Over the past few months, there’s been a huge rise in the number of aesthetically pleasing self-help books, claiming to cure anxiety, help you get organised and more. So like the good bloggers we are, we rushed to buy them. But are they actually any good? I’ve rounded up 7 books that are constantly cropping up on my Instagram feed, used as props rather than the main event I might add, and read them all to see whether they’re actually worth their salt. Here’s the verdict.
This is the first in Sarah Knight’s trilogy of self-help books and the most famous by far. This book is usually one of the first that springs to mind when you think of aesthetic personal development books and its title takes inspiration from another game changer in this genre: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
In the Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Knight teaches you to let it go. If you don’t want to go to an event with people you don’t like, don’t go. If you don’t want to go to a meeting you don’t need to be at, don’t go. If you don’t want to get married and have kids, just don’t. You get the idea. Whilst I really liked the general premise of the book it did fall slightly short of my expectations. Admittedly, I had extremely high expectations because, as I said, everyone was talking about it.
On the whole I’d give this title 3.5 stars out of 5 as it lays the groundwork for moving towards a stress and hassle free life where you don’t need to conform to society or your social circle’s whims. However, I personally found a lot of the advice given either went a step too far or wasn’t applicable to me at the age of 22. I reckon if I came back to this book in 10 years time I’d find it much more useful and probably give it at least another half star.
The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck is a great start to decluttering your life, but Get Your Sh*t Together is where the magic really happens. In fact, it was probably one of the most useful, if not the most useful, books I read in 2017. Sarah Knight’s second book contains a foolproof three-step guide to actually getting stuff done: goal, strategy, focus. It’s much more hands on than her first book and is the sort of book you want to read with a pen and pad of paper by your side.
After reading Get Your Sh*T Together I had a much clearer idea of what exactly I wanted to achieve this year and had an actual plan in place for how to achieve them. Simply saying you want to lose 3kg and actually signing up to a gym, putting gym dates in your diary and setting small, achievable goals are two very different things. That’s the difference between having goals (that realistically will never be achieved) and getting your sh*t together. This one gets 5 stars!
First came The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, then Get Your Sh*t Together, now, we have You Do You. The third book by Sarah Knight builds on her advice from book 1 and 2 and has already been met with much praise. New year, new you? No! In this book, the anti-guru, Sarah Knight, reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with you and you don’t need to change this year. If you’re someone who makes a list as long as their arm of new year’s resolutions each year, this would be a wise read for you.
That said, You Do You reminded me a lot of The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*** in terms of content and I couldn’t help but feel that the most important message in this book comes from the title itself. What’s more there are so many references back to her previous books that I imagine if you haven’t read either of the previous two books you might see this one as one big sales pitch.This one gets a weak 3 stars.
Full of beautiful pictures from Aimee Song’s Instagram account, @songofstyle, Capture Your Style makes for the perfect aesthetically pleasing prop, both inside and out. But how useful are the tips inside? Aimee has compiled a list of all the essentials for creating and maintaining and curated, professional-looking Instagram feed. However, if you’re someone who has already done some research into this area, you may find her tips a little basic.
I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know from this book but it did reassure me that I am doing going about it all the right way and it gave me a heck of a lot of inspiration. I found it fascinating to read about Aimee’s success and her approach to Instagram, which has turned out to be very lucrative for her.
If you’re a newbie looking to become a more “pro” instagrammer then you’ll find the tips inside useful. If you’re something of an Instagram veteran then this is the fascinating story of the transformation of a fashion blogger to a business-woman with millions of Instagram followers. I’d give this one four stars and definitely recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Aimee’s style of photography. Plus by getting your hands on this you’ll be helping support a fellow blogger and it’s all about lifting other girls up.
#Girlboss is written by the founder of fashion brand Nasty Gal, a business that started on eBay as a way to earn some extra money that later turned into a million-dollar business. Rags to riches isn’t quite the right way to describe this but Amoruso is a huge supporter of those that don’t come from “academic” backgrounds but still have the ideas and work-ethic to go far in life.
This book is part biography, part life advice. As Amoruso looks back over her path to success and the significant moments in her life that shaped who she is today, she offers reflections on why failure and staying true to yourself are absolutely essential. A lot of the things that Amoruso did in her youth are sketchy (shoplifting, for example), and she certainly doesn’t condone this kind of behaviour. However, her honesty and openness about her motivations then and now are really refreshing and you feel like she’s your big sister giving you some guidance.
#Girlboss is not only a fun read but also an incredibly motivational and inspirational book with plenty of genuinely useful advice for budding entrepreneurs. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.
p.s. Sophia Amoruso recently followed up her bestselling #Girlboss book with The Girl Boss Workbook. It’s not aesthetically pleasing but it is very good and well worth a read. Check out my review here.
p.p.s. One thing to note is that the book and the Netflix series are very different. The story lines are similar but the tone and the way that Amoruso is portrayed are quite different. A lot of fans of the books have complained about this but really this is to be expected. Think about it, the book was written by a mature Amoruso aged 30+ and the Netflix dramatises her life from when she was in her early twenties. Of course they’re going to be very different people.
by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas
How to be Parisian is an iconic monochrome book that every blogger seemed to be reading when it came out back in 2014. This was round about the time when I was planning my year abroad to Paris so I was completely sold on this on title alone and snatched up a copy. It’s been a long time since I read and you can read my full review here, but I remember this book just being good, rather than great.
The tone is quite informal and fun as it’s written by four friends who have banded together to share some of their Parisian “wisdom”. Whilst most of this book is really interesting to read and makes you fall even more in love with Parisian stereotypes, other passages did not sit well with me. Ones to note are those that discuss love and dating, which almost seemed to condone cheating. Not cool. What’s more, it doesn’t seem to have a particular target audience in mind and offers “advice” to both teenagers and middle-aged, which makes me question this book’s aim.
This one is certainly a little more style over substance compared to some of the other titles listed here. The pages are glossy and beautiful so it’s a lovely edition to own but the actual words on the page leave a little something to be desired.This one gets 3 stars from me.
The term self-care has been bandied about for a few years now and I think we can link it back to our introduction to “hygge”. Hygge is a Danish term that has no exact meaning in English but it has been described as “the art of creating intimacy”, “cosiness of the soul” and “cocoa by candlelight”.
This book no doubt spawned (and continues to spawn) a huge number of hygge-inspired Instagram photos. All those #onthebed shots with cushions, candles, books, hot chocolate (you know what I’m talking about) are the embodiment of hygge and it’s all thanks to this book that we’ve finally got a name for that feeling.
So are the tips inside the book any good or is this book’s only achievement the introduction of hygge across the world? In my opinion, an alternate title to this book could be “A beginner’s guide to happiness”. It’s curated by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (yes, this is a thing) so this guy does know a thing or two about how to live well.
Full of cosy pictures, decor inspiration, ideas for winter days, warm recipes and more this is a great little book to have on your shelf if you’re ever feeling low. It’s full of great ideas on how to make small changes to your home or lifestyle that could have long lasting positive effects on your mental health and happiness. I’ll give this one four stars.
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