I began my self-love journey how I begin everything I do—with research. I headed to the infamous Barnes and Noble in Union Square and headed straight to the self-help section because reading proves time and time again to be one of the best ways to seek inspiration and discover new approaches to improving my life.
The subway is the perfect excuse to crack open the spine of a new book and after staring at a screen all day during work, a new book is a low-tech easy-on-the-eyes way to unwind, so since arriving in New York, I have read through the stack of books I picked out that day.
Of all the self-help books I’ve read, there are the 7 that I recommend; each of them contains a wealth of knowledge that is both easy to adopt in your daily life and pretty empowering.
“I’ve learned to be proud of how I look and to celebrate my beauty as much as I celebrate my body- because I am beautiful. And you are beautiful, too. Strength is beauty and there is beauty in strength.” – Lindsey Vonn
The accomplished and stunning Olympic gold medalist interweaves compelling tales of growing from a small-town Minnesota girl into a world champion skier, with advice supported by cutting edge research and scientific studies, on finding a fitness and eating routine that will every woman get stronger and healthier. Whether you are an aspiring athlete, want to get back into shape, or up your fitness and health routine, Vonn’s easy to follow lists, fitness guides, and nutritional information make getting in touch with your body easier than ever.. The human-ness that threads through the personal essays in the book will leave you feeling like Vonn is your best friend, trainer, and nutritionists. Plus, this oversized book makes a beautiful addition to any coffee table.
“Be the kind of friend that you want to have. This is what it all boils down to. Listen when they bitch. Tell them they’ll be okay. Go over and check in on their cat when they’re on vacation. Call them on their birthday, or better yet bake a cake in the shape of their initial. Keep their secrets. Treat them like what they are–the rare person in this world who gives a fuck about you not because they have to, but because they want to. Give a fuck about them.” – Kelly Williams Brown
Based on Kelly Williams Brown’s popular blog, Adulting makes the scary world of adulting manageable, and even conquerable. This book is a must-read for any recent college graduate and young professional who has been thrust into the world of adulting. From how to find and decorate an apartment on a budget, how to avoid sleeping with your co-worker, and what to stock in your kitchen, to giving apologies worth accepting, Brown writes as hysterically and compellingly as she does helpfully. By the end of this quick-read you will pick up a few memorable tips on how to act like an adult (even if you don’t feel like one).
“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up. And prepare to have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.” – Sophia Amoruso
While the story is about Amoruso’s journey turning her Ebay business into the multi-million dollar corporation, Nasty Gal, the book is filled with blips of information that we can all learn from. The number one lesson is: follow what you love, and if you haven’t found what you love, keep looking. When you find something you are passionate about, the work becomes not only manageable but fun. For Amoruso that includes thrift shopping and fashion, for me, it’s writing. For those of us who have already found the passion we want to transform into a career, the book is affirming and inspiring. For those of us who haven’t yet found our passion, this book argues for passion in a way that is both innovative and genuine.
4. Daring Greatly: How The Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown
“Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection” – Brene Brown
I picked up this book when a friend of mine suggested that the current state of my romantic relationship was caused by my fear of vulnerability. While reading the book didn’t miraculously transform me into a person without walls or inhibitions, it certainly convinced me of the value of vulnerability through logic and science-based research. Brown outlines the basic masks we use and wear in order to avoid the vulnerabilities that we fear while also providing the basic tools and lists we need to remove those masks and live more connected lives. Brown teaches us that giving it your all means opening up, which is why this is a must read for anyone looking to become more connected and engaged, or more fearless and courageous.
“The fact that your interactions on your phone can have such a profound effect on people’s impressions of you as a person makes it clear that you basically have two selves now- your real world self and your phone self.” – Aziz Ansari
If you’ve ever fallen in love with someone you met on Tinder, went on a date with someone you met on Tinder, given your phone number to someone you met on Tinder, had a conversation with someone on Tinder, or drunkenly downloaded Tinder… this book is for you. The whole culture of finding love and dating has changed drastically in a few decades. Aziz pairs up with renowned sociologists to provide an investigative, humorous, and informative account of what singles go through as they search for love in the digital age as well as how technology affects the modern romance. Pick up this book for an unforgettable tour of the modern world in order to better understand your own search for love, sex, and soul mate.
6. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent A Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
“People have an inborn disposition that’s set within a certain range, but they can boost themselves to the top of their happiness range or push themselves down to the bottom of their happiness range by their actions. This finding confirmed my own observations. It seems obvious that some people are more naturally ebullient or melancholic than others and that, at the same time, people’s decisions about how to live their lives also affect their happiness” – Gretchen Rubin
Rubin simplifies the act of reaching towards happiness by focusing on the small everyday acts that eventually create a life. The chapters are broken down into months and their corresponding resolutions: January: Boost energy; February: Remember love; March: Aim higher; April: Lighten up; May: Be serious about play; June: Make time for friends; July: Buy some happiness; August: Contemplate the heavens; September: Pursue a passion; October: Pay attention; November: Keep a contented heart; and December: Book camp perfect. Each month she focused on tackling a resolution, which corresponds with a specific trait, and then she narrows her efforts on that principal for 30 days. Rubin’s book is, as she emphasizes, not a set of steadfast rules, but rather an exemplary guide of self awareness and the difference a year can make. The happiness project is no longer just a book, it’s a movement. And it’s one that we should all try to be a part of. Her accessible tone and language reassure us that we are all capable of achieving happiness.