If you're new here, you should know that I'm a voracious reader. At the end of 2019 I set the lofty goal of reading 50 books in 2020 and, well, I read 50 books in the first five months of the year. Granted I very much have COVID to thank for that as "activities" were quite limited at that point in time but nevertheless reading is a huge part of my life and it always has been. Ever since I learned to read at the ripe, young age of four.
While I didn't necessarily love nor hate school growing up, I love that reading gives me an opportunity to continue learning even into my adulthood. I always want to be learning and growing into a better version of myself each and every day and what better way to do just that than by reading and more importantly putting into practice the things you read.
Which is a perfect segue into today's topic - the best self-help books I've read in 2020. I usually don't gravitate toward fiction but I will say I've entertained it quite a bit more this year. After a while, self-help books can feel redundant when you're powering through one after the other so I like to introduce fiction into the mix to change things up.
That being said, today is all about non-fiction "self-help" books. As I mentioned earlier, reading is a big learning tool for me and I find so much value in reading books from experts who have experienced first hand career setbacks, life challenges, etc. and how they were able to persevere through and what it taught them that they can in turn share with each of us.
In the title above you'll see that this is "Part 1." Well, that's because it's October and there's still two more months left in the year and plenty of time for additional books to make the cut - which I'm hoping they will! So check back in at the end of the year for Part 2!
(AlmostFabulousMe.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Please note, all the books you will see in this blog post are linked to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Let's dive in! Please note, these books are not listed in any particular order.
Summary: As a child, Sarah Robb O’Hagan dreamed she could be a champion. Her early efforts failed to reveal a natural superstar, but she refused to settle for average. Through dramatic successes and epic fails, she studied how extraordinary people in sports, entertainment and business set and achieve extremely personal goals. Sarah became an executive at Virgin Atlantic and Nike, and despite being fired twice in her twenties, she went on to become the global president of Gatorade and of Equinox—as well as a wife, mother, and endurance athlete.
In every challenging situation, personal or professional, individuals face the pressure to play it safe and conform to the accepted norms. But doing so comes with heavy costs: passions stifled, talents ignored, and opportunities squelched. The bolder choice is to embrace what Sarah calls Extreme You: to confidently bring all that is distinctive and relevant about yourself to everything you do.
Inspiring, surprising, and practical, Extreme You is her training program for becoming the best version of yourself.
"Success is understanding who you are, how you are naturally wired and what moves you. Know who you are. What do you LOVE to do every morning you wake up?"
"Grit = the passion for a goal combined with the motivation to achieve it. The point about grit is to find something you love and then do it."
"3 things motivate us effectively in the long run: autonomy, mastery and purpose. The chance to direct our own lives while getting better at something that serves others and ourselves."
"The pain of a failure becomes a personal trainer, pushing you to do better, to prove what you're really capable of. Pain training."
"Failure hurts but the worst thing isn't the pain, it's the fear."
Summary: When he set out to visit all of the planet’s countries by age thirty-five, compulsive goal-seeker Chris Guillebeau never imagined that his journey’s biggest revelation would be how many people like himself exist—each pursuing a challenging quest. These quests are as diverse as humanity itself, involving exploration, the pursuit of athletic or artistic excellence, or battling against injustice and poverty. Everywhere that Chris visited he found ordinary people working toward extraordinary goals, making daily down payments on their dreams. These “questers” included a suburban mom pursuing a wildly ambitious culinary project, a DJ producing the world’s largest symphony, a young widower completing the tasks his wife would never accomplish—and scores of others writing themselves into the record books.
The more Chris spoke with these strivers, the more he began to appreciate the direct link between questing and long-term happiness, and he was compelled to complete a comprehensive study of the phenomenon. In The Happiness of Pursuit, he draws on interviews with hundreds of questers, revealing their secret motivations, their selection criteria, the role played by friends and family, their tricks for solving logistics, and the importance of documentation. Equally fascinating is Chris’s examination of questing’s other side. What happens after the summit is climbed, the painting hung, the endurance record broken, the at-risk community saved?
A book that challenges each of us to take control—to make our lives be about something while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about the commitment—The Happiness of Pursuit will inspire readers of every age and aspiration. It’s a playbook for making your life count.
"Pay attention to the ideas that draw your interest, especially the ones you can't stop thinking about."
"It's so much more important to do what your heart's telling you."
"Discontent is the match and inspiration is the kindling."
"You deal with fear not by pretending it doesn't exist but by refusing to give it decision-making authority."
"Regret is what you should fear the most. If something's going to keep you awake at night, let it be the fear of not following your dream. Be afraid of settling."
Summary: By the time she was in her late twenties, Tara Schuster was a rising TV executive who had worked for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and helped launch Key & Peele to viral superstardom. By all appearances, she had mastered being a grown-up. But beneath that veneer of success, she was a chronically anxious, self-medicating mess. No one knew that her road to adulthood had been paved with depression, anxiety, and shame, owing in large part to her minimally parented upbringing. She realized she’d hit rock bottom when she drunk-dialed her therapist pleading for help.
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies is the story of Tara’s path to re-parenting herself and becoming a “ninja of self-love.” Through simple, daily rituals, Tara transformed her mind, body, and relationships, and shows how to
• fake gratitude until you actually feel gratitude
• excavate your emotional wounds and heal them with kindness
• identify your self-limiting beliefs, kick them to the curb, and start living a life you choose
• silence your inner frenemy and shield yourself from self-criticism
• carve out time each morning to start your day empowered, inspired, and ready to rule
• create a life you truly, totally f*cking LOVE
This is the book Tara wished someone had given her and it is the book many of us desperately need: a candid, hysterical, addictively readable, practical guide to growing up (no matter where you are in life) and learning to love yourself in a non-throw-up-in-your-mouth-it’s-so-cheesy way.
"Start where you are without worrying too much about how far you have to go."
"That which you do not deal with deals with you."
"Gratitude helps you see that you have a choice in what story you tell yourself."
"Busy doesn't mean important. Busy just means you are preoccupied. Busy isn't special. Why label yourself something so common?"
"When you expand what you think you are capable of, that's when you become truly capable."
Summary: After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.
In this edition, Dweck offers new insights into her now famous and broadly embraced concept. She introduces a phenomenon she calls false growth mindset and guides people toward adopting a deeper, truer growth mindset. She also expands the mindset concept beyond the individual, applying it to the cultures of groups and organizations. With the right mindset, you can motivate those you lead, teach, and love—to transform their lives and your own.
"Becoming is better than being."
"No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites the ability and turns it into accomplishment."
"What feeds the "gift" = constant, endless curiosity and challenge seeking."
"Mental toughness and the heart are a lot stronger than some physical advantages."
"Character is what allows you to reach the top and stay there."
Summary: Overwhelmed. Do you wake up in the morning already feeling behind? Does the pressure of keeping it all together make you feel anxious and irritable?
Tanya Dalton, CEO and productivity expert, offers you a liberating shift in perspective: feeling overwhelmed isn't the result of having too much to do -- it's from not knowing where to start.
Doing less might seem counterintuitive, but doing less is more productive, because you’re concentrating on the work you actually want to be doing. Through this book, you can learn how to:
Identify what is important to you and clarify your priorities.
Develop ways to streamline your specific workflow.
Discover your purpose.
Named Top 10 Business Book of the Year by Fortune magazine, The Joy of Missing Out is chock-full of resources and printables. This is a legitimate action plan for change. Once you reject the pressure to do more, something amazing happens: you discover you can finally live a guilt-free, abundant life.
"Overwhelm isn't having too much to do; it's not knowing where to start."
"We don't just find ourselves on a fulfilling, deeply satisfying path - we create it for ourselves."
"We can't gain more time but we can change our mindset or how we spend our time and where we focus our energy."
"Periods of rest aren't reward for great work but a requirement for great work to happen."
"Stop borrowing from today to make tomorrow great."
Summary: How did you feel after your last interaction with another person?
Did that person -- your spouse, best friend, coworker, or even a stranger -- "fill your bucket" by making you feel more positive? Or did that person "dip from your bucket," leaving you more negative than before?
The #1 New York Times and #1 BusinessWeek bestseller, How Full Is Your Bucket? reveals how even the briefest interactions affect your relationships, productivity, health, and longevity. Organized around a simple metaphor of a dipper and a bucket, and grounded in 50 years of research, this book will show you how to greatly increase the positive moments in your work and your life -- while reducing the negative.
Filled with discoveries, powerful strategies, and engaging stories, How Full Is Your Bucket? is sure to inspire lasting changes and has all the makings of a timeless classic.
"Whenever we choose to fill others' buckets, we in turn fill our own."
"According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the #1 reason people leave their jobs is because they don't feel appreciated."
"9 out of 10 people report being more productive around positive people."
"Positive emotions aren't trivial luxuries but instead may be critical necessities for optimal functioning."
"Understanding what we do best allows us to survive and grow in the face of adversity."
Summary: Our most commonly held formula for success is broken.
Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, who spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard University, draws on his own research—including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard and others at companies like UBS and KPMG - to fix this broken formula. Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work.
Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, he shows us how we can capitalize on the Happiness Advantage to improve our performance and maximize our potential.
"If we study what is average, we will remain merely average."
"What we spend our time and mental energy on can become our reality."
"Happiness is not the belief that we don't need to change; it's the realization that we can."
"The people who actively invest in their relationships are the heart and soul of a thriving organization, the force that drives their teams forward."
"When we make eye contact it sends a signal to the brain that triggers empathy and rapport."
Summary: People are using this simple, powerful concept to focus on what matters most in their personal and work lives. Companies are helping their employees be more productive with study groups, training, and coaching. Sales teams are boosting sales. Churches are conducting classes and recommending for their members.
By focusing their energy on one thing at a time people are living more rewarding lives by building their careers, strengthening their finances, losing weight and getting in shape, deepening their faith, and nurturing stronger marriages and personal relationships.
YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what's the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions--and lots of stress.
AND YOU WANT MORE. You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends.
NOW YOU CAN HAVE BOTH ― LESS AND MORE. In The ONE Thing, you'll learn to * cut through the clutter * achieve better results in less time * build momentum toward your goal* dial down the stress * overcome that overwhelmed feeling * revive your energy * stay on track * master what matters to you The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life--work, personal, family, and spiritual. WHAT'S YOUR ONE THING?
"Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus."
"When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal."
"Activity is often unrelated to productivity and busyness rarely takes care of business."
"People who achieve extraordinary results don't achieve them by working more hours, they achieve them by getting more done in the hours they work."
"When you see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable."
Summary: A memoir of betrayal and self-discovery by bestselling author Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are all born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.
Favorite Takeaways: (Please note, Love Warrior is technically a Memoir but the I found the information inside to be so valuable I had to include it in this list.)
Summary: This is how you find yourself.
There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.
For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.
Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.
Favorite Takeaways: (Similar to Love Warrior, I allowed myself to be immersed in this personal account by Glennon Doyle and did not take notes. That doesn't mean I didn't find the information to be valuable, however. Both books I would highly recommend and guarantee you will have your own valuable insights and takeaways.)
Summary: After graduating from college, Jen Gotch was living with her parents, heartbroken and lost, when she became convinced that her skin had turned green. Hallucinating that she looked like Shrek was terrifying, but it led to her first diagnosis and the start of a journey towards self-awareness, acceptance, success, and ultimately, joy.
With humor and candor, Gotch shares the empowering story of her unlikely path to becoming the creator and CCO of a multimillion-dollar brand. From her childhood in Florida where her early struggles with bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, and ADD were misdiagnosed, to her winding career path as a waitress, photographer, food stylist, and finally, accidental entrepreneur, she illuminates how embracing her flaws and understanding the influence of mental illness on her creativity actually led to her greatest successes in business and life.
Hilarious, hyper-relatable, and filled with fascinating insights and hard-won wisdom on everything from why it’s okay to cry at work to the myth of busyness and perfection to the emotional rating system she uses every day, Gotch’s inspirational memoir dares readers to live each day with hope, optimism, kindness, and humor.
"Admitting to being an active participant in your problems means you can also be an active participant in your solutions."
"Be better than great, less than perfect."
"What's perfect is so much less interesting than what's real."
Summary: In The Multi-Hyphen Life, award-winning British author-podcaster Emma Gannon explains that it doesn't matter if you're a part-time PA with a blog, or an accountant who runs an online store in the evenings—whatever your ratio, whatever your mixture, we can all channel our own entrepreneurial spirit to live more fulfilled and financially healthy lives.
Technology allows us to work wherever, whenever, and enables us to design our own working lives. Forget the outdated stigma of “jack of all trades, master of none,” because having many strings to your bow is essential to get ahead in the modern working world. We all have the skills necessary to work less and create more, and The Multi-Hyphen Life is the source of inspiration you need to help you navigate your way toward your own definition of success.
"In a job-dissolving world, self-worth replaces identity."
"Flexibility is about productivity. When someone's at the center of their own schedule, they get more done."
"It's harder to compare yourself with others when you're owning your own path, your own setup, you own hyphens."
"If you let other people open up and talk about themselves, you become memorable."
"A good personal brand means nothing if you don't have good relationships with people."
Summary: Lilly Singh isn’t just a superstar. She’s Superwoman—which is also the name of her wildly popular YouTube channel. Funny, smart, and insightful, the actress and comedian covers topics ranging from relationships to career choices to everyday annoyances. It’s no wonder she’s garnered more than a billion views. But Lilly didn’t get to the top by being lucky—she had to work for it. Hard.
Now Lilly wants to share the lessons she learned while taking the world by storm, and the tools she used to do it. How to Be a Bawse is the definitive guide to conquering life. Make no mistake, there are no shortcuts to success, personal or professional. World domination requires real effort, dedication, and determination. Just consider Lilly a personal trainer for your life—with fifty rules to get you in the game, including
• Let Go of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Temptation will try to steer you away from your goals. FOMO is just a test of your priorities, a test that a bawse is ready to pass.
• Be Nice to People: Treat niceness like an item on your daily to-do list. People will go out of their way to help and support you because you make them feel good.
• Schedule Inspiration: Lack of motivation isn’t permanent or a sign of weakness. Expect it and proactively schedule time to be creative.
• Be the Dumbest: Challenge yourself by surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do. It’s a vital way to learn and improve.
Told in Lilly’s hilarious, bold voice and packed with photos and candid stories from her journey to the top, How to Be a Bawse will make you love your life and yourself—even more than you love Beyoncé. (Yes, we said it!)
WARNING: This book does not include hopeful thoughts, lucky charms, or cute quotes. That’s because success, happiness, and everything else you want in life need to be worked for, not wished for. In Lilly’s world, there are no escalators, only stairs. Get ready to climb.
"If you can't control people, then control your reaction to them. If you can't control a situation, then prepare for it."
"On the path to success, fear and discomfort are only speed bumps. Don't make them dead ends."
"People always say if you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room."
"Who's dumber? The person who pretends to know everything or the person who doesn't and asks questions?"
"Promote what you love don't bash what you hate."
Summary: In dramatic narrative form, Phil Keoghan transports the reader from the Yucatan Jungle to the depths of an underwater cave to the top of an erupting volcano. But this is no armchair traveler book. It is an urgent call to action, inspiring and enabling people to overcome fear and seek out memorable experiences of their own. With his fresh and compelling N.O.W. philosophy, No Opportunity Wasted will help us all dream more freely and live more fully.
"The more you experience in life, the more inner resources you have to draw from when you're at the office."
"Too many people think living vicariously is the same as living imaginatively."
"If your passion is strong, it will give you the strength to make a solid go in a tough situation."