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I’m always on the lookout for a good book. Self-help books can be hit-and-miss, but I love how there is always a good book for any topic.
Dive into the books on this list – which will be updated periodically – and get comfy this Summer (and beyond!). I hope something resonates and that you are able to get inspired and learn something new!
#1 Can’t hurt me – David Goggins
This is the type of inspiration I’ve always been looking for. Goggins is a seriously amazing person. He overcame so many odds to get to where he is right now. The first chapter or so where he was detailing his childhood abuse and subsequent spiraling out of control teenage years were hard to read. And yes I cried through most of the chapter. He’s fallen down, failed and gotten back up so many times. “Callousing your mind” is the phrase Goggins used often and I’m gonna start using myself.
I really liked how he’s admitted to some of his weaknesses and faults/mistakes throughout the chapters. How keeping to himself as cost him sometimes in his career and how pushing his body so hard has really made it deteriorate in his h30s. Am glad he learnt how to balance out all the physical punishment with his stretches etc healed him. He seems to be in a great place now and rather content – you can feel it in his words in his last chapter – compared to before when he seemed to be pushing himself and winning stuff yet wasn’t very happy.
I liked the exercises at the end of each chapter and found it to be a really inspiring read. If you are looking for cuddly, loving, nurturing supportive words to motivate you to get to your goals, this isn’t the book for you. But if you are willing to really put in the work, push past your limits, discipline yourself and withstand pain – though I don’t recommend running with multiple injuries and broken bones like he did so many times! – then this is the book that you’ve been looking for.
#2 The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change your Life and Achieve Real Happiness – Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga
I’m usually not fond of the learning-new-concepts-through-dialogue structure. But it worked for this book, which introduced me to Adler’s psychological concepts. A way of living and thinking that sounds more positive and intentional than Jung’s or Freud’s. It also has a lot of crossovers with philosophy, and tying them together was interesting. Alot of these concepts helped answer the perennial question of “how does one be happy?”. I’m off to explore more Adler theories.
#3 The Gospel of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop, and the False Promise of Self-Care – Rina Raphael
I absolutely loved this book! The author goes into detail about how women these days have been swept along by the wellness culture, knee deep in it with all its marketing and capitalist leanings without realising what alot of these wellness gurus are selling: Their own brand of “wellness” (whatever that means) to make more money for themselves.
I loved the way Raphael writes this book and was swept up in it from chapter 1. It wasn’t a dull read and as a researcher myself, I thoroughly appreciated the amount of research and references she had – that was a ton of work.
I like how she delved into the various movements of the wellness industry and question its impact and whether it’s really helping or not. There wasn’t much solutions given at the end, but the message that I got is that the wellness movement is changing everyday, there is still alot of information (and scientifically-backed evidence) needed, alot of misinformation and confusion still exists, regulation of the industry – well there’s little to no regulation – and it’s mostly left up to the individual to make their own decisions. That it is still needed because of how unsupported we are in our societies – by our public health systems, work culture and just general societal expectations.
I reasonated with alot of the messages in this book as I too dislike how commercialised/gimmicky so much of wellness stuff is, how cultish alot of these wellness movements come across, and the conflation of wealth with being well – because only the rich can usually afford those expensive gimmicky classes, lululemon athleisure wear and supplements – as well as how only a standard of being is accepted – being thin, fit and looking/dressed a certain way.
As for me, I will still stay away from the gimmicky wellness stuff, I will wear my old college tshirts to yoga – and I will keep doing what feels good regardless.
#4 Thick: And Other Essays – Tressie McMillan Cottom
Profound, thought-provoking and witty. Many of the divides Cottom speaks of – classism, racism, sexism, I see it manifest in different ways in so many parts of the world. And it does make me despair about the state of mankind. But with an increasing number of scholars who are making their voices heard, like Cottom, and whose voices are making their way into the mainstream – more people are sitting up and taking notice of the issues they talk about. And people are starting to get aware, and slowly but surely, things are starting to shift.
#5 Heal from Within, Transform your Life – Sonia Alonso
Yes, this was written by yours truly! A debut book, if I may say so. I was feeling very out of balance for a long time already and had been trying different forms of spiritual healing. Chakra and energy healing was one of the few that stuck with me til now. We are all made up of various energy centres, with 7 big ones – root chakra, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and the crown. Each of these energy centres co-incide with an important area of life. For instance, the solar plexus chakra centre governs our Self, our confidence, power and the way we pursue things in our lives.
Whenever these chakra centres are out of balance – either under or over-balanced, it manifests physically. We experience illnesses, fatigue, constantly feeling like energy is drained from us, a lack of interest in life, an inability to pursue our goals and dreams and so much more.
Grab your own copy now, start really healing from deep within and seeing the huge shifts in your life and all the things (and people) you will start manifesting!
#6 Love for Imperfect Things / The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – Sunim Haemin
Simple but thought-provoking book. Especially loved all the quotes at the end of each chapter. Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim has a wisdom and kindness to his words and motivates the reader to accept themselves. It is when we start to see the flaws within us that we start to have compassionate and fulfilling relationships with our loved ones.
#7 Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals – Oliver Burkeman
I picked it up thinking this was going to be yet another book to help me manage my time better. But woah, I wasn’t expecting it to completely change my perspective towards time, time management and life. Burkeman’s central argument is that time management strategies do not exactly make us manage time better, it just makes us think we are. But in actuality, we are missing out alot on life and we are also forgetting that there is a limit to the things we can accomplish in life, and even in a day.
What stood out is also the link he makes between capitalism, time management and hustle culture. And that, because of hustle culture, we are constantly left chasing this illusion that we are able to do everything in 24/7 and manage our time well. It is an illusion because it never happens. And this is how people allow life to pass by them.
#8 The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want – Natalie Lue
I’ve been a long-time fan of Nat and her blog Baggage Reclaim helped me wade through alot of my dating relationship conundrums and dilemmas in my 20s. It was her work that introduced me to the concept of boundaries – in love and in life. As a former people pleaser just like she was, I struggled alot to create and maintain my boundaries. The concepts in this book, while not novel to me, would definitely help others who always struggle to say no and to get comfy speaking up about their own boundaries.
#9 Breaking up with Limerence & Romantic Obsession – Sonia Alonso
Also written by yours truly, this is a book that is incredibly handy and useful if you are someone experiencing limerence. Limerence is a term coined by Psychologist Dorothy Tennov back in the 20th century is a very specific type of romantic obsession that is more an addiction and a habit than anything else, and is fueled by specific socio-neurological factors. As someone who once suffered from limerence, but have cured now, I walk you through:
- What gives rise to limerence – both childhood, social, personality & neurological factors
- The tell-tale signs you are limerent
- The exact step-by-step things you could start doing to heal it
I assure you, you can cure limerence in a span of a few weeks, even if you’ve been limerent for someone your entire life, like I was. I’ve also included a section on limerence for celebrities as celebrity worship has started to become quite prevalent in certain demographic groups and especially with the rise of social media.
#10 Flawless: Lessons in Looks and Culture from the K-Beauty Capital – Elise Hu
As someone of Asian descent and who has been exposed to the typical Asian lookism, judgments and stereotypes about one’s looks, and as someone who was once brainwashed by marketing and media in thinking that K-beauty is superior; I found this book hard to put down. It reads like a very long personal account but is peppered with good research and anecdotes throughout, many of which I could relate to.
As I’m now in my 30s, I’ve started to think alot about the process of ageing and beauty, and how women are judged so harshly for it still, although we are in more “liberal” times now. That alot of the beauty trends and beauty culture is just another form of capitalism, consumerism and the patriarchal control of women, and how sadly, so many still fall into its trap. This book really goes into the pressures of said beauty culture, in a country which still upholds so many of these narrow beauty standards and how it completely affects a person’s psyche and self-worth, often very negatively and leaves individuals with deep personal scars.
It’s a great book if you are starting to question all the negative effects of participating in beauty culture.
#11 And.. more to come – just fill in this form below!
I also have another post from long ago with another list of self-improvement books. Check it out it if you are interested!