14 self-help books to get you through times of uncertainty and change,
t’s a new year like no other, possibly one of the gloomiest Januaries of our generation. It’s drizzly, anxiety levels are sky-high thanks to the relentless uncertainty of the pandemic, and we’ve just got to suck it up, keep calm and carry on.
The silver lining of all of our empty social calendars while locked down? Loads of time to cosy up with a good book – and if you’re after some guidance on how to navigate life right now, the self-help and personal development section is a good place to start.
Journalist Toni Jones found such a lifeline in the powers of personal development literature that she founded the Shelf Help Book Club, which has since amassed an 11K strong Instagram following.
“Self-help was pivotal in turning around my mental health health in my 30s and I started Shelf Help as a way to share everything I was learning, as well as meet other readers and seekers on a similar path,” Jones says.
“The messages in these books can be life-changing (they absolutely were for me) and I want to show that this kind of inner work doesn’t need to be scary or weird. Quite the opposite. We are all about celebrating self-help and connecting people with books and ideas that empower them to know, value and love themselves. It’s OK not to be OK but there’s so much we can do to feel better, and books and a community like this are a very good place to start.”
Below we asked people in the wellness industry for their best self-help reads and their top picks for dealing with change.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodren
“This is a collection of talks from spiritual teacher and Buddhist monk Pema Chodren given between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties.” – Nahid de Belgeone
Awareness through Movement by Moshe Feldenkrais
De Belgeone continues: “The Feldenkrais Method is all about building better body habits and focusing on new dimensions of awareness, self-image and human potential. This is so much more than movement, by involving your thoughts, feelings, senses and movements, this method profoundly addresses what it is to be you.” – Nahid de Belgeone
A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi
“Before I read this book, money always felt super stressful, out of reach and hard to navigate. While the focus of the book is on money, it’s so much more than that and makes our place in the universe a little bit easier to understand; whether that’s through exploring the power of our thoughts, seeing money as energy or the importance of being present. – Giselle La Pompe-Moore
Giselle La Pompe-Moore (@projectajna), spiritual guide, tarot reader and founder of Project Ajna
No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh
“This book has got me through so many ups and downs in my life and shows just how important it is to shift our perception of suffering. This isn’t about pretending that life is all sunshine and rainbows, but knowing that life will always throw us curve balls and hard times, but when we know how to better understand our pain and suffering we get to grow through it and move into a place of joy and change.” – Giselle La Pompe-Moore
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“This was recommended to me by my therapist about six years ago. It teaches the principles of mindfulness and how to practice it in your day to day. As a person I tend to have a busy mind with a forever to do list, making it hard for me to relax and enjoy the simple things. This book has really helped me to find a sense of calm in my day to day and to live in the moment.” – Sasha Sabapathy
Sasha Sabapathy is the founder of infrared sauna and wellness one-stop Glow Bar
Change Your Life in Seven Days by Paul McKenna
“This is the book that changed everything for me. It actually took me over a year to read this book in 2016 (originally published in 2002) because all the concepts in it were so new to me – but ultimately it was the catalyst for me quitting my job as an editor and starting a self-help book club and community in 2017 which now has over 12K members worldwide.” – Toni Jones
Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
“This is an action (and exercise) packed masterclass in changing our mindset from the inspiring American Life Coach and entrepreneur Marie Forleo.” – Toni Jones
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
“This book highlighted a lot of points for me that I was already working through and challenging myself on. Brene’s writing is easy to read, thought-provoking and funny. A book that I couldn’t put down, whilst page by page being curious about myself and leaning into vulnerability, strength and my inner bravery.” – Cat Meffan
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
“This is an old book (published in 1989) and has sold over 25 million copies. I read this book about four years ago and it challenged me to rethink how I was approaching many things in my life, from work to relationships to parenting.” – Adrienne Herbert
Mindset by Carol Dweck
“This book will empower you to develop a mindset for growth and success. In a time of change it’s important to focus on what you can do to get the most out of any situation.” – Adrienne Herbert
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
“This book includes four life lessons and guiding principles that when I read it, gave me a grounding path no matter what decision I was making. This is a beautiful book and everyone should read it.” – Roxie Nafousi
Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
“I read this book when I was at rock bottom, it changed my life and helped me get back on track. It’s all about taking responsibility of your life and stepping outside your comfort zone, which is key for manifesting. And I believe that it was that book that transformed my whole world.” – Roxie Nafousi
You are a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero
“The title is a bit American but she has some really good positive tips on how to live your best life.” – Nadia Narain
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
“I really like this book because it shows you a step by step way to overcome things you expect to hold you back and puts you in a perspective of power. It’s one I am sure I will re-read over and over again through life.” – Hilary Rowland