Times. Toward the end, Sacks (2015a, para. 7) shared his current state with the following words:

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.”

This sentiment is a fitting one for Sacks and captures the essence of his final book. Gratitude is an ode to life, love, mortality, and the unique pleasures and challenges accompanying being human (Sacks, 2015b).

The book comprises four essays originally published in The New York Times, including the essay announcing his illness, complemented by words from his partner and a longtime collaborator, as well as photographs from the last few years of his life.

Gratitude is a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching look at life, death, and everything in between, with a message encouraging the reader to be grateful for every second of it.

Find the book on Amazon.

Sacks’s contribution to our understanding of gratitude resulted from how he lived his life: grateful for each moment. You can see it in his books, essays, and the photographs he left behind (Hayes, 2018).

Sacks did not just think about or write about gratitude; he lived it. He imbued his work with gratitude, and that gratitude shines through.

I heartily recommend any of Oliver Sacks’s books or essays. His writing is accessible, clear, and pleasantly free of jargon, considering his career in neuroscience.

This article from The Atlantic provides an excellent reading list for those curious about his work.

9 Excellent Gratitude Books

While there are many gratitude books, we have reviewed several lists from Amazon, Penguin Publishing, New York Times, Forbes, and beyond and included our favorites below. Each teaches us what thankfulness means to us as individuals and furthers our understanding of the psychology behind gratitude.

1. Lost & Found: Reflections on Grief, Gratitude, and Happiness – Kathryn Schultz

Lost & Found

Kathryn Schultz discusses loss, love, and gratitude for life in this New York Times Editor’s Choice bestseller.

Part memoir and part guide, it’s a profound and beautiful read written with curiosity, humor, and appreciation for the connections between us all.

The book is a Pulitzer Prize winner and winner of the Lambda Literary Award.

Find the book on Amazon.


2. Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection – Haemin Sunim

Love for Imperfect Things

Zen Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim teaches us gratitude in his follow-up to his international bestseller The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down by recognizing that being yourself is enough.

Sunim believes that only once we accept ourselves can we truly show compassion and gratitude for others, creating deeper, lasting, and more fulfilling relationships with our lives and others.

Find the book on Amazon.


3. The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection

Gifted mapmaker for the weary traveler, Brené Brown is widely recognized and respected as a renowned professor and researcher with decades of experience in (among other emotions and experiences) courage, vulnerability, shame, empathy, and gratitude.

Brown invites readers to join a revolution in this powerful and insightful book by recognizing that “my story matters to me.” Choosing authenticity and worthiness starts a journey to appreciate ourselves and those around us.

Find the book on Amazon.

The gifts of imperfection - HoustonPBS

This talk by Brené Brown discusses The Gifts of Imperfection and explains how viewers can engage with the world from a place of worthiness and courage.

4. Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier – Robert Emmons

Thanks!

You will see Robert Emmons’s name several times on this list, and that’s no mistake. Emmons is a veritable force of nature in gratitude research, with many gratitude books and articles published on the subject.

Emmons’s book is perfect for students, professionals, and anyone interested in a more solid foundation in the theory, philosophy, and evidence surrounding gratitude as a psychological construct.

You will learn about the theories behind gratitude from an evolutionary perspective, from a moral viewpoint, and even with a focus on physiology.

Yet, Emmons’s ultimate goal is to explain how practicing gratefulness can increase our chances of happiness and help us cope better with the challenges life throws at us.

Find the book on Amazon.


5. I Want to Thank You: How a Year of Gratitude Can Bring Joy and Meaning in a Disconnected World – Gina Hamadey

I Want to Thank You

Gina Hamadey recognizes that social media — far from bringing us closer together — leaves us feeling more disconnected and emotionally depleted.

Following recovery from burnout, Hamadey changed her life by devoting all her energies to developing a lasting active gratitude practice.

It’s a simple guide with a powerful positive message of appreciation.

Find the book on Amazon.


6. A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life – John Kralik

A Simple Act of Gratitude

In this personal and touching memoir, John Kralik describes how he went from an all-time low to a happy and flourishing life by simply writing thank-you notes.

He began his gratitude journey by setting a goal for himself: Over the next year, he would write 365 thank-you notes, one per day.

As he produced each handwritten note, he noticed profound changes occurring in his life and identified a roadmap for anyone struggling to make similar changes in their life.

Find the book on Amazon.


7. The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures Into Powerful Business Results – Michele Bailey

The Currency of Gratitude

Michele Bailey argues that it is not targeted technology that will grow and sustain businesses in the modern era; it is personalized contact with our customers and clients.

Bailey believes that only through showing gratitude can organizations cultivate genuine and long-lasting relationships that will overcome the ups and downs of an uncertain future.

It’s a fascinating read that promotes the idea that small gestures can have big results.

Find the book on Amazon.


8. The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life – Janice Kaplan

The Gratitude Diaries

This New York Times best-selling book details one woman’s efforts to keep her New Year’s resolution of being more grateful and optimistic.

Janice Kaplan, a journalist and the former editor-in-chief of Parade magazine, weaves academic research and evidence-based findings with her own personal journey to present readers with an excellent reason to give gratitude a shot.

This book is an excellent choice for more casual readers interested in gratitude, as the tone is informal and accessible. Still, it also presents a message that everyone can benefit from receiving.

Find the book on Amazon.

The gratitude diaries - Janice Kaplan

In this fascinating talk, Janice Kaplan describes her journey through gratitude at tech giant Google.

9. Words of Gratitude for Mind, Body, and Soul – Robert Emmons and Joanna Hill

Words of Gratitude Mind Body and Soul

While written over 20 years ago, Robert Emmons and Joanna Hill’s book still provides a clear and timely message.

Words of Gratitude is written in the sweet spot of tones, comfortably in between academic and intimate. While the authors outline some of the major gratitude research, it is described with minimal jargon in clean and simple prose.

If you’re looking for a book that will teach you a few new things while inspiring you to a gratitude-filled life, this book is for you!

Find the book on Amazon.

Download 3 Free Gratitude Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to build daily gratitude habits, express more appreciation toward others, and experience more positive emotions in everyday life.

Audiobooks on Gratitude Worth Listening To

We all know how effective audiobooks are in helping us consume and connect with great authors.

We have created a short list of some of our favorites based on reviewing recommendations on Audible and Amazon.

1. Gratitude: The Essential Practice for Happiness & Fulfillment – Angeles Arrien

Gratitude

Gratitude is relatively easy when everything is going well. But how about when it isn’t?

Author, cultural anthropologist, and narrator Angeles Arrien integrates science with practices from many different cultures to help you master being more thankful every day.

You will learn various tools and techniques for increasing appreciation, including gratitude journals, letters of thanks, and stories.

Find the book on Amazon.


2. The Science of Positivity – Loretta Graziano Breuning

The Science of Positivity

Neurochemical expert Loretta Graziano Breuning helps listeners lift themselves from negativity by setting new thought habits that promote positive emotions, such as gratitude.

Each practice lasts a few minutes, takes six weeks to embed as neural pathways, and shifts toward a rewarding sense of appreciation and optimism.

Find the book on Amazon.


3. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of the Human Experience – Brené Brown

Atlas of the Heart

In Brené Brown’s recent book, she takes us on a tour of 87 emotions and experiences, good and bad.

In the chapter “Places We Go When Life is Good,” Brown explores gratitude and other positive emotions such as joy, calmness, and contentment.

The listener learns the importance of celebrating goodness and how gratitude can continue to enrich our lives.

Find the book on Amazon.


4. The Little Book of Gratitude: Create a Life of Happiness and Wellbeing by Giving Thanks – Robert Emmons

The Little Book of Gratitude

Robert Emmons introduces a series of step-by-step science-led activities for increasing feelings of happiness, joy, connectedness, and gratitude to generate a positive ripple effect, transforming multiple life domains.

Emmons combines recent research with practices such as mindfulness to build a more appreciative outlook and emotional resilience, encouraging greater joy, love, peace, and optimism in our lives.

Find the book on Amazon.

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Gratitude Books for Kids

Combining positive reviews on Goodreads, Audible, and Amazon, along with our personal experiences from parenting and as mental health experts, we have arrived at a short list of three excellent gratitude books that children (and adults) will likely find helpful and inspirational.

1. Thank You, Omu! – Oge Mora

Thank You, Omu!

This is a delightful book written by Oge Mora to introduce young readers to the idea of gratitude.

It features vivid and colorful illustrations that enable children to discover how Omu’s act of kindness — sharing her stew — leads to her once-full bowl becoming empty as she gives it away to her neighbors.

The story speaks of sharing and community, is inspired by strong female roles, and offers an overwhelming sense of love.

Find the book on Amazon.


2. Thankful – Eileen Spinelli

Thankful

Eileen Spinelli’s book, written for young children, celebrates acts of kindness and gratitude.

Designed to be read aloud, this heartwarming book contains pictures that come to life and will engage any young child, providing an opportunity to talk about what we appreciate and how we can show it.

Find the book on Amazon.


3. Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids – Hunter Clarke-Fields

Raising Good Humans

Kindness, compassion, and gratitude can be learned.

Hunter Clarke-Fields helps parents break free from reactive parenting and raise more considerate, well-balanced, and appreciative children.

After all, when children see their parents act with kindness and gratitude, they are more likely to do the same.

The book aims to replace negative autopilot reactions with respectful communication, effective conflict resolution, and reflective listening.

Find the book on Amazon.

Appreciation & Gratefulness Tools

We have many resources for coaches and therapists to help individuals, couples, and groups practice gratitude and appreciation.

Our free resources include the following:

More extensive versions of the following tools are available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, but they are described briefly below:

  • Thank You Letter to Your Partner

We often fail to show gratitude to those closest to us. This tool helps couples cultivate and express fondness and appreciation for one another to improve relationship satisfaction.

Complete the following:

Dear [ ]

Thank you for [ ]

I appreciate you because [ ]

I think you are great at [ ]

I want you to know that [ ]

Sincerely with love,

[ ]

  • The Positive Team Timeline

A successful team depends on high-quality relationships between its members.

Recalling and reflecting on shared success can help create a kinder, more compassionate vision of their journey.

This exercise helps team members visualize, discuss, and savor meaningful events and build a comprehensive overview of their shared experiences.

    • Step one – Select defining positive moments. As a group, reflect on the positive moments, successes, and highlights your team has shared.
    • Step two – Consider the most essential elements. Reflect on the most positive aspects of each item in step one.
    • Step three – What strengths were needed? Next, identify the strengths used, expressing gratitude for those belonging to each team member that resulted in success.
    • Step four – Reflect on group strengths. Consider each member’s strengths and how they combine as a team.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others harness the benefits of gratitude, check out this collection of 17 validated gratitude tools for practitioners. Use them to help others shift to a more positive mindset and experience the joys of life more deeply.

17 Exercises To Nurture Gratitude & Appreciation

Empower others with more hope, satisfaction, and fulfilling relationships with these 17 Gratitude & Appreciation Exercises [PDF] that harness the powerful benefits of gratitude.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

A Take-Home Message

For many years, gratitude has been a hot topic in positive psychology practice and research.

In fact, if you type “gratitude” into Google Scholar, you’ll get about 3.14 million results!

Gratitude is a popular area of research not only because it is an inherently “positive” topic, but also because of its tremendous potential to help us flourish (Brown, 2021).

Many gratitude books are available that discuss its importance and potential to transform our lives by focusing on more positive emotions and our connections with others and events.

The gratitude books included in this post are a collection of ones identified as essential reading in other reviews, along with personal favorites. While they offer various perspectives, they all share a passion for teaching the reader how to create a transformational journey to gratitude.

Those in the children’s section offer a vehicle for ongoing discussion on what appreciation means and why it matters, creating the opportunity for valued futures embodied by gratitude.

The remaining books will be personally helpful for you as mental health practitioners or working with clients, potentially providing appropriate reading assignments.

Enjoy your reading and let us know if there are any other books on gratitude you recommend!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free.

Ed: Updated February 2024

  • Brown, B. (2021). Atlas of the heart. Vermilion.
  • Hayes, B. (2018). Insomniac city: New York, Oliver, and me. Bloomsbury.
  • Portocarrero, F. F., Gonzalez, K., & Ekema-Agbaw, M. (2020). A meta-analytic review of the relationship between dispositional gratitude and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 164.
  • Sacks, O. (1999). Awakenings. Random House.
  • Sacks, O. (2005). The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Everyman.
  • Sacks, O. (2007). Musicophilia : Tales of music and the brain. Picador.
  • Sacks, O. (2015a, February 19). My own life. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opinion/oliver-sacks-on-learning-he-has-terminal-cancer.html
  • Sacks, O. (2015b). Gratitude. Alfred A. Knopf.
Comments

What our readers think

  1. Jennifer Snyder, CLC

    I have always encouraged my coaching clients to practice gratitude. This blog and the science of gratitude is fascinating. I look forward to sharing it along with all of the book recommendations as well. Thank you for providing such valuable information! I am grateful I stumbled across this site.

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