Penguin (my beloved company) recently asked me to contribute to the “Staff Picks” feature on the company blog. This is a monthly series that (if you haven’t guessed based on the title) asks various Penguin employees to select their favorite reads within a specific category. There’s “Mystery and Suspense,” “Classics,” “Paranormal,” and “Young Readers,” among others.
I was asked to recommend some Health and Self-Improvement titles, which is great because, not only do I edit a fair amount of self-help books, but I also love them with a deep, fiery passion. Also, they’re kind of hot right now. Have you noticed that, instead of writing tell-alls these days, celebrities often opt for self-help guides disguised (thinly) as memoirs? See: I’m Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, Dream More by Dolly Parton, etc.
Of course, this being a company blog, I limited my selections to Penguin books, which was not hard to do because we are a giant company and we publish a lot of great self-help books. We're the home of Eckhart Tolle, Ken Robinson, Kelly McGonigal, and a whole bunch of others, but I had to stop somewhere, so I hope these will suffice for now. Below are the five I chose. Enjoy!
168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
I edited this book when I was still new to my career and had no clue how to manage my time. In fact, I had succumbed to the notion that time managed me. Laura changed all of that. This is not a book about how to make a to-do list or filter your inbox. Laura argues that, while we all say we “don’t have enough time,” we have exactly the same amount of hours—168 in a week—as anyone else. So how do some people manage to work full time, raise a family, run marathons and take up pottery while the rest of us feel like we’re constantly playing catch up? According to Laura, the first step to making the most of our hours is to look at exactly how we spend them. When we do, we realize that we waste a lot of time doing things that don’t improve our lives and are then empowered to focus on what really matters. If you don’t want to read a 270+ page book because, well, you’re pressed for time, I suggest Laura’s especial What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
How to Be Richer, Smarter and Better Looking than Your Parents by Zac Bissonnette
This is another book I worked on, so perhaps I’m a little biased, but I truly believe every twenty-something should read it. It’s a guide for young people—those who are financially independent for the first time—on how to create financial habits that will set them on the path to lifelong prosperity. This is not a book about how to make a million dollars overnight, nor is it full of complicated investment advice. Zac argues that if you commit to good money habits—saving for retirement, paying off debt—while you’re young, you’ll set yourself on the path to lifelong prosperity. He also unpacks what wealth really means—that the people who have the biggest homes and fanciest cars are often up to their eyeballs in debt—and that real wealth is about security and not having to worry about money because you’ve been smart about it your whole life. But Zac isn’t preachy. He fills the book with references to pop culture and uses Teresa Giudice and Lenny Dykstra, among others, as cautionary tales. After editing this book, I immediately upped my contribution to my 401(k).
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
As soon as you look at Sophia, you want to be her. She’s gorgeous, poised, and hella cool. And then you learn that she built her $100-million-dollar online clothing retailer, Nasty Gal, from scratch without a college education all before the age of 30, and your head explodes. She is, in short, an inspiration, but a sassy one. #GIRLBOSS is about being awesome and not apologizing for it. It’s about finding success on your own terms, even if you’re unconventional, awkward, or have stumbled along the way (Sophia, for example, spent a good chunk of her early adulthood dumpster diving and shoplifting to get by). The book became an instant classic when it was published earlier this year, and it’s no wonder. Sophia is Jackie O meets Jack Welch. What’s not to love?
I Don’t Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated by Julie Klausner
On its face, this is a book of dating stories, but it’s so much more than that. I wish I’d had this book when I was 22 and first moved to NYC because I could have saved myself some of the drama—and trauma—that defined my dating life for the better part of a decade. Reading Klausner’s hilarious and horrifying tales of the man-children she’s encountered in her quest for true—or just functional—love is like listening to your bawdy best friend counsel and commiserate with you on what you should and should not tolerate from men (or women, or anyone, really). Read it with a bottle of wine.
Julia Child: A Life by Laura Shapiro
Not a self-help book per se, but everyone can take a lesson from Julia Child. She was not only wildly successful but extraordinarily kind, level-headed, and full of joie de vivre. Plus, she and her husband, Paul, were deeply in love. This book made me smile, literally. I was so delighted while reading it that I couldn’t help myself. If more people lived like Julia, we’d be happier, healthier, and definitely better fed.
Originally published at http://www.penguinusablog.com/health-self-improvement-brooke-carey/