When I recommend books on psychology I try to satisfy my background in physics, clinical research and serving pharma. I want to know that the author is basing their words on credible evidence, and not just an opinion or profit (even then experts in statistically-based fields like medicine and psychology- can be proven wrong, a fundamental difference between sciences like physics, that require total certainty before a theory is acknowledged as fact).
In psychology and human experience, evidence is often subjective, statistical, and includes huge variation within populations. Experts can be highly susceptible to expert bias (a natural human tendency to filter out only evidence that backs up your original theory and ignore contradictory evidence).
Adding to this, during my career in medical communications I watched on as hugely wealthy pharmaceutical companies spent billions of dollars, and yet still had problems proving simple black-and-white outcomes, such as whether an investigative cancer treatment decreases mortality over long periods of time, or not. It became startingly clear to me that many of the materials presented and accepted as fact in the field of psychology, self-help and psychiatry are far more complex, and in reality are interpretations and theories.
From this point, I chose my reading very carefully, and always take what I read with a pinch of salt if I'm not convinced by the evidence presented.
I have found several books on trauma to be particularly convincing, including The Body Keeps Score, which focuses on how trauma has physical repercussions within the human body, Rethinking Narcissism by Dr. Craig Malkin at Harvard University, whom I cite within How to Handle a Narcissist and whose work I greatly respect for highlighting the inconsistencies between narcissism theory and public opinion. I also found Cognitive Behavior Therapy Made Simple an excellent book for self-use, as I am an advocate of CBT as an evidence-based therapy.
When it comes to reading about relationships, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is one of my most favoured books, written by a relationship scientist who has spent over 20 years following thousands of couples, and who is able to predict the outcome of a marriage to 94% accuracy by watching short interactions between newly wed partners. The mathematical modelling he uses is impressive and I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether single and looking for love or already in a relationship. It highlights some of the key differences between partners, and gives readers a map through a very tricky and important area of life; love.
For anyone who consistently finds themselves being hurt, used or let down by distant and remote partners, Attached is a fantastic read. It explains the attachment system in adult relationships, and why anxious people and avoidant people attract each other to their detriment. It also gives excellent guidance on how people with anxious or avoidant attachment systems can take steps to becoming more secure.
On the other hand, if you ever feel as though you and your partner try but fail to understand each other when trying to communicate love, The 5 Love Languages perfectly explains how people express love differently, and how you can learn to communicate love in a mutually satisfying way.