Need a Self-Help Book That Actually Helps?

Although I’m a fan of bettering myself, so many self-improvement books seem like a rehash of the same basic ideas, or are full of inspiring ideas with little practical application. Once in a while, though, there comes along an author with a book that provides sharp insight and real-world advice that can actually nudge you toward a better you.

One person stands in silhouette on top of a rocky cliff with clear sky in the background

So here is a (non-exhaustive) list of five books that helped me AND were enjoyable to read.

(Be advised that none of these books are intended to be a substitute for any psychiatric treatment, in-person counseling, or medication that may be necessary.)

1. Have a New You By Friday, by Dr. Kevin Leman

This general psychology book is written with Leman’s standard humor, targeted toward anyone who wants to make major changes to their lives. Each chapter correlates to a day in the path to self-improvement, targeting different ideas such as Personality Type, Birth Order, and Love Language. Not surprisingly, it takes much more than a week to see all the results you want, but by Friday you will be better prepared to set out on the path to the new you.

2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Unlike most self-help books, this one doesn’t give you a series of steps toward a specific goal. Instead, Quiet is meant to help introverts accept their unique personality traits and recognize why the world needs them. As someone who has trouble speaking up in groups and prefers quiet nights in—and who has wondered what was wrong with her—Quiet is inspiring and insightful.

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

You only have to look at the cover to know that Manson pulls no punches and stomps all over eggshells. His straightforward, no-nonsense approach and intelligent vulgarity is not for the overly sensitive, but carries plenty of truth and good advice. It’s a great book about how to manage your priorities, come to terms with your limits and flaws, and take responsibility for the events in your life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, and you’ll learn to control your reactions.

4. Stop Self-Sabotage!, by Pat Pearson

If you feel like you occasionally hit a “wall” in some area of life—such as your health, relationships, or career—the obstacle may actually be yourself. This book discusses the numerous ways that all people keep themselves from meeting their goals and achieving excellence. Some of the advice in this book may seem a bit mystical and “woo woo” on the surface, but it is all based in psychology and Pearson’s experience as a psychotherapist.

5. Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating, by Lauren Henderson

My friend bought me this book as a joke, not anticipating how much I would enjoy its gentle, Austen-inspired wit. Sure, it’s not quite a self-improvement book, but it’s a good resource about how to approach relationships and practice sense and gentility in the 21st century. There’s plenty to enjoy, even if you’re not actually in a romantic relationship or planning to be in one anytime soon. Plus, there are personality quizzes, a mild addiction of mine.

looking down a row of full bookshelves with several lights along the ceiling

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What other self-improvement works have helped you? I’d like to hear about them!

As always, thanks for reading. if you’ve found this post to be helpful, or know someone who could benefit from it, share away!


Emily Jacobs

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