With the New Year upon us, we all want to get rid of bad habits. But as more and more self-help and mindfulness floods the market, how do you pick the ones that will really transform your life?
Here’s our guide to the best of recent and new releases. There’s something for everyone, whether you want to boost your love life, transform your home or simply be happy.
Best for: Clearing the mess out of your life
Even the most disorganised among us can learn from lifestyle blogger Anna Newton’s brilliant, easy-to-understand handbook. Tackling everything from overstuffed wardrobes to cluttered desks, Newton makes for a wise and wonderful guide to streamlining your life without losing what matters, and it’s all laid-out in an extremely clear way.
Best of all, she understands that not all of us find it easy to let go of the clutter in our lives, suggesting instead that you pick the aspects that most require help, and offering handy checklists to assist the easily put-off work their way through.
£14.99, Yellow Kite
Best for: Domestic drudges everywhere
One for everyone who has ever sighed as they’ve emptied the dishwasher, staggered out with the bins and picked up the growing pile of rubbish that the rest of the family happily ignore.
Hartley’s passionate plea for shared housework, born out of an exhausted Mother’s Day argument with her husband, also includes practical strategies, such as working with your partner to share the load and letting go of the need for perfection – two tactics which Hartley says will make sure that angry arguments are a thing of the past.
£14.99, Quercus Books
Best for: Dealing with the slings and arrows of everyday life
The best-selling anti-guru returns with another acerbic yet helpful guide to dealing with life’s problems. This one focuses on those wobbly moments, from break-ups to break-downs, providing sensible, straightforward advice on how to cope and what to do next.
As fans of her previous work will know, Knight’s tone is refreshingly direct but underneath the profanity is a serious message about how being realistic about what you can and can’t achieve can actually have a transformative effect on your life.
Best for: Wrangling those tricky problems into submission
It might sound barmy but bear with us because this slim book, initially a self-publishing hit, is now endorsed by the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and cricketer Andrew Strauss, and it’s actually pretty clever.
Kicking off with a fable about a manager in need of assistance and the wise old Barista who helps him (yes, really, but bear with it), Pig Wrestling, written by the founders of performance consultancy Mindflick, goes on to explain why we often focus on the wrong problems before explaining how to change, focus and thrive.
£16.99, Two Roads
Best for: Cheering yourself up in bleak times
Self-help books don’t come lovelier to look at than this beautifully laid-out insight at how different cultures find happiness around the world, and is from the best-selling author of The Year of Living Danishly.
From China to Germany, Russell examines what makes us happy and why, while offering tips on how to enjoy the craic, find your joie de vivre or simply give everything a fair go.
Along the way she explains why the Norwegian refusal to let “a bit of snow or sleet” stop them from getting out and about boosts mental well-being and why channelling the Russians and “having dangerously deep, impassioned, possibly vodka-fuelled” conversations at dinner can be good for your general health.
£16.99, Orion Spring
Best for: Tackling the difficult conversations
Death is arguably the last taboo, the one thing we don’t feel comfortable talking about, but that’s all set to change thanks to Michael Hebb’s fascinating and accessible book, which breaks down just how to talk about the end and – more importantly – why we all should.
With chapters ranging from If You only had thirty days left to live, how would you spend them? to Why don’t we talk about death? and Do you believe in an afterlife? Hebb calmly tackles the most difficult conversations using interviews with ordinary people, as well as his own experience in setting up global dinner club, Death over Dinner, to examine how to come to terms with the end.
£16.99, Hodder & Stoughton
Best for: Getting mad and getting even
We’re always told to never let the sun go down on an argument and let the bad feelings go, but what if holding a grudge was good for you? That’s the premise behind best-selling crime writer Hannah’s highly entertaining guide to the positive aspects of refusing to live and let go.
Admitting that she is a life-long people pleaser, who then resents it when her good deeds go unrecognised, Hannah mixes memoir with self-help to suggest that we all might feel a little better if we gave into our worst instincts.
Does it actually work? The jury’s out, although there’s certainly a lot to be said for her creation of a “Grudge Cabinet” or a place where hurts can be examined and considered until they no longer poison your mind.
Best for: Transforming your relationship with food
This thorough book from registered nutritionist Laura Thomas delves deep into the diet industry, looking at how to break free of the “diet cycle” and examining our attitudes towards food, while offering practical help towards eating healthily without feeling constrained.
Positioned as an anti-diet book, Thomas’ work includes mindfulness techniques to help you think about your relationship with food in addition to asking readers to consider whether they are addicted to exercise, why they might be caught up in a cycle of repeat dieting, and what they need to do to build a healthy attitude towards food.
£9.99, Octopus Publishing
Best for: Dealing with the dating game
The best-selling author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober turns her gaze on the single life with this inspiring and entertaining mix of memoir and self-help guide, which looks at whether it’s possible to break free of an addiction to love and start embracing the single life.
£8.99, Two Roads
Best for: Anyone who’s ever felt anxious
Comedian Aaron Gillies, himself an anxiety sufferer, presents a darkly comic and deeply moving guide to living with anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks. Amid the (excellent) jokes, there is plenty of very helpful advice about how to talk to family and friends, and what to do when things seem at their worst.
£14.99, Yellow Kite Books
Best for: Parents struggling with the digital age
What if everything we thought about raising a child in the digital age was wrong? This impassioned polemic from Shapiro – the senior fellow for New York non-profit group, the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop – argues that many parents know less about technology than their children, and that rather than limiting screen time we should embrace it and even join in. Refreshing and original.
£12.99, Orion Spring
Best for: Getting over a broken heart
Everyone who’s ever had a bad break-up should pick up Colombian author Andrade’s quirky mix of memoir, break-up manifesto and paean to positivity. Stuffed full of stories, illustrations, song lyrics and even recipes, You Always Change The Love of Your Life is a delightful guide to pushing through and moving on.
£12.99, Bantam Press
Best for: Those in need of a confidence boost
Stylish, funny and inspirational, Groskop comes across as the sort of plain-speaking best friend you wish you had, and her latest book, which tackles public speaking and the art of commanding space, is an indispensable manifesto for women fed up of being ignored or talked over by more outwardly confident men.
Best for: Self-help addicts
So you want to change your life but you don’t know where to start? Let Power’s laugh-out-loud book show you the way, as she decides to road test one self-help book a month for a year to see what happens.
From Rejection Therapy to The Power of Now, Power follows them all to the letter in an attempt to find out if self-help really can transform your life.
£8.99, Bantam Press
Best for: Those who really really really want to zig-a-zig-ah
Not every self-help book needs to be serious. Bravo’s lovely look at the lessons she learnt from the Spice Girls is a witty, warm and surprisingly wise examination of the band’s feminism, fashion and influence, and how it continues to have an impact on young women today.
All prices are RRP
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