Scottish author Samuel Smiles unknowingly gave birth to a new sub-genre of non-fiction with his 1859 work, Self-Help. In it, Smiles offered inspiring quotes for working class individuals who wanted to write their own rags-to-riches story through perseverance. The book sold over a quarter of a million copies, making it a bestselling title of its time. Medium reported that it also marked the beginnings of the self-help book genre, which is popular for a reason: it aims to provide insight and actionable advice for its target readers. And there are many who simply seek wisdom and comfort in what they read.
If you’re on a similar quest for self-improvement, these three titles might give you what you’re looking for:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
According to writer Susan Cain, nearly a third of the population classify as introverts and many more have introverted qualities. Her book, Quiet, gave many readers power during the lockdowns of COVID-19 as social needs became difficult to fulfil in isolation. It’s a comforting read that teaches us that many of the influential figures in history, from Rosa Parks to Tom Hanks, are introverts themselves. They’ve had great success in a society that very much favors the “extrovert ideal”.
A Business Insider book review highlights three key takeaways for readers:
- Society still values extroversion over introversion in business, politics, education, and other spheres — and this needs to change.
Introverts and extroverts can create a dynamic relationship as they’ll have more success collaborating.
There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert (or having introverted traits) and it’s time to find your power in it. If you want to know how, Cain’s Quiet is a great place to start.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Journalist Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business breaks down the science behind our habits and rituals and how we can change our detrimental ones. He argues that these habits — whether it’s on exercise, productivity or financial success — are within our control. That said, our post on The Power of Habits notes that the process of reforming habits contains three important elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward. When you are able to recognize these three, you can change any habit and turn it into one that benefits you. So whether you’re trying to, say, drop your smoking habit or be less of a micromanager to your employees, The Power of Habit is a helpful how-to guide for self-improvement.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
Sleep is, neuroscientist Matthew Walker’s book argues, the most important human need, yet it is also one of the most overlooked. The book explains the science behind how sleep works, but it is also a deep dive into why we need to at all. He also brings to light the health challenges that you can experience with lack of sleep, such as lowered immune function, reduced cognitive skills, and repressed growth. Getting quality sleep (not just sleeping more) can truly change your life in at least three ways:
- It can make you less vulnerable to disease, more focused, and more energetic.
Sleep can regulate your mood and reduce your risk of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
The healthier you are physically and mentally, the more energy and time you can devote to the important aspects of your life, such as your work, hobbies, and relationships.
If you’re having trouble hitting the hay, take a crack at Matthew walker’s self-help book. He himself says in the introduction, “So please, feel free to ebb and flow into and out of consciousness during this entire book. I will take absolutely no offense. On the contrary, I would be delighted.”