On My Bookshelf (Currently)

I live in a world of words and letters…

I have always been a bookworm. Never without a book in tow or a wishlist half a mile long of books that I want to read next. Over time, the subjects and fervency of how quickly I devour these books has evolved, but they have still been an ever-constant presence in my life.

However, I also consider myself a minimalist. I do not like clutter and having stuff just for the sake of having stuff. I feel like everything that I own should serve a purpose, and only on rare occasions is that purpose “just because it makes me happy“. Clothes that have not been worn in the past year get sold or donated and books that I do not plan on reading or referencing again get the same treatment as well.

This may be a habit that came out of necessity due to moving just about once a year for the past 8 years – one of my least favorite and most anxiety-producing activities in life. Less stuff = less stuff to move. people fill their homes with things because they are afraid of empty spaces…

I embrace them.

Wow… what started out as a simple blog post about what books I decided to keep around and be worth the heavy moving boxes has suddenly turned into a philosophical moment…


Bringing it back to the original topic of this post, here are the books that are currently on my bookshelf. NOTE: Just because a book is on my shelf right now does not mean that it will continue to be there one month, one year, or ten years from now. For the most part, I get what I need out of book, either by writing down my favorite quotes or the takeaway messages that I got from said book, and then I pass that book along to someone else who I hope also gets something out of the material.


The Harry Potter series

This is one set of books that I will never part with. I know that I speak for a lot of individuals when I say that the Harry Potter series has a special place in their heart.

I vividly remember reading the HP books aloud from the backseat whenever my mom and I were driving anywhere. We used to visit my grandmother quite frequently, and we felt the need to fill that time. That’s where these books came in. As you can imagine, that meant not reading the books very quickly, but it made car time very special and I will always associate reading these books with my relationship with my mother.

By the time the final books released, I was much older and able to drive myself around. I remember going to a midnight release party for the final book and looking for leaks online. I even played the video games and have a signed Harry Potter poster.

Fun Fact: My mother and I went on a 2-week Harry Potter-themed tour of England and Scotland back when I was 14 or 15. We visited filming locations and places that served as the inspiration for scenes. We even got to visit the coffee shop that J. K. Rowling spent time writing the early drafts of what would become the worldwide magical sensation.


This is the shelf that will probably change the most.

Remember, I said that this is a post on what is currently on my shelf.

The Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business

Starting an online nutrition consulting and counseling business has been a dream of mine for a few years now. I didn’t want to start it while I was still in school and completing my internship because I felt it was important, given my field, to have all of my credentials in place beforehand. Over the past year, I have played with the idea until I finally bit the bullet, got a website, and formed an LLC (Ellen the RD, LLC). You can work with me, one-on-one, from the convenience of your own home and all online.

This book is just one of the resources I have been using to help make sure that I get my bases covered as far as what I need. There are a lot of online coaches out there, but I have my doubts that they have all of the paperwork and legal matters in place that they are required to have, or should have, to protect themselves and their company. There are a lot of minute details that are overlooked… like that Skype is not HIPAA-compliant and a lot of health coaches use Skype for video chats and consultations.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

(See story from previous picture.) Because, duh!

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body

A book that I will probably end up selling before my next move, but I really enjoy reading about this type of material. Cure looks in to the role of the mind and mental well-being in the disease and healing processes. It also examines the placebo effect to a large degree, which I find fascinating. People usually mention the placebo effect (a beneficial effect that cannot be attributed to the properties of the treatment itself and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment) as if it’s a bad thing. It’s not! If you feel better and there are no adverse side effects, does it really matter where it comes from?

One critique I had was that, as a British science journalist and PhD from London, the author Jo Marchant focused more on the UK healthcare system rather than that in the United States.

The Purpose Driven Life

I identify myself as a (non-denominational) Christian. I read devotionals. I once belonged to a traveling Christian choir. I believe in God. If you don’t, or are not open to the idea of a higher being of some sort, then this book may not be for you. However, if you have ever asked the question “What on Earth am I here for?”, then maybe it is.

I went through a phase in early 2015 of reading a lot of self-help, spiritual, and personal development books like this and other, non-religion-focused texts.

Self-Directed Behavior: Self-Modification for Personal Adjustment

This was actually a textbook from one of my graduate school courses. As a dietitian, in addition to nutrition education, a lot of what I do centers around behavior change. This is also a current area of interest as I find myself reading many more books and sources on counseling and behavior change – why we do what we do and why change is so difficult, even if we know that our current behaviors are harmful (or potentially harmful).

Going through that course and utilizing this book actually helped me finally form the habit of daily flossing (before then I flossed maybe once or twice every six months if something got caught between my teeth – my poor gums!).

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

I read this book when I was also studying for my Registered Dietitian exam in December 2015. My life was in a state of flux – I had finished my Masters degree and was studying to pass my RD exam so that I could finally call myself a Registered Dietitian. I was also applying for jobs all over the Midwest, Central, and Eastern US regions with no certain job prospects in sight. I was in a relationship that was still in it’s relatively early stages and had suddenly become long distance after I had to move back in with my mom between graduation and finding a job. I was post-show after competing in a bodybuilding competition (more on that another time). Basically, I was searching.

At the time, this was also a very popular book that I had seen all over Instagram, Facebook, and other various social media platforms. What I got out of it was: 1) that you should place high priority items early in your day, 2) that a narrow focus will lead to greater achievement, 3) that our purpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce, and 4) that who we are and where we want to go will determine what we do and what we accomplish.

“What is the ONE thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The Bulletproof Diet

No, I do not follow the Bulletproof Diet. No, it was not written by a Registered Dietitian or even someone with a degree in nutrition or science. No, I do not think that if you follow this diet that all of your health woes will be erased and you will live forever. Yes, I will be selling this book.

As a dietitian, I try and stay abreast with current diet and nutrition trends and fads so that when I encounter them with my patients and clients, I will be educated in what those diets entail. I also believe that, while there is no “perfect” diet, most diets have at least some grain of truth or redeeming quality to them.

The Bulletproof Diet, while not necessarily ketogenic, is fairly low-carb and encourages the practice of intermittent fasting. Neither of these things are inherently bad. Had it not been for this book, I may not have self-experimented with either of these practices. More first-hand experience for me means that I can better understand my clients and the challenges and events they may face if they choose to adopt certain dietary practices.

With the Bulletproof Diet, I finally made the swap from a coffeemaker to a French Press, and I started to incorporate more fats into my diet. Fat does not make you fat. I know this. But, we do live in a world that demonizes fat… and carbs… and animal protein… and veganism… and basically everything. I also learned that I, personally, function better on a higher-carbohydrate diet due to my lifestyle and individual carbohydrate/glucose tolerance. I also learned that I really like eating 4-6 times per day and not 2.


This is what I fondly refer to as my “Fitness” section. Because, yes, it does make up a large part of how I choose to spend my non-working hours.

Some of these are actual books that I purchased, and others are PDF documents that I purchased as digital content, but choose to print because that is how I learn and absorb information best.

Muscle and Strength Pyramids

This binder contains both the Training and Nutrition pyramids developed chiefly by Eric Helms. The nutrition guide addresses nutrition prioritization in accordance to goals (from basic energy balance to advanced supplementation), calculations for athletes, and philosophies for long-term adherence and success in your behaviors and lifestyle. The training guide shows you the order of things that count (from basic adherence to more advanced topics such as tempo), how to critically analyze articles and research to reach conclusions and be able to apply to training, and provides detailed sample programs to provide starting points for novice, intermediate, and advanced-level athletes.

One of the things that I love about these PDFs is the sheer amount of references and scientific article notations found in every chapter. #ScienceBitch

Precision Nutrition Certification Manual and Materials

In case you were not aware, I am actually a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified coach. While much of the nutrition information was not new to me, about HALF of the course centers around behavior change, which, as you read above, is a large part of my job. I sought this certification out on my own and my current position as an outpatient dietitian in a hospital did not cover any of the costs.

I do a lot of self-reflection and self-assessment. I know that counseling and motivational interviewing is a weakness of mine. My mind is very clinical and numbers-based and would be perfectly content just calculating tube feedings and parenteral nutrition prescriptions all day long. That’s why I did this, though. That’s why I interviewed for and accepted my current position and that’s why I got this certification. Because I am not content on my weaknesses remaining weaknesses.

Having been exposed to PN material since my personal training internship in 2012, I have followed the blog and the program in the background. Due to a newly available payment structure, I decided it was time to invest in myself and my career and I enrolled in (and finished) the course in the past few months.

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding

This hefty number really shows where my passions lie. Strength training and bodybuilding-style training is my main hobby. It has done so much for both my body and my mind, coming from a disordered eating background as I do (more on that another time). From the man, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, this book goes in to strength training, competition, history of the sport, nutrition, sports psychology, injury, training methods, and illustrates exercises and rightly earns itself the reputation of being the “bible of bodybuilding”.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

This is really where it all began for me back in 2011. This was my first ever strength training program and what first got me in the gym and lifting weights. Back in my running days, strength training served as injury prevention. However, my lifting sessions quickly overtook my running sessions as my favorite training days. Schuler and Forsythe address some of the myths that keep women out of the gym and stuck in the cardio-only loop.

As the book says,

“Lift like a man, look like a goddess”.

You do not have to jump straight from never having stepped foot in a gym before to lifting weights six days a week. Personally, I love strength training 4-6 days a week, but I worked my way up there over the past 5+ years. This is a 2-3 days a week program with workouts lasting around an hour. This would make a perfect introduction to the women in your life who you think would benefit from strength training (*cough* all of them *cough*).

Renaissance Woman

This is from Renaissance Periodization, which is actually where I got the nutrition template that I am currently following. Yes, even dietitians hire coaches and follow other peoples’ plans. While I am well-versed in general healthy nutrition, as well as macronutrient and micronutrient composition of basically every food out there, I only vaguely played around with specific sports-performance nutrition and nutrient timing before now. However, with several endurance races and the possibility of another bodybuilding competition in the future, and knowing that I already have the basics down, nutrient timing now has a place in enhancing my performance goals.

The diet templates are not included with the book, but I did read the book first and you are able to get a good starting point from just reading the book by itself. I loved the reference material and all of the non-nutrition related material as well. Psychology plays a much larger role in the dieting process than I think many people realize. This text also addresses female-specific issues, such as breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Substituting Ingredients

Because if I’m in the middle of making a recipe and I either run out of an ingredient or don’t have said ingredient at all, chances are not good that I will run out to the store to pick it up. I need to know what I can use that I already have on hand.

For those interested…

Here are the professional reference books that I have kept past school and my internship:

Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care

Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism

Communication and Education Skills for Dietetics Professionals

ASPEN Adult Nutrition Support Core Curriculum

Last, but not least, I will leave you with these very powerful opinions…

Hardcover > Paperback
Movie < Book


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