If there’s one area of the book industry that has seen a boom over the last decade, it’s the self-help section. In 2016 alone, marketresearch.com analysts report the total worth of the US self-improvement market was $9.9 billion (yep, that’s billion, with a b!), with estimations predicting that figure to cross well over the $13 billion threshold by 2022. Suffice it to say, it’s no longer taboo to not only peruse the self-help section, but to actively seek it out in the hopes of bettering yourself.
The History of Self-Help Books
Dating back to the philosophical and ethical teachings of ancient Greek minds, such as Plato and Socrates, self-help books are the oldest and most popular medium when it comes to self-help advice. Things really exploded with modern writers like Rhonda Byrne, however, whose 2006 phenomenon The Secret ($11.89, Amazon) sold more than 30 million copies, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love ($10.71, Amazon), which sold more than 12 million copies, all but taking over, leading to a breakdown of a previously growing stigma against self-help advice and the genre’s all-out explosion.
Though advancements in technology have since led to an expansion of even more ways to indulge in self-help, from podcasts that harken back to the heydays of radio advice shows to the self-help apps that followed the rise of the smartphone (we’re looking at you Calm and Headpspace), these formats are no replacement for the original.
An easy way for you to indulge the mind at your own time and pace, self-help books are the best way to kick off the new year. We’ve rounded up some of the genre’s best page-turners of 2019 to help you start things off on the right foot.
Best Self Help Books of 2019
Whether you’re searching for a little guidance or simply looking for a great inspirational read, we’ve found nine self-help books that people all over the world were raving about this year. Keep scrolling for Woman’s World’s picks for the best self-help books of 2019.
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'The Little Book of Big Lies' by Tina Lifford
Where to buy: $16.99 (Originally $23.99), Amazon
For many of us, learning how to navigate life's twists and turns is something we were never formally taught. In The Little Book of Big Lies, playwright and Queen Sugar star Tina Lifford shares her hard-won wisdom on how to nurture your inner self and leave the past in the past, once and for all, via 14 raw, personal stories. Essentially, this book blends anecdotes and actionable advice to teach you how to change the way you see yourself — and your life. At its conclusion, you'll be left with enough knowledge to build and maintain your emotional strength as you transform old traumas into power. Talk about starting 2020 on the right foot!
'Maybe You Should Talk to Someone' by Lori Gottlieb
Where to buy: $13.99 (Originally $28), Amazon
We all need someone to talk to — even those who typically play the role of listener. In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist Lori Gottlieb invites us into her world as both a doctor and a patient to examine the truths and fictions we tell ourselves (and others!) as we discover what it means to be human. At times deeply personal and at others startlingly funny, this book is offers an illuminating look at what it means to take stock of our lives in order to find the power to transform them from within. Trust us: It's one of the most inspiring reads you'll read in the new year.
'Girl, Stop Apologizing' by Rachel Hollis
Where to buy: $9.66 (Originally $24.99), Amazon
From Rachel Hollis, the best-selling author of Girl, Wash Your Face, which unpacked the truth that not everyone has everything all figured out, comes Girl, Stop Apologizing. This latest release sees Hollis challenging women everywhere to own their potential and stop talking themselves out of following their dreams. By identifying the excuses we hold onto and the behaviors that act as barriers to our passions, this book will help you grow in confidence, cementing your belief that you can truly be everything you've always dreamed of in 2020 — and beyond!
"The 'More or Less' Definitive Guide to Self-Care" by Anna Borges
Where to buy: $16.95, Amazon
Over the last decade, the term "self-care" has come to define a movement many associate with outward care practices, such as elaborate skincare routines and bubble baths after a stressful work week. But when life gets too overwhelming, it may be time to step things up. In The "More or Less" Definitive Guide to Self-Care, Anna Borges collects more than 200 tips, activities, and stories from both experts and everyday people that focus on everything from how to ask for help and burn negative thoughts to the importance of human touch and maintaining a proper sleep routine. By the end of this book, you'll be equipped with plenty of new skills to add to your self-care tool kit.
'The Moment of Lift' by Melinda Gates
Where to buy: $14.49 (Originally $26.99), Amazon
Melinda Gates has learned a lot from the past 20 years, which she's spent striving to improve the lives of others via her charity work. But if there's one thing that stands out, it's that in order to change society for the better, women need a seat at the table. In The Moment of Lift, Gates shares the stories of people she says have given "focus and urgency" to her life. "I want all of us to see ways we can lift women up where we live," she writes.
Gates also backs up her thesis with data, touching upon everything from the proliferation of child marriages worldwide to gender inequity in the workplace. For the first time, she also writes about her personal life and the road to equality in her own marriage to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Filled with emotion, empathy and grace, this book will leave you inspired for the new year ahead and well-versed in the knowledge that in lifting up others, we lift ourselves up, too.
'Stillness Is the Key' by Ryan Holiday
Where to buy: $14.99 (Originally $25), Amazon
It's no secret that in today's day and age, most people feel overwhelmed. From demanding work schedules and family stressors to an unrelenting 24-hour news cycle, this frazzled state of being is the very thing stopping many of us from reaching optimal happiness. Enter Stillness Is the Key. Drawing on Stoic and Buddhist philosophies, best-selling author Ryan Holiday examines the lives of those who embraced the power of stillness (think Winston Churchill and Fred Rogers) to argue that the key to contentment and living with meaning involves slowing down and remaining steady as the world turns — something we could all benefit from in 2020.
'How Happiness Happens' by Max Lucado
Where to buy: $12.49 (Originally $24.99), Amazon
When it comes to self-help books, one of the most popular topics is happiness. While there are many ways to breach the topic, many on the quest for self-fulfillment aim to strengthen their faith in order to change their lives. With How Happiness Happens, best-selling author Max Lucado lays out a personal plan you can kick off ahead of the coming 365 days to help you lead a life that's filled with lasting and fulfilling joy rooted in modern ethical research that will change you from the inside out.
'Everything is Figureoutable' by Marie Forleo
Where to buy: $17.99 (Originally $25), Amazon
One of the most popular self-help books of the year, Everything Is Figureoutable is one title you may have seen on a friend's coffee table this year. Coming from the mind of the award-winning host of MarieTV and "The Marie Forleo Podcast," Marie Forleo herself, this book is designed to help you retrain your brain to look at life with the glass half full, even in the face of difficult circumstances.
The mantra behind the book comes from something Forleo's mom once told her: "Nothing in life is that complicated. You can do whatever you set your mind to if you roll up your sleeves. Everything is figure-outable." No matter the goal you're trying to achieve, this book will help you develop the habits you'll need to overcome your fears and obstacles in 2020.
'Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered' by Karen Kilgarrif and Georgia Hardstark
Where to buy: $18.02 (Originally $24.99), Amazon
For true crime and podcast fans alike comes Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered. Written by the hosts of the hit podcast "My Favorite Murder," Karen Kilgarrif and Georgia Hardstark, this book was one of the most anticipated releases of 2019. In it, Kilgarrif and Hardstark put it all out on the table, sharing never-before-heard stories about their struggles with issues such as depression and addiction, as well as personal reflections on pivotal life moments that shaped them into the women they are today. In addition to delving into the true crime stories that turned them into self-proclaimed "murderinos," (the catch-all term for fans of their show and those who have an unabashed love for all things true crime), the women also share tips on how to navigate the world as self-advocating women determined to live life fiercely, stay sexy, and not get murdered — exactly the kind of energy we want to bring into the new year!