It’s no big secret we’re living in tumultuous times. Putting aside the news headlines, we’re being asked to do more, with less. We’re more stressed than ever before. And so, what was once the crown jewel of the self-help section in your local bookstore — Chicken Soup for the Soul, published in 1993 — just doesn’t cut it anymore.
We need actionable advice for right now.
But where to find it? You meditate, take yoga, carry crystals, and follow Instagram accounts that help boost the mind, body and soul on the reg. But reading the life-changing wellness books we’ve listed below might just be the cherry on top of your personal growth cake.
It won’t be pretty. While we’re all about positive thinking, these books delve into the nitty-gritty and ask us to be vulnerable. We’re asked to sit with our anxiety. We’re asked to stop striving for success and accept our limitations, as scary as that sounds. But read these wellness books anyway. After all, there’s a reason millions and millions of readers have called them life-changing — and don’t you want to know what it is?
1. Daring Greatly
In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown makes the case that we should embrace our vulnerability and put our “authentic, imperfect selves” out into the world. By doing so, Brown argues, we open ourselves up to the full gamut of life experiences: creativity, love, fear, belonging, and so on. It’s a scary concept but Daring Greatly offers readers an accessible guide to getting started. If you’ve ever questioned your choices or wished you were living a bigger, fuller life, this is the book for you.
Daring Greatly ($17) by Brené Brown
2. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful
Anyone who has lived with anxiety in any form should drop what they’re doing and pick up a copy of this book, stat. Author Sarah Wilson — who you may know as the founder of I Quit Sugar — has been living with high anxiety for as long as she can remember. At some point, she became sick of just living with it and set out to understand it. For seven years, she travelled the world, meeting with fellow sufferers, mental health organisations and advocates, and even the Dalai Lama. Everything Wilson discovered on this journey — from why meditation and routine is key to why you should actively practice missing out — is in this beautiful, best-selling, must-read book.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful ($26) by Sarah Wilson
Cheryl Strayed is no one-hit wellness wonder. We could extol the virtues of reading Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough for days and we still wouldn’t do those titles justice. But there is something about Wild that we can’t ignore. In Wild, Strayed chronicles her months-long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. For Strayed, the hike was a last-ditch effort to save her from herself; in the four years before, she had lost her mother to cancer, gone through a divorce, and battled with heroin addiction. So, why Wild? For us, Wild is a tale that inspires women everywhere with Strayed’s show of physical, emotional and mental strength. It proves that even when you think you’ve reached your limit, you haven’t. And it demonstrates that no matter how low you have sunk, you can always, always, rise up from rock bottom.
Wild ($17) by Cheryl Strayed
4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
For some of us, a soft approach is the key to self-improvement. For others of us, a cold, hard dose of tough love is the wellness boost we need. If you fall into the latter category, read this book. Practically everyone is doing it; more than 3 million copies of this book have been sold, putting it squarely on the best-seller list. But, what’s it all about? Well, author Mark Manson has made one thing clear: it’s not about the power of positive thinking. On the contrary, Manson asks us to accept that sometimes life will suck but know that we can live with that. And if we weed out the trivial things in our lives and get clear on what’s actually important, we can start living our best lives. We’re down with that.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck ($25) by Mark Manson
5. How to Be a Person in the World
There’s something about advice columns. Maybe they make us feel less alone. Maybe they satiate our curiosity about the lives of others. Maybe they make us feel that personal growth isn’t so hard after all. Who knows? All we know is that The Cut’s “Ask Polly” advice column is one of our favourites, and its writer, Heather Havrilesky, has put some of her best hits and never-before-seen answers into this book, How to Be a Person in the World. Prepare yourself to feel all the feelings, one after the other.
How to Be a Person in the World ($15) by Heather Havrilesky
6. Big Magic
When we unleash our creativity, we open ourselves up to new opportunities and let our curiosity run free. Yet, so many of us struggle to stoke our creative fires. Enter: Big Magic, the best-selling book from Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. In Big Magic, Gilbert uses storytelling to encourage her readers to seek out inspiration, accept ideas as gifts from the universe, and to explore for the sake of it, not for the sake of success or popularity or money.
Big Magic ($16) by Elizabeth Gilbert
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