So, it’s a new year! Inevitably, this means that you’ve probably already thought of plenty of things that you’d like to change about your life (and plenty of complacencies that you’d like to banish). You might reject the notion of New Year’s resolutions, which is perfectly fair, but none among us can really argue that there aren’t areas in which we could do better. No one is compelled to wake up on that new morning completely aware and certain of the improvements they mean to make – I mean, it’s tough, isn’t it? But never is it a bad idea to keep a careful eye out for those productive and encouraging tweaks we can make in order to get closer to where we’d like to be. With that in mind, here is a list of books that will help you to achieve whatever modest goal you may have set for yourself; whether it’s eating healthier, getting more exercise, loving you for you, improving your mind, improving your relationships or generally learning more about yourself and the world you live in, here is a wealth of inspiring guidance and valuable input. Some of these are long-standing favourites and some are newer releases for which to look out. Either way, have a look. At least one of these has something substantial to offer you.
The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Especially for entrepreneurial go-getters, Ferriss’s guide to escaping the daily grind in order to create your own wealth and achieve a more self-reliant and fulfilling life is a significant wealth of implementable advice that works best when used as a step-by-step guide. Take it slow with this one, absorb the information proffered and put it into action as you go and soon you’ll be ready to leave the 9-5 behind!
Also see: Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Even for those of us who are already creative, there is always room to create more. And this guide, from best-selling and infinitely readable author Elizabeth Gilbert, has something for absolutely everyone: from aspiring businesspeople to chaotic arty-types, from hardworking parents to striving young folk, Big Magic is full of invitations to be brave, creative, curious and free. Largely focused upon the ideas that are already floating around just waiting for you to snap them up, it’s a super combination of the practical and the spiritual that offers new and essential approaches and attitudes to life, work and wholeness.
Also see: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
I personally know plenty of people who have been helped by Brené Brown’s particularly accessible blend of academic examination and wholesome intuition. As a prolific researcher who focuses on vulnerability and shame, Brown has plenty to offer even those most sceptical of self-help books. Comprising numerous effective techniques for living a life governed more by joy than by fear, and backed-up by heaps of real-world data and observation, Daring Greatly is just the book for anybody hoping to better understand what holds them back, how they feel about life, and how to overcome stubborn internal obstacles.
Also see: Braving the Wilderness by the same author.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Yep, this one is very famous. And with good reason too. Gladwell’s work doesn’t truly fall into the self-help category, I always feel, because it usually sets out to inform and to entertain more than it does to actually “help”. Outliers is an anecdote and fascination-rich look at the true, statistically proven and scientific factors that determine success. It doesn’t give advice, as such, which makes it a good fit for readers who are interested in achieving more and are fed up of being told that a good attitude and positive thoughts are all you need. In fact, most of Gladwell’s books work this way, and all of them are worth reading.
Also see: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Attitudes toward introversion have certainly changed a fair bit in recent years, but even if we own it and embrace it, all introverts will have moments when we wish that other people would just quiet down, stop making such a frenzied 80’s movie-style ruckus and listen to the people who have great ideas but don’t necessarily shout about them. Quiet is an exercise in self-love and understanding for those of us who spurn bluster and wish to better understand a nature that often can seem underappreciated and riddled with impediments. If you feel like puking every time you hear the words how to win friends and influence people, this is for you.
Also see: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan
New Titles to Look Out For
Joy at Work by Marie Kondo
If you’ve not heard of Marie Kondo and her massively influential ideas about tidying up, getting your sh*t together and casting out all the superfluous stuff you keep around for no discernible reason, it must be because your labyrinth of ancient newspapers and plastic bag mountain make it tricky for you to move around much. In April, Kondo turns her highly trained and systematic eye on work spaces and work lives. Inbox, office and desk, Joy at Work is a step-by-step guide to organising and simplifying your work life once, so that you never have to do it again.
Life Scale by Brian Solis
It’s tough to say exactly when or why, but boy did we all get distracted. Enslaved by devices, robbed of sleep, forced to take on more than we can happily do, and bombarded by anxieties and doubts, many of us have let too many good things fall by the wayside. This is a book, full of practical tips, experiments and thought exercises, designed to get us back on track, to identify and do away with senseless distractions and to live a more creative, purposeful and satisfying life. It’s also pretty funny.
The Friendship Formula by Caroline Millington
In a nutshell, this is a book about cutting the bad people from your life, bringing more good people into your life, and navigating the many factors, challenges and joys that go into making a sustainable friendship. Creating helpful boundaries, surviving betrayals, loss and grief, demanding family lives… this book takes on the impediments to friendship as well as the springboards, in order to improve your understanding of your closest ties and to get a decent grip on this extremely important but oft-neglected aspect of life.
Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
Here’s a book that doesn’t go in for quick fixes; a book that knows that, with enough work, nothing is such a mess that it can’t be figured out, understood and ultimately conquered. In essence, it is a handbook for tackling the things that scare you, accessing and utilising all the creativity that you have inside you, fulfilling all the aspirations that you harbour and figuring out the best way to proceed when things get tricky. A simple guide, a powerful mindset … an effective tool for a vast array of situations.
Am I Overthinking This? Over-Answering Life’s Questions in 101 Charts By Michelle Rial
This one is a thankfully playful and whimsical look at the questions eating adults alive all over the world. This is a book of questions with answers, over-answers, and many charts: Did I screw up? How do I achieve work-life balance? Am I eating too much cheese? Do I have too many plants? …a playful take on the little dilemmas that loom large in the mind of every adult through artful charts and funny, insightful questions. It’s a lot less weighty than the average self-help book, it’s very pretty, and it serves as an excellent conversation starter. Maybe that’s a good resolution for the new year, if you fancy making one: maintain a sense of humour while trying to figure out this life business.
Happy New Year and Best of Luck for 2020!