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21 Empowering Self-Help Books Every Woman Should Read

Consider them a form of self-care.

self help books 2021
Design by Susanna Hayward

"Self-help books" isn't the most thrilling section of Barnes & Noble (remember roaming through a book store?!) until you realize it's stocked with a handful of incredible, non-cheesy books that will simply make you feel good—like you're receiving advice from a trusted friend or an inspiring mentor. No matter what you're going through in life—a breakup, a career change, an identity crisis, or just generally feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic—we can all use a little pick-me-up these days. Make these empowering books, ahead, required reading in 2021.

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'Untamed' by Glennon Doyle

If you haven't read Glennon Doyle's Untamed by now, do yourself a favor and order a copy immediately. In the book, Doyle takes readers through her journey to living a truly authentic life that will inspire you to do the same. And, remember, "We can do hard things." 

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'Professional Troublemaker' by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Imposter syndrome? Never heard of her. Luvvie Ajayi Jones is here to help you tackle fear both in your professional and personal life through her signature humor and refreshing honesty. 

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'Where to Begin' by Cleo Wade

Fans of Cleo Wade's Heart Talk will appreciate the poet and activist's Where to Begin—a collection of poems, ideas, and mantras on how to make the world a better place...starting with ourselves. 

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'Own It' by Diane von Furstenberg

Keep this pocket-sized A-Z guide to life from the one and only Diane von Furstenberg on your desk for whenever you're in need of a pick-me-up.

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'Yoke' by Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley wants readers to find the "yoga of the everyday" in Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, urging us to confront our toughest moments with the same energy and acceptance we would channel in our favorite yoga class. 

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'Am I There Yet?' by Mari Andrew

For all of my visual learners out there, grab a copy of Mari Andrew's Am I There Yet?, which navigates adulthood and all of the growth, vulnerability, and heartbreak that comes with it. 

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'First & Only' by Jennifer R. Farmer

For every Black woman who has experienced microaggressions in the workplace and had to work twice as hard as her white colleague to get that raise, Jennifer R. Farmer's First & Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life, is essential reading. 

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'Keep Moving' by Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith's Keep Moving helps readers navigate grief, loss, transformation, and more through her collection of heartwarming poems. 

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'Your Time to Thrive' by Marina Khidekel & the Editors of Thrive Global

Anybody who's familiar with Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global and feels the exhausting effects of the pandemic will appreciate Your Time to Thrive, a guide to preventing burnout and improving overall well-being through a shift in mindset, curated by Marina Khidekel and the editors of Thrive Global. 

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'Believe It' by Jamie Kern Lima

Jamie Kern Lima, founder of IT Cosmetics and the first female CEO of a L'Oréal brand, shares her empowering story of navigating the beauty industry's impossible standards while helping you overcome any feelings of self-doubt that may be holding you back in your own life. 

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'Your Fully Charged Life' by Meaghan B. Murphy

Feeling overwhelmed and drained? Woman's Day Editor-in-Chief Meaghan B. Murphy's Your Fully Charged Life, a science-backed guide filled with practical advice, will help you embrace a positive mindset and find that energy we've all been missing these days. 

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'Maybe You Should Talk to Someone' by Lori Gottlieb

What happens when you're a therapist who needs therapy? Lori Gottlieb shares her deeply personal experience when she makes the switch from clinician to patient, and what we can all learn when we decide to break down the walls we've built around ourselves—consciously or not.

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'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling

Multiple friends of mine are obsessed with Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me?, which documents the actress' weird and hilarious journey on how to find excitement in all aspects of her life. You can also read Kaling's new collection of essays here.

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'Little Weirds' by Jenny Slate

While it's not exactly a self-help book, Jenny Slate's collection of essays will certainly make you feel less alone while she navigates universal themes like love, anxiety, heartbreak, and the little things in life that matter the most.

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'Year of Yes' by Shonda Rhimes

I still remember exactly how I felt when I read the last page of Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes: fearless. As she details her own inspiring journey of learning how to say yes (not in the overwork yourself way, more in the get out of your comfort zone way), the Grey's Anatomy and Scandal creator encourages you to let your own guard down and give yourself the opportunity to experience the life moments—big and small—you never imagined you would. 

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'You Are a Badass' by Jen Sincero

Success coach Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass is as hilarious as it is helpful: a refreshing, 27-chapter, no-bullshit guide to creating a life you truly love. It's also a perfect gift for that close friend who struggles to see her own self-worth sometimes. 

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'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' by Marie Kondo

Read Marie Kondo's best-selling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up before queuing up her Netflix seriesTidying up with Marie Kondo. Anybody who considers their home a sacred space (especially these days) will learn how freeing and uplifting decluttering can be from Kondo's genius tips using her KonMari method

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'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is a must-read for anybody struggling to fuel the artist inside them while dabbling with society's expectations to work in the Big, Bad Corporate World. In the book, Elizabeth Gilbert—the best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love—shows it's always possible to live a creative life when you decide to put some faith in yourself...and the universe. 

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'Cringeworthy' by Melissa Dahl

Accidentally liking your ex's new girlfriend's picture on Instagram? Been there. Watching a stranger trip in front of a bunch of people? Done that. In Melissa Dahl's Cringeworthy, she explores a "lifetime of cringing" and what our most awkward moments can teach us about ourselves. 

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'Tiny Beautiful Things' by Cheryl Strayed

You probably know Cheryl Strayed as the best-selling author of Wild, but before Reese Witherspoon made her a household name, she was a secret columnist who used the pen name "Sugar" at The Rumpus, an online literary magazine that launched in 2009. After Strayed revealed her identity, she released Tiny Beautiful Things, a compilation of the advice given and received on love and loss and everything in between. In the words of one Marie Claire editor: "This book changed my life." 

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'The Four Agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz

My very wise college professor handed me a copy of The Four Agreements a few years ago, and I've considered it a personal bible (or, in my case, torah) ever since. In the best-selling book, Don Miguel Ruiz uses ancient Toltec wisdom to teach us how to transform our lives using the four agreements: Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. 

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