Book Reviews Personal Development

7 Self-Help Books That Actually Helped Me

This post contains a collaborative portion.

There are so many ‘self-help’ books out there, on a multitude of topics including physical health, mental health, personal development and productivity. As the self-help ‘label’ suggests, these books are supposed to help you or improve your life in some way by reading them. However, all too often these kinds of books turn out to be wishy-washy nonsense and they don’t impact your life in any way at all. Other times, they are full of commonly repeated information that you already know and have read about a thousand times.

Obviously, different books will be helpful to different people. A book that one person thought was rubbish might be really helpful for another person. I’ve read a lot of ‘self-help’ books over the years and they have varied a lot. However, there are a few rare gems out there that really made a difference in my life and I think they would have a positive impact on almost everyone who reads them. In this post, I will be sharing some of these gems with you. Here are 7 self-help books that actually helped me!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through my link, I will earn a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. I only advertise products that I have used myself and would genuinely recommend.

7 Actually Helpful Self-Help Books

7 Self-Help Books That Actually Helped Me

1. Spark: How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of your Brain – by John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman

As the title suggests, this book is about exercise and how it can improve the performance of your brain. Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but this book goes into detail about just how it works and how significant the benefits are.

The book is full of scientific studies and convincing evidence of how exercise can be helpful for preventing or dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, hormonal changes, ageing and even addiction. When it comes to addiction it’s so important to get the right help. If you look at how much does rehab cost in the UK then you’ll know that this isn’t a cheap venture but there are things you can do yourself too and exercise is one of them.

Even though I read this book over 2 years ago, I still think about it. I can’t precisely remember all the details now, but I know it really made an impression on me at the time and convinced me of the huge benefits exercise could have on my mental health and performance. That has stuck with me and it still motivates me to exercise.

If you need the motivation to do more exercise, I highly recommend this book because it will make you want to exercise! You can read my full review of Spark: How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of your Brain or purchase it on Amazon.

2. 21 Days To A New You – by Dr Cecilia d’Felice

This book was written by Dr Cecilia d’Felice, a psychologist and broadcaster who has been through severe trauma in her life. She developed a 21-day program for self-improvement and healing which she shares in this book. It is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques which I have found helpful in the past. Although I didn’t closely follow the program or do many of the suggested exercises, I still picked up a lot of useful snippets from this book.

This book helped me to understand more about emotions and how our body processes them. One fact that stood out to me is that intense emotions are biologically designed to pass through us quickly, and they only last for around 90 seconds before they will become less intense. This helps me when I am feeling intense emotions such as anxiety because I remind myself that the worst will soon pass and it will become more manageable.

You can buy 21 Days To A New You on Amazon

3. Shake It Off! – by Rafael Santandreu

This is another book based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and it focuses especially on techniques and concepts for improving your mental health and happiness. I really enjoyed this book because of how many personal anecdotes and stories the author included. I like books that contain lots of stories and real-world examples because I find them more inspiring than just reading theory. Therefore, this was one of my favourite CBT based books that I have read so far.

If you are struggling with your mental health, I would highly recommend this book. It is an accessible and enjoyable introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You can read my full review of Shake It Off! or buy it on Amazon.

4. The Plant Power Doctor – by Dr Gemma Newman

I received this book for my birthday this year and I’m so glad I did. It is about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, and the wide-ranging impact it can have on your health. It also touches on the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. This book doubles up as a recipe book, with approximately the last 3rd of the book made up of the author’s own recipes.

I found this book to be so well-written, interesting and backed up by science and anecdotes. It is also beautifully presented with colourful illustrations and photos. It really encouraged me to eat more healthily, and especially to add more fruit and vegetables into my diet. I have also tried several of the recipes and they were delicious!

If you know you need to eat more healthily but you need a bit of motivation, I highly recommend this book because it will make you want to eat more fruit and vegetables! The recipes are a great bonus too and will give you lots of ideas to get started on a healthier way of eating. You can buy The Plant Power Doctor on Amazon.

5. Badass Ways To End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks – by Geert Verschaeve

Over the past few years, I have struggled with anxiety and I’ve read a lot of books to try and get rid of it. This was one of the most helpful! I bought it on impulse when I saw it had good reviews on Amazon, and it lived up to my expectations. This book is a simple but powerful guide for overcoming anxiety and some of the techniques in it have really helped me. The main thing I learned from this book is to go ahead and do things even if I am feeling anxious because then the anxiety loses its power over me.

If you experience anxiety or panic attacks, I would recommend giving this book a try. It will hopefully help you too. You can buy Badass Ways To End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks on Amazon.

6. Unlimited Memory – by Kevin Horsley

Unlimited Memory is written by a memory expert, Kevin Horsley, who holds the world record for memorising the first 10,000 digits of pi. He shares the memory techniques that he uses, and how anyone can apply them to their life to remember information more effectively. This isn’t a book I would have expected to be in my top 7 self-help books because I just read it out of curiosity. I didn’t feel a particular need to improve my memory, I was just fascinated to learn how it is even possible to remember such a huge amount of information as Kevin did!

Despite not initially feeling a need to improve my memory, I found this book so interesting and relevant and I have genuinely applied some of the techniques to my life since reading it. The techniques are very accessible and would be effective for studying for exams, remembering lists and remembering people’s names, among many other everyday uses. If this sounds like something that would be useful for you, I highly recommend this book!

You can read my full review of Unlimited Memory or purchase it on Amazon.

7. A Life Less Throwaway – by Tara Button

This book is essentially about buying items ‘for life’ rather than ‘for now’ in order to create less waste. Tara suggests that when an item breaks beyond repair, we replace it with the best quality, most durable and repairable item we can find, with the aim that it will last for life. That way, even if our purchases are expensive up-front, we will save money in the long term because we won’t have to keep repurchasing appliances, furniture, clothing and other items when they repeatedly break.

This author describes how a lot of items are actually designed to break quickly so that we will keep buying more and the companies will make more money. She also delves into the advertising industry and how it works to get us to buy things we don’t need. This book has really encouraged me to think about what I am buying and my motives for buying it. I will definitely take more care in planning my purchases in the future. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their spending habits as well as helping the environment. You can buy A Life Less Throwaway on Amazon.

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What Self-Help Books Have Helped You?

Have you read any of the books I’ve included in this post? What did you think of them? Are there any other self-help books that have made a big impact on your life? Or any books that are hyped up but didn’t do anything for you at all? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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7 Self-Help Books That Actually Helped Me


  1. I absolutely LOVE self-help books. There are so many great options out there that can help us to tap into our potential, address our struggle and become the best version of ourselves. There are a few options on your list that I haven’t read before. I’m going to have to check them out!

    1. Sophie says:

      I love them too, although some are definitely better than others! I hope you enjoy the ones on my list if you do check them out!

  2. Sounds like the awesome ideas, I didn’t hear for any of them.
    Thanks for recommending..

    1. Sophie says:

      You’re welcome, I’m glad to have introduced you to some new books!

  3. Irene says:

    CBT is great. I used The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook after a therapist recommended it to me, and it really helped a lot. I learned so much about myself thanks to that book.

    1. Sophie says:

      I’m so glad that CBT helped you! I need to check out The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook x

  4. I didn’t hear of any of them but added some to my reading list! I think books are such a great tool to help us shape ourselves and Badass sounds like a very interesting read! Thanks for sharing x

    1. Sophie says:

      Books are definitely a great tool for self-improvement. I highly recommend Badass if anxiety is something you experience! x

  5. These look like fantastic books. Especially the Spark one about how exercise helps your brain! It is so true! When I exercise in function so much more efficiently. Really want to check that book out! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sophie says:

      I really loved that book, it really made me want to exercise! I hope you get a chance to read it!

  6. Love this round up of books! Gotta add some of these to my TBR!

    1. Sophie says:

      Thank you! I hope you get a chance to read some of these.

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