Book Club / Culture

Searching the soul: 13 self help books we love

best self-help books

The idea of a self-help book feels rather dated in the world of the internet. With Instagram poets, podcasts for everything, and online workout classes, self-help books catapult us back to visions of teary-eyed female protagonists in rom-coms perusing the aisles of the book store because she is unlucky in love and wants to learn how to seize the day. Thankfully, we have evolved past this, and into an era where working on ourselves is trending, and if you haven't read The Body Keeps The Score with its apt title and Matisse cover art, are you really in touch with yourself at all? Self-help is the now, and we all could do with a little soul maintenance to keep our inner children and attachment styles in check, so below, are the best self-help books according to RUSSH.

The Body Keeps The Score

best self-help books

A classic, and a favourite of the RUSSH editors. Bessel Van Der Kolk offers a sympathetic exploration of the causes of trauma and the ways our somatic nervous system can be the key to processing our hurt. It explores what causes people to continually relive what they most want to forget, and the treatments that could help restore them to a life with purpose and joy.


L'Art De La Simplicité: How To Live More With Less

best self-help books

Coming with a strong recommendation from Art Director, Gabriela Hidalgo herself, author Dominique Loreau discovered the beauty of a life well lived through the art of simplicity after living in Japan for many years. With lifestyle resting on the principle of 'less is more', her teaching imbues all areas of existence, from the material to the spiritual. A must read for anyone looking to declutter their mind and life.


Mating in Captivity

best self-help books

For those who are familiar with Esther Perel's work, you'll know that she rarely misses. Mating in Captivity is tribute to this. Taking on a whole new take on intimacy and sex, Mating in Captivity invites us to "explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home." Drawing on her thorough experience as a renowned couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire in long-term partnerships.


Communion: The Female Search For Love

best self-help books

The legendary Bell Hooks Communion is an intimate, revealing, and provocative read that challenges women to courageously claim the search for love as "the heroic journey we must all choose to be truly free." Through her trademark commanding and lucid language, Hooks touches on the ways ideas about women and love were changed by feminist movement, by women's full participation in the workforce, and by the culture of self-help.



best self-help books

For those looking to get into attachment theory, this is your book. Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory - the most advanced relationship science in existence today - can help us find and sustain love.


Practice and All Is Coming

best self-help books

Perhaps a lesser known take on self-help, but illuminating nonetheless. Journalist and ex yoga cult member Matthew Remski offers a sobering look into the cultic mechanisms at play in the sphere of Pattabhi Jois’s Ashtanga community, intergenerational trauma, and healing through it all with a pathway out of toxic cultic dynamics and into into enhanced critical thinking, student empowerment, self-and-other care, and community resilience.


Women Food and God

best self-help books

Recommended by self-help reading guru, our market editor Angel Jhang, Women food and God offers a take on our relationship to food that has earned it bestselling accolades across the globe. Put simply, "a thinking woman’s guide to eating—and an anti-diet book— women everywhere will find insights and revelations on every page."


The School of Life: an Emotional Education

Alain De Botton's infamous body of work. As the title suggests, Botton delves into all of the topics we weren't taught at school. Understanding our emotions, finding and sustaining love, succeeding in our careers, failing well and overcoming shame and guilt. It touches on letting go of the myth of a perfect life in order to achieve genuine emotional maturity, and is a powerful book for personal evolution.


Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma

best self-help books

One of the first, groundbreaking explorations of trauma and our somatic nervous systems, Peter A. Levine's Waking the Tiger offers a hopeful vision of trauma. Asking and answering the question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed. Through this, Levine normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. The reader is guided to employ a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations.


When Things Fall Apart

Pema Choedroen explores the vast potential for happiness, wisdom and courage even in the most painful circumstances. Offering an accessible guide to compassionate living through showing us how we can use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion and courage, ways of communication that lead to openness and true intimacy with others, practices for reversing our negative habitual patterns, methods for working with chaotic situations and ways to cultivate compassionate, energetic social action.


Daring Greatly

If Dr. Brené Brown wrote it, we will read it. Daring Greatly challenges everything understand about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it's a weakness. Arguing that vulnerability is a strength, and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives, drawing on the culmination of twelve years of groundbreaking social research across the home, relationships, work and parenting.


The Barefoot Investor

You know the book! Perhaps you've even reaped the benefits of the book. Scott Pape claims that managing money is as easy as ready his best-selling book, The Barefoot Investor. Through a step-by-step formula like open this account, then do this; call this person, and say this; invest money here, and not there, and you'll be able to manage your money in 10 minutes a week, so he says!


The Bad Girls Guide To Better

Casey Beros' debut book is a witty, coming of age style "stealth-help" body of work. A "failing upwards" kind of offering. The Bad Girls Guide to Better serves up a poignant take on "growing through some of your worst behaviour to step into a better, brighter future - from upgrading your emotional intelligence to fixing your relationship with money, navigating friendships, forgiving your parents and finding the one."


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