Nonfiction November: Self-Improvement… Ask the Expert

This week’s Nonfiction November topic is brought to us by my talented friend Julie of JulzReads. (Hey, Julz!)

And here we have it…

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert
Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Last year I posted about self-improvement books, and guess what?

This year: more self-improvement!


Only this year, I’m asking the experts. (That’s you-all!)

Now that my life is a much happier thing overall, and now that I have some additional margin due to that much shorter commute, I find myself stretching in some new ways.

Here’s the thing: I’ve got the time management and efficiency pieces pretty much under control. I’ve upped my decluttering game.

And this can only mean one thing… we’re getting into serious Brene Brown be-brave territory. And also some facing of the Enneagram dark side issues.

We’re talking: becoming a better human.

So here’s my question to all of you good people:

What book made you a better person?

I’m looking for some books that’ll take me into the tough territory of really looking at the areas that have been neglected in favor of the easier tasks of getting more done in an efficient way. I’m talking: addressing one’s full humanity. It’s gettin’ real around here.

30 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Self-Improvement… Ask the Expert

  1. I worked at an imprint partially specializing in self-help over the summer, so I’m familiar with the genre. You might enjoy Heather Havrilesky’s How to Be a Person in the World or What If This Were Enough?, her more recent self-help essay collection.

  2. Kelly @ STACKED

    Brene Brown is always my go-to for these because her books really have changed my life. But you’ve got her down and ready to go, so a couple more from my collection of what I call “boldness, bravery, and authenticity” titles: BORED AND BRILLIANT by Manoush Zomorodi. Maybe a little more on the time/energy management side of things, but so much of that is about being a better and more present human. TEXTBOOK AMY KRAUS ROSENTHAL by Amy Kraus Rosenthal isn’t especially a self-help book, but her energy and magic and passion for doing good in the world are infectious and make you want to be a better person (same with her other title ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AN ORDINARY LIFE).

    • Kelly — Thanks for the great suggestions! I listen to Manoush Zomorodi’s podcast and am intrigued by her approach to device use. I’m even more intrigued to hear you characterize her book as belonging on the “boldness, bravery, and authenticity” shelf — that’s what I’m looking for here. And the Amy Kraus Rosenthal book sounds completely fascinating. I’m looking forward to reading both!

  3. Oh wow, tough question! It may be because I work in medicine, but I think Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Nutik Zitter has made me a better person. I know more about all the different forms death can take, not just the interesting ones shown in forensic pathologist memoirs, and can be a better advocate for my loved ones and myself if they find themselves facing a death they don’t want. I hope all your answers aren’t quite this heavy! ?

  4. Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things is an amazing, courageous, compassionate place to start. If you don’t mind the f-bomb, Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a is a fun, easy way to get some Buddhism 101 into your life.

    Many years ago I read Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation by Surya Das which had a huge impact on me at the time, after the sudden death of a friend & helped me to move towards making big changes in my life.

    Good luck!

  5. Love Brene Brown. Gifts of Imperfection really helped me see what shame was doing to me in my life. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman helped me think about happiness in a very different way based on my who I am. I loved it.

  6. Great choice of topic. I think that self-help books are ‘right’ at very specific times of our lives – something that speaks to you one month could mean nothing the next. That said, I have a few favourites – I got so much out of Rubin’s The Happiness Project (which I can see in your photo). In fact, I started blogging because of that book and I can genuinely say that I have made more of an effort to find work/life balance since reading it.

    I also think that Brene Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection is great (but again, I can see that you’re already a Brown fan).

    Lastly, it’s not for everyone but in the spirit of Happiness Project and sorting out what’s important, Mark Manson’s slightly tongue-in-cheek The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck actually has some useful info!

    • Kate — I made some changes due to The Happiness Project, too — and my life is a better thing because of it. Thanks for the suggestion of the Mark Manson book — I’ll check it out!

  7. MaryR

    The biography of Eleanor Roosevelt (the volumes by Blanche Wiesen Cook) inspired me to try to be a better person. Her example is amazing–she had a lot to deal with yet she lived her life looking for how she could make the world better and standing up for those who needed a voice.

  8. Ah, I don’t read too many self improvement books – so no recommendations from me, sorry! However, I think it is incredibly great & brave to me working on yourself and I wish you with nothing but more success on this journey of yours; it sounds like you’re doing amazingly!

  9. Hmm, not an area I read much about, but when I read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Cmd Chris Hadfield, I was so impressed with him and his life and inspired by all that he had accomplished.
    March by John Lewis, the graphic novel series is also inspiring.

  10. What a tough question! I like reading self-help, but must confess that I can’t remember really changing my life in response to any of the self-help books I’ve read. The only exception is that The Happiness Project got me started blogging, which is huge, but probably doesn’t make it a helpful book to recommend to someone who’s already blogging 🙂

  11. Pingback: Nonfiction November: New to My TBR |

  12. I think maybe you’ll enjoy The 12 Brain Rules, it’s an approach to making our lives better through understanding how our brain works. I found it very interesting! Lately I´m going through a phase of learning about the brain and mind and this one was very recommended.

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