Self-help books for you in 2024
'New year, new you' is the usual mantra, but it honestly seems more like a damning indictment than a positive resolution. Here are a few books that could perhaps help you find peace of mind in the new year
Get Well, Stay Well: The Six Healing Health Habits You Need to Know by Dr Gemma Newman
New year's resolutions commonly relate to health, and this book has accessible information that is quick to digest and covers a range of issues — from gratitude to vegetables. It focuses on six habits that can seemingly be easily assimilated into everyday life. Determined to help her patients, Newman (a British family doctor and Reiki healer, just so you know) studied nutrition, psychotherapy and a wide range of holistic approaches to healing. This book brings together everything she has learnt in 20 years. There’s a toolkit, health plans, recipes, and practical exercises. The blurb says Newman “has seen radical transformations in her patients, family and her own health from her open-minded approach to medicine. In her practice, she has come to understand that body, mind and soul are not separate, and that it is only through a ‘whole body’ treatment plan that we can truly heal.”
Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things by Adam Grant
“This brilliant book will shatter your assumptions about what it takes to improve and succeed. I wish I could go back in time and gift it to my younger self. It would've helped me find a more joyful path to progress,” says Serena Williams, 23-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion. So, yeah, that’s a great endorsement. This is one of those books that doesn’t give easy solutions to problems, but rather shows that progress depends less on how hard you work than on how well you learn. Grant’s book Think Again was listed as one the best self-help books of last year, and now in Hidden Potential he writes about how growth is not about the genius you possess, but rather the character you develop. He explores how to build character skills and motivational structures, as well as how to create opportunities.
Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results by Shane Parrish
Parrish started his blog Farnam Street in 2009, and it has since become a favourite of those who view themselves as intellectuals and value thinking about thinking. Give it a squiz to see what he is all about, and if his writing and methodologies are for you. In Clear Thinking, Parrish explains how we can recognise opportunities for what they are and use our cognitive abilities to achieve the life we want. The blurb says: “Few things will change your trajectory in life or business as much as learning to think clearly. Yet few of us recognise opportunities to think in the first place. You might believe you’re thinking clearly in the moments that matter most. But in all likelihood, when the pressure is on, you won’t be thinking at all. And your subsequent actions will inevitably move you further from the results you ultimately seek — love, belonging, success, wealth, victory ... Clear Thinking gives you the tools to recognise the moments that have the potential to transform your trajectory and reshape how you navigate the critical space between stimulus and response. As Parrish shows, we may imagine we are the protagonists in the story of our lives. But the sad truth is, most of us run on autopilot. Our behavioural defaults, groomed by biology, evolution, and culture, are primed to run the show for us if we don’t intervene. At our worst, we react to events without reasoning, not even realising that we’ve missed an opportunity to think at all. At our best, we recognise these moments for what they are, and apply the full capacity of our reasoning and rationality to them.”
Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood by Satya Doyle Byock
This book is specifically for those between the ages of 20 to 40. Sorry for those who are a bit older, but hopefully your quarterlife crisis has passed by now. Byock tries to answer those nagging questions that people face when they are 29 or thereabouts. Why do I feel lost? What’s wrong with me? Is this all there is? Apparently she hears these questions regularly in her psychotherapy practice, where she works with Quarterlifers. And obviously she understands their frustrations, says the blurb: “Some clients have done everything ‘right’: graduate, get a job, meet a partner — yet they are unfulfilled. Others are still struggling to find their way in the world and are unclear on what to do next. Quarterlife offers a compassionate road map for finding understanding, happiness, and wholeness in early adulthood. While society is quick to label the struggles of young people as generational traits, Byock sees things differently. She believes these emotions are part of the developmental journey of quarterlife, a distinct stage that every person goes through, and which has been virtually ignored by psychology and popular culture. Through the stories of four of her clients, Byock shows us how this search can start with the right questions. Blending personal storytelling with mythology, Jungian psychology with pop culture and literature, Quarterlife pioneers a new way of thinking about adult life, to help us navigate our futures and ourselves.”
Surrounded by Vampires: How to Slay the Time, Energy and Soul Suckers in Your Life by Thomas Erikson. One of my favourite characters in What We Do in the Shadows, a film and now a TV series about a group of vampires who live on Staten Island, is Colin, an energy vampire who lives by draining people of their energy by being boring or frustrating. So this title was intriguing and droll, and so is the blurb: “Are there people in your life that leave you feeling drained, depleted, and just exhausted? You’ve just encountered a real-life vampire. Dracula has nothing on these ubiquitous social villains who take — time, energy, attention, emotional capacity — without reciprocating, and leave you too exhausted to protest. Energy vampires can be people, situations, or even your own mindset ... Erikson identifies the different types of energy vampires and offers practical tools, fun self-assessments, and relatable stories to help you combat them.” Bring out the stakes!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AI by Arthur Goldstuck
Last year, the buzzwords were “AI”, “Chat GPT”, “Terminator”, and “Rise of The Machines”. But what is AI really, and do we have to fear it? Goldstuck offers up what he does best and breaks it all down to give readers a helpful, easy guide on just what AI is across all sectors of business and society. If you are wondering or worried about AI and what it means for the world, give this one a go.
Quantum Body: The New Science of Living a Longer, Healthier, More Vital Life by Deepak Chopra
So this is not just a Deepak Chopra book — he has collaborated with physicist Jack Tuszynski and endocrinologist Brian Fertig to produce a different type of work that “delves into the innovative world of quantum science and shows how unlocking its secrets can revolutionise how we live and age — and, ultimately, how we can eradicate disease”. The blurb continues: “The key is the quantum body. Through a powerful combination of prescriptive exercises and innovative research into the quantum world, the authors unveil seven breakthroughs that will revolutionise the future of everyone’s wellbeing. Central to this revolution is a groundbreaking understanding of metabolism — the way our cells process energy — that promises to challenge our understanding of modern medicine as we know it.” Oooh, I wonder if it will answer the question of bone broth collagen. Yes? No?
How to be the Love you Seek: Break Cycles, Find Peace and Heal Your Relationships by Dr Nicole LePera
Another top-ranked resolution is finding love or keeping love going: this could be the perfect book for you if you are looking for that special person to make you feel seen, validated and loved. In How to Be the Love You Seek, New York Times best-selling author Dr LePera “offers a new path to healing relationships”. The blurb goes on to say: “Complete with stories, exercises, journal prompts, and other practical guidance, How to Be the Love You Seek is poised to become an instant classic, and the go-to relationship resource for a new generation.”