Here’s the thing, self-help books have a bad rap. While previous rut-ending books have been packed out with hundreds upon hundreds of pages of incomprehensible life advice (like waking up at 5am every morning—no thank you) and vague quotes like “life is like a river”, the good news is that there’s a new and improved generation of humans making self-help books well, cool again.
In this economy, self-help can look like a lot of things and the epic books we’ve found span everything from helping you evaluate what your own personal success looks like to just helping you “un-cook” yourself from the fireballs that life can peg your way.
Read on for the most useful self-help books around.
The Best Self-Help Books Of 2022
The Success Experiment
By Lillian Ahenkan
We’re not the type of people to take advice from just anyone but hey, if it’s Lillian Ahenkan (also known as Flex Mami), we’ll take out our Airpods and tune in to what she has to say. The Success Experiment been described as a “no-bullshit guide to life” and it may or may not be the only book you seriously need to pay attention to throughout your 20s. As one of the best self help books of 2021, this read is basically a blueprint, a basic formula, in which you can use to actually create your own personal success and it tackles the idea that your life can really change should you shift your goals to align with what would actually make you light up inside rather than feel just easy or achievable. This one doesn’t actually drop until 1 June 2021 (you’re welcome for the heads up) but you can pre-order a signed copy right here.
By Nats What I Reckon
We’re calling it the tastiest self-help book of this generation. If you haven’t heard of Nats What I Reckon, get off your high horse and into his hilarious videos which are simultaneously reducing us from using packet sauces and taking life too seriously. The whole read is basically packed with nine no-nonsense rules of life which can be applied to every facet of your very own life, be it work, family, relationships or your own self-development. Regardless of what you take away from Un-Cook Yourself, you’ll definitely be laughing.
Burnout: Solve Your Stress Cycle
By Emily and Amelia Nagoski
Those of you who are out on the edge of burnout or potentially deep within it—this book is the gold-standard for life. Mixed with science, wit and actual coping strategies you can apply on the daily. While obviously anyone can experience burnout, this particular read delves into why women experience burnout differently from men and shares ways in which females can minimise stress and manage emotions. There’s some super solid insight into biological stress cycles, how to monitor the parts in your brain that regulate emotion and frustration and why rest and befriending your inner critic is the key to preventing burnout.
A Drag Queen’s Guide To Life
By Bimini Bon Boulash
Tell us you’ve watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race without telling us you’ve watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race—because if this self-help book isn’t already under your crown, you’re missing out. Bimini is a complete sweetheart wearing her heart on her sleeve and always working on the “positive attitude”. Telling the story of how drag took her from the brink of self-destruction to the mainstage, as well as life lessons drawing on convention-breaking icons from Kate Moss to Katie Price, in this book Bimini uses all her wit, charm and kindness to show us how to lead the lives we wish we could, through the life-changing magic of dragging up. This one is dropping 2 November 2021 but you can preorder A Drag Queen’s Guide To Life right here.
Leap To Wholeness
By Sky Nelson-Isaccs
Brace yourself for the question on which Leap To Wholeness is bound by—how do you get something out of nothing? While it may seem out of place for a physics educator like Sky Nelson-Isaacs to be whipping out one of the best self-help books of all time, it’s actually just the read that could help you find your bigger purpose in life (big call, we know). This book has been dubbed a “survival manual for humans” and checks you, yep little ol’ you, on how you might be filtering out many other parts of life. The basic idea is that this self-help book will help you create something out of nothing with your life, by the very things you’re not doing and not seeing.
Working Hard, Hardly Working
By Grace Beverley
Enter the bible to achieving more, stressing less and feeling more fulfilled. We all know the pressure of feeling like we should be grinding 24/7 while simultaneously being told that we should “just relax” and take care of ourselves like we somehow have to decide between success and sanity. In Working Hard, Hardly Working, the self-proclaimed “lazy workaholic” Grace Beverley challenges this unrealistic and unnecessary split, and offers a fresh take on how to create your own balance and be more productive. We love this one because it actually gives you ways to identify how you can work smarter and do more of what you love, create your own productivity method, make your routine actually work for you and engage in your own self-care.
Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is The Key To Unlocking Your Greatness
By Vex King
Think of this beauty as your daily handbook to get out of low motivation slumps and overwhelming times. Full of inspiring quotes, Good Vibes, Good Life is easily another one that's up there with the best self-help books of all time, aimed at transforming negative emotions into positive ones, developing self-love, mind mastery, goal setting, and finding a deeper purpose in your own life, so you can do way more of what you actually want to be doing. While this book edges on the fringes of a spirituality self-help book, it’s super easy to read and provides practical solutions you can kick off right away.
You Are A Badass
By Jen Sincero
In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-travelling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters (ready to fill your morning commute with a dose of inspiration) full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. In turn, it’s all laid out to help you identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviours that stop you from getting what you want.
You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich
By Emilie Bellet
If you ask us, this read still stands as one of the best self-help books of 2021 (even though it dropped a while back). Sink your mitts into this modern-day money manifesto stat. You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich is the handy little life hack that will absolutely annihilate your brain cells (in a good way) on all things to do with renting, buying a home, getting a better salary, managing a credit card, understanding your net worth, saving more money, living within your budget, building a pension, investing and paying off any accumulated debt (we’re looking at you HECS). This gem is easy to read, even while you’re working your sweet time through Netflix.
The Best Self-Help Books Of All Time
How To Win Friends And Influence People And How To Stop Worrying And Start Living
By Dale Carnage
The world was a very different place when this book was written but great advice always stands the test of time. How To Win Friends… etc. is a core memory for most people who have been inducted into leadership teams across the world. Breaking down 12 main concepts for life, you’ll be taken through how to not criticise, be generous with praise, how remembering people’s names is one of the best things you can do and even how to acknowledge your own mistakes. Buy it here.
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People
By Stephen R. Covey
Hats off to this epic self-help book because its wisdom will absolutely change your life. While a bit theory heavy at times, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People will give you the tools to maximising your own value as well as the value of others, a double-edged sword packed into one neat little read.
By James Clear
As one of the more recent classic reads (having been published back in 2018 and not the early 1900s…), Atomic Habits is a world favourite for a reason. If you’re on your sweet self-help journey, this guy packs all the punch and a myriad of actionable little things (hence: ‘Atomic Habits) that will build the blocks to changing your life in the direction you wish it to go. There’s cutting-edge psychology, inspiring stories of Olympic gold medallists, leading CEOs and distinguished scientists who have all used the science of tiny habits to keep productive and happy.
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a Fuck
By Mark Manson
For decades, we've been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F**k positivity," Mark Manson says, "let's be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it”. And to that we raise a glass in solidarity. Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. In other words, know your limitations and accept them. Buy it here.
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Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.