I've always been a big reader since I was young, as my parents can confirm. I have vivid memories of visiting bookstores as a child and being allowed to pick out two books, but told not to read any of them until we arrived home or I might finish it during the car journey!
Despite this, it came as a bit of a surprise to me that I've fallen in love with what you might call "self-help" books. It shouldn't really be a shock, with my brand and work being centered around self care and positivity, but I still sometimes feel a bit awkward and embarrassed if I stand in front of the "self-help" section at a bookstore for a browse.
So now I say, no more! There's nothing embarrassing about wanting to love and work on you for you. It's a complete act of self care to sit down and read a book that helps you figure out why you may struggle with certain issues, and how you can overcome them. So keep reading for my top three favourite books for self love and personal growth!
(Please note this is in no way a paid advertisement for any of the mentioned books or authors, I have personally bought all these books for myself and love them so much I want to share!)
The Insecure Girl's Handbook by Olivia Purvis
I'd followed Liv's work for a while on Instagram (if you like floaty dresses, cute dogs and flowers you're in for a treat) before she started The Insecure Girl's Club and wrote this book, but I knew it was a guaranteed purchase the moment I saw it. Not only is it pink (!!!) and beautiful, but it's packed full of tips and advice for dealing with insecurity in SUCH a helpful way. The chapters are broken down into different areas you might struggle with insecurity (including comparison, body image and friendships), then each chapter contains :
- Why you might feel this way
- A summary of all the neat stuff you just learnt
- How to tackle that insecurity
- Quotes and statistics from real people
- Advice from experts including a mindset coach and body positivity advocate
My favourite bit:
The chapter on friendships in this book really hit me hard as a young woman with very few friends, particularly as I have lost a lot in the past and it has left me wondering what was wrong with me. Liv opens up the conversation to reveal how lonely a lot of us feel, tips for making new friends and some amazing advice on friendship breakups (which are a real, not often talked about issue!!).
My favourite quote: "You are not in charge of how other people feel. One of the most important parts of friendship is being open and honest about things.."
Key topics covered: Your inner critic, comparison, social media, life milestones, imposter syndrome, body image, anxiety, friendships and loneliness.
Women Don't Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
I can shamelessly admit that I was drawn in at first by the funky cover and incredibly sassy illustrations, but Florence's book is packed with so many bits that made me stop and question SO many things about how I felt about myself, my body, how I interact with the world. She covers a range of topics from body image to self worth when you're dating, and how internalised misogyny shows up in the most subtle ways. I absolutely love how this book made me want to put on my biggest, most high-heeled boots and stomp around saying "I am woman, fear me!!" but also made me question a lot of opinions and thoughts I have, to become a more open-minded and accepting person (of both myself, and others!)
My favourite bit:
Something that really stuck with me from this book was when Florence talked about "re-brainwashing" yourself to stop accepting what society has told us is desirable. She points out how "If the content you consume is exclusively delivered to you by people you find palatable enough... then I'm going to ask you to level up and challenge your bland taste buds."
She was completely right, I realised, having a quick scroll through my Instagram feed and noticing that I had surrounded myself with a lot of content creators and people who looked like ME and fit MY aesthetic. I made a conscious effort to diversify the content I consumed from this point on, because Florence is completely correct: "If you're constantly consuming and accessing the same media and content delivered by the same people - how are you ever going to open your mind to other people's perspectives, if it's always filtered through a privileged gaze?".
My favourite quote: "But remember that anyone who tells you you're 'too' anything is using the word because they are threatened by your capacity to grow, evolve and express your emotions."
Key topics covered: The concept of "pretty privilege", internalised misogyny, sex and consent, the "male gaze", marriage, breakups, gender expression, sexuality and learning about your privilege in society.
Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae
Perhaps it's because I read this book before the others I've recommended here, but nothing has ever hit me as hard as Amber's book. I have honestly shed tears, poured over pages and returned countless times to several bookmarked quotes to repeat to myself. This book actually changed me a little bit, which feels so odd for me to say!!
Amber tackles the constant battle we face with fear and self-doubt in so many aspects of our life, and teaches how to flip that on its head. Not only does she talk about recognising "bad" feelings like fear, anger or upset, she hammers home that the point is not to escape them, but learn from what they are trying to tell you. It is so much better for your mental health to acknowledge and embrace all of our emotions rather than bottle them up and push them down. If you've ever had even the tiniest inkling of a dream that you wanted to pursue but you were too scared, I urge you to read this book! It also has a heap of journalling activities throughout where you can put what you've learnt straight into practice and, for people like me who need to get their thoughts "out" to understand them, it really helps you to process everything.
My favourite bit:
The chapter on perfection stays with me to this day, so much so that I've handwritten out several quotes and stuck them to my studio wall. Amber explains how ".. perfectionism is fueled by the underlying belief that 'I am not good enough'... It's limiting and unattainable, wrapped up in a story that our acceptance and lovability are rooted in whether other people perceive us as perfect.". This chapter alone made me realise just how much of my insecurity (I'm talking about 90%) was rooted in the idea of not being "enough" and therefore unworthy of love.
My favourite quote: (It was so hard to pick just one!!!) ".. my ability to see what is so clear to me now. That I was already enough. That you are already enough. That enough is our birthright. That enough is who we are and who we've always been."
Key topics covered: Using your "worry" for good, myths that you believe about yourself, procrastination, envy, comparison, shame, perfectionism and imposter syndrome.
Phew, if you got all the way to the end of this post then a huge gold star for you. Thank you for reading my enthusiastic ramblings about some of my favourite books, if you give them a go I'd love to hear what you thought! If you have some of your own recommendations, pop them in the comments below or tag me on social media!
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