While we often think of self-help as the primary “life-changing” section of the bookstore, that’s really only the beginning.
Many books that fall outside of the traditional self-help genre pack the same metaphorical punch — and can have a profound impact on your life. Indeed, the science makes it pretty clear that reading can make us better humans. But it goes beyond that. Some books simply hit us at the exact right time. They make us see the world differently, help us tackle a challenge at hand, inspire us to think more critically, or provide hope when we’re feeling low.
If you’re ready for transformation, inspiration, or introspection — but you’ve had your fill of traditional self-help books — read on for seven great titles to try next.
One of the absolute classic texts of the last century, Robert M. Pirsig delves into philosophy, identity, science, and religion — all while taking us on a father-and-son summer motorcycle trip — in this fictionalized autobiography. If you want to investigate what it means to live and how to live better, if you want to ponder the deeper questions of life, this is worth a read.
In this remarkable magical realism book, life coach and author Martha Beck weaves an unforgettable story that will rearrange how you think about yourself and the world around you. This is not a subtle allegory where you need to dig for deeper meaning; rather, the book’s clear messaging encourages you to walk step-by-step alongside Beck’s protagonist, Diana, on her journey to self-acceptance and awakening.
Atwood’s genius shines in The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel that explores a world with declining birth rates in which the government takes the Book of Genesis at its word. This book not only shines a spotlight on women’s rights and reproductive rights, but also paints a frightening picture of how the world might change should oppression and injustice get the upper hand.
Many women have false beliefs about what they need to do to succeed. But in this evidence-based, actionable guide, Galbraith breaks down how women can find success, empowerment, and connection — all while creating a better world for other women and girls. This book goes beyond self-help; rather than limiting its impact to the reader alone, it inspires a ripple effect of powerful positive change.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, you likely write on a near-daily basis. (Yes, texts, emails, and social media captions all count.) In our increasingly interconnected world, being able to write clearly and effectively, no matter the medium, is an essential skill. Zinsser provides practical advice that helps you hone your writing and communication abilities. This, in turn, helps you strengthen your personal and professional relationships.
In this masterpiece of utopian satire, Huxley writes of a world where humans are bred into their stations and numbed with entertainment and drugs so as not to risk any disruption to the ruling order. But it poses the question: What is the price of this “peace”? Freedom? The human spirit? Our individuality? Despite being written in the 1930s, this novel still resonates today and will have you re-examining the human condition and the trappings of modern society.
Ready to shake up your mindset and get a new perspective? This book by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari has you covered. A renowned historian, Harari explores the history of humanity and human cognition, and explains how humans have shaped the world up to this moment and will continue to shape it into the future. Covering topics like capitalism, agriculture, and religion, Sapiens shows you the world through a fresh, thought-provoking lens.
About the Author: Kelsey Fritts
Kelsey is a writer, editor, anthropologist, and bookworm. She's also the author of two young adult fantasy novels. When she's not out exploring in nature or playing with her ridiculously spoiled dog, you can find Kelsey curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a novel—likely one by Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin.