8 Self-Help Books For People Who Don’t Do Self-Help



Don’t worry, we’re not going to recommend The Secret.

You’re right to be sceptical about self-help books. I’m not here to convince you otherwise. You’re right to think they are a symbol of the billion-dollar wellness industry that demands constant self-optimisation and profits off your despair.

And you’re right to suspect that the genre, with all of its repeated truisms and bullet-points, creates a chorus that seems to be shouting: if only you worked less, had more rituals, followed these 12 rules, de-cluttered, made your bed each day, were born a white male, and just tried a little damn harder then you wouldn’t be such a desperately average human.

Self-help books seduce us into thinking there are quick fixes to the existential mindscrew that is being alive. It’s a shame, really, because books can be helpful. They don’t always belong to the self-help genre (novels are generally where I seek out life’s lessons), but some do. Here are my picks.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

by Lori Gottlieb

A candid insight into the elusive world of therapy, the reader is granted access to psychologist Gottlieb’s sessions with her patients as well as those with her own therapist. Told with warmth and wisdom, vulnerability and humour, this memoir illuminates the ways in which our inner lives are consumed by the same big questions.

Mating in Captivity

by Esther Perel

It’s everyone’s favourite psychotherapist taking on bedroom dynamics and the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire. Designed to liberate, enchant, and provoke, this clear-eyed and compelling read explores the obstacles and anxieties that arise when our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion.

How to Do Nothing

by Jenny Odelll

A rebuttal to addictive technology and an action plan for thinking beyond capitalist narratives of efficiency and value, How to Do Nothing redefines what we think of as productivity and reveals the value of interiority and doing, well, nothing. And if that speaks to you, you might be interested in the writer’s latest release Saving Time, a book about reclaiming time from a culture that commodifies and capitalises it.

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See the eight titles we think are worth your time at PRIMER.


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