There’s a reason your mom’s copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul is collecting dust on the bookshelf or being used to level out a wobbly table. It’s not 1993 anymore, and the best self-improvement books of decades past aren’t quite as effective as they (supposedly) used to be. It also doesn’t help that the stereotype of self-help bookworms is that of a forgotten housewife trying to revitalize her marriage or connect with her kids, another outdated trope of the self-improvement book genre. 

Books that can actually help you help yourself are a dime a dozen these days, as the inspiring words of motivational speakers and life coaches are questioned more with every passing year. Thanks a lot, pyramid schemes

But as we all know, reading is fundamental, and so is getting out of whatever funk you may be in. The new year is still fresh, and expanding your reading goal beyond fiction novels can benefit you more this year than you might know. Self-improvement can be found in a variety of genres that can lend you more than the quintessential life hacks for better living; cookbooks, memoirs, and even astrological guides could change your life this year and teach you more about yourself than The Power of Positive Thinking ever could. 

If you’re hoping 2019 is the year you flourish but you need a little help, here’s our list of ten books to read to become your best self in 2019. Get cracking!

The Mind-Gut Connection

Author: Emeran Mayer
Year: 2016

Transitioning into a healthier lifestyle can be a tough adjustment. Dr. Emeran Mayer’s The Mind-Gut Connection is a neat guide that takes a different route in convincing you why you should be more mindful of your body. Dr. Mayer explains the connection between your brain, your gut feelings, and your physical health; when you’re feeling nervous or uncomfortable your body may react before your brain, so keeping it in tip-top shape should be at the top of your list for living your best life in 2019. Taking some time to learn about how your body and mind work together may be just what you need to switch up your lackadaisical routine this year.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Author: Samin Nosrat
Year: 2017

If two of your New Year’s resolutions are reading more and learning how to throw down in the kitchen, then kill two birds with one stone and read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. Not only is it an insightful look at the basic properties of preparing a good meal, but Samin Nosrat’s inquisitive personality makes for the perfect guide to learning the basics without feeling inadequate. Enhancing your knowledge of cooking will make you feel unstoppable in the kitchen, and improving your life through good food is a surefire way to stay content all year long.

Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life


After 2 years of writing, illustrating and pouring my heart, soul and life’s work into these pages, it’s been truly the biggest heart opener to see BELONG supporting others on their journey to making friends and building their dream community. I wrote the book because we are in a crisis of isolation and community confusion. We don’t know where to make friends or how to anymore with social media taking over our lives. As such 1 in 4 Americans have ZERO friends to confide in and this number has tripled in the last 30 years. And we don’t talk about it. We are isolated in our isolation. We are also working harder and sacrificing our social lives without realizing when we focus on REAL friendships, we are actually healthier — and wealthier. Because we are joyful when we find that exhale of “ahhh I’m home”. And when we are joyful, we radiate that out and there’s a positive domino affect in all aspects of our life. The opposite is true too, when we feel like we don’t belong, we are more anxious and depressed, turn to substances, opioids and gun violence. We stop listening to each other because we are hurting. My journey started at age 30 when I realized I didn’t belong. I had spent my 20’s in sports bars drinking beer I didn’t like and spending time with people who didn’t inspire me or give me wings or who gossiped about one another. It took several years of COURAGEOUS participation — because that’s what it takes — courage and a generosity with our energy — to find our people. Over the last 5 years in building Daybreaker across the world, we have learned so much and I wanted to share all our secrets, tips and tricks with you so that anyone who has the courage and generosity of spirit to start your own community could have the blue print for how to do it. This book is meant to be an experience in which you wholeheartedly participate in- not just passively take in. So if you’re in a transition moment in your life and wondering where the heck do I find my people, or are building a community for your project or organization, this book is for you. I’d also love to see you on my 20 city book tour which starts Monday! Tour RSVP and details are at ♥️🙏🏽☀️

A post shared by Radha Agrawal (@love.radha) on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:23am PDT

Author: Radha Agrawal
Year: 2018

Finding a genuine group of ride-or-die friends is one of the most challenging parts of becoming an adult, but Radha Agrawal’s Belong makes it easier to find your place in this world with the community that suits you best. A mashup of quizzes, charts, prompts, and illustrations Agrawal’s interactive approach to finding your people is full of wisdom that will leave you finally feeling like you, well, belong.



Happy birthday to a real one 🎈 Thank you for sharing your story with us @MichelleObama #Becoming

A post shared by The Black Syllabus (@blacksyllabus) on Jan 17, 2019 at 9:18am PST

Author: Michelle Obama
Year: 2018

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming is not only a gratifying looking into the life of a cherished public figure, it’s also the best selling book of 2018. In sharing her personal experiences growing up and insights on her life as a mother, wife, and activist, Obama sheds her First Lady skin to reveal more about herself than we’ve ever known. This read is a prime example of the power in finding your voice and striving for greatness in spite of any circumstances or people dead-set against you.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck


New year. New book 🤣 loving it already, thank you @markmansonnet

A post shared by Mimi (@marynaturally) on Jan 16, 2019 at 9:21pm PST

Author: Mark Manson
Year: 2016

A No. 1 New York Times bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is the popular self-help book for people who are too cool to read an actual self-help book. Mark Manson’s sly approach to helping you realize what you should and should not give a fuck about is exactly the type of book that will kickstart your drive to weed out the negativity in your life, and replace it with understanding. Accepting the inevitable mistakes you’ll make and coming to terms with the flawed enigma that is your life will leave less room for worry, fostering more appreciation for the things you enjoy.

Rage Becomes Her: The Power Of Women’s Anger


#Repost @adamreadzbooks ・・・ 🤬🙅‍♀️😡My month has been marked by reading about women and their anger and how they have historically and are increasingly wielding that rage in politics and society. @sorayachemaly’s #RageBecomesHer is a nice companion piece to Rebecca Traister’s #GoodAndMad and Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.” Taken together, with some examples and anecdotes described by three different women, we’re able to arrive at a fuller picture of why women are angry, why that’s more than justified, and how they can channel it and are channeling it in constructive ways. Chemaly’s book is a bit more academic than Traister’s. She references many studies and is more interested in the psychology of anger and how so much develops in the childhood and upbringing of girls. Chemaly shares stories from her own life, and the ones about parenting her daughter are especially poignant because you get a real sense that the way we treat boys and girls differently is a hard thing to overcome - it is so deeply engrained that even someone who has spent so much of her life studying this disparity and its deleterious effects on women and society can still fall into its traps. I’m glad Chemaly wrote Rage Becomes Her and I’m glad I read it. #goodreads #reading #igreads #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #instabooks #instabook #igbook #igbookreview #igbooks #igreaders #read #book #books #womensmarch #anger #women #feminism #igfeminist #activism #metoo #pinkwave

A post shared by Rage Becomes Her (@ragebecomesher) on Dec 19, 2018 at 7:23pm PST

Author: Soraya Chemaly
Year: 2018

Another year, another battle against the patriarchy. For the feminists who might need a boost in momentum this year, Rage Becomes Her should be first on your reading list. Soraya Chemaly’s rage-fueled book encourages readers to own their verve, and justifies all of the anger that women are entitled to during times of distress and disrespect. This book encourages women to channel their rage into passionate, active solutions to misogyny-fueled problems, and will certainly light a fire under your feminist ass to be more proactive in 2019.

How to Be Yourself

Author: Ellen Hendriksen
Year: 2018

Just like Lit told us, sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. But there’s a way to shut up that inner critic who’s always keeping you down, and Ellen Hendriksen is happy to help you do just that. How to Be Yourself is the simple guide to navigating social anxiety and learning how to fight back against those feelings of self-doubt or intimidation you might experience in even the most normal situations. This is the book for everyone who’s ever needed a boost of confidence—whether you’re sick of being the wallflower at a party or just want to get better at ordering a drink, Hendrikson’s approach to conquering your social anxiety will get you one step closer to feeling more like your true self.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Author: Jen Sincero
Year: 2013

Start reveling in your most badass qualities with help from best-selling author Jen Sincero and her simple steps to being your true self. Sincero will not only teach you how to pinpoint your self-saboteur, but how to start ignoring that good-for-nothing loser and start getting what you want out of life. It’s a lighthearted but motivating little book that will have you out there grabbing life by the horns—and shedding any doubts that you’ll be able to find a bull.

Broke Millennial

Author: Erin Lowry
Year: 2017

While looking inward and doing some real self-discovery is worth your while in 2019, so is figuring out how you can afford to be alive in the 21st century. Personal finance expert Erin Lowry teaches broke millennials not only how to manage their finances, but also how to identify and modify their relationship with money. With easy to follow tips and suggestions for how to get through the dreadful stages of being young and penniless, Broke Millennial is a self-improvement book that will keep your wallet healthy for years to come.

The Signs: Decode the Stars, Reframe Your Life

Author: Carolyne Faulkner
Year: 2018

If you’ve never been one to read your horoscope, maybe 2019 is finally your time to see what all the hubbub is about. Carolyne Faulkner’s The Signs will teach you how to trust the positive and negative characteristics tied to your natal chart and how you can use them to guide your life. Whether you’re just diving into the world of astrology or you’re an experienced cosmic expert, The Signs will help you live your life to the fullest through informed decision making and give you something to talk about at parties. Win-win.