6 New Self-Help Books That Aren't Corny and Lame

Self-help books are often dismissed as being overly sappy and unrealistically optimistic. And sometimes, it’s true. But then a self-help book comes along that’s frank and real yet still actually helpful. Here, six of our favorite new reads that won’t have you rolling your eyes on every page.

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self help books lawson
Cover: Flatiron Books; Background: Twenty20

"you Are Here: An Owner's Manual For Dangerous Minds" By Jenny Lawson

Part therapy, part humor and part coloring book, Lawson (who wrote the equally hilarious book Furiously Happy) draws on the tenets of art therapy to help readers cope with anxiety and general negative feelings. As in her previous books, Lawson is candid about her personal struggles, and in doing so makes the reader feel comfortable airing her own grievances (here, in the form of fill-in-the-blank lists and sometimes-irreverent drawings).

self help books knight
Cover: Little, Brown and Company; Background: Twenty20

"the Life-changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck" By Sarah Knight

Riffing on the title of Marie Kondo’s smash-hit The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Knight’s book is all about the art of caring less and getting more. She hilariously lays out rules for ridding yourself of unwanted obligations without feeling guilty, steps for decluttering your mind and tips for channeling your energy toward things that actually matter. The New York Times Book Review called it “the self-help equivalent of a Weird Al parody song,” and we couldn’t agree more.

self help books novak
Cover: Three Rivers Press; Background: Twenty20

"how To Weep In Public: Feeble Offerings On Depression From One Who Knows" By Jacqueline Novak

This NYC-based comedian and writer’s hilarious and real approach to dealing with her own depression is refreshingly honest: It makes light of mental illness without diminishing its severity. Her advice is realistic and actionable. Most of all, though, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, with lists like “ways to avoid charming your therapist,” and “top four tips for crying in restaurants.”

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self help books gilbert
Cover: Riverhead Books; Background: Twenty20

"big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" By Elizabeth Gilbert

You know and love Eat, Pray, Love, which is why you should absolutely read Gilbert’s most recent book—it manages to be inspirational and empowering without being too sugary sweet. In it, she does a deep dive into her own creative process to share the things she’s learned as a writer, as well as general advice on how to live your most creative life. Gilbert’s passion jumps off the page, and Big Magic is a positive and sunny read.

self help books rhimes
Cover: Simon & Schuster; Background: Twenty20

"year Of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun And Be Your Own Person" By Shonda Rhimes

It’s an undisputable fact that Shonda Rhimes is an absolute badass. In addition to creating, writing and producing Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and producing How to Get Away with Murder, Rhimes is the best-selling author of an incredible memoir jam-packed with life advice. While poignantly and humorously chronicling her childhood and rise to success, Rhimes dishes out tips for achieving your goals (especially if you, like her, are an introvert). Let’s face it: It’s Shondaland, and we’re just living in it—happily.

self help books bennett
Cover: Simon & Schuster; Background: Twenty20

"f*ck Feelings" By Michael I. Bennett, M.d. And Sarah Bennett

Written by a father-daughter team (Michael is a psychiatrist and Sarah is a comedy writer), this practical guide is actually more of an anti-self-help book. In funny prose, they argue that modern methods for dealing with life’s problems place unrealistic emphasis on resolving feelings. Instead, they suggest putting doing good over feeling good, and not letting negative emotions distract you from living a good life. Their approach is frank and no holds barred—so refreshing.

sarah stiefvater
Sarah Stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...
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