Nonfiction November, Week 3: Be the Expert/Ask the Expert

(Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash)

This week Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness brings us Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert!

Here’s our topic: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 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).


Self-improvement books make me very, very happy.

When I look back on the ones that have made me the happiest, these books wing their way to the top of the list. These five authors are my gurus.

Starting with the most sweeping and challenging…


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown   

Probably Brene Brown needs no introduction. But if her work is new to you, the quickest way I can sum it up is:

Warm. Honest. Challenging. Hopeful.


The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin  

While I’ve never officially done a happiness project, I’ve definitely been a lifelong dabbler in the science. Rubin, who now has an entertaining podcast along with her sister, breaks happiness down for us here, and she does it by making herself the experiment. It’s informative, it’s fun to read, and it’s inspiring.


Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

The latest self-improvement Big Impact book I’ve read, Deep Work asks us to slow down and go deep. And as a multi-tasking whirlwind (actually, I’m hooked on stacking and nesting tasks, cuz we all know multi-tasking doesn’t work), I resisted this concept like my stubborn toddler self used to dig in her heels. (People who know me now find this unfathomable, but this is the way I was.) But once I gave it a try, I was on board. And now I’m one of those annoying converts who can’t stop proselytizing. This stuff works.


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Ever since I read Getting Things Done the second time (about 2 years ago), I’ve been following this system, and I don’t know how I lived without it. It’s made me both more organized and less stressed. That subtitle don’t lie, my friends.


Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley 

Narrow the focus to writing, and this book is my hands-down favorite. Handley is encouraging and she’s wise and she makes me want to be a better writer. And she makes me want to actually sit down and write. (Sometimes that’s half the battle. Am I wrong?)


So, good people of the Interwebs… What self-improvement book changed your life? 

26 thoughts on “Nonfiction November, Week 3: Be the Expert/Ask the Expert

  1. Brene Brown is fantastic 🙂

    I’m not one for self-help books HOWEVER The Happiness Project was life-changing for me. It’s the reason I started blogging (to get my ‘fun back’). I only read the book once and there are sections that stick in my mind. I have occasionally gone back to read over certain bits, only to find them less significant than I remembered – it’s funny how we attach to certain things at a particular time in life, like we ‘know’ what’s good for us.

  2. The Tightwad Gazette made me see how saving could be a game, a challenge. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up helped me unload tons of stuff for my international move three years ago.

    • Bybee — two of my favorites! I went through two serious Tightwad Gazette phases. Probably I’m due for a third. But I’m currently too busy KonMari-ing my entire existence. (Oh so happily!)

  3. So many good books here! Deep Work has been on my list forever. Love GTD and The Happiness Project. Brene Brown is one of my reading holes. And I’ve never heard of Everybody Writes but it sounds amazing. Thanks for joining us this week for Nonfiction November!

    • Hi, Kim! Oooo — Everybody Writes is a great fit for your new job. Though seriously, you’ve been doing this content creation thing at the pro level for years now. You may not need it. But I adore Ann Handley’s approach to writing.

  4. I don’t read a lot of these books but I probably should. Especially ones on productivity! I’m always complaining about not enough time but perhaps I just need to be a bit more organized! ha. One book I do love and recommend often is The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama. I read it years ago and it just really spoke to me about what it means to be happy and how to achieve that even when life is anything but happy.

  5. I’ve been meaning to read Gretchen Rubin’s book for a long time now. I’ve heard such good things about it! My favourite self-improvement book I read last year was Michael Strahan’s Wake Up Happy. I just love books that make me feel good about myself!

  6. Oh, man…I’m obsessed with Brene Brown; I have read all of her books (or listened to them) and I love them all. I am currently reading The Happiness Project, but just in small chunks; I love her writing and look forward to more. Thanks for sharing these!

    • Running ‘n’ Reading — I so agree about Brene Brown. Smart way to read The Happiness Project — that way, you can absorb the ideas before moving on to the next concept.

  7. Great post! I’m not a big self-help reader, but even though I wasn’t wild about the book, The Life-Changing Magic of of Tidying Up really helped me get a handle on clutter and motivated me to finally clean out my closet.

  8. Lakeside Musing — It seriously reduced my clutter, too. And now I keep looking around and finding things I can’t believe I kept — and out they go. It’s kind of wonderful.

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  10. LOVE David Allen and GTD! I’m not always great about sticking with it and I can tell when I don’t. I’ve read GTD (and his other books) several times. I’m going to check out some of the others on your list, too.

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