It wasn’t very long ago that self-help books were stigmatized. No one wanted to be caught browsing in that section of the bookstore, and reading them made people feel sorry for you. But that has totally changed.
First, the internet has completely changed how we shop for and purchase books. On top of that, our views about getting help for stress and mental health conditions are, fortunately, shifting toward broader acceptance. Not everyone has access to affordable mental health care, so for a lot of people, getting help or seeking counsel in books is their first strategy.
Also, “self-help” looks different to everyone. For some, it may mean reading about someone else’s experiences that are so similar to their own they feel less alone in the world. For others, it could be more clinical descriptions of conditions that validate how they’re feeling.
Whichever type you’re looking for, here are our suggestions for books to pick up as we continue into the new year
How to Be Alone
Buy: How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t $12.99
If you’re familiar with Lane Moore’s work as a writer, editor, funny person, musician and/or dog mother, you already know she can do everything. Now that her debut book How to Be Alone is out, we can add “author who totally gets us and helps us understand things about ourselves we didn’t even realize” to the list.
Moore writes about what it was like to be her own parent, live in her car, spend the holidays alone and pick up and move to New York City. It at once manages to be both realistic and romantic and is a comforting read from start to finish.
Buy: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and Keep– Love $12.99
At first glance,Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love sounds like your typical relationship self-help book, but we assure you, it’s not. First of all, it’s not a manual full of fluffy romantic advice detailing how to get married.
This book is based on science and written by a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who use empirical research to explain why some people seem to effortlessly slide in and out of relationships, while others struggle to connect and commit with potential partners. This is the type of read that lays out the facts in an objective way and lets readers draw their own conclusions, analyzing their relationship pattern.
You Are a Badass
Buy: You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life $3.99
Of all the books on this list, Jen Sincero’s book You Are a Badass: How to Start Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life is the closest to traditional self-help reading material. Don’t let that dissuade you from picking this one up, though — it’s been out for more than five years but is still making waves with its humorous real talk, advice and service components.
If the voice of your inner critic is a little too loud or imposter syndrome has taken over your professional life, this book might be a way to get back on track.
The Jane Austen Diet
Buy: The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness $14.99
No, this isn’t the latest fad diet book that suggests you plan your meals like a member of Regency aristocracy. The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health and Incandescent Happiness, by Bryan Kozlowski draws from Austen’s iconic books, distilling a few modern takes on health and wellness.
As the first nonfiction title to examine Austen’s historic approach to “health and happiness” and its surprising parallels with modern science, Kozlowski’s book is a fun, witty look the way we think about creating a healthy life, both mentally and physically.
The Feminine Revolution
Buy: The Feminine Revolution: 21 Ways to Ignite the Power of Your Femininity for a Brighter Life and a Better World $11.99
There is a really annoying, inaccurate concept that femininity is synonymous with weakness, which we all know could not be further from the truth. In addition to challenging those misconceptions, The Feminine Revolution walks readers through strategies for reclaiming and harnessing our powerful strengths like sensitivity, feeling emotional and intuition.
The book is written by Catherine Connors and #BlogHer Health 2019 Voices of the Year winner Amy Stanton, with a forward from #BlogHer17 speaker Gabby Reece.
Buy: Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness $11.99
What makes us cringe and why does that happen? If this is something you’ve thought about when someone says the word “moist” or you watch Michael Scott’s antics on an episode of The Office, Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness may be the book for you. Again, this is not a traditional self-help title, but rather an inside look into awkwardness and embarrassment.
In addition to explaining how our brains work, this book by New York Magazine senior editor Melissa Dahl helps us better understand our own feelings and reactions to embarrassing situations. Chances are it’ll make you feel better the next time you experience one.
The Sleep Revolution
Buy: The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time $13.99
For a long time, getting enough sleep was seen as a sign of weakness. Managing to function on a few hours of sleep each night was a badge of honor, proving that you’re so in-demand that society requires you to be awake as much as possible.
Of course, that’s not true, and Arianna Huffington wants everyone to know that. In her 2017 book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, she lays out why sleep is so important for all aspects of your work, personal and sex life. Using science and guidelines from experts, Huffington has given us the ultimate guide to — and reasoning behind — getting a good night’s sleep.
Buy: Untamed $16.73
This book is one that Adele credited with her emotional overhaul, saying it “made [her] soul scream.” So we figured Glennon Doyle earned a spot on the list with that alone.
Blurbed by Reese Witherspoon and Elizabeth Gilbert, Untamed is a memoir that takes readers on Doyle’s own journey releasing the external expectations of the world that didn’t serve her and learning what it means to really listen to herself. If you do as Adele says and read it with an open heart (and maybe a highlighter handy) you may just find a way to do that yourself.
A version of this story was published January 2022.
Before you go, check out our favorite inspiring quotes that support positive attitudes about food and bodies: