During summer break, many teens prepare to have a “glow up” — whether it be a physical, mental or emotional makeover. New diets, workout plans and daily routines are a common aspect of these glow ups, and this is especially true while many jobs and schools are only just beginning to reopen. On TikTok, daily routine videos and the “that girl” aesthetic characterized by productivity, emotional health and a healthy lifestyle are becoming popular. That said, here are some self-help books that may help you on your path to becoming “that” version of yourself.
‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi
This isn’t necessarily a self-help book in the sense that it gives you pointers on how to live life; however, it’s still one of the most beautiful and poignant books that I have ever read. Kalanithi, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, documents his experiences as a doctor and cancer patient in this autobiography. It’s a beautifully written book with incredible prose, humor and insight. As someone who has always been deeply interested in the medical field, this book reminded me of the humanness of life and death and the close connection both have to medicine. As cliché as it sounds, this book also reminded me to appreciate the smaller things in life in the same way that Kalanithi held a deep curiosity and passion about the world around him. Though Kalanithi died at the age of 37 before his book was published, many medical professionals and avid readers often recommend this book for its beautiful prose and profound insights.
‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport
This book is more straightforward and no-nonsense, reminding readers that when distracted, their work becomes more superficial. Throughout the book, Newport establishes the importance and value of deep work using well-known figures such as Woody Allen and Carl Jung as examples. He also gives a range of tips and advice on how to achieve “deep” work, ranging from “embracing boredom” to minimizing social media presence; he also backs these examples up with research and other evidence. If you’re looking for a more methodical and technical approach to productivity, this is definitely the book for you.
‘You Are Not So Smart’ by David McRaney
You Are Not So Smart seeks to show you how you may not be as in touch with yourself as you imagine yourself to be. Each short chapter begins with a “Misconception” and a “Truth,” then continues to back up that truth with research and other evidence. One of my favorite things about this book is that McRaney debunks each of these misconceptions without seeming condescending or patronizing — instead, he seems to explore the unpredictability and bias of human nature, and if you enjoy breaking the fourth wall and thinking about thinking, this is your book.
‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott
I loved how Lamott combines writing advice with life advice. Her prose is beautiful, and similar to McRaney’s writing, and the the advice does not come off as condescending. Instead, it’s encouraging and comforting, and Lamott’s vivid descriptions and conversational writing style make the book enjoyable and immersive. From perfectionism to dialogue, Lamott covers a range of writing and life-related advice, and regardless of whether you’re a writer, if you’re looking for a comforting and easy read, this is your book.