Anyone who knows me knows I’m a self-help book junkie.
I started reading how-to, self-help, and informative non-fiction books when I was about twelve. The seventh grade was hard for me, as it is for almost everyone, for all the normal reasons. Did I fit in? Would people like me? Would anyone want to sit next to me in class or skate with me during the couple’s skate? But seventh grade was also hard because I had a new baby brother (hi Matthew!) I had a lot of responsibility for, and I lived in an unstable home environment.
At just the moment I needed extra guidance, I discovered Seventeen Magazine, a publication full of advice for adolescents about everything from fashion to romance to how to study with better results. This magazine was a revelation to me! I watched for the new issue to show up on the shelf at the 7-Eleven down the street from my house every month and bought it with my babysitting money as soon as it arrived. Feeling lost in a world where other kids my age *looked* like they had their shit together and *looked* like their families were intact, I craved guidance like a peanut butter sandwich craves jelly. I felt dry inside—very empty (later I would learn there’s a word for what I felt as a young adolescent: depression, but that’s a different story).
Shortly after finding Seventeen Magazine, I also found church and the religious book store, where there were THOUSANDS of books telling you how to do anything, think about everything, and act in any situation. Over the next many years, I ate up books on how to be obedient to one’s parents, how to stay pure until marriage, how to make good decisions, etc.
As the years have marched on, my taste in self-help books has evolved (a lot) and my reasons for reading books that guide has changed, too. I no longer feel like I need someone to show me how to become a functioning adult. That happened! Here I am (80% functional, I would say—which is good enough IMHO). I no longer suspect that other people have more information about how to behave in the world or about who “God” is. And I certainly no longer give my authority away to supposed experts who write books about what my behavior should be like in the world (as I did when I was a young woman reading about “purity”).
But I DO still know that there are areas where I need to grow my knowledge and where I need to expand my way of thinking. I have some struggles I want to push through, and I’m always searching for new ways to wrap my mind around and make sense of challenging aspects of my life. Of course, whenever I feel deep pain, I still crave a guide to move through it.
A few years ago, I started choosing a theme for the year and reading one book a month on that theme. One year the theme was PERSONAL POWER. Another year the theme was FEAR (actually that theme lasted for two year). Last year the theme was MONEY. And while I may have missed a month or two in my theme reading over the years, I’ve been pretty true to my commitment, so I’ve compiled a hefty pile of books around here–some fantastic and some inane. But regardless of the duds along the way, I’ve reaped some rewards in that I’ve managed to make better-informed decisions about my life than I would have done without external guidance (though, as I said, I never give away my self-authority to anyone else, and I trust my own gut first and foremost).
I recently mentioned to a group of people that I’d chosen MONEY as my theme in 2019 and someone approached me after our meeting asking if I’d give her the list. I told her I’d write it up on my blog for her. So below you’ll find my 2019 list of books about MONEY. You’ll also find a partial list of the reading bonanza on FEAR below that. I offer these lists to you in case you find some nuggets of wisdom for your own life. But just know this is just my reading list, not necessarily my recommendations for best books.
Also, here’s the thing with self-help reading (and you have to promise me you’ll practice this): Because everyone thinks and acts in ways filtered through the narratives of their race, culture, gender, and socio-economic status, you have to always ask yourself if what you’re reading is relevant for YOU and fair and right for OTHERS. You’re the one with responsibility to decide how to run your affairs.
So happy reading, my friends. I’d love to hear what you glean. Or if you’ve read some of these books, I’d love your reviews.
And in case you’re wondering what my topic is for 2020… It’s HAPPINESS! I’m taking book suggestions! Happy reading.
2019 books on MONEY
Chilpreneur: The New Rules for Creating Success, Freedom, and Abundance on Your Own Terms by Denise Duffield Thomas.
Money and the Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks
You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms by Amanda Steinberg
Sacred Success: A Course in Financial Miracles by Barbara Stanney
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch: Release Your Money Blocks and Live a First-Class Life by Denise Duffield Thomas
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The Trance of Scarcity: Stop Holding Your Breath and Start Living Your Life by Victoria Castle
A few books on fear and courage (links and subtitles not included, but my favorites have stars next to them):
**Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
**Controlling People by Patricia Evans
Changing Course: Healing from Loss, Abandonment, and Fear by Claudia Black
**The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel
Jump and Your Life Will Appear by Nancy Levin
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
**The Big Leap by Gay Hendrix
**Playing Big by Tara Mohr
The Fear Cure by Lissa Rankin
**Presence by Amy Cuddy
**The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
**Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
The Confidence Code by Kattie Kay and Claire Shipman
**The Fear and Anxiety Solution by Friedemann Schaub
Courage by Debbie Ford
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg