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It’s okay to admit it: We all need a little extra help from time to time. Personal growth is important. Self-care is important. Learning how to create stronger relationships is important. And for some, one of the best ways to explore that growth is through reading self-help books written by experts in the field.

For many readers, self-help is an interesting genre. You may have to weed through several books to uncover the ones with information that you find truly powerful, honest, and able to change your life. But this is totally possible, and the works we’ve rounded up below can help get you started.

This list of 15 must-reads contains the best of self-help advice, with all the insights and honesty you’d expect and none of the fluff.

As we looked for the best self-help books on the shelf, we tried to choose titles written by authors who are credible, experienced professionals in their fields. We also looked for a wide range of books that address specific issues such as relationships or food.

Lastly, we made sure the writing style and information was well-organized, accessible, and easy to read for everyone.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15-$25
  • $$$ = over $25

Best for creating fulfilling relationships

The Art of Showing Up

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: people who want to build better relationships
  • Key message: you can’t show up for others unless you’re showing up for yourself first

In this encouraging, actionable book that’s described as part manifesto and part guide, the author walks you through how to create relationships that are kinder, more thoughtful, and more fulfilling. You’ll learn how to define and meet your own needs first, help your friends feel more seen, and gently end toxic relationships.

Best for body positivity

The Body Is Not an Apology

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: readers who working on building a better self-image
  • Key message: an invitation to reconnect with the origin of your mind and body

Written by an activist and poet, this book serves as an invitation to recognize and address bodily shame. The author explains how self-love on a global scale can change the world into a more just, equitable, and compassionate place.

Best for self-care

The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: readers seeking personal growth
  • Key message: self-care is crucial to maintaining your sanity

This is a glossary of self-care strategies that provides ideas on how to look after yourself in a sustainable, consistent way. With over 200 tips, activities, and stories organized into an A-Z list, it’s an easy way to fill up your self-care toolkit for days when you need it.

Best for personal empowerment

Find Your F*ckyeah

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: readers seeking motivation
  • Key message: finding your unique purpose and uncensored self will bring happiness

If you feel aimless or disillusioned, this book can help you get fired up again. This isn’t your generic self-help “believe in your dreams” book. Instead, the author talks about why one-size-fits-all success formulas and trendy morning routines likely won’t keep you happy — and shows you how to find what will.

Best for mental growth

Brain Hacks: Life-Changing Strategies to Improve Executive Functioning

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Key message: you can work to improve the way you work, live, and feel by improving your executive functioning skills

As a clinical psychologist, this author has the knowledge to potentially help your brain work more efficiently. If you feel overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life — like you just can’t get anything done — this short, well-organized book provides actionable strategies that may help improve your productivity.

Best for personal eating habits

The F*ck It Diet

  • Price: $$$
  • Who it’s best for: anyone that’s been negatively affected by diet culture
  • Key message: learn to simplify and enjoy eating again

Described as hilarious and medically and scientifically sound, this witty book helps unpack shame around food and bodies. The book provides a road map to a more intuitive relationship to eating that’s free of constraints of chronic dieting and contradictory nutrition advice.

Best for creating a peaceful home

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: people who want to learn more about creating an organized, meaningful space
  • Key message: clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home

Called “one of the most influential books of the decade” by CNN, this book (which preceded the popular Netflix show) takes tidying to a whole new level. Learn Marie Kondo’s “KonMari” method to pick up your house category by category until everything is clean.

Best for changing mental habits

Stop Overthinking

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: people who are prone to overthinking
  • Key message: rewire your brain, control your thoughts, and change your mental habits

According to this author, overthinking is the biggest cause of unhappiness — and with the strategies outlined in this book, you can overcome those constantly racing thoughts. Follow the book’s scientific approaches to become more aware of your negative thought spirals, declutter your mind, and prevent stress attacks.

Best for perspective

101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: anyone who wants to gain new perspective on the way they live their life
  • Key message: new ideas are crucial to foster personal growth

In this well-loved book, author Brianna West shares a collection of pieces that cover why you should pursue purpose over passion, embrace negative thinking, see the wisdom in daily routine, and become aware of the cognitive biases that are creating the way you see your life.

Best for breaking generational trauma

It Didn’t Start With You

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: people struggling with family trauma
  • Key message: end the cycle of a traumatic legacy

Written by a leading expert on inherited family trauma, this book offers evidence and research suggests that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations — and how you can end the cycle. The book is meant to provide a transformative approach to resolving longstanding difficulties that in many cases, traditional therapy, drugs, or other interventions may not have had the capacity to touch.

Best for time management

Four Thousand Weeks

  • Price: $$$
  • Who it’s best for: anyone with multiple to-do lists
  • Key message: manage your time well to best use your (approximate) four thousand weeks of life

Our lifetime is limited and our to-do lists are overflowing. What’s the answer? This book seeks to provide a solution. By drawing on the insights of both ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, the author delivers a humorous and practical guide to time management.

Best for mental health

Get Out of Your Head

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: faith-based readers
  • Key message: you don’t have to stay stuck in toxic thinking patterns

A New York Times bestseller with over 1 million copies sold, this book equips you to transform your emotions, your outlook, and even your circumstances by taking control of your thoughts. The Christianity-based narrative gives you the power to choose hope in the midst of chaos.

Best for building relationships

How to Talk to Anyone

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: anyone interested in personal or professional development
  • Key message: learn how to confidently and comfortably communicate with others

This power punch of a book includes 101 time-tested hints, tips, and techniques for confidently communicating with others. Written by a renowned communications consultant, the book focuses on ice-breaking skills and communication techniques that are often successful when making a positive first impression, establishing instant rapport and credibility, and more.

Best for creating healthy habits

Atomic Habits

  • Price: $$$
  • Who it’s best for: goal-oriented readers
  • Key message: reshape the way you think about progress and success

“Atomic Habits” offers tools and strategies to transform your habits. As you read, you’ll learn how to make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy), overcome a lack of motivation and willpower, design your environment to make success easier, and get back on track when you fall off course.

Best for finding happiness

The Power of Meaning

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: purpose-seeking readers
  • Key message: find the way to a richer, more satisfying life

This title draws on sources from psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, and neuroscientists — to figures in literature and history such as George Eliot, Viktor Frankl, Aristotle, and the Buddha to explain that there are untapped sources of meaning all around us. Cultivating connections to others, identifying and working toward a purpose, telling stories about our place in the world, and seeking out mystery can immeasurably deepen our lives.

Content warnings: discusses diet culture and thoughts or feelings of suicide

BookPriceWhat it’s best for
The Art of Showing Up$learning how to cultivate more fulfilling relationships
The Body Is Not an Apology$$working toward building a better self-image
The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care$$learning self-care strategies
Find Your F*ckyeah$$finding joy and motivation where you are
Brain Hacks: Life-Changing Strategies to Improve Executive Functioning$improving productivity and executive functioning
The F*ck It Diet$$$simplifying and enjoying eating again
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up$$clearing your clutter and enjoying a tidy home
Stop Overthinking$getting out of negative thought spirals
101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think$$finding a new perspective
It Didn’t Start With You$$ending the cycle of generational trauma
Four Thousand Weeks$$$managing your time well
Get Out of Your Head$$taking control of your thoughts
How to Talk to Anyone$$confidently communicating with others
Atomic Habits$$transforming your habits
The Power of Meaning$$finding purpose

Self-help is a broad genre. Identifying the area of your life where you need advice most can help you narrow in on the best book for you.

Your budget is also a consideration. Some books have a higher price point than others.

Another way to choose a self-help book is by considering the book’s length and format. Everyone processes information differently, and some books might be written in a way that’s easier for you to read.

You’ll also want to make sure you take a look at any existing content warnings. Some self-help books may discuss triggering subject matters, such as feelings of anxiety or depression, suicidal ideation, or eating disorders.

Are self-help books really helpful?

Yes, some self-help books can be useful in helping you solve personal problems or shift behaviors in your life. However, keep in mind that every book is different and every reader is different.

A book that is helpful for another person may not be the best fit for you, and vice versa.

Where do I start reading self-help books?

You can find lists of good self-help books (like the one you’re reading!) online. You can also start out by reading customer ratings and reviews to see how other people felt.

Pick a few titles that sound most relevant to you, then purchase them online or check to see if your local library has the books.

What are self-help books?

Self-help is a book genre that focuses on improving yourself. They tend to contain instructional information that teaches readers how to solve certain problems or shift behaviors.

Self-help books can go a long way in helping you improve your life. With this list of options, you’ll be well-equipped to find a title that works for you.


Sam Dylan Finch is a writer, positive psychology practitioner, and media strategist in Portland, Oregon. He’s the lead editor of mental health and chronic conditions at Healthline, and co-founder of Queer Resilience Collective, a wellness coaching cooperative for LGBTQ+ people. You can say hello on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or learn more at SamDylanFinch.com.