The Not Self-Help Books for Self-Help Reading List
Summer is in full swing and summer reading lists are popping up everywhere! Including on this blog😉. But I didn’t want to create another oversaturated list of self-help books because (1) those lists are widely available and (2) I believe that the phrase “too much of a good thing” applies when it comes to reading too many self-help books. So here’s a list that is enlightening, supportive, guiding, comforting but also entertaining and varied in style and genre.
SUMMER WELLNESS READS
The Less Words Please Book
When you don’t feel like reading a lot of words and want the pages to turn quickly, yet you still want something deeper than just pure entertainment, turn to Lucy Knisley’s graphic novels. Her honesty is evident, her humor is on point and each novel made me feel that it’s okay to be human, to have conflicting feelings, to reminisce, to experience complicated situations. Here are some of my favorites:
The No Single Path Is “The” Path Book
Feeling pressured to meet society’s expectations of your life’s timeline and milestones? Check out these books that describe the lives of many people in a single reading. Seeing the lives of so many people all at once reminds me that people’s lives are not linear, and that they often do not follow the formula that is pushed on us by our society. Remember, you can choose to read books cover to cover or simply browse from one person to another to get that feeling of breadth of paths (yes, that is allowed!).
The One-Step-At-A-Time Book
Facing a really big challenge in your life? Feeling the uncertainty of life? This is my go-to book for when I’m dealing with something that feels impossible or mostly out of my control. It reminds me that the way forward in these situations is not by tackling the entire, huge challenge all at once, but to break it down to pieces, and then work on one piece at a time. Even if you’ve already seen the movie, this book is absolutely worth the read.
The I Don’t Have To Have A PhD-MD To Do Awesome Things? Book
I can only imagine your face when you see the cover of this book. What the heck do chickens have to do with wellbeing, Anna? Well, it’s has more to do with the author. You see, she is a regular person who spent time observing her chickens and learning from them. Reading about her story, what could be a better reminder of the fact that you don’t need a fancy degree to explore, learn, connect, and share something unique, interesting and valuable with the world. Plus, how cool is it that we can now we can talk to chickens? This book was a fun, easy and knowledgeable.
The Hard Emotions Book
C.S. Lewis might be known for his fictional books about Narnia, but his open and vulnerable account of his grieving process after the loss of his beloved wife has been one of the best “not a self-help book for self-help” that I’ve read. When I struggle to describe the hard place of grieving, C.S. Lewis is able to put it into words and imagery. I get a feeling of reassurance that intangible/invisible feelings are actually very real and to be able to name/describe the different hard emotions helps me process them.
The I’d Like Some Guidance Book
Okay, this may qualify as an actual self-help book but it’s very good and I just finished reading it so it’s on my mind. From mind blowing discoveries -- did you know that hope is not an emotion but a thought process? And that it can be learned?? -- to actionable tools like DIG Deep, this book is a great summer wellness read because while it’s packed with good stuff, it’s short and there’s no jargon. One of the best parts of the book is the thoughtfully crafted definitions of love, hope, power, faith, etc. that can help us engage with these words more meaningfully (more on this in next week’s blog).
I hope you find this list a refreshing take on wellness reading and that you find your way to the library, the local bookstore or your Amazon Kindle to check out some of these titles or find others that jell with your current needs and wants.
And if you’re still struggling to re-engage in reading (maybe you are like me and had stopped reading outside of work for a long time), give yourself positive reinforcement for thinking about it and for attempting to start reading again, instead of being hard on yourself. Feel free to borrow my inner dialogue that I used to change the way that I talk to myself about not fully meeting a goal:
“Good job, Anna, you recognized that you haven’t read in a long time, that in and of itself is really good. It’s hard to get back into it after so long, totally understand. And the fact that you are thinking about starting to read again is really fantastic. You don’t even have to do it right now, just thinking about it is such a great step, great job.”
Our inner dialogues often cut us down, make us feel like we are not enough, that we need X,Y, and Z to be deserving of comfort and support. So let’s keep practicing positive reinforcement self-talk, even a little bit of a shift towards that can make a big difference in how we feel.
Wishing you well, dear reader.
Till next time.
Anna is a blog contributor, meditation leader and teacher, and photographer. You can follow her on Instagram @skillsforwellness and find her blogging away at reset brain + body. reset brain + body is a mental wellness practice where traditional talk therapy is elevated through the integration of meditation, nutrition, yoga and mindfulness. Connect with reset brain + body on Instagram & Facebook, check out the class schedule, or contact us to book an appointment.