Self-Help Books That Actually Help
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Help Yourself1 of 9
ELLE editor Amanda FitzSimons is an admitted self-help addict. In a recent review of new self-help tome Promise Land: My Journey Through America's Self-Help Culture for ELLE's January issue, she writes, "Looking back, I guess you could say The Secret was my gateway drug." Here, she chooses her favorite books in the genre.
Stop Worrying & Start Living2 of 9
Dale Carnegie is best known for How to Win Friends and Influence People, but I happen to be a bigger fan of his first book because it deals with what many would argue is the root of all other impediments to living a full life: anxiety. If you can get past the author's old-timey-isms, the book has some very practical pointers for getting rid of the jitters.
The Power of Now3 of 9
I initially picked up The Power of Now because I thought it was targeted at procrastinators. In reality, this Oprah-endorsed read is about something even more appealing: the key to happiness, which the German-born philosopher Eckhart Tolle tells us is achieved by living in the moment. Go ahead, try it: Think about how happy you are right now reading this genius round-up. See? I told you.
The Secret4 of 9
For those who've somehow missed Oprah's tireless campaign to put The Secret on every bookshelf in America, its premise is basically thus: if you think about something reeeeallly hard, you'll get it. Sounds stupid, you say? Well, I say: if anyone knows the secret to something, it's The Secret author Rhonda Byrne, a formerly unemployed Australian TV producer who raked in a reported $300 million within a year of publishing her tome in 2008 (and probably has Oprah on speed dial).
The Power of Habit5 of 9
Ironic that I picked up this book in an airport last year in an effort to find a way to kick some of my vices (Homeland binge sessions, that second glass of Pinot Grigio), and ended up so addicted to it, I could barely put it down even at baggage claim. Written by a New York Times staff writer and former war correspondent, the book is more descriptive than prescriptive, with spellbinding Gladwellian anecdotes, like one about how certain stores have been known to detect a customer's pregnancy based on her buying habits.
Why Men Love Bitches6 of 9
I've actually been given this book as a gift… twice. Its premise is a lot more enlightened than its title suggests. Ultimately Sherry Argov's message boils down to one of confidence and self respect, which, let's face it, isn't just a recipe for making the opposite sex love you—it's the only sane way to go. In short, come for the shtick, stay for the sage advice. (Also, be sure not to miss Argov's follow-up, Why Men Marry Bitches.)
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Uncertainty7 of 9
This 2012 New York Times best-seller, written by lawyer-turned-self-help guru Jonathan Fields, is basically the book version of one of those "No Fear" posters you had in your locker in middle school: Using hard data as well as anecdotal evidence, Fields makes a convincing case for embracing the unknown rather than shying away from it. Fields' recounting of his own experience quitting his corporate gig to open a yoga studio in Tribeca on September 10, 2001 is particularly inspiring.
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Lean In8 of 9
A controversial pick, I know. To be clear, I'm not claiming that Lean In is without its issues (that's for you to take up with your Lean-In circle), but I do find the passages in which the author cops to certain insecurities (impostor syndrome, fear of appearing too type A) uplifting. They're an incredibly effective reminder that at the end of the day, nobody's perfect…not least of whom are those who enjoy reading about other people's shortcomings to make themselves feel better.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man9 of 9
Full disclosure: I was looking for something wacky to throw in here (seventh inning stretch!), came across this, and was very pleasantly surprised. Steve Harvey's commentary on the difference between the sexes reads more like a punchier Men Are From Mars Women are from Venus than a book by the man who played the teacher in You Got Served (which, admittedly, it is). Not convinced? With three marriages under his belt, Harvey's got plenty of material.
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