If you live for fiction novels and short stories, trust me when I say I understand what it’s like to scrunch your nose up at self-help books. If you’re not a natural lover of knowledge of all kinds (and really who is), and if you particularly hate being told what to do or need to be constantly positively stimulated, then it can be really hard to start or attempt to finish a self-help book.
As a teenager, I always said I would never read them. They were largely too analytical and structured. Years later, I started enjoying them but that’s beside the point. Most self-help books you’ve probably come across are either written by white men, other men or neurotypicals. What this means is, for everyone that doesn’t fall under those umbrellas, it can prove almost impossible to emulate what they attempt to share with us in their books.
I recently watched a TikTok of a woman sharing that she loves self-help books and likes to hear what other people have to say on how they achieved success or bettered themselves. However, she also shared that she generally doesn’t take advice from men and she explained why. She talked about a man telling his success story and how he had a child at a young age, but still became something because he did what was needed, stayed on people’s couches for months to years and so on. She’s like, kudos to you but where was your child while you were sleeping on people’s couches? With their mother right? This sat with me for days.
Women wouldn’t have the luxury of chasing their dreams, sleeping on people’s couches and parenting a newborn and/or toddler. Whatever advice you have for this woman will be misplaced and ignorant of her situation, gender and intersectionality. With that in mind, I decided the best books to start 2024 with are books to help you organise, care for, choose and love yourself and life this coming year. Lastly, they are books that speak to us women specifically and are unique enough to keep us interested.
If you’re curious about this list, keep reading!
101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Weist
I’ve started this book a couple of times, and every time, I’ve stopped for the exact same reason. I always get to a point where I realise I need a pen and paper. 101 Essays that Will Change the Way You Think is a masterpiece of words that I had intended to read for quite some time before I actually started.
As a person who has been around long enough to learn to be wary of things, I started this apprehensively. A part of me worried that this was about to be another self-help book that I start and never finish. It turned out to be just that but it also wasn’t because I didn’t become completely obsessed with it when I started. I just kept forgetting to get that pen and paper. This isn’t the sort of book you can read without putting a single word down. You will want to remember what you’re reading and you will want to put your knowledge to test.
This is a book that will make you want to read more while simultaneously making you want to do and feel better about yourself. It makes you want to reach for the stars and makes you believe that you can. It shows you how to prioritise and choose yourself. It teaches you, in some ways, how to make the world work for you. It’s a great read for every and anyone.
The Smart Money Woman: An African Girl’s Journey to Financial Freedom by Arese Ugwu
I was in my second year of university when my aunt sent this to me. She had read it and couldn’t stop gushing about it. I was slowly getting into my non-fiction era so I said I would read it because I was genuinely interested.. but I actually never did. Fast forward to 2021 when the hit Netflix series graced our screens. It was one of the first Nigerian series I watched from start to finish. I actually couldn’t stop watching it. I remember painstakingly writing out every financial tip they threw at us every now and then. It was good enough to make me promise myself that I would read the book. 2024 might be the year I do just that.
Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
I don’t know too much about this book but if you’re like me and you’re obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, Bridgerton and the like, then trust me when I say that not only do you know Shonda Rhymes, you live in ShondaLand like the rest of us!
Shondaland is technically a storytelling company founded by Shonda Rhimes. Shonda Rhimes is the black woman responsible for creating hit TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, For the People, Station 19 and so on. Here are a few things these shows have in common; a really good plot, diversity like you’ve never seen in shows that started in the years they did, and the championing of women but more specifically, women of colour.
I may not know much about this book but knowing Shonda-freaking-rhymes wrote it and reading the blurb is more than enough to have this on my list.
Self-Care for Black Women: 150 Ways to Radically Accept and Prioritize Your Mind, Body and Soul by Oludara Adeeyo
In all honesty, I fail to see how this needs an explanation.
Generally, women in most parts of the world find it difficult to prioritise themselves. We were never taught how. This is especially true for women of colour, black and African women. We live in an age where a lot has changed but this is one of the many things that women still struggle with. You deserve your attention and you deserve to prioritise your care. This book shows you how you can do just that.
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
This is the only book on our list that was written by men. In their defence, the concept explored was coined by a Japanese woman.
Ikigai is such an interesting and largely peaceful concept that I just had to add this book to my list. It fully explains the Japanese concept of Ikigai which means something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living. It can be as small as wanting to make cute clothes for people because you like to watch the joy fill their eyes, or it could be as large as creating an organisation that empowers women because championing women fills you with more joy and fulfilment than anything else.
Ikigai explains what the concept is, why you should find yours, how to find it and a lot more.
In a limited series (Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones) which was released in August last year, Dan Buettner discovers five unique communities where people live extraordinarily long and vibrant lives. One of these communities is Okinawa; the birthplace of Ikigai.