All books offer a window into your imagination, but self-help books dig into your soul.
At the crux of our lives, we are all just trying to live the best one. But things happen and we need to rethink our path and the point of it all. We lose, fail, return to the starting point with deflated passion. And it’s at these times we seek out external support; we ask our friends and family what we should do, and we get answers that still feel a little vague.
We need actual answers, not half-hearted advice that arises from personal beliefs. And the best advice, in our opinion, comes from a self-help, wellness or wellbeing book. The ones that give you a roadmap to living a better life.
Whether you want to succeed, feel happier, be less anxious or dig deeper into your passions, the following books will be your best bet. They will pluck you up from the ground, brush the dust off your back and point you towards a new way of living.
So, to help you get started on your next read, we’ve found the best 15 wellbeing books that will help you live your best life:
The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown
Brené Brown is an American professor, author and podcaster with her most notable work being on shame, authenticity and belonging through her Ted Talks. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené brings us back to earth and reminds us that we all are imperfect – which is practically perfect – because perfection is an unnecessary goal. She will say, ‘You are enough, and you are doing enough, so break away from the dejection and smile!’
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson
Most self-help books are fluffy and cute, they weave through concepts with light footsteps and make you think this world is blissful and wonderful. But in his self-help book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson takes a slightly unorthodox approach. He’s here to tell you that being positive is not helping and that life sucks a lot of the time. And he does it in the most endearing, brutally honest and straight-talking tone.
The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle is all about living in the moment, surrounding yourself with reality. And in his book The Power Of Now, Eckhart packs plenty of enlightenment and imploring you to be at one with the world, like sitting in the park every day and watching the world go by. Of course, while sitting on a park bench for hours on end sounds more stressful than peaceful, it may make you wonder about how much time we waste stressing about everything…
10% Happier, Dan Harris
Dan Harris’s 10% Happier is essentially a memoir on how he overcame his stressors after having a panic attack on Good Morning America. You won’t get bullet points, just a flowing narrative laced with plenty of golden nuggets along the way. What Dan wanted to achieve wasn’t blissful, oblivious happiness, but a kind of happiness that still allows him to be the cutting edge journalist that he is. It’s his way of helping you be happy while not having to change your personality.
488 Rules For Life, Kitty Flanagan
Kitty Flanagan’s 488 Rules For Life won’t offer you insights into meditative practices or achieving success in this wayward world, but it will make you feel less alone in this harsh environment. And isn’t that the next best thing? Her rules transcend all areas of life – from office politics to everyday etiquette – and they are either relatable, agreeable or slightly tongue-in-cheek. But the reading is light and comical, perfect for the bedside table after a long, dreary day.
Don't Sweat The Small Stuff... And It's All Small Stuff, Richard Carlson
Richard Carlson has written four books under the title Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…, but we’re focusing on his most popular one with the subtitle, Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life. Because guess what? They’re all just little things. Richard will take you on a journey of self-discovery through various vignettes of wisdom, each showing you that there’s more to life than worrying about infinitesimal things.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg Mckeown
Are you burning your candle at both ends? Tugged between fears of making money to survive whilst also finding “you” time and trying to pursue your actual goals? Then Greg Mckeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is definitely for you. Learn to soothe the fizzling flame of burnout and learn to focus on what really matters. Your goals, your loved ones, your own self. In Greg’s case, less really is more.
The Art of Resilience, Ross Edgley
Perhaps you’re not seeking to calm down but to succeed in this life, which is of growing interest considering 2020’s awful ongoing pandemic. And if there’s one man who can coax you into succeeding in life, it’s Ross Edgley with his book The Art of Resilience. Ross is an adventurer who’s endured a lot of harsh journeys, from swimming through wild seas to climbing a rope the height of Everest. His book will teach you to push yourself harder and discover the art of resilience.
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is well-known for her book Eat, Pray, Love, which is a memoir on her life after divorcing her husband. Nine years later, she brought out Big Magic, a nonfiction piece that uncovers the creative talents within us. Are you a creative yearning for some inspiration on where to start? Then this book is for you. Elizabeth believes that the universe buries hidden treasures within us and we just have to find them. And it all starts with building the courage to hunt.
Range, David Epstein
According to David Epstein’s book Range, the people who actually succeed are not the ones who grind their way through one field. In fact, the best ones are those who are actively open to a range of fields. Who knew? David believes that the most impactful people are those who dabble in many areas – the generalists who pick up insights that could be applied across their growing expertise. Range is about cultivating inefficiency and using your varietal knowledge to be the best.
Atomic Habits, James Clear
How do you break bad habits and instil good ones? Well, who better to ask than James Clear, a leading expert in habit formation. His book Atomic Habits sets out the framework for breaking the systems that have allowed your habits to thrive, and building new systems to create new habits. He makes it clear that the problem isn’t you because you clearly want to change your habits. Drawing on research in biology, psychology and neuroscience, James brings complex ideas into captivating nibble bite-sized pieces.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth
What helps us achieve goals? Is it growing our talent? Or perhaps it’s taking a clever approach? Well, according to established psychologist Angela Duckworth, it’s neither. To her, success comes to those who persevere with unwavering persistence – or as she terms it: GRIT. In this part memoir and part self-help book, Angela draws on her own life experiences of being told she’s not smart enough and shows everyday people that they can succeed if they put their mind to it.
Mastery, Robert Greene
Whether you’re an artist, a budding academic or a garden enthusiast, Robert Greene will give you the tools to master your field. In Mastery, Robert finds inspiration and insights in some of the world’s most successful masters including Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci from the past; alongside contemporary masters like tech guru Paul Graham and animal rights advocate, Temple Grandin. Being a master is not a skill that we are born with, it’s something we drive towards.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
This self-help book was first published over 30 years ago, but even today it’s finding merit. Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is just as it sounds, but we don’t recommend skipping through and only noting the habits. There are so many gold nuggets to be found, and if you work on them, you could turn yourself into a diamond.
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
Professors are usually given a final lecture at the end of their tenure, where they reflect on what they’ve learned. For Randy Pausch, his last lecture was a little more literal. He was dying. In his poignant self-help book titled The Last Lecture, Randy aimed to teach people how to achieve their childhood dreams – from overcoming obstacles to taking on every worthwhile opportunity. And not just on succeeding in life, but living your life to the fullest.
Still trying to find that silver lining of this year? We’ve shared The Positive Things to Take Away From 2020. Or for some homegrown talent, these are the 10 Australian Authors To Keep On Your Reading List This Year.