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Blog – Posted on Monday, Jan 13

50 Best Self-Help Books to Get You Living Your Best Life in 2020

It’s a fresh new year — and even if you don’t set formal resolutions, chances are you’ve taken some time to reflect on what the past has brought you, and where you’d like to take the future. But how do you actually go about making all those changes your heart is longing for? That’s the tricky part.

Or is it? Maybe not, at least with a little help from our favorite resource: books! For thousands of years, people have been writing down their wisdom and advice that have led them to greater health, happiness, and harmony. Not all of that insight has been useful, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t wonderful resources out there to help you fix just about any aspect of your life.

Luckily, we’ve already sorted through them for you in this post, which lists only the best self-help books on the market today. No matter what you’re looking to improve, there’s a book out there for you.

Self-love

1. Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda

You might know Lin-Manuel Miranda as the genius behind the international phenomenon Hamilton — but his 3 million followers on Twitter first knew him as the sweet, funny guy who Tweeted them original aphorisms and poetry at the beginning and end of every day. If you missed out on any of his daily affirmations, this book gathers all of them into one short and charming collection. Think of it like an assortment of pep talks. Some are light, some are serious — and all are kind, encouraging, and loving. Complemented by beautiful, quirky illustrations by Jonny Sun, Gmorning, Gnight! is the equivalent of a warm hug from a trusted friend, or a steaming mug of coffee on a cold winter day. And it might just be the quick, sure pick-me-up you need to lift yourself back up.  

2. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

When you’re a lifestyle blogger like Rachel Hollis, tips for, well, life come easy! Girl Wash Your Face is adapted from her mega-hit site, TheChicSite.com, which is packed with wry yet wise advice on all kinds of practical matters. But what makes this popular self-help book most memorable is Hollis’ unflinching honesty and critique of cultural norms. She busts through beauty expectations that hold most captive and subverts them with actionables that you can immediately put to use. Each and every chapter addresses a ‘lie’ that Hollins once internalized (whether it be about gender, sexuality, or body image), and the tools and tactics she uses to combat it. Above all, she doesn’t take anything too seriously as she guides her devotees through it all to reach their goal of reinvention. 

3. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Self-help has never ever been more manageable with these 27 micro-chapters full of stories that will lift you up, Oprah-style. Or should we say, Sincero-style — since author Jen Sincero is never too afraid to drop a bomb to make a point? That said, You Are a Badass isn’t just a bunch of cheers and rants: she’s got some unique tips up her sleeve that will boost your self-confidence in seconds. How? Similar to Rachel Hollins’ Girl Wash Your Face, Sincero has her pulse on the mistruths that society thrusts upon us to stunt our growth. By identifying them, she asserts that you can change how you think about yourself — which will in turn change how you live your life. If you start there, the rest (especially career success) will follow. And always remember: You Are A Badass! 

4. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

There are many schools of thought when it comes to understanding the root of human suffering. In this transformative self-help book, Tara Brach argues that the very belief that we’re flawed is what leads to unnecessary pain. So what’s our way out when we get stuck in a loop of negative patterns like toxic relationships, workaholism, self-doubt, or isolation? Radical Acceptance. Dr. Brach’s book not only draws upon her twenty years of experience as therapist, but her unique perspective as a Buddhist as well. Using a variety of media from meditations to case studies, she reminds us that we cannot always change the past or our circumstances, but we can change how we think about those things. The level of mindfulness required for radical acceptance may seem overwhelming, but under Dr. Brach’s guidance, it feels practical — possible even.

5. The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

It would be easy to see the title of this one and think that it’s another feel-good book about accepting yourself for who you are — but you’d be wrong. By its own admission, The Body is Not an Apology will not teach you self-acceptance, because acceptance does not go far enough.

Instead, this book delves into the concept of radical self-love. And it goes so much further than just embracing your own skin. By breaking down the societal reasons why we fight with our bodies, we begin to realize that you cannot practice radical self-love without fighting the systemic systems that oppress all the bodies that don’t “fit” the socially approved mold. It’s a call to action, not just for improving our own lives, but for everyone’s. Through her powerful words, poet Sonya Renee Taylor has laid out a guidebook for truly improving ourselves — both inside our own minds, and out in our community.

6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

In a world seemingly run by extroverts, it’s easy to feel like there’s something wrong with you if you’re not one of them. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Cain not only dispels that idea, but demonstrates the strengths that introverts have. With thorough research and tons of real-world examples, the book charts the rise of “the extrovert ideal,” and the way that this has shaped our perceptions of who is (and isn’t) destined to succeed. It’s an invaluable book for those of us who would rather work on our own than in a group, or are more comfortable talking one-on-one than presenting at a big meeting. If you’ve ever wondered why you’re so soft-spoken in a crowd, or how you can use your quietness to your own advantage, this is essential reading.

7. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor

According to Shawn Anchor’s research, we don’t find happiness, or even achieve it: we are happiness. In The Happiness Advantage, Anchor explains how positivity has neurological effects (the good kind). Moreover, he’s applied his research and his own years of experiences as a Harvard lecturer in nearly every possible environment known to man, from the high school locker room to chairman of the board. The ‘advantage’ of Anchor’s book is its breathtaking ability to take us out of the mundanity of life and into what really matters: the joy of being. 

8. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Based on a strong foundation of original research, and engagingly presented with candid storytelling, The Gifts of Imperfection provides methods for letting go of the notion of a "perfect life" and encourages individuals to look for unique details that make their life their own. It provides readers with blueprints for cultivating feelings of self-worth and acceptance, while letting go of shame and self-destructive thinking, allowing people to embrace the perfection of imperfection.

Creativity

9. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert has been inspiring people to go out and find their happiness ever since the smash success of Eat, Pray, Love, but now she’s turned her sights a lot closer to home. In Big Magic, Gilbert explores the world of creativity — everything from her musings on where an idea comes from, to the inner fears of following up a creative success, to what it means to live a creative life. And lest you think you’re not “creative” enough for this book, think again. Gilbert eloquently explains how anyone can benefit from living a creative life, even those of us who don’t normally apply that label to ourselves. Acting as both a memoir and an inspirational guide, this book will show you how to nurture the playful, imaginative side of yourself, and how it can transform your life — if you stop getting in your own way and learn to listen to it.

10. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

There are some books that touch people so deeply, that speak so universally, that they become staples in any discussion of the topic they’re about. For writers, one of those books is Bird by Bird. Twenty-five years after its initial publication, it’s still providing wisdom to authors around the world.

Told in intimate, off-the-cuff prose, this book is like having dinner at the elbow of a wise aunt with a million stories to share. Her insights may make you laugh, or they may make you cry, but above all, they will tell the truth. The truth about what it really takes to dig deep inside yourself and bring forth a story—and how there’s no other way to tackle it but to just start and take things one step at a time. Bird by bird.

11. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

Let’s face it: life can get intense. Between personal setbacks and disturbing world news, it can be hard for anyone to keep their spirits up. And when you’re working in a creative field, that task becomes even harder. How do you keep drawing, keep singing, keep writing, when it feels like everything is falling to pieces around you?

The answer, like most of life, is both surprisingly simple and endlessly complex. But Kleon performs no small miracle in Keep Going by making it feel achievable. Told with his signature optimism and ability to distill big, scary, complex ideas into the soft-spoken advice you’d expect to hear from your best friend, it’s the guidebook we all need in order to navigate the choppy seas of our lives.

12. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

If you’d like something a little more step-by-step for finding your creative inspiration, look no further. Used by at least one of the other authors on our list, The Artist’s Way has been guiding people toward finding — and clearing — their creative blocks for years. Its eight-week program cleanly steps you through what Cameron calls “creativity recovery,” by helping you identify what’s been holding you back, and giving you the space, tools, and permission needed to reclaim your creative life. Whether you’re a writer, artist, or businessperson, the tools in this book will help you gain a sense of passion and purpose that may just change your life.

13. Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey ⭐ Indie Spotlight

How many of us have big ideas that we never seem to get to? (If only we could find the time and energy to follow them through, if only we had the money to invest in it, if only there weren’t other obligations getting in our way.) Everyone has big dreams, but making them actually happen? Now, there’s the part we all have trouble with.

Until now. In Start Finishing, Gilkey will take you through his 9-step method to take turn your ideas into projects, and give you the tools you need to break those projects down into achievable tasks. Chock-full of actionable tips and advice, this book doesn’t just give you inspirational speeches and leave you to figure out how to apply those principles to your life. Instead, it presents to you concrete solutions for just about every part of the process, from building a team of supporters, to identifying and working through “drag points,” all the way to a strong and successful completion of your goal. If you’ve ever struggled to see things through to the end, this is one book you’ll want to get started on immediately.

Check out what Reedsy Discovery reviewer Bridget Doshi has to say about Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done!

14. Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon

In any artistic field, you’re told that it’s important to have a “voice” — a style that is distinctly your own, that anyone familiar with your work can recognize. But how do you establish that? And what if you feel like you don’t have anything particularly unique to share?

Never fear. With straightforward, understandable prose, Congdon will walk you through exactly what it means to have an artistic voice, and what you’ll need to do to begin cultivating your own. But don’t just take her word: the pages of Find Your Artistic Voice are filled with interviews of a wide range of other artists as well, to provide you with a full understanding of the many ways that seeking voice works its way into people’s lives. Covering everything from practice, to influences, to navigating and moving beyond your fears, this is the one-stop tool you’ll need to finally learn how to make art that it is truly you.

15. 100 Demon Dialogues by Lucy Bellwood ⭐ Indie Spotlight

This title is a little different in that 100 Demon Dialogues is not going to tell you how to fix an aspect of your life. Instead, what Lucy Bellwood has done is create 100 comics in which she faces her inner demons — literally. All that creative self-doubt, all those pressures to constantly do more, better, faster — all that guilt when she takes time to balance her own needs with those of her artistic career, family, and fans.

The result is a collection equal parts funny, tender, and heartbreaking, but most of all, familiar. Watching Lucy battle wits, grapple with, and eventually come to not only respect but appreciate the side of her that’s constantly ringing alarm bells, is a journey that shows us it’s okay to have doubts — and that, ultimately, the only way to move forward is to learn to love every part of ourselves. Demons and all.

Relationships

16. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Understanding other people is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human and living in a shared community — and yet it’s also one of the hardest. (At least, one of the hardest to get right.) More often than not, we make assumptions, jump to conclusions, and fill in the blanks with whatever answer we’d like to see, rather than what’s necessarily there.

Talking to Strangers examines that. By taking us through case studies of some of the most well-known and interesting misunderstandings throughout history, Gladwell attempts to shed light onto exactly what sort of things lead to these disasters — and what kind of lessons we can take away from them in our own lives. It’s a fascinating examination of what we see in strangers that may just have you seeing yourself in a new light while you’re at it.

17. Networking Karma: How Today's Cutting Edge Networking Trends Can Help You Connect and Conquer by Gail Tolstoi-Miller ⭐Indie Spotlight

Let’s face it, networking is a big part of any successful career — and frankly, any successful life. After all, no man (or woman) is an island, and it’s often the connections we make with others that open the greatest doors in our lives. So why do we hate it so much?

Turns out, a big part of our struggles with networking is when we think it’s all about what we will get out of it. Our me-first attitude is holding us back, when in actuality we should approach networking from a place of giving. But Networking Karma does more than simply change the mindset of how we approach networking with others. In easy to understand steps, entrepreneur and CEO Tolstoi-Miller provides you with a wide range of tips covering everything from speed networking to body language to crafting strong elevator pitches, and even “one weird tip” for using fashion to make yourself appear more successful. If you’ve ever wanted to walk into a networking meeting feeling confident and walk out a star, this book is for you.

18. Growing Influence by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis ⭐ Indie Spotlight

Sometimes seeing things in action is more powerful than simply being told how to do something. That’s what makes Growing Influence so powerful. Half business guide and half novel, it tells the story of Emily and David — one, a young woman driven to succeed but finding roadblocks at every turn, and the other a retired, upfront CEO. Throughout the course of the narrative, Emily applies the business principles she’s learning, allowing us to see the transformation for ourselves. This “business fable” demonstrates not only a number of important lessons that anyone can apply to their own work life, but also that a business book can be every bit as creative and unique as the approaches it has to teach us.

Check out what Reedsy Discovery reviewer Amanda Ciejko has to say about Growing Influence!

19. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

So often in this world, we’re taught that we need to be ruthless in order to succeed. It’s the foundation of much of our thinking, from business to politics to relationships. But what if it wasn’t true?

In Give and Take, Grant examines the long history of givers, takers, and matchers — that is, people who give, people who take, and people who attempt to balance the two. What he’s found may just surprise you: throughout history, there is a long precedent for success among the givers. But even more important than their own personal success, Grant reveals that when givers win, so does everybody else. It’s only when we stop focusing on own self-interest and start ensuring that others within our community can succeed as well that we begin to truly reap the best rewards — for ourselves, as well as those around us. It’s a radical approach that has the power to transform not only your own life, but the whole world.

General success

20. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

If small thinking only leads to small lives, then it's time to think big! The Magic of Thinking Big is a classic catch-call book — now over 30 years old and still standing strong — that will catapult the shyest of dreamers into the confident future they’ve been secretly hoping for. Under David Schwartz’s instruction, you’ll be comforted to know that intellectual prowess (or even talent) is not required when it comes to carving a new you. Regardless of whether or not you have already acquired the skills and smarts, Schwartz has some helpful tips on how to address common problems related to failure, lack of creativity, and negative thinking patterns, all the while training you to be a leader in your field (and your own life) by keeping goals in check. 

21. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven

You may have cringed when your parents asked you to make your bed … but as adults, this simple act can be revolutionary. That’s what Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven argues in his life-changing book, Make Your Bed. And it all started when his University of Texas at Austin commencement speech on the subject landed him 10 million plus viewers on YouTube ⁠— and the eyes of book publishers! After reading it, we can guarantee you’ll never think the same way about a top sheet again. A perfect gift for coming of age occasions, McRaven’s pearls of advice chart how completing the little things makes up a life. 

22. Grit by Angela Duckworth

According to Anglea Duckworth, we don’t need any more geniuses or prodgies, but instead people with Grit — those who are willing to stick around and get the job done, regardless of perceived talent or innate ability. Duckworth would certainly know herself: though she’s now a professor, she’s taken on almost every job under the sun. (For the stints she hasn’t taken on yet, she intensively researched them as case studies for the purposes of this book — including West Point Academy, a National Spelling Bee, and the United States public school system, to name a few.) With each uncovered story, Duckworth illuminates a recurring theme: the people who are patient and persistent enough in their passions are the ones that outstain the one-hit wonders and overnight successes. A saving grace for those who want to go beyond the “find your calling” dynamic. 

23. Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell

Failing has never been more popular — especially in Silicon Valley. As the motto (or badge of honor) goes: fail big, fail fast. The goal, however, is to fail so you can eventually succeed. That’s the key paradox that drives Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell, who knew the power of failing to succeed even before the tech boom. Maxwell sees the willingness to fail and the acceptance of failure as the difference between those who make great contributions to the world, and those who give up for good. By zeroing in on the lessons gained from catastrophe, Maxwell posits that failed proteges are more insightful about their futures. Will you be one of them? 

24. The Thinking Game: A Winning Strategy for Achieving Your Goals by Kara Lane ⭐ Indie Spotlight 

Problem: things fall apart. Solution: think your way out of it. It may sound easy, but often the simplest things are the hardest, right? CPA Kara Lane, author of The Thinking Game, is aware of this, and has expertly broken down how to change thought patterns in real time. By shifting your thinking, she argues that manifesting the things you want are more attainable. By playing Lane’s ‘game of thought,’ you’ll be able nail goal crushing, refine your discernment skills, focus on delight instead of dread, and prioritize the things that you have agency over instead of wasting time on things you don’t. If thoughts really do become things, then we’d suggest thinking about reading this book.

Check out what Reedsy Discovery reviewer C.E. Flores has to say about The Thinking Game!

25. Street Smart Disciplines of Successful People by Mark Mullins and John Kuhn ⭐ Indie Spotlight

It’s one thing to carry on about the psychology of success, and it’s another to actually provide solid, accessible steps on how to attain it. That’s the goal of Street Smart Disciplines of Successful People, a no nonsense how-to guide on starting and maintaining your own business. In a fascinating rags-to-riches tale, they explain how their $1,000 start up became a multi-million dollar endeavor that sold to a Fortune 400 company. But it’s not just a story — as promised, they offer up seven actionable tools tested by real people from a variety of business backgrounds. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur, CEO, or administrative assistant, their lessons are as immediately actionable as they are useful. With Street Smart Disciplines, you’ll soon learn you don’t have to go on Shark Tank, or pitch to a big wig like Elon Musk, to make it big. 

26. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Like Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, Eat That Frog! upholds the same principal: in order to succeed, you gotta — in a sense — face the music. To Tracy, ‘eating your frog’ means finishing the most difficult task of your day done first, instead of putting it off until you feel like it. This is, of course, a fancy way to say that we all have to be better at prioritizing, but the process to accomplish it is actually much more complicated than just pointing to the meatiest assignment of the day. That’s why Tracy has broken down 21 ways to avoid ‘avoiding’ your own personal and professional commitments by sharpening your time management skills. Here, readers will learn why the ickiness of hard work can actually make life easier in the end.

27. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

An old classic in the self-help aisle, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold over 15 million copies since its release in 1936. While the text might be nearing a century-old, many still turn to it for tips on using interpersonal skills to craft the life you want. 

28. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Another classic listed among many lists of best self-help books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a popular pick for people who are looking to 'take control' of their life, and steer course in a more intentional direction. Perhaps seven is your lucky number, too?

Health

29. Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon

Have you ever wondered why diets just don’t seem to work for you? Or felt shame and guilt as you’ve put back the weight you have just worked so hard to lose? Turns out it’s not you that failed, but the diets — by design.

Health at Every Size turns the diet industry upside down. This book will not tell you how to lose weight, because losing weight isn’t the point. Backed up by clinical studies, it lays out a case for shifting your perspective from being weight-focused to health-focused, and how you can achieve your health goals no matter what size and shape you are. You’ll learn about how joyful movement and truly pleasurable eating can transform your health and self esteem all at once. It’s an essential read for anyone who’s ever struggled with their weight or their body image.

30. Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski, PhD

For years, researchers have been trying to develop a “pink pill” — essentially, a Viagra for women — but to no avail. Why? It’s certainly not for lack of interest. What we’ve discovered instead is that cisgender women’s sexualities are simply too diverse and nuanced for a one-pill-fits-all solution.

But if this sounds like cause for despair, it’s actually not. Instead, what all this research has taught us is that there are plenty of other things that can be done to help women achieve their desired level of sexual satisfaction — if, indeed, there’s anything that needs to be changed at all. And with Come As You Are, Nagoski has gathered all that scientific data in one easy-to-find place. Explained in terms that anyone can understand, she takes us through a masterclass in women’s bodies, sexualities, and desires, playfully exploring all the reasons why sex does — and doesn’t — work for women. By the end, you’ll be sure to walk away with not just a better understanding of your body, but a newfound sense of assurance and control over your own pleasure.

31. Stick with Exercise for a Lifetime: How to Enjoy Every Minute of It! by Robert Hopper ⭐ Indie Spotlight ⁠

With Robert Hopper’s coaching, you’ll never think about exercising the same way ever again. That’s because, to Hopper, the word “exercise” means whatever you want to be — as long as it’s physical activity that you enjoy, and that you commit to it. Indeed, activities like Zumba, snowboarding, golf, soccer, bowling, croquet, and even ping pong all count as exercise according to this book, as long as you have a personal connection to it. After all, what you love, sticks. 

Hopper would know, since writing Stick with Exercise for a Lifetime: How to Enjoy Every Minute of It! is informed by his years of work in wellness guidance and physiology. But he’s not just pulling advice from hobbyists: in each chapter, top performers in the athletic world share their secrets on how to sustain an exercise practice long-term for your life, rather than just moonlighting here and there. No matter where you are on your fitness journey, Hopper helps you find the Olympian within you on your own terms. 

32. Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark ⁠

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the creators of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder. Now, they’re opening up more about their own lives with stories about how their mental health and addiction issues painted their world view, but also made them stronger. In Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide, both women illuminate how these pain points catapulted them into a deeper sense of self discovery, while also encouraging readers to do the same. Autonomy, they say, is way more important than people-pleasing — and knowing your boundaries while enjoying life is a dance we all must attempt. 

Mental health

33. Declutter Your Mind by S.J. Scott ⁠and Barrie Davenport

Many of us experience an overwhelming rush of thoughts that distract us from living the life we want. And, sure, negative and intrusive thinking is normal — but it shouldn’t completely take over to the point of stopping us from achieving everyday tasks like house cleaning, our jobs, or caring for family. After reading S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport’s Declutter Your Mind, you’ll be on your way to unblocking those barriers through a series of mindful exercises. With each exercise, you’ll master how to be able to reframe negativity, work on healing your relationships, throw away distracted thinking, prioritize, and goal set — all with deep breathing and a clear head. 

34. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist, national advice columnist, and a patient herself — a journey she records in this warm and laugh-out-loud funny memoir that offers a startling behind-the-scenes look at therapy. The premise of the book is simple: Gottlieb, a professional therapist in Los Angeles, one day discovers that she might need to get therapy herself to get over a life-altering crisis. Cue chapters that invite us into the therapist’s world, as we get an illuminating glimpse of both her sessions with her patients and her sessions with her own therapist. 

As an author, Gottlieb is smart, compassionate, and humorous. More importantly, her years of professional experience means Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is able to provide a serious window into what therapy is like and the way good therapy works. Also containing character studies that brim with humanity, Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is a highly recommended book that both destigmatizes therapy and offers readers a rare chance to step into the pages of a therapist’s office. 

35. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

You might have seen David Goggins on the cover of Outside magazine — the same issue that named him as “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.” Yet you probably don’t know that The Fittest Man in America grew up in almost intolerable circumstances, enduring years of poverty, prejudice, and abuse. This is the inspiring story of how Goggins overcame the odds to become a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. Pick up Can’t Hurt Me to learn how to apply the same grit, resilience, and self-discipline to your own ventures, along with the 40% Rule: Goggins’ theory that most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities. 

36. Stress Pandemic: The Lifestyle Solution by Paul Huljich ⭐ Indie Spotlight

Are you stressed? Unless you're reading this post on a very sunny beach, chances are the answer is yes. Stress is unfortunately the #1 cause of mental illness, which afflicts an estimated 450 million people globally, and it’s become all the more exacerbated in our digital and ever-demanding modern world. 

But don’t worry— that’s when this instructive book steps into the picture. Paul Huljich is a CEO and organic food pioneer who has firsthand experience with chronic stress. In Stress Pandemic, he breaks down in simple, accessible steps how to manage stress and improve your quality of life. In between, he delves into the causes and consequences of stress to help you understand this subtle pandemic that is disrupting the lives of billions of people around the world. Stuffed with practical advice, Stress Pandemic is a recommended read for anyone who has suffered from stress — so really, everyone. 

Self-improvement

37. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

This small book has sparked a mega-popular Netflix show, an entire KonMari movement, and joy in thousands of households. And it boils down one simple thing: a clean home. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you’ll fall in love with the tidying passion of Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo. Her down-to-earth, gentle advice on how to build a positive space around you and evaluate the relationship you have with your earthly possessions has literally changed the lives of homes around the world. Liberating and wise, this book is as much a how-to guide as a philosophy that will enable you to live intentionally and start a new decluttered, happier life.

38. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Sick of hearing how you have to be “positive” and “perfect” all the time? Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck might be the cure for that particular migraine. Make no mistake: this isn’t your typical self-help book. Manson doesn’t waste time trying to be nice or sugarcoat what it takes to be happy — instead, he cuts straight to the chase on how to realistically approach self-improvement and success (which don’t necessarily come hand-in-hand). In that respect, this book is for anyone who would like a reality dose with a side of good old-fashioned swearing. Manson’s humor leans towards the profane and his talk tends towards the real — but sometimes that’s exactly what you need in order to get you off the couch and living your best life.  

39. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath

With the next decade upon us, you might already be thinking about reinvention and looking forward to putting a new you out there. But lasting change is truly hard to achieve, as many people with optimistic New Year’s resolutions soon find out. In Switch, Chip and Dan Heath examine just why this is. Story-driven and research-based, this book is a revealing, informative inquest into the psychology and sociology of change. More than that, it’s a guide to how you can achieve permanent change — the kind with a capital C. Switch keeps this complicated subject simple and accessible, devoting its chapters to the three critical elements of change (the rational mind, the emotional mind, and the environment that influences our behavior). Indeed, change starts here — simply by reading this book. 

40. Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes

Shonda Rhimes has spearheaded some of the most beloved and innovative television series of our age. She produced How to Get Away With Murder. She created Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal — shows that have since gone on to define a generation. She was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 People Who Help Shape the World in 2007. She has started important conversations about race, gender, and politics. She has led the fight for equal pay. So what can’t Shonda Rhimes do? 

It turns out she couldn’t say “yes” to the things that scared her — namely, the hundreds of public appearances, media interviews, and speaking engagements that were asked of her. As an introvert, Rhimes went to extreme lengths to evade all such demands, until one day an offhand remark made by her sister challenged Rhimes to embark on the Year of Yes: an entire year where she would simply say “yes” to everything, instead of “no.” This is the candid story of what happened before, during, and after her Year of Yes. With Rhimes’ signature humor, it sparkles with wisdom, warmth, and the strength of self-empowerment. As for whether or not you should give this book a shot to inspire yourself, we simply say: yes. 

41. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Why do we make New Year’s resolutions at the start of every year? Why do we then always fail to keep them? This clear-cut self-help manual aims to illuminate the answer: habits. In Atomic Habits, bestselling author and entrepreneur James Clear draws upon the fields of biology, psychology, and neuroscience to explain how habits shape the way we make progress and achieve success. More than that, he provides you the practical tools needed in order to change your own habits for the better. Whether your goal is something as personal as quitting smoking or as grand as mastering a sport, this book is designed to be the first stepping-stone you can take to reach it. 

42. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius: one of the greatest warriors, leaders, and Roman emperors who ever lived. In his lifetime, he overcame the hardest struggles — commanding the war against Parthia, overcoming the threat of Germanic tribes from the north, fighting the Antonine Plague, and ruling the Roman Empire with self-restraint, competence, and deep humanity. And during all of those wars and years of hardship, Aurelius would write studiously in his private journal, establishing himself as one of the paramount philosopher kings in history. 

Today, those private journals are what we have left of him. Written between 170 to 180 A.D., Meditations remains a towering monument of Stoic philosophy, documenting Aurelius’ personal writings, thoughts, and ideas on Stoicism. This is a book of actionable advice with teachings about self-discipline, duty, death, and how to live according to reason and kindness that are still overwhelmingly relevant more than a millennia later. If any book other than the Bible has stood the test of time, it is this one.

43. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle 

Arguably one of the best self-help books of all time, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now takes mindfulness to a new level by helping readers get intimately in touch with their own thoughts, and how destructive they are sometimes. We may mock those who talk to themselves on the street or subway, he says, but ultimately we’re doing that internally each and every day! Tolle argues that the solution is to live in the present moment — and while we’ve heard that all before, this is one of the best, time-tested books to articulate how to do it. And it’s worked, as millions of people all over the world have benefited from his masterful way of conquering the enemy that is the mind.

44. A Course in Miracles by Drs. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford

A seminal self-help text from 1975, A Course in Miracles is a do-it-yourself class, but in book form. In this class, you’ll work against the concept of isolation and separation, and focus instead on bridging connections to others (or a higher power if it suits your fancy). Removing the ice-cold protections we’ve created for ourselves ironically can help us survive longer, by letting go of the toxic behaviors that keeps us stressed. The key to all to this miraculous release? Forgiveness, as Drs. Schucman and Thetford say. Once achieved, A Course in Miracles promises a new state of being in which happiness and positivity is a norm, not a luxury. 

45. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

After having a panic attack on national TV, Dan Harris decided it was time to take stock of his life. What he realized was that the habits he believed contributed to his success — an incessant voice in his head telling him he hadn't achieved enough — were actually contributing to his unhappiness and eventual on-air panic attack.

In 10% Happier, Harris talks about how he used meditation as a means of quieting that voice. Exploring neuroscience, network news, and the fringes of America's spiritual scenes, what Harris presents is his journey to contentment.

Finance

46. Kicking Financial Ass: Punch Debt in the Face, Invest for the Future, and Retire Early! by Paul Christopher Dumont ⭐ Indie Spotlight

The great thing about this book is that Paul Christopher Dumont isn’t a self-proclaimed financial genius: he’s simply a person who’s been through a lot of the financial hardships with which many of us also struggle. Case in point: four years ago, he was over $50,000 in debt — but now he’s debt-free with multiple properties and a six-figure stock portfolio under his belt. In Kicking Financial Ass, he’ll teach you in a direct, no-nonsense way how to accomplish the same. What he imparts is not a scheme to get rich quick, but something better: a solid, foolproof method to get your finances in order and live a healthier financial life that can take you through to retirement.  

Check out what Reedsy Discovery reviewer Lauren Jones has to say about Kicking Financial Ass: Punch Debt in the Face, Invest for the Future, and Retire Early!

47. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez

The question at the heart of this beloved book, as personal finance blogger Grant Sabatier puts it, is simple: how much money are you willing to trade your life for? Work is essentially a swap of energy and time for money. How much does that mean to you? If you figure out this “why” behind your spending, it will enable you to easily lay down the stepping-stones for intelligent investment and budgeting decisions. 

Set down in 1992, this pioneering personal finance philosophy has since been endorsed by millions of people (including Oprah) for a clear reason: it works. Robin and Dominguez offer an expert-tested nine-step program in Your Money or Your Life to help people of all ages start saving, manage revenue streams, track their finances more efficiently, and invest in index funds. It has been hugely influential, giving birth in recent years to the rapidly-growing F.I.R.E. movement — an entire lifestyle philosophy that encourages people to gain financial independence and retire early (hence its acronym). So if you’re looking to change your relationship with money, this is the go-to book to read. 

48. The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach

David Bach is the bestselling author of multiple trusted financial books, including Smart Couples Finish Rich, The Finish Rich Workbook, and Smart Women Finish Rich (which we also strongly recommend for its financial investment strategies geared specifically for women). In The Automatic Millionaire, he consolidates much of his advice into one very useful and compact book on how to end up rich at your finish line. But what makes The Automatic Millionaire stand out? Bach asserts that you can end up a millionaire without a budget, willpower, or interest in money. Discover just how in this immensely popular personal finance book. 

49. The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life by JL Collins ⭐ Indie Spotlight

The Simple Path to Wealth originated from a series of letters about money and investing that JL Collins wrote to his daughter. From such humble beginnings grew one of the most trusted, highest-rated personal finance books in recent years. Collins writes in a conversational, instructional style that immediately makes investment lingo accessible to everyone. His investment DIY approach is built on sound life principles and financial discipline that he proceeds to break down for you, step by step. Straightforward and clear, The Simple Path to Wealth will teach you how to think long-term, approach risk, fully diversify your portfolio — and, most importantly, how to amass “f*ck you” money. A must-read for both beginning and advanced investors whose end goal is to become financially independent.  

50. A Cat’s Guide to Money: Everything You Need to Know to Master Your Purrsonal Finances, Explained by Cats by Lillian Karabaic ⭐ Indie Spotlight

Let’s face it, finances aren’t always the most pleasant topic. But you know what makes it better? Cats! In A Cat’s Guide to Money, Karabaic has created a finance book for the rest of us: the ones without the steady 9-5, the ones who have side hustles, or operate within the gig economy, or are simply struggling to make ends meet. It explains, in simple terms that anyone can understand, the fundamentals of how savings, budgets, and retirement plans work — and more importantly, how our mindsets and relationships with money have been holding us back. And then it shows us how to make plans to change that, based on our goals and core values. All with the help of cartoon illustrations, David Bowie references, and of course … cats.

***

Want even more inspiration for the new year? Check out our lists of 35 Inspirational Books to Change Your Life or 60 Best Inspirational Books for Women, or reflect on the year gone by with the 50 Best Books of 2019.

Header image by Muhammad Haikal Sjukri.

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