Best Books for Self Care

Reading: Best Books for Self Care

Book Lists

Best Books for Self Care

From a hilarious collection of essays from a reformed “people pleaser” to a book on breathing, this is our list of self care books to indulge in right now

By Robin Kall

In any given month of the year, but especially during May when it’s mental health awareness month, we’re all about self care, and we’re trying to carve out extra space for ourselves right now. And since the very act of reading is much needed “me time” and a healthy dose of self care, we rounded up some fascinating books to read right now, many authored by experts and doctors. Here are six selections that might motivate you to think about yourself a bit more. 

I’ve Tried Being Nice: Essays ($28, by Ann Leary) 

self care booksBeing “nice” is overrated. What does it even mean? This collection of essays offers a humorous yet candid reflection on navigating life’s ups and downs, and the lessons learned. From battling home invasions by bats to grappling with online personality tests, Leary’s witty storytelling captures the chaos of everyday life. She shares amusing anecdotes about red carpet mishaps and ballroom dance lessons with her husband (yes, that Denis Leary), juxtaposed with poignant moments discussing alcoholism, family love, and her fondness for dogs. Readers can expect to laugh, cry, cringe, and ultimately revel in the relatable chaos of Leary’s lived experiences, making this book a delightful journey through the highs and lows of existence. The overall lesson? Life is easier when you stop trying to be a people pleaser.

When You Care: The Unexpected Magic of Caring for Others
($30, by Elissa Strauss)

self care booksIn this book, which advocates valuing dependency, Strauss explores how embracing caregiving as a meaningful and fulfilling role (rather than a burden) can highlight its depth and beauty. The book illustrates the transformative power of caregiving with a goal of shaping individuals psychologically and spiritually. It calls for a cultural redefining of productivity and fulfillment to include caregiving — including care for ourselves. One theme that really resonated with me: balancing independence with allowing oneself to be cared for. Caregiving isn’t for everyone; but for those who do find themselves in this space, rethinking and reframing the role of caring for others can aid in some much-needed self care and self appreciation too.

It’s Not Hysteria: Everything You Need to Know About
Your Reproductive Health
(But Were Never Told)
($30, by Karen Tang, MD, MPH)

self care books Raise your hand if you’ve ever been told to “calm down,” “relax,” or that something is “no big deal and all in your head” … yep, thought so. This book, my friends, is for you. Dr. Karen Tang’s must-read is a vital resource which covers reproductive health topics like period problems, pelvic pain, menopause, fertility, and more — issues that upward of 90 percent of women are facing and yet are far too often misunderstood or dismissed. This book offers insights and tools like symptom prompts to empower readers in their gynecologic health. With reproductive health care challenges ever-increasing from recent upheaval of laws regarding abortion rights and gender-affirming care, Tang’s book advocates for better understanding and support for women and AFAB individuals. With knowledge comes power. And the power to advocate for and take care of ourselves is paramount. 

Practical Optimism: The Art, Science, and Practice of Exceptional Well-Being
($29, by Sue Varma, MD)

self care booksAre some of us born with a “sunny” disposition? Dr. Sue Varma, the first medical director at the World Trade Center Mental Health Program, has crafted a pragmatic blueprint rooted in optimism for navigating life’s complexities with joy. Her journey, steeped in real-world resilience post-9/11, unveils a roadmap to thrive amid adversity. Delving into psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience, Dr. Varma digs into the transformative power of Practical Optimism, emphasis on “practical” (meaning, with a healthy dose of realism). In other words, this isn’t just wishful thinking; it’s meant to be a skill set honed through deliberate practice. Through self-assessment tools and exercises, her program promises not only happiness but also robust health, resilience, and lasting fulfillment. I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s something I am trying to carve out the space to do.

It’s Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People
($29, by Ramani Durvasula, PhD)

self care booksWho hasn’t had to traipse treacherous terrain with an eternal narcissist in their life? (Personally or <cough> politically.) Navigating narcissistic relationships can feel like being lost in a house of mirrors. Dr. Durvasula’s insights in It’s Not You shines a light on this intricate dynamic, driving home the point that their actions aren’t necessarily a reflection of yours. Though oftentimes quite charming, narcissists thrive on manipulation and invalidation. Dr. Durvasula decodes narcissistic behavior and offers a guide with practical steps toward healing. She empowers readers to know how to spot gaslighting, break trauma bonds, set healthy boundaries, and rediscover self-worth. This gem encourages self-compassion, letting go of self-blame, and embracing personal growth. 

Breathe. Write. Breathe.: 18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your
Writing and Free Your Voice
($19, by Lisa Tener)

Tener bookIt’s amazing what breathing can do for the soul. From over two decades of coaching writers and authors, Tener shares insights on conquering self-doubt, silencing the inner critic, and nurturing the inner muse. For those out there who are working on a second act as a published author, she gives simple breathing techniques to overcome writer’s block, secrets to effective revision, and methods to tap into your subconscious for inspiration. But you don’t have to be a writer, per se, to enjoy this book and learn a thing or two. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or seasoned author — or just need to start some healthy self care practices like jotting in a journal every day — this debut (coming out in June!) promises a rich conversation on unlocking your creativity, and remembering to breathe…

Robin Kall is a literary influencer who over the past two decades has built a devoted and passionate following. In addition to her radio talk show, Robin has hosted countless “can’t miss” author events including “Summer With Robin” and “Evening With Authors.” She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and their corgi, Benny. Follow Robin on X @robinkall, Instagram, or Facebook. Read more book lists by Robin.

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