10 (alternative) self-help books


#1 For those struggling to balance work life and home life… Coming Up For Air: How to Build a Balanced Life in a Workaholic World by Beth Sawi. Formerly a self-confessed workaholic and now Executive Vice President for a financial giant, Sawi shares her strategies for getting the most out of work and home life. She helps you to identify what’s important to you, asks whose rules make you work so much anyway and gives you some pointers on where to find the time you need. For example, setting and sticking to a departure hour. Says Sawi: “On a typical weekday, you spend many hours at work and only a few waking hours at home. If you lengthen your work day by an hour or two, you are increasing it by 10% to 12%. On the other hand, you are decreasing the scarce evening hours you spend at home by 30% to 50%.” Scary stuff when you put it like that.

#2 For the financially unprepared… Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money by Barbara Stanny. Guys, don’t let the title put you off. This is a great starting point for anyone who knows they should be doing more to prepare themselves for the future financially, but hasn’t a clue where to begin or who to ask. Written before the onset of the credit crunch but updated thereafter, the book takes you through seven practical steps for taking charge of your finances and getting money smart. It also debunks some popular myths such as you need a lot of money to begin. You don’t, says Stanny, and she shows you why. Interested? You may also like: Secrets of Six-Figure Women, by Barbara Stanny.

#3 For those experiencing communication meltdown with their other half… What Men Say, What Women Hear by Dr Linda Papadopoulos. Dating, moving in together, married, new parents, infidelity, separating, divorced  this book takes you through a whole gambit of situations where communication between men and women can fall into troubled waters, helps demonstrate why and advises on how to communicate more effectively. And if, after all that, your best efforts still fail? See #4.

#4 For the broken-hearted… It’s Called a Break Up Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt & Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. Now, I appreciate that anyone happily married or coupled up since the year dot may scoff. As one of my best (married) friends once asked: ‘How can there be enough to fill a whole book about it?’ Very easily, actually. And for all those of us who haven’t been able to make a key relationship work, this book is a godsend thanks to its been-there-understand-it’s-hell tone of voice, humour and tell-it-like-it-is straight talking. (Chapter headers include ‘If you mention his name one more time’, ‘If he was so great you’d still be together’ and ‘Get your ass in motion every day.’) Interested? You may also like: He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

#5 For sugar addicts and carb cravers… Beyond Sugar Shock: The 6-Week Plan to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction by Connie Bennett. If ever you needed that final push to cut down on sugary treats and drinks, or become more vigilant about reducing the hidden sugars that lurk in many everyday foods, this should do it. Okay so some of the affirmations might feel a bit too… uhm… ‘affirmation-y’ (for Brits, anyway)… but the facts are pretty hard-hitting. Facts such as sugar is now thought to be linked to over 150 serious health problems. Amongst them, heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney failure, fatigue, osteoporosis, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, migraines, emphysema, kidney disease and memory loss. The list goes on and on. Interested? You may also like #8.

#6 For anyone wanting to live life to the full… Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one and are determined to make the most of the time you yourself have left. Or maybe you’ve simply hit an age where you realise how quickly time flies and how precious life really is. Whatever your motivation, Life Lessons covers 14 learnings for living life to the full. Based on real-life accounts from the dying, their loved ones and their families, it shares their thoughts and experiences of what they would have done differently given their time again or what they are doing differently. Such a clever idea and a much more inspiring and uplifting read than you might imagine. As Kübler-Ross says in her opening message, Life Lessons is a book “not on death and dying but on life and living.”

#7 For business types wanting to achieve more in less time… The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. I can’t promise this book will help you achieve its cover claim of escaping the 9 to 5. (Hell, how many of us only work 9 to 5 anyway?) But it does offer some great advice on how to achieve more in less time. ‘Doubters Read This’, Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal’, ‘The low-information Diet’  different chapters will appeal to different people facing different challenges, both at work and in life. Even if you only take away with you a handful of the many practical tips, it makes for a worthwhile read. And a pretty inspiring rags-to-riches story into the bargain.

#8 For those interested in getting to the root of illness… Meals That Heal Inflammation and Eliminate Pain by Julie Daniluk RHN. To quote the book cover directly: “Did you know that virtually every health condition from asthma to irritable bowel syndrome is linked to inflammation? When inflammation gets out of control, the result is pain and discomfort  and it’s a phenomenon that’s on the rise…. Julie Daniluk shows you how to conquer these health conditions with foods that will make you feel fantastic.” Quick fact. If the doctor’s diagnosis ends in ‘itis’  arthritis, colitis, dermatitis, cystitis, to name just a few  then inflammation is involved. So says the book.

#9 For the I-can’t-cook-types… Jamie’s Dinners, by Jamie Oliver. To be honest, pretty much any book from the Jamie Oliver range would do but this one’s my top tip for less confident cooks. From the ‘Best Sausage and Super Mash with Onion Gravy’ and ‘Ultimate Burger and Chips’ (chunky, no less), to ‘Banana and Blueberry French Toast’ and ‘Stewed Fruit Crumble’, don’t expect to lose any weight but do expect dishes to turn out as they’re supposed to. Heck, Mr Oliver even has me cooking ‘Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Potatoes’ with confidence. The boy deserves a medal.

#10 For those who just want to be happy… The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Don’t we all. But respected author, mother and wife Gretchin Rubin was so keen to squeeze more happiness out of life that she dedicated one whole year of her life to studying, writing and blogging about the subject. The result is The Happiness Project in which Rubin shares her experience month-by-month: what she tried, what helped, what didn’t and what she learned along the way. The best bit of all? The very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

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© Lesley Dougall Copywriting Limited and 10thingsby.com, 2013. Unauthorised reproduction of content is not permitted. To request permission, contact copywriter@lesleydougall.com

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