Even the best self-help books have always had a bad wrap for being overtly cheesy. While this can be true, one of my favorite things about self-help books is that you can take as much knowledge from them as you need. Every chapter may not be illuminating and every “at home practice” may not work for you. What these books can ensure, however, is guidance, structure, a foundation—a map to wellness that is accessible to all.
At the core of most self-help books, whether they are didactic or anecdotal in nature, are suggestions on how to build a bigger, bolder, and better life. At the very least, trying one out could just be something to add to your list of new things to do in 2019.
A self-help book may not solve all of your problems, but if so many people have been able to write countless books offering guidance, I figure there must be some credit to them, right? (Right?!) Regardless of what your goals for this year are, let this list of the best self-help books be your starting point.
“The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo
$10 at the time of publication
There are few people racking up more clout on the Internet and in digital media right now than Ms. Marie Kondo. The world-renowned organizing consultant and author has worked up an extremely impressive resume at the age of only 34, including her number one “New York Times” best-selling book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
The book and Kondo’s methods are deeply rooted in Japanese tradition. Essentially, it requires one to go through all of their accumulated “stuff,” assess what sparks joy, and then dump whatever does not.
Of course, this is easier said than done seeing as a lot of us like to hold onto our stuff. Whatever it is, it’s there for a reason! And even if that immediate reason is not evident, surely it will become useful in the near future, right? I hate to break it to you (and I hate to break it to myself even more), but probably not. Nostalgia can keep us tied to items that no longer serve any real purpose nor add any true value to our lives.
I recently went through the process of deleting text messages threads with the ex-crushes and ex-friends of 2018’s past. As heart-fluttering as it can be to hit that delete button, there is no comparison to the rush of relief I felt post-purge. According to Kondo’s wisdom, true memories will always linger and true relationships will last a lifetime—you don’t need every movie ticket stub to prove it.
The book’s success has translated so widely that a new show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” premiered on Netflix’s massive platform. In the show, which is now a certified hit, Ms. Kondo makes the advice in her book more personal by going into clients’ homes and helping them declutter their rooms.
For a fun exercise, try heeding Kondo’s advice while the show is playing the background. That way, it can feel like you’re not making all of these huge changes all alone. And who knows, clearing out your room may just be what you need to start cleaning up your life.
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama
$15 at the time of publication
Again, is there even a point in trying to justify this book’s inclusion? Probably not. Although the former-FLOTUS’s recently released memoir was not intended to be a best-selling self-help book, it has definitely become one! By sharing so much of her awe-inspiring journey as a lawyer, public influencer, mother and wife, just to name a few titles, Mrs. Obama ends up relaying some invaluable advice.
One of the most important takeaways of the book is how crucial it is to be true to yourself—your likes, your dislikes, your passions, your family, and what you want your future to look like. Too often, women and girls conceal their own opinions and desires in order to placate others.
It could have been immeasurably easy for Michelle to hide behind the name and stature of her husband all those years ago, but she managed to carve out a role in the public eye that was distinctly her own. The pressure of being the first lady, and the first African-American first lady at that, is a burden we can only begin to fathom. It was amazing to read first-hand just how she handled the insane situations thrown her way.
In the book, Obama also emphasizes the value of self-care—an absolutely crucial step to anyone seeking to move forward in their lives—even revealing that she and former President Barack Obama had to attend marriage counseling in order to maintain their relationship. Hopefully, by opening about her own life, Michelle’s memoir will help you become whatever it is you want to be.
“You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero
$10 at the time of publication
The title of this book clues you in to its whole mission—to make sure you are being the absolute best version of yourself you can be. The entire purpose of this book is to help readers outline what they want and then pump them with enough confidence to go out and get it.
A big theme of the “You Are a Badass” is learning how to disregard outside opinions that can fester and turn into fear. Fear of quitting your job, cutting off a friend, or asking out your crush are all valid, but they should not continue to hold you back.
Sincero is also a huge advocate for readers pushing aside self-doubt in order to follow their dreams. Of course, everyone is an advocate for this, but it doesn’t mean they actually do it. In order to combat this, Sincero recommends readers place less emphasis on the “how” of following their dreams, and focus more on the “why” (because you should never be afraid of your own potential) and the “when” (right now).
There are no rulebooks that will set you on a direct path to the infinite number of dreams you may have, but buckling down and doing as much research as you can, can certainly help.
One of my favorite things about Sincero’s massively successful work is that it also helps you take a lot of the self-help process back into your own hands. At the ends of chapters, Sincero outlines exercises for you to go out and practice on your own. That means that when you stop reading, the actual work begins.
“The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne
$12 at the time of publication
One of the most commercially successful books on this list is Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” adapted from a groundbreaking film of the same name. The book was one of the first to popularize the law of attraction and how effective it can be for some seeking affirmation and change in their lives.
“The concept of manifesting destiny, which rests on the Law of Attraction, is the idea that investing positive energy and belief in any desired outcome will allow a person to bring the outcome to fruition. In other words, you have the power to get what you want simply by believing in it.“
While there is plenty of reason to doubt the effectiveness of this method, manifestation has been a well-established spiritual practice long before this book was published in 2006. Perhaps you have heard a friend mention speaking a new love, job, or opportunity into existence. Well, this act of speaking out what you hope to usher into your life is what the Law of Attraction is all about.
“The Secret” is the perfect guide to manifestation if you do not know where to start. The book promises to set you on the road to a more joyful life, and according to its immense success, the rules it lays out aren’t all that secret anymore.
“The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Conversations from Super Soul Sundays” by Oprah Winfrey
$15 at the time of publication
Saying that Oprah wrote this book should be enough of an endorsement in itself. The media mogul has reached stratospheric success when it comes to helping others and placing them on a path towards true joy and success. Since her days as a talk show host, Oprah Winfrey has remained committed to lifting others up. One of the tools she has used to do this is “SuperSoul Sundays,” a daytime series turned podcast that delivers a “timely, thought-provoking, eye-opening, and inspiring block of programming” meant to inspire, inform, and ignite (Oprah.com).
“The Wisdom of Sundays” was created to collate and then amplify some of the most profound stories from this popular series. In it, you’ll find some of the most prolific thinkers, creators, and leaders in the world including Shonda Rhimes, Arianna Huffington, and Eckhart Tolle. The relatively short work is a blissful read and is packed with pages of motivational content. Anyone looking for a bout of inspiration needs to pick this one up today!
At the end of the day, we must be our first motivators, advocates, warriors. Any change that we demand of our lives, must first be demanded of ourselves. That being said, none of us will arrive anywhere on our own. Trying out a self-help book can be the first step in your journey towards progression, just don’t let it be your last!