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Book Club Blog

Starting the Year Off Right: 5 Completely Tolerable Self-Help Books

Every January it seems the time to resolve away some self-improvement. With the turn of the calendar page, I try to reinvest in myself, challenging myself to do better in the new year, and pushing myself to make those habits stick (side note: that’s how you end up sick less than two weeks into the new year – learn from my mistakes – pace thy self).

Whether you’re working to to better manage your money, establish a new habit, get ahead at work, or learn something new about communication – the five books we’ve rounded up here will take you there.

And because we are dedicated readers, we also know that these are books that aren’t going to make you gag (or fall asleep) along the way.

If you’re wanting a little inspiration to go up against the man at work, Mika Brzezinski’s Knowing Your Value is the right one for you. This book is seriously geared toward women – with a particular focus on the wage gap, knowing your personal worth, and a lot of the traps women find themselves stuck in when negotiating for pay, benefits, or setting limits at work. I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked this book up, but it’s an honest and poignant take on a serious issue facing the workplace. Worth a read, regardless of gender.

I think that I should just make it a future resolution to read The Power of Habit at the beginning of every year from now until I’m satisfied with my life (read: forever). As a bit of a part-time science nerd, I devoured Duhigg’s display of the science behind habits and emerging research on willpower, how habit form and why they persist. Get ready to learn some tricksy things your brain is doing without you knowing it – and learn how to co-opt that system to change the habits that are slowing you down, or form new habits (like learning how to get off your duff and go to the gym once and a while – my forever resolution).

As a self-proclaimed introvert, I demand that everyone sit down for a bit and read Quiet. There is nothing like a little self-affirmation from a fellow introvert, and Susan Cain delivers – proclaiming how the educational and corporate systems are designed to favor extroverts (think of all those group exercises), and sharing how introverts can survive and thrive in a world that doesn’t seem hospitable at first glance. Cain also has a good message for extroverts on how to value and invest in introverts around you – great lessons to learn in the new year. If you would prefer the cliff notes version, check out Cain’s TED Talk.

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office was the one book I recommended to my little sister when she finished college and got her first big-girl job. While the title is a bit callus (and inaccurate and off-putting), the messages inside are really important about how corporate culture works, and some of the habits that can hold us back (again, regardless of gender). It may make you a mad, but it’ll also make you a little self-aware – a skill that pretty much anyone can build.

Your Money: The Missing Manual is a book I picked up a few years back. I stumbled across this after reading way too many posts from Roth’s blog – Get Rich Slowly. The site has since been sold to a company, and is no longer managed by Roth, but the messages on personal finance and money management are really simple, manageable and to-the-point. Now, if you don’t want to go the book-buying route on money magic, you could always read some of the GRS posts to get the core basics on savings, budgeting and investing. Everything you need to get your new year/new budget off on the right track!

Any other recommendations for what we should be reading to start the new year right?

Special side note: This post was inspired by my amazing friend Sarah, who saw my note about minimalism being a December favorite, and recommended the much-buzzed-about book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. While I haven’t read Kondo’s work yet, I have definitely heard of this one – it’s all everyone was reading the fall, and it’s certainly the inspiration behind my recent bout of decluttering. The core message is that your possessions should ‘spark joy’ in you, a message that’s great for clothes and confusing for batteries.