Mayim Bialik is an actor, writer, and neuroscientist best known for her roles on the sitcoms Blossom and The Big Bang Theory. She is now curating a DC Comics book series, Flash Facts, in which the Scarlet Speedster answers science-related questions.

Warrior by Theresa Larson (2016).

Larson was a Marine commander in Afghanistan who managed hundreds of troops in the most critical, life-threatening situations. But her greatest battle was with bulimia, a condition that forced her to fight to be released from service so she could confront and defeat it. Her story of resilience, bravery, and acceptance inspires me.

Out of the Depths by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau (2005).

Of all of the stories that emerged from the Holocaust, this memoir by one of the youngest survivors of Buchenwald — Lau was 8 at the time of liberation — is one of the most unbelievable, miraculous, and heart-wrenching that you could read.

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (2010).

While Martel is best known for The Life of Pi, this novel is a rollercoaster of faith, animal rights, humor, and redemption. I consider it one of the finest books I have ever read.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (2009).

This is a book that you cannot look away from. Foer, an accomplished novelist himself, shares the discoveries he made while researching the farming and manufacture of meat as his wife prepared to give birth to their first child. What he discovers shakes him to his core, and many of us have followed where that led him. This book was the last I read before completely committing to a plant-based lifestyle.

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer (2007).

Here is the book that changed my life forever. A series of philosophical lectures, it is incredibly direct and not at all flowery. Singer takes you deep into a consciousness of your purpose here and raises you up to be more than you knew you could be. This is one of my desert-island books.

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller (2010).

Without going into too much detail, I read this book after a bad breakup. Written by a neuroscientist and a psychologist, it shifted my understanding of my own needs as well as of the pitfalls of seeking love and validation from others. It is a powerful book for lay people who are looking for an evidence-based explanation for why they might be making the wrong choices in love — and advice on how to get it right.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.