The 6 Self-Help Books That Changed My Life
Radhika Sanghani Recommends Uplifting Reads
My latest novel, 30 Things I Love About Myself, is an uplifting comedy all about Nina Mistry, a young woman whose life is falling apart—to the point where she’s spending her 30th birthday in lockup—and she has no idea how to fix it. Until a self-help book literally falls into her police cell and sets her on a journey to fall in love… with herself.
It’s loosely inspired by my own self-love journey in recent years—a journey I only went on because, like Nina, a self-help book told me to. Since that moment, self-help books have played a huge part in my life and have always magically appeared just when I need them the most. So, in honor of all the wisdom they’ve shared with me, here’s a list of my top 6.
Lodro Rinzler and Meggan Watterson, How To Love Yourself (And Sometimes Other People) (Hay House)
This book is the one that sparked my self-love journey. I’d just broken up with the man I thought I’d marry and was heartbroken. When we met up a few months later to swap our stuff back, he gave me this book. He thought it was mine. It wasn’t. It turned out it belonged to one of his flatmates who’d gone back to New Zealand, so I kept it. And I’m so glad I did. Because this book—which features Christian and Buddhist spiritual advice—helped me learn to give myself the approval, validation, and joy I was so desperately seeking in others. I still turn to it every time I need a boost of self-love, and it’s even inspired me to practice Buddhist meditations.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic (Riverhead)
This is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It’s all about creativity. It was recommended to me endlessly for a few years when I had writer’s block, but I refused to read it. Only when I was ready to face my fears and write again did I finally read this book. I think I knew it would be the key to make me write again, and it was. Elizabeth’s practical straight-up advice forced me to quit my whining and embrace my creativity. I re-read it every time I feel the familiar old fears trying to stop me from writing.
Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection (Hazelden Publishing & Educational Services)
I’ve read most of Brené Brown’s books, but this is my favorite because it’s all about embracing yourself as you are—flaws and all. It’s written so compassionately that you can’t help but practice that same compassion with yourself, and Brené’s honesty creates real connection. The biggest message I gained from it was all about living a wholehearted life, which means showing up as you are and being proud of how hard you’re trying.
Rhonda Byrne, The Secret (Atria Books)
This is the first spiritual book I ever read, aged 22 on a beach in Barcelona, purely because I found the Spanish version in my flatmate’s room and it looked easy to read. It was—and it was also a lot of fun. It’s all about the power of positive thoughts and the law of attraction. I didn’t really believe in it, but I decided to test it out by attracting a hot South African model on the beach. I somehow manifested him coming over to ask me out on a date, and since then I’ve always believed in the law of attraction.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart (Shambhala)
This book is written by an American woman who became a Buddhist nun. I bought it in Audible after a recent breakup that turned my life apart. It helped me in a way I never could have foreseen. I’ve probably listened to it 20 times now, and each time, I gain a new level of insight into Buddhism. I love the messages about accepting uncertainty, embracing our lack of control, and seeing the beauty in the messiness of life.
Glennon Doyle, Untamed (Dial Press)
I love the central message of this book—that our patriarchal society has tried to force women to be a certain way and now it’s time for us all to fight back and unleash our inner wild savages. Or something like that. Glennon shares her own journey to connect with her inner power, and it really inspired me to stop caring so much about what people think, and fully embrace myself as I am.
Radhika Sanghani’s 30 Things I Love About Myself is out now from Berkley Books.