The beginning of a new year typically sparks resolutions, promises of self-improvement and shiny new haircuts—but you'd be forgiven if none of the above was high on your radar this January.
After all, the events of 2020 were a lot
, to say the least, and most of us were just happy to have survived. And whether you spent most of it on your couch watching reruns of Sex and the City
or were working around the clock in between workouts, we all had to find a way to deal with what life had thrown at us and cling to our sanity.
But even though this year has also gotten off to a rocky start, we're not throwing in the towel just yet. In fact, we're more determined than ever to prioritise ourselves in 2021... we just might need a bit of a nudge in the right direction...
So, to offer some guidance and bring some light to your new year, here are 11 books
on self-development that address some of modern life's most common struggles.
If you're your own biggest critic...
Sabotage: How to Get Our of Your Own Way by Emma Gannon
Self-doubt? Procrastination? Perfectionism? There are so many ways that we become our own biggest obstruction in life. This book is no-nonsense guide to self-sabotage, exploring how it can manifest, how to identify it and ultimately, how to clear your own path.
If you need to live a little...
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
If Shonda Rhimes is telling us how to live, we listen. In this book that's part self-help/part memoir, the Hollywood legend teaches us how to start living. And, we're just about ready to listen to anything she has to say.
“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”
If you're feeling uninspired...
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Whether you're naturally creatively-inclined or not, Gilbert's best-selling book dismantles antiquated ideas of what the creative process is supposed to look like and empowers everyone to explore their own ideas and inspirations.
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
if you're struggling to love the skin you're in...
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
Body image is something we spend half our lives worrying about, only to realise that what we really needed all along was just a little bit (or a lot) of self-love. In this thought-provoking read, Sonya Renee Taylor explores the systems that cause us to form bad relationships with our bodies, and teaches us how to let go and celebrate our forms.
“Equally damaging is our insistence that all bodies should be healthy. Health is not a state we owe the world. We are not less valuable, worthy, or lovable because we are not healthy. Lastly, there is no standard of health that is achievable for all bodies.”
If you need a new chapter...
Jog On: How Running Saved My Life by Bella Mackie
After a turbulent divorce and debilitating mental health struggles, Bella Mackie turned her life around by throwing on an old pair of runners. In this warm, inspiring, and hilariously unfiltered novel, Mackie shares how getting your life back on track doesn't always look like how you thought it would.
“Running is not magic beans and I now know that I can’t expect it to inure me to the genuine sadness of life. But throughout tough periods in my life, and without realising it, I had finally acquired a coping skill, one that has helped me every day since I found myself on that floor, wondering how I’d ever get up.
If you're suffering from burnout...
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee
Sometimes in life, we get a little too caught up in trying to create the life we want, that we forget to enjoy the present.
For many of us, 2020 forced us to do nothing and we collectively lost our minds. But rather than the need to be constantly working or feeling productive, perhaps we simply need to look inwards and reevaluate what a joy it can be to simply... do nothing—a great read for those who struggle to sit back and relax
“We work best when we allow for flexibility in our habits. Instead of gritting your teeth and forcing your body and mind to work punishing hours and 'lean in' until you reach your goals, the counterintuitive solution might be to walk away. Pushing harder isn’t helping us anymore.”
If you're in need of a little hope...
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
An unforgettably beautiful book that inspires, soothes and sparks joy all at once. Through the story of four characters, Mackesy teaches us about kindness and encourages people to see the beauty in each other and the world.
“'What do you think is the biggest waste of time?' asked the fox. 'Comparing yourself to others', said the mole.”
If you need to stop caring about what others think...
Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness by Melissa Dahl
A smart, funny and light-hearted read that encourages us to get out of our own egocentric heads and bask in all the beauty of life that is only revealed when we embrace the true awkwardness of living.
“'If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are,' the philosopher Alain de Botton has written, 'the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun'.
If you're considering therapy...
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
The truth is, we could all benefit from a little therapy. And in this heartwarming and hilariously honest novel, a psychotherapist pulls back the curtain to what exactly can be gained from not only going to therapy, but even just by hearing about other people's experiences. Full of thought-provoking insights and stories of other people's lives, this page-turner has something in it for everyone.
“We can’t have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want change but nonetheless stay exactly the same.”
If you're looking for some guidance...
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
From the best-selling author of Wild
comes this sweet collection of readers' submissions and advice from Cheryl Strayed's once-anonymous 'Dear Sugar' column.
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realise there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
If you're relationships need some work...
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
An oldie but a profound
goodie. You may or may not be surprised just how many issues in relationships (romantic, familial or platonic) come down to a lack of understanding of love languages—both in how we express
love and how we prefer to receive
love. This theory also helps us to better understand ourselves and how we operate the way we do when it comes to the people we care about. And the more we understand, the better we can communicate our needs.
“I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday.”