5 Indispensable Self-Help Books

5 Indispensable Self-Help Books

Last update: 24 May, 2018

You’ve probably had complicated moments in your life that compelled you to find an explanation. Maybe you wanted to understand what was happening to you, or simply find some solutions to your problems. To do that, you might have looked for self-help books. These days, there is a lot of this “paper and ink” medicine out there.

Some self-help books talk about love, sadness, anxiety, or how to overcome obstacles that prevent you from reaching a goal. There are subjects as well as authors that appeal to a wide variety of tastes. There are even books to learn how to be better parents.

Given all of these options, it’s hard to pick one in particular. They might all seem the same, but different at the same time. There’s no point in picking the thickest book if the content is worthless. You need one that can inspire you and motivate you to get up and make positive change.

Why are self-help books successful?

According to psychologist Susana Moraga, “the success of self-help books comes from their wide availability to a diverse audience.” What’s more, she thinks that the reason for their rise in popularity is that they are reasonably priced and easily accessed in libraries and on digital platforms. Not only that, but they use accessible language and in general people like them. This is important because their popularity is usually due to word of mouth.

Moraga also points out that “we have gotten over the cliche or embarrassment of self-help books. We no longer think that people who read them must have a mental disorder” [translation]. More and more, people are realizing the importance of mental health.


5 self-help books

Here are five self-help books that I have in my library. That doesn’t mean that they are completely indispensable. By the time you read this, there will probably be better ones. New self-help books are coming out all the time. Nevertheless, I can assure you that these are science-based and easy to understand for most people.

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns

As the title suggests, this book focuses on overcoming bad moods. Now, to make sure that the title isn’t confusing to readers, we should clarify that “bad mood” isn’t synonymous with depression. Burns explains in a clear and concise way how you can improve your mood and avoid depression.

This book could be complementary material for psychological therapy. The information in the book is a useful reminder of aspects of therapy. Not only is this book useful for patients, but for experienced psychologists as well. 

“Working from the principles of cognitive therapy, Dr. Burns has developed a quick and clinically proven method that identifies masochistic traps like perfectionism, dependency on the opinion of others, workaholism, apathy, etc. With simplicity, conviction, and understanding, Dr. Burns tries to help people avoid depression and achieve a life full of energy and self-confidance.” [translation]

Feeling good: the new mood therapy

If Life Gives Us Lemons, We’ll Make Lemonade by Ernesto Lopez Mendez and Miguel Costa

The authors of this book were my professors for my Masters in Psychology. They are charming people and have vast experience in the field of psychology. Maybe that is why I liked this book so much.

In a clear, simple, and educational way, the book takes us deep into the meaning of stress. It helps the reader understand how and why stress affects us so much. Not only that, but why it can be harmful to our health. The book doesn’t just focus on stress, however. It also has practical tips for facing your fears, anxiety, distress, and obsessions.

Ernesto Lopez Mendez and Miguel Costa offer strategies to help you organize your time. By doing so, you can more readily face threats and hostility in your life. They also discuss different ways to respond to anxiety. This includes breathing exercises for when anxiety has physical repercussions like shortness of breath.

“Without a doubt, it is a proposal to live life to the fullest and enjoy it because those experiences give life meaning when stress complicates things or makes you feel bitter.”

Your Erroneous Zones, by Wayne Dyer

What can we say about this book? It is a self-help classic. I read it for the first time 15 years ago. This is the perfect book to keep permanently on your nightstand. You can turn to it whenever you feel bad. I call this book “The SOS book.”

Your Erroneous Zones  is a book that many psychologists recommend. It lays out the primary determining factors for our psychological health. In simple and easy-to-understand language, Wayne Dyer describes how to be independent, happy, and emotionally healthy. Each chapter is written as if it were a psychotherapy session.

“Don’t project your disatisfaction onto others. The cause comes from inside of you, from the ‘erroneous zones’ of your personality that block you and get in the way of your self-actualization. In this book, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer shows how to find these zones, what they mean, what they lead to, and how to overcome them.” [translation]

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Matthew McKay, and Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman

This book, as the title suggests, is a practical guide to stress reduction. It explains different and effective ways to deal with stress. In addition, it offers techniques to control your emotions. It is a compendium of stress reduction strategies. Each chapter deals with a different one.

“The clarity of the writing and richness of the content make this an extremely useful manual for psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, teachers, and everyone else who deal with stress related problems.” [translation]

You Can Learn to Be Happy, by Alexandra Dieguez Gonzalez and Carmen Serrat-Valera

In this book, psychologist Carmen Serrat-Valera and reporter Alexa Dieguez teach us to explore our personal resources, manage emotions, develop different talents, and take care of ourselves to live a full life. It is an enriching book. The authors write in a practical and intimate voice and help us understand how we operate.

It also teaches the reader to identify and overcome any obstacles to self-actualization. It tells you how to take the appropriate steps to build the life that you want. To do so, the authors discuss different exercises for contrasting effectiveness. They include stories, metaphors, scientific research, and reflection.

“The advantages of being happy (knowing how to treasure the little things, develop intellectual and creative ability, maintain good personal relationships, partake in gratifying activities, cushion the effects of stress, fill your life with meaning, etc.) are many and it’s up to each one of us to work hard for them so we can enjoy life and enjoy every experience.” [translation]

In conclusion, I hope that you enjoy reading these self-help books just like I have. If you don’t like all of them, I hope that at least one speaks to you. However, it’s important to remember that they aren’t a substitute for professional help. They are simply one more resource to help you grow and flourish.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.