Non-self-help books that help

Catherine Coles
Coles Notes

I don’t generally read a lot of self-help, but I do read a lot of non-fiction titles that just so happen to have lessons that can be applied to everyday life. The following are some books that are not technically self-help (except for one!) but will be helpful to the reader nonetheless!

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Everyday Things to Create Happiness is all about the aesthetics of happiness. It’s fascinating! From colour theory to “architecture as medicine” to feng shui, this books covers all of the culturally significant and scientifically explored ways humans have tried to improve their lives using their surroundings.

There are certain visual stimuli that bring people joy no matter their culture or demographic. You can use bits and pieces of this knowledge to improve your own surroundings and, therefore, your state of mind. Things like buying cut flowers, travelling to unusual/stimulating destinations, and incorporating bright colours into your home design (or even your food!), can apparently go a long way to keeping you sharp.

Now My Heart is Full, a memoir by Laura June, is about the author’s experience as a new mother and how, at every turn, her approach to motherhood has been influenced by her relationship with her own late mother. June’s mother was a long-time alcoholic who died quite suddenly of liver disease in her 50s. They had a fraught relationship, one that was close to non-existent at times, but the birth of her daughter Zelda offered June an opportunity to reflect and reevaluate. Lovely prose here and, while the premise sounds like a bit of a downer, it really isn’t! It’s melancholy, yes, but also…peaceful? Some readers might find it tedious to read about the minutiae of baby-rearing (there is a lot of discussion re sleep training, for example) but I think that there is also a lot of information here that new moms would find to be of enormous value.

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy won’t be for everyone but if you are active on social media – or are even just interested in how big-time social media moguls make it work behind the scenes – you’ll find lots of valuable takeaways here.

An “influencer” in this case is someone who has a large and dedicated following on social media; significant enough to be able to make money or even live off of their content creation. There is a lot of focus on how to broker partnerships with brands (and getting paid!), which will not be directly applicable to 99.9 per cent of the population, but I still think Hennessey’s advice can be applied to all sorts of business relationships.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis is actually classified as self-help, unlike the rest of these titles. I was hesitant to read it at first because 1) I had no idea who the author was (so why would I want her advice on living?) and 2) I read that it had a religious slant – nothing wrong with this, just not for me. I kept hearing about it, so I gave it a try and was not disappointed. I found Hollis to be very likeable, relatable and motivating. The book is not really about one thing in particular, but rather the general concept that only you are responsible for how you live your life and what you make of it.

You can reserve any of these books by visiting our website at or contacting your local library branch.

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