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bookworms is that of a forgotten housewife trying to revitalize her marriage or connect with her kids, another outdated trope of the self-improvement book genre.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
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
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
Author: Radha Agrawal
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.
Author: Michelle Obama
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
Author: Mark Manson
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
Author: Soraya Chemaly
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
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
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.
Author: Erin Lowry
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
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.