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Best Self-Help Books in 2021: Here’s What’s on Our Reading List

Composite image of best self help books of 2021
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When it comes to our personal wellness, no one person has all the answers. Life programs us in individual ways based on our experiences (including our traumas), leaving us with inherent blind spots and areas we need to develop. Cue self-help books. In 2020 and 2021 especially, we could all use a little advice from experts whose work focuses on personal growth, love and relationships, burnout and more. Here is our self-help reading list to help guide us to our best selves. 

Self help books to boost your self-love & understanding

The Body Is Not An Apology, Second Edition: The Power Of Radical Self-love By Sonya Renee Taylor
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The Body Is Not An Apology, Second Edition: The Power Of Radical Self-love by Sonya Renee Taylor $25

Radically unapologetic, Sonya Renee Taylor’s account explores and celebrates the variety and diversity of the human body. This work breaks down the systems of oppression, and how they’ve been used to injure our relationships with our own bodies. The Body Is Not an Apology offers self-love as the balm to heal these wounds. 

Related: Improve your self-talk: 8 ways to stop negative language and be kind to yourself.

 

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide To Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab
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Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide To Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab $35

The idea of saying no, and effectively setting personal boundaries (even with your mom) may not be intuitive to many, but it is vital to enabling us to live a life that we’re happy with, on our own terms. Author Nedra Glover Tawwab provides tools for how to best do that while remaining authentic to who you are.

Related: How to set healthy boundaries with your boss and coworkers.

 

The Goddess Solution: Practical Wisdom For Everyday Life by Lisa Marie Rankin
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The Goddess Solution: Practical Wisdom For Everyday Life by Lisa Marie Rankin $28

If Sarah Jessica Parker‘s Carrie Brandshaw taught us anything, it’s that ultimately it’s the relationship with ourselves that matters most. Writer Lisa Marie Rankin serves as a practical spiritual guide, offering age-old wisdom to present-day scenarios like dating, sex, careers, divorce, conflict and more.

Related: How to use your love language on yourself.

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The Vagina Bible: The Vulva And The Vagina: Separating The Myth From The Medicine byJen Gunter
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The Vagina Bible: The Vulva And The Vagina: Separating The Myth From The Medicine by Jen Gunter $27

Canadian OB/GYN and women’s health advocate (as well as New York Time columnist) Jen Gunter demystifies female sexual health, shedding light on an oft-tucked away topic: the vagina and vulva. Here’s everything you need to know but were too shy to ask. 

Related: 20 things women should know about vaginas (but don’t).

 

Self help books for mental & emotional wellness

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
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Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman $22

We’ve heard of IQ, but did you know that Emotional Intelligence is a better indicator of a person’s success? Daniel Goleman’s critical work is not new, but it is absolutely essential in understanding how your rational and emotional mind combine to either serve you or hinder you (and those around you). A must-read.

 

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, And Body In The Healing Of Trauma
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The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, And Body In The Healing Of Traumaby Bessel Van Der Kolk$24

Not new, this classic is an important read at any time but especially during periods of hardship. While we cannot control every aspect of our lives, and bad things can (and do) happen, so how can we tap into our best life despite that? Dr. van der Kolk, one of the world’s most recognized experts on trauma, unpacks what happens to both body and brain following traumatic events, and how these experiences compromise sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control and trust.

Related: 10 affordable self-care strategies for your mental health.

 

First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson
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First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson $28

Bestselling author, journalist and entrepreneur dives into her experiences struggling and managing chronic anxiety. She puts her investigative skills to examine this “lifetime companion,” looking at triggers and treatments, interviewing mental health experts, philosophers and fellow sufferers.

Related: Stress vs. anxiety: How to tell the difference.

 

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Like Streams To The Ocean: Notes On Ego, Love, And The Things That Make Us Who We Are by Jedidiah Jenkins
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Like Streams To The Ocean: Notes On Ego, Love, And The Things That Make Us Who We Are by Jedidiah Jenkins $35

“You can travel the world looking for yourself, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, how can you find it?” asks this more philosophical ode to knowing yourself. Jedidiah Jenkins explores eight subjects that give life meaning and help define us as individuals: ego, family, home, friendship, love, work, death, the soul.

See also: Warning signs you’re in an abusive relationship with yourself.

Little Book Of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes A Day To Less Stress, More Peace by Patricia Collard
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Little Book Of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes A Day To Less Stress, More Peace by Patricia Collard $9

There are so many benefits to incorporating a mindfulness practice in your day, but knowing where to start can feel daunting. Patricia Collard offers easy 5- and 10-minute practices to help you better navigate the day’s stresses and ultimately build more peace into your life. 

 

Self help books for your love life

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Love And Life From Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Love And Life From Dear Sugarby Cheryl Strayed$23

Those familiar with vagabond and writer of Wild (since reworked into a film starring Reese Witherspoon) know the author also penned a once-anonymous regular love advice column for The Rumpus. Here are the lessons learned through those letters. Witty and wild, here is all her best love advice.

 

Self help books to improve your habits & manage burnout

Your Time To Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, And Unlock Your Full Potential With The New Science Of Microsteps By Marina Khidekel & The Editors of Thrive Global
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Your Time To Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, And Unlock Your Full Potential With The New Science Of Microsteps by Marina Khidekel & The Editors of Thrive Global $35

Want to live your best life, but not sure where to start? Marina Khidekel and team offer a place a good starting point by showing readers how to incorporate healthy new habits to unlock fullest potential; by recognizing that you don’t have to sacrifice your well-being, you are actually much better equipped to thrive. 

And if you’re looking for more small-scale habits and tweaks you can work into your life on the daily, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way To Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones is another great read to add to your personal library with. 

 

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The Energy Paradox: What To Do When Your Get-up-and-go Has Got Up And Gone
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The Energy Paradox: What To Do When Your Get-up-and-go Has Got Up And Gone by Steven R Gundry, Md $35

From the writer who brought you the Plant Paradox follows a book about chronic fatigue. Yes, ours is a burnout generation, and this book offers up a plan for how we can boost our energy and revitalize our mental and physical stamina in a healthy way.

Related: 10 signs you’re headed for a burnout diagnosis and what to do about it.

Self Help books to supercharge your career

More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (no Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth
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More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (no Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth $23

Smashing ceilings, Elaine Walteroth shares her journey from a media and fashion journalist to finding herself at the helm of a movement leading the next generation of change-makers. She talks lessons learned on race, identity, and making your own success.

Related: Why the Bamboo Ceiling is a real thing and how it hurts all POC.

 

Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones
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Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones$35

Author Luvvie Ajayi is know for her wit, warmth and truth bombs. Facing that ever-present inner-monster, Fear, Jones shows us how to get out of our own way and lead boldly to our more realized future by sharing her own experiences of dealing with the Imposter Syndrome (she once nearly bailed on doing a career-defining TED talk). We’re willing to bet, she’s not alone. 

 

Self Help books to boost your brain

Keep Sharp: Build A Better Brain At Any Age
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Keep Sharp: Build A Better Brain At Any Age by Sanjay Gupta$28

The idea that our brain is a fixed entity is long gone. There are steps each of us can take to help our brains flourish today and years to come. Neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta breaks these down into applicable practice.

Related: Reading Recs: The 10 best books of 2020.

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