10 of the Best Self-Improvement Books
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10 of the Best Self-Improvement Books

From 'Jog On' to 'How to Fail'

Self-improvement books aren’t hard to come by these days, but which are worth reading? From Gelong Thubten’s guide to 21st century meditation to exploring ‘the art of rest’ with Claudia Hammond, turn to one (or all) of our recommended inspirational self-improvement books for a little life-changing motivation.

10 of the Best Self-Improvement Books


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Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use it

Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use it

Part philosophical, part self-help, Oliver Burkeman gets to the core of why we procrastinate and why we put our dreams off despite it being the very thing we think we want to do.

The book will take you places. You’ll begin to question how bizarre it is that the west has made hyper-efficiency something to glamourise, yet you still can’t find time in the day. Then you’ll also confront the very depths of your inner psyche and make you reevaluate everything you do and choose to prioritise.

To get a taste of the book, have a listen to Oliver’s interview with Steven Bartlett on Diary of a CEO which covers why we procrastinate with a psychological sensitivity.

£15.79, bookshop.org

Can't Even Millennial Burnout

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

Ok, so this one toes the line between self-help and a non-fiction observation on the state of millennials today. But what you’ll take away from it by the end is that the stresses you’re maybe battling with now, can be put in a wider societal framework. If you’re crumbling under any pressures of the modern world – whether to parent, job stresses, the housing crisis, the saturation of social media – the list goes on – this book will make you feel less alone.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Grit by Angela Duckworth

This one is for the paralysed perfectionists. Angela’s arc across this book is a simple one: consistency is underrated, and we bias towards the murky concept of ‘natural talent’. Duckworth drills deep into the psyche; using her decades of research as a psychologist, a teacher, and her time at McKinsey consultancy to reveal what it really takes to become successful.

Ebury Publishing, Waterstones, £10.99, waterstones.com

Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Want to cut down scrolling? or maybe you want to start that side hustle but don’t know where to find the time. James Clear gives a zero frills practical step-by-step toolkit to breaking down bad habits and building new ones. His mantra is this: We overestimate the powers of motivation and underestimate organization, and by doing the tiniest of tweaks to our daily habits, it’s astounding how much impact we can make. By taking a deep dive into the psychology of habit-forming, you’ll find out the emotional obstacles that stop you from taking action, and more importantly, how to overcome them.

Cornerstone, £16.99, waterstones.com

The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary

The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray

In this profound and uplifting book, Catherine Gray turns hedonism on its head, revealing the ways in which we can find true happiness in the little joys of everyday life. She also shares some interesting insight into the potential consequences of pursuing pleasure; ‘that influencers risk higher rates of anxiety and depression, high-rollers are less happy, and huge frothy weddings increase the likelihood of divorce.’ A highly interesting and eye-opening read.

Octopus Publishing Group, £14.99, waterstones.com

The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age

The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age by Claudia Hammond

Are you getting enough rest? British author, broadcaster and psychology lecturer Claudia Hammond explores ‘the art of rest’, drawing on results from ‘The Rest Test’, a momentous survey taken by 18,000 people across the world. Find out why rest is so important and how you can make the most of your downtime.

Canongate Books Ltd, £16.99, waterstones.com

A Monk's Guide to Happiness

A Monk’s Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st century by Gelong Thubten

In this ground-breaking book by actor-turned-Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten, we come to understand the power of meditation and its potential effects  on our everyday happiness. For many, meditation can seem daunting and difficult to fit into our busy lives. Thubten reveals how mindfulness and meditating in ‘micro-moments’ can lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle, drawing on his own personal transformation. 

Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99, waterstones.com

A Monk’s Tale: Interview With Gelong Thubten

Jog On

Jog On: How Running Saved My Life by Bella Mackie

Writer Bella Mackie provides a detailed, honest and entertaining account of how running helped her to combat her anxiety and depression, with added expert advice and research from a series of doctors, psychologists and athletes. In a world where anxiety is prevalent and people are doing a little too much sitting, this book will make you want to get up and run for all the right reasons.

Harper Collins, £8.99, Waterstones

It's Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies)

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies): Inspirational People Open Up about Their Mental Health by Scarlett Curtis

Sunday Times Style columnist and author of the award-winning Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies, Scarlett Curtis excited readers in 2019 with a follow up title It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies). An empathetic collection of stories and essays about mental health struggles from a range of honest and experienced voices, the uplifting and inspirational book has even been praised by the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Fearne Cotton and Mindy Kaling.

Penguin, £14.99, Waterstones

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: The bestselling book everyone is talking about (A No F*cks Given Guide) by Sarah Knight

As self-improvement books go, this one is a must-read if you’re prone to overthinking. A light-hearted, comical yet realist take on simplifying your life and decluttering your mental and social agenda, Sarah Knight is your go-to guide for ‘not giving a f**k’. Her bestselling book demonstrates how to spend your time – thoughts and money included – on what makes you happy, and rid yourself of all the unnecessarily stressful and complicated aspects.

Quercus Publishing, £11.99, WH Smith

How to Fail

How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day

The much-anticipated follow-up from her renowned self-help podcast, How to Fail, Elizabeth Day’s book of the same title encourages us to see our mistakes not as failures, but as invaluable life-lessons which can help us in the long-run. An elevating read for those that are afraid of failure, Day draws upon her own life experiences to reveal the transformative concept of embracing life’s defeats.

HarperCollins Publishers, £8.49, Waterstones

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski

Accomplished sisters Amelia Nagoski, DMA and Emily Nagoski, PhD explore the parity between men and women’s experience of stress in this trailblazing book about eliminating the female stress cycle. If 2020 was a particularly stressful year for you (understatement of the year), Burnout will help you to make the expert-approved changes necessary for a happier life, spanning the stabilising of emotions to the Bikini Industrial Complex (how to be happy in your own skin) and the intrinsic value of rest and relationships.

Penguin, £9.99, Waterstones

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspirational memoir of self-discovery Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll most likely understand the profound impact Gilbert’s words have had on thousands of women worldwide. Ten years after Eat, Pray, Love’s release came this compelling collection of stories, experiences and anecdotes from those most empowered by the book. If you need any convincing that a book can change your life, look no further.

Bloomsbury, £8.99, Waterstones


Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day and Letting Go of Perfect by Fearne Cotton 

The first in a series of practical and encouraging self-improvement books from TV presenter Fearne Cotton, Happy provides simple steps to ‘finding joy each and every day’, from getting creative to finding calm in visualisations. If you’re already a fan of Fearne’s ‘Happy Place Podcast’, we guarantee you will enjoy this book.

Orion Publishing Co, £8.99, Waterstones

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Featured Image: Fabiola Peñalba